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RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

  • 1.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-27-2021 12:37

    While we all dislike spinets and sound so much like crap even after we tune them, what about failed console pianos? 


    We have at least 3 Everett consoles from the 70's that now have split pinblocks! I would gladly give them for this kind of thing, but we're doomed to send them to the Surplus dept,  and they try to sell, or send to the state auction thing. I don't know how that works. I pity the fool who buys one for next to nothing by the time it gets there. I can't take to the dump, sadly. Nothing more expensive than a free piano!


    What do you CAUTS do with worn out pianos? I asked the Dean to put one out in the parking lot for one of the fraternal organizations to raise money with a whack o mole for $5 a swing, but he said we can't do it. It's sad.  Somebody is going to buy these pianos that are worthless and then call a tech to come tell them it needs a whole rebuild! If they call me, I won't go.



  • 2.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-28-2021 07:08

    This is one advantage of private versus public schools.  We had a couple of those in student housing where they have a couple of extra practice rooms.   I was given permission to do with what I deemed best.  At the next meeting with the deans one of them asked what happened to them.  I said they were in the Piano Witness Protection Program and I couldn't divulge there whereabouts.  (the dumpster)


  • 3.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-29-2021 09:57

    You imply (although you seem uncertain of the exact details) that the pianos in question will be have to be moved to the Surplus Department.  If this involves hiring movers, surely this would argue in your favor to not spend a penny on what is essentially salvage.  Or perhaps if the pianos are moved by non-professionals (let's hope not!) they will get damaged in the process.

    Good luck.


  • 4.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-29-2021 12:44

    We have a trusted mover/Steinway dealer who we have had close business relations for over 35 years. They do all our piano movings. They are also big big donors to our Southeast Piano Festival we host every June.


    As far as old pianos go, indeed, these Everett consoles are toast as my trusted associate has told me.  We don't have time or money to save these old beasts. They weren't that great to begin with, but the pinblocks are indeed split and also separated from the frame, and we will not spend the funds to rebuild. The costs are not worth the investments.


    We do indeed send information on such instruments when sending them to the Surplus dept.  Nothing is more expensive than a $100 piano!






  • 5.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-28-2021 15:06
    I wonder if taking the tack of "Implied Warranty" would work. Part of the case law on this consumer law sector is "fitness for a particular purpose".

    If it is being sold as a piano, the expectation would be that it function a one or is capable of being made to that state with "normal" services. Appearance is another issue and potential buyers may reasonably think that it is being sold because it looks bad, not that it is economically unserviceable.

    See if the legal department can parse this out. My take is for a School of Music to sell a piano as a piano, that connection implies that professional knowledge has been used to assess fitness for that purpose including that the costs of repair to musical function are likely reasonable.

    I know it is a long shot, but the fact that we professionals recognize it is a fraud means it is real.

    That is how common law works.

    Edward McMorrow
    Edmonds WA

  • 6.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-29-2021 02:30
    We had a similar situation at SFSU.  Since it is a public school, we too were obliged to auction off any usable surplus property.  But we were permitted to declare an item as "broken" or irretrievably damaged and have it hauled away as scrap.  Our building coordinator just asked that we disable the piano (remove the action or similar) so nobody would be tempted to haul it away and end up with a "free" piano.

    During the last year I worked there, I disposed of several 40 to 50 year old Hamilton and Everett studios that way.  (I even insisted that the Theatre Department dispose of their wretched spinet because they kept using it in performances and people expected me to turn it into a piano.)  We had many other surplus Everetts and Baldwins that were reasonably useful, but still couldn't auction them off.  It was a hard slog.  It's a buyer's market these days-at least here in the Bay Area-which means there's absolutely no reason to pass along sub-par pianos.

    You should be able to convince the administrators that the items can be declared as scrap and avoid inflicting these turkeys on unsuspecting buyers.  You could try reminding them that the University has a reputation to protect, and it will win them no friends in the community if they auction off truly terrible items.  It's bad PR.

