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1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

  • 1.  1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Posted 15 days ago

    I apologize if this isn't the correct place to post. I recently purchased a 6ft Knabe grand 1900s era.  Pretty positive it was an ampico but no longer has the player mechanism or pull out drawer. Is that possible to even restore at this point? The piano needs quite a bit of work.  I'm an aspiring technician and tuner but I'm still a little nervous to attempt servicing some aspects as I'm still pretty green.  There is a missing string at C4 and I've considered replacing it but I also realize that the whole piano may need restrung.  Tunings holding have been an issue. 

    Am I in over my head?  I thought this piano was a good investment.  This piano is from the golden era of piano building and Knabe was one of the top makes of the time. 



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    Scott Smith
    High school band director/ Church Pianist
    Louisa Ky
    6 066-248-5881
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  • 2.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Member
    Posted 15 days ago
    Have a local piano technician check it out. The phrase, If you think experience is expensive, try inexperience; comes to mind

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 3.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago
    If it is your own piano, by all means get in over your head.  I restored a 1920s Knabe, and did some horrible things with it.  It was my first shot at pinblock replacement, my first shot at dealing with a crack in a plate, my first experience of seriously damaging a keystick by my own clumsiness, my first and only (aborted) attempt at refinishing a  grand piano case, my first experience of fracturing a sostenuot rod (don't ask), my first foray at adjusting plate height, a good example of what not to do when trying to determine the right target weight for a set of hammers (grinding down A0 to such an extent that there was insufficient tail area for reliable checking), my first experience of bleaching a set of ivories (and the soundboard, and the keybed), my first lesson in how not to store (strongish) hydrogen peroxide, and my first experience of having a pedal lyre fall apart in the dress rehearsal for its post-restoration inaugural performance.

    I learned a lot, and the instrument is now very pleasant to play.  It still needs more key dip, since the lowering of the plate rendered the boring of the hammers inappropriate (either that, or a previous technician simply bored them too long), and the sostenuto rod, though now repaired, is still sitting on my shelf.  But I learned an awful lot!  I did, of course, make quite a bit of extra work for the skilled refinisher who rescued me.

    This piano is your proficiency playground.  Get lots of good advice so you don't make more horrible mistakes that you have to, but don't be terrified of making mistakes.  By all means replace that string, even if the piano is going to be restrung.  There will probably be a bunch of things you'll end up doing and then redoing on this piano, but it will not be time wasted.  You may well end up with something delightful.

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    Floyd Gadd
    Regina SK
    306-502-9103
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  • 4.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago
    I will try to post the pictures again:

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    Floyd Gadd
    Regina SK
    306-502-9103
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  • 5.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago

    Floyd, the same thing happened to me several times recently. I was able to get photos to the list only by simply copying and pasting them into the email instead of uploading them to Lower Logic.






  • 6.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago
    I'll handle the pictures this way:  Knabe 1 and Knabe 2

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    Floyd Gadd
    Regina SK
    306-502-9103
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  • 7.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago

    Looks lovely. Lucky piano which came right in the end. I looked after one (1926) about that size for a church for a long time.






  • 8.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago

    For years, I had a great time with a huge old 1901 Knabe, 8'9" long, (which just proves that the advertising department did not run the company.) It had two pedals originally but a player piano technician had added a middle pedal, not adjustable, but working. It had a slightly different action than usual, but it was quite easily regulated. It had been restrung, so we weren't breaking wire. The tone was 19th century, with a thinner but crystal clear upper treble, which really helped balance if used for chamber music.

    This thing had triplex scaling throughout. It was very WIDE, with an extra five inches to the right of the top note.

    The bass bridge was something to behold.

    We had some very memorable concerts on it, till the Community Concerts sadly failed and it was sold off. Most pianists were surprised by it, but warmed to it. Some loved it. A very few despised it.

    If you're worried about not having experience, find someone capable of doing your newly bought piano justice, and work with him or her. You'll learn a lot.

    Sometimes taking chances can be a very positive thing.






  • 9.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago
    Hi Scott,

    Welcome to the forum.
    I would recommend finding a local mentor, and paying them for their time to help you with this project.
    More importantly, if you want to be a piano technician, you need to get properly trained and dedicate yourself to training for a number of years.
    This form is very educational, I learn something new every day, but it is not meant to be a training program for piano technicians.
    Best of luck in your journey, it's a great profession.

    David

    David Weiss
    Registered Piano Technician
    (434) 823-9733
    davidweisspiano@gmail.com
    www.davidweisspiano.com



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    David Weiss
    Charlottesville VA
    434-823-9733
    davidweisspiano@gmail.com
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  • 10.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago
    You should almost be grateful the player system is gone. Working around it to learn how to service the piano itself would drive you nuts. My first piano was a cheap junk upright that I finally had to throw out because it simply would not hold a tuning and I did not yet have any of the repair skills needed to bring it up to usable condition. If your piano will hold a tuning then it will be a great instrument to learn that most important skill in this business. If it won't then you may have to practice that at school. On the other hand, given your description of the instrument, go ahead and dive in learning how to make the repairs. You're not going to make it worse and you'll probably make it a lot better as you progress.

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    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
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  • 11.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago
    If the piano will not hold its tuning, there is a whole range of procedures available to address the issue. Your choice of approach will vary, depending on a bunch of factors your local tech can help you assess. Are the tuning pins original, or are they oversized to the max?  Is there general looseness of tuning pins, or are there just a few problem notes? Options include CA treatment, shimming (I've stopped doing this), upsizing pins, plugging and redrilling tuning pin holes (with or without removing the plate, for individual pins) and outright pinblock replacement. If it becomes clear that the last of these is really your only real solution, you can try all sorts of experiments with the original before you replace it.

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    Floyd Gadd
    Regina SK
    306-502-9103
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  • 12.  RE: 1900s Knabe ampico. Did I make a poor decision?

    Posted 13 days ago
    I'm not sure if they are original tuning pins but they do appear to have some age on them.  I have considered the notion that re stringing the piano with a larger tuning pin might be an option.

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    Scott Smith
    High school band director/ Church Pianist
    Louisa Ky
    6 066-248-5881
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