CAUT

  • 1.  What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago

    Looking for some opinions on the disposition of one of our pianos.  

    We have a M &H BB at the U of Oregon currently being used for dance accompaniment.  It is worn out even to the point of the damper flanges making noise.  It has it original strings (well most of the them) with the usual breakage in the treble.  The piano is reasonably stable and somewhat difficult to tune due to the extreme angle of the strings in the treble.  It is in tolerable condition at present.  We have acquired, free to us, a Baldwin SF-10 to replace it through the purchase of a local campus.  Too convoluted to get into here but we had the piano refinished and put on a new set of hammers, S&F so will be in first class condition after much work with the action.  

    The question is what tot do with the M&H?  I have rebuilt two of these instruments with somewhat mixed results.  As we all know there are multiple issues with this era of M&H (hate to say that over a public forum).  The issues are not insurmountable but are the numbers worth the time/expense when we maybe could or should trade it off on something more current or higher up on the quality scale.  Perhaps use it in a studio for accompaniment?  Percussion studio?  

    I will mention also that there is a  1020s era Steinway B with a case that is thoroughly thrashed which I would love to get into the shop for a redo.  I just have difficulty letting go of ANY Steinway from the inventory but would not think so hard about the M&H but......it's a M&H BB!!

    Have any of you faced similar situations and how did you deal with it?

    Mike Reiter

    University of Oregon



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    Michael Reiter RPT
    Eugene OR
    (541) 515-6499
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  • 2.  RE: What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago

    What were the scopes of your previous rebuilding projects?  You spoke of mixed results.  Please tell us more.

    I reworked our Aeolian era Mason & Hamlin CC a couple of years back.  I replaced the problematic counterbearing bars in the treble with inserts of a more lubricious material -- the name is escaping me at the  moment.  Bass strings (GC Piano) and hammers (Renner Blues) were not that old, so I retained them.  I frequently use the Fandrich soundboard rescue protocol, but did not think it necessary on this instrument.  I reworked the bridges using Spurlock's protocol published and later reprinted in the journal.  A capstan move was necessary to achieve a reasonable inertial situation. 

    The tuning of the instrument is now compliant, and our pianists are identifying it as a responsive and useful instrument.



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    Floyd Gadd RPT
    Regina SK
    (306) 502-9103
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  • 3.  RE: What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago

    You're not the one writing the checks. What to the check writers say?

    Peter Grey Piano Doctor 



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    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    (603) 686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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  • 4.  RE: What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago

    Michael, your wrote: "As we all know there are multiple issues with this era of M&H (hate to say that over a public forum)."

    What is "this era" - late Aeolian, early Aeolian, etc.?



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    Patrick Draine RPT
    Billerica MA
    (978) 663-9690
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  • 5.  RE: What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago

    As others have asked, there is more we need to know.  

    With the right rebuilder and a proper budget, even that BB has the potential to be an exceptional instrument.  Given the extreme wear you outline, it seems likely that all new action parts and  back action would be on the list.  If the wear is severe enough, perhaps a new keyboard.  New strings and a block.  Bridge work?  New board?

    I don't have any trouble seeing this piano as a 30K + rebuild, easily. 

    If the check writer doesn't see the benefit, then sell it for what you can, which will be not much.  A rebuilder would buy it as a shell and then do a big dollar rebuild.  There has to be enough for him at the far end, and that BB will not sell for as much as a Steinway B.     



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    William Truitt RPT
    Bridgewater NH
    (603) 744-2277
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  • 6.  RE: What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago

    Mike,

     

    You'll never have a good of piano as a "real" BB for $30K.(rebulding $)  I've rebuilt an A and a AA(with new soundboard etc.) and they came out stellar!  (1920's era). You mentioned this may be an Aeolean? That changes everything. They're extra work restringing with the individual hitch pin loops all the way, but those old ones are really great pianos.  It's all about the Benjamins, eh?

     

    Does the dance dept really need a rebuilt BB?  Can it be used better somewhere else in the school?  You could sell it for cheap and get a smaller Yamaha grand for the space. They're tough and handle years of abuse. If Aeolean era, it might serve someone else better away from you. Then, sell it for anything and get a new piano.

     

    My 2 cents flat.

     

    Paul

     

     

     






  • 7.  RE: What to do??

    Member
    Posted 14 days ago

    What is the serial number and year of the Mason & Hamlin ? There is one of the same model here that is a real monster and was built in Boston before M&H went to Rochester and the Aeolian works there. There was a lot of consolidation in the industry in the 1920s. Chickering moved from 791 Tremont Street to a factory a few blocks away on Station Street and moved still later to Rochester. Mason & Hamlin then moved to the Station Street building that Chickering left. Eventually Vose and Son moved to 791 Tremont Street. All of this is backuped up in pictures, articles and ads I have collected in my Chickering & Sons research. The quality of the piano has a lot to do with where and by who it was built as well as when. It could be a diamond in the rough or just a rough diamond.



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    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    (843) 325-4357
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  • 8.  RE: What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 14 days ago

    Mr. Reiter,

    If you truly have a Steinway B from the 1020's you should donate it to the history department as there are so few left from the time before William the conqueror invaded England. The physics department may want to have a look at it as well for possible evidence of temporal disturbance. As for the M&H BB, the bones of the Rochester pianos are good and should yield a fine instrument with a full restoration.



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    Karl Roeder
    Pompano Beach FL
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  • 9.  RE: What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 14 days ago

    I almost said something about 1020 too.  Funny.   Older than the Tower of London, eh? Edward the first would take credit, I'm sure.

    Paul






  • 10.  RE: What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 13 days ago

    Karl and Paul--thank you for pointing out the error on the date.  Apparently this Steinway was built sometime between the Hydraulis and the Dolce Melos!!!  Ok, OK the 9 IS close to the 0!!!   Gimme a break!!  Thanks for the clever comments.  LOL

    Many thanks for the all the good (more constructive) comments.  Of course, the jury is still out on the subject.  

    One of the other issues to consider is the outcome vs. the expense vs. risk.  Sometimes as we all know things don't turn out as expected and the concept of risking the schools funds can get a bit dicey.  The lower risk is of course to purchase something more suitable for the dance studio.  Surely the Steinway B in the other dance studio doing rhythm duty is overkill and a misapplication of resources.  

    The serial number of the BB is 83360 so puts is very late in the run just before the 1980s.  Surely the action, including the back action, need to be replaced and the clue about the capstan location will not doubt be key to the outcome.  The piano is currently serviceable as it sits save for the dampers.  It has broken a few strings in the usual areas.  Tone and sustain as very good esp. considering the condition of the original Aeolian hammers.  AND I finally found the troublesome buzz in the mid-treble.  Turned out to be a loose leg plate on the dolly.  What a search that was!!

    I am drafting a letter to the dean regarding the above with all the options and hopefully broken down into plain English.  Dance will have a voice as well so will go through all the normal levels if hierarchy to get to the end.  

    Will keep y'all posted.

    Mike



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    Michael Reiter RPT
    Eugene OR
    (541) 515-6499
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  • 11.  RE: What to do??

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago

    It seems to me that a 1980s M and H would easily NOT need a new soundboard, drasticaly reducing the price of rebuilding. I wouldn't let this one go, but I'm quite biased toward rebuilding over buying new.



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    John Pope
    University of Kentucky School of Music
    Lexington, KY
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