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Hardman 1906 grand upright

  • 1.  Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 13 days ago
    I recently tuned a Hardman grand upright, circa 1906, that resides at a town hall. The case is in good condition. I was told that the action had been rebuilt; hammers had been replaced but don't know what else. Although the piano hadn't been tuned in two years it wasn't too badly off, and the pins were tight. I was told that it keeps its tune well.

    This is a historic piano that had been gifted by an apparently well-known local pianist. It's cared for by "Friends of the Ludlow Auditorium" (FOLA--Ludlow, Vermont) where it resides.

    The piano sounds ... well, not great. Not a clear sound -- "twangy." Many hammers need to be aligned to strings; hammers are worn but not excessively. Let-off is out-of-whack and I had to adjust some notes as hammer was blocking against strings. Blow distance off considerably. My recommendation to client was that piano needs a regulation and hammer reshaping, alignment and mating of hammer to strings, string seating and leveling, etc. I don't have pictures as a rehearsal was waiting for me to finish.

    I didn't have a good look at the piano due to the time constraint but my guess is that the strings need to be replaced. I'm thinking that provided the soundboard and bridges, etc., are OK, then regulation and voicing and string replacement will likely bring this piano up to where it could be, considering its age. Any general thoughts on this? My impression on first looking at this piano was that it used to be a very nice piano, and subsequent research on Hardman pianos confirmed that.

    One other question, and apologize for lack of photos which I can get later. The middle pedal attaches to a rod on the right side of the piano that extends above the action; there's no obvious way for it to connect to the action. Puzzling; I'm told it's "missing a part" and this might be it.

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    Don Dalton
    Smokeshire Piano Service
    Andover VT
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  • 2.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 13 days ago
    Missing part is probably a mute rail.

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    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes
    www.lacrossepianotuning.com
    ljmesserly@gmail.com
    928-899-7292
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  • 3.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 13 days ago
    Hi, 

    Regarding the rod on the right extending above the action. Look for screw holes on inside side of case, both ends, where a mandolin rail would have been attached...your missing part.

    Deb





  • 4.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 13 days ago
    Replacing treble wire will have negligible impact. Bass string replacement would be where an improvement can be made.  Look for loose sounding board which can be snugged back with a few screws.

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@pianocapecod.com
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 5.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 13 days ago
    Don

    I would do the regulating, mating, etc., first to see how the pianos sounds. New bass strings will liven up that area, but new treble strings is not going to make the piano sound much different. As Jon said, check for soundboard issues first.

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    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
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  • 6.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 12 days ago
    Thanks for the comments!
    I think the piano sounds "tinny" enough now without a mandolin rail; in any case the customer is unconcerned about it.

    I didn't know that replacing treble strings had little effect on tone, so that's a very helpful bit of enlightenment. In my opinion the bass sounds OK, it's the midrange that's the real problem. I'll look closely at the soundboard. My suspicion is that a good regulation, seating strings, hammer shaping and string mating will go a long way because although the piano has been tuned regularly, regulation has been badly let go.

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    Don Dalton
    Smokeshire Piano Service
    Andover, VT
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  • 7.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 12 days ago
    It's been my finding that simply reshaping or replacing the hammers has brought back so much tone for the effort but FIRST inspect the soundboard to see that it's doing it's job well.  A tired soundboard won't respond to new parts very well.  If it's done and worn out, it's loss of resiliency won't be easily overcome no matter what you change.





  • 8.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 12 days ago
    OK, thanks for the advice on the soundboard, as mentioned earlier too. But what would you look or listen for?


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    Don Dalton
    Smokeshire Piano Service
    Andover, VT
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  • 9.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 12 days ago
    I stretch a thread across as much of the soundboard as my arms will reach and look for a gap in the middle.  I do this in as many places as I can stretching across the grain.  Some of these old pianos were built with out crown in the soundboard and still sounded great so it's not a final source of information but rather one element in the total picture.  Listen to the piano.  Only experience will help here.  If the sound is still vibrant and alive (loud and clear are two good elements) then it's probably still providing an efficient transfer and amplification of the string vibrations.  Tuning the piano is a great opportunity to listen for failings in the soundboard system.  Certain notes may produce anywhere from a slight to an obvious level of distortion.  Failed glue joints talk at certain frequencies sometimes.  Plucking a string and listening to ring time is another.  I try to pick a note in the upper treble  ........  about two octaves or less down from the top.  Typically this is the least responsive part of the piano and so if this area is sounding good, the rest is probably fine.  Once again, experience is the only source of detail here.
     
    These old instruments are continuing to age and our approach to saving them has to change with them.  What used to be a good thing to do to them 20 years ago, isn't necessarily a good thing to do anymore today.  It's painful to watch after almost 50 years in the business but times are what they are and the market to work on them is what it is.  Communicate the hazards of such "updates" to the owner prior to the work being done.  There isn't any time table for parts failure and the glue in these things has already exceeded anyone's expectations by decades.
     
    Lar
     
     





  • 10.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 12 days ago
    One way to hear if it's the hammer or the soundboard is to listen to how long the string sounds with the string being plucked and the being hit with a hammer. If you play the note and the sound dies after about 5 seconds, and then pluck the string and the sound dies in 5 seconds, then you know it's a soundboard issue. If the sound with the hammer lasts 5 seconds, but it lasts about 15 or 20 seconds when it's plucked, then the soundboard is good and you should work on the hammer.

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    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
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  • 11.  RE: Hardman 1906 grand upright

    Posted 11 days ago
    Very generous advice.
    Thanks to everyone for pointing me in the right direction.

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    Don Dalton
    Smokeshire Piano Service
    Andover, VT
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