    I have an evil suggestion:  maybe you should "disable" the pianos in an obvious way-snap a few keys in half so it would show up in a photo, for example-to discourage anyone from acquiring one of the little darlings.  Visible damage affecting the function of the piano would serve as a stand-in for a bad pinblock, which they can't see.  Unfortunately people sometimes buy them sight unseen, which happened frequently at SFSU.  You really shouldn't have to go that far, though.


  • 7.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-29-2021 05:11

    Back when we worked at SFSU together, I remember two rounds piano disposal. I set up two auctions back then, a couple years apart, and even though those Baldwin and Wurlitzer studios were still marginally useful, there was some trouble with at least a couple of them that the buyers expected some sort of warranty work done. Very important, when selling off old beaters, to clearly state to the potential buyers that the pianos are being sold "as is", without warranty. That may discourage at least the more savvy potential shoppers to stay away from them. I believe that at  the second auction not all the pianos sold, and it wasn't very hard to convince the powers-that-be of the necessity to simply dump them - because there was no space for them. I believe that we were about to get a good number of P-22 loaners from Yamaha and the old junkers were clogging up practice rooms, etc. All I had to do was fill out a form for the Property Department marking the pianos as unsalvageable and ready for disposal, so that they could take them off the books. I also remember that at that time there was a big dumpster parked right in the loading dock, (I think we just had some renovation done on the building) so I spent a couple days partially disassembling them (I believe we kept a couple of actions and a set or two of bass strings, to use for spare parts for the less-worn junkers of the same make-model) and pushing them off the loading dock directly into the dumpster. How many of us fantasized about doing something like that when working on an old worn-out beater? And yes, while I was stripping one of them prior to disposal, someone walking by asked me if I was "tuning" it... I'm not kidding...

    Israel Stein RPT
    P.O. Box 68141
    Jerusalem, Israel 9168002

  • 8.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-29-2021 09:09

    Hi Paul,

    Ed's advice is worth the effort but should it fail, place a note (inside and outside the piano) that states its condition and what needs to be repaired. I worked at a private school and did not have the restrictions of state school rules. Nonetheless, when we sold old pianos I placed notes on the them just to keep me and the school free of any liability.

    Good luck,

    [Don] [McKechnie,] [RPT]
    [Piano Technician]
    [Home 607.277.7112]

  • 9.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 03-30-2021 08:48

    I think the topic may have drifted from the subject line, but this is a matter not to be taken lightly. We cleared out most all of our Department junk maybe 12 years ago and I was very concerned people would presume they were worthy, considering the source. I got directly involved with each sale and explained how worn out they were, but could still be useful as a starter piano until an upgrade was feasible. I also politely turned down working on them personally after the sale so they knew they were on their own, but the pianos ranged in price from $0.00 to maybe $50.00.  It's been all of 35 years trying to rid the college of junk pianos and we're getting close, but I just learned of a student honor house that recently accepted a free junk spinet.... ugh. 


    Dennis Johnson
    Piano Technician / Music
    St. Olaf College
    Office: 507-786-3587Mobile: 612-599-6437 
    1520 St. Olaf Avenue Northfield, MN 55057

  • 10.  RE: Destroying a piano for game sound effects

    Posted 03-30-2021 00:58
    Surely the IT department has to dump burned out computer monitors and out of date desktops, broken printers. Maybe they have to go through the insane auction/surplus property red tape. I think removing the keys, the action and de-stringing the piano should sufficiently immobilize it . If its left on the curb with a sign take me it will get scooped up but I know you cant do that. I think a good way to sell taking out the action etc is to state the piano is being de-commissioned, de-activated.
    You could always convert the cases to piano bars- I kid you not- there is a business out there doing that as well as making desks, workbenches and bookcases out of the hulks.  Maybe you can sell the dean on something like the MIT Piano Drop - check it out on you-tube

    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC