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A fresh use for the glut of 100+ yr old upright pianos

kenny

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100 years ago there were thousands of piano makers, just in America.
Business was booming and many homes had a piano and (unlike today) most were regularly used.
Back then if you wanted to hear music in the home you had to make it yourself.
Then radio happened, then the depression, then TV, etc. ... and the demise of the home piano.

Pianos last about as long as a human body so it's no surprise that today that there are so many dead ones nobody uses that it's hard to give these things away.
To businessfolk like a dealer or a technician they are not even worth what it costs to haul them to the dump.
ETA: Yes Yes Yes, some people still use and love theirs so don't get your knickers in a twist. :errrr:

The vast majority just collect dust in a garage, back patio, or barn.
People convert them to desks, bookracks, shelves, bars, wine racks, and even aquariums ... apparently now, exhaust hoods. :mrgreen:
( I suspect this pic is Photoshopped. But hey, who cares? Right? It's 2021.)

54.jpg
 
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Slick1

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I love that @kenny ! I have an old spinel I love and often see those oldies for free!!
 

Polabowla

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That is beautiful but is it a fire hazard?
We got an old grand piano and it is beautiful but can't keep a tune & some strings inside broke.
 

kenny

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That is beautiful but is it a fire hazard?
We got an old grand piano and it is beautiful but can't keep a tune & some strings inside broke.

It's not a fire hazard if it's Photoshopped. :mrgreen:

There can be a few reasons an old piano no longer holds its tuning.
1. The pinblock shot. It's a fancy laminate piece of wood that holds the metal tuning pins in place. Replacing it costs many thousands of dollars. When replaced the strings and all tuning pins also will be replaced.
2. Sometimes there are band-aids a good tech will know how to do, like removing the tuning pin, wrapping it with sandpaper and reinserting it
3. Replacing tuning pins with thicker ones
4. Using a liquid called Pin-tite to swell the wood holding the tuning pin, so the pin is held more tightly.
5. Driving the pin deeper into the pinblock so more threads on the pin grip the wood.
6. The piano tuner is him/herself incompetent and doesn't know how to properly set the strings and/or the tuning pins.

If your piano is a Steinway it has scrap value to piano rebuilders.
Several other brands are better than Steinway but most rebuilders won't bother rebuilding them because the vast majority of piano buyers (in America) are ignorant about those better brands, which include Blüthner, Bösendorfer, C. Bechstein, Fazioli, Steingraeber & Söhne, Estonia, August Förster, Grotrian, Stuart and Sons, Shigeru Kawai, Ibach, Sauter, Seiler, and Mason and Hamlin.
If it was manufactured before the 1930s I'd throw in Chickering and Knabe.

In the industry they say Steinway makes the best piano MARKETING in the world.
That said, they have 2 factories ... NY and Hamburg.
Steinways made in Germany are muct higher quality than the NY ones.
 
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Polabowla

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No it's not any of those brands & doesn't have much value though my family enjoy playing it as best as possible. It has a deep rich sound
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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I’ve seen some beautiful examples of how old pianos can be repurposed and a quick search gives these:

5C166403-E9EF-4891-9D42-461729B1B2B5.jpeg DE9EB6FB-3065-449A-BE39-D17E9B95C416.jpeg DA108ACD-E908-4E99-AA5E-53705037686B.jpeg A5B86970-48B0-441E-BB9B-A73879B76B42.jpeg CD8A83C0-047C-4D92-9709-4C27F6247AD8.jpeg 2C55D77C-8A6F-4DBB-A105-201AE663E641.jpeg

Love these ideas
my SIL got one made into a bar but i love the seat and the vanity

i had no idea they only last about as long as a human
That would explain why my inherited piano was pretty knackered when i got it and the piano tuner said it couldn't be repaired
have no idea the brand but it had lovelly carved legs
Its long gone now
 

Alex T

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Here is my beloved (ignore the laptop on the stool). She's a Steinbeck & is dated 1861. She's made from Walnut & came from the basement of the Manchester Royal School of Music. She'd been down there, redundant & dusty, since the 1950's. The Manager told my father if he could get her out he could have her, as the lift to the basement had been broken for over 20 years. With the help of my Uncles & strapping older cousins, 4 flights of stairs & a plank of wood later, she was in the back of a truck & on her way to a very excited 8 year old me! That was in 1982.

Her baseboard has always been missing & I keep the white unit in the bottom full of water, otherwise the backboard dries out & it changes the tone. Many strings have snapped over the years, but over half are still original, plus she has the ivory top of one key missing, but she sounds rich & glorious. Mother kindly told me to take her when I moved out. She's quite valuable, but mum knows this piano & i come as a pair.

IMG-20201120-WA0001.jpg
 
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Daisys and Diamonds

Ideal_Rock
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Apr 30, 2019
Messages
9,919
Here is my beloved (ignore the laptop on the stool). She's a Steinbeck & is dated 1861. She's made from Walnut & came from the basement of the Manchester Royal School of Music. She'd been down there, redundant & dusty, since the 1950's. The Manager told my father if he could get her out he could have her, as the lift to the basement had been broken for over 20 years. With the help of my Uncles & strapping older cousins, 4 flights of stairs & a plank of wood later, she was in the back of a truck & on her way to a very excited 8 year old me! That was in 1982.

Her baseboard has always been missing & I keep the white unit in the bottom full of water, otherwise the backboard dries out & it changes the tone. Many strings have snapped over the years, but over half are still original, plus she has the ivory top of one key missing, but she sounds rich & glorious. Mother kindly told me to take her when I moved out. She's quite valuable, but mum knows this piano & i come as a pair.

IMG-20201120-WA0001.jpg

What a lovelly story
 

kenny

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Beautiful piano Alex.
Many old ones have soul and charm in spades. :dance:
 
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Bron357

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I got my first piano at 15. We had just moved back to Sydney and had a big house. it was a rare and unique reproducing
6 ’ 6” grand piano, meaning it had a pianola movement in it as well. By the time a piano teacher had been arranged, about 5 weeks, I’d already taught myself to play Moonlight Sonata (all 3 movements). I did read music as I learnt recorder from age 8. Except the bass line I convert to treble in my head as I go (I’m weird ok). It came as quite a surprise to him when he arrived with “three blind mice” for me to learn to play.
The family had no idea (mum and dad worked) and just assumed they were hearing me play using the pianola.
by the time I’d moved out of home (I couldn’t take it with me) and Mum and Dad moved a few more times it was sold as no one else was playing it and it took up a whole room. When I bought my first house I bought myself an upright piano which I still have.
I only very occasionally play it these days (don’t know why) but I will never sell it let alone convert it. I am very attached to it.
 

kenny

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Fascinating Bron.
As a small child I was also naturally musical, though I could only play things that I figured out by ear as I didn't learn to read music properly till I was around 40.

BTW, for all you piano people ... there is a book that is the Bible! of pianos, not piano music, but the piano itself as an instrument.
It's target audience is piano owners, not not piano tuners or technicians.
It tells you everything piano people should know ... not only about the working of pianos, in layperson terms, the pitfalls of buying/selling and evaluating a piano, new or used, for purchase ... but also how to get the most out of any piano you own, whether it's a new $250,000 concert grand or a 100 yr old garage sale freebie.

$17, new on Amazon, just make sure you get the fourth edition with the red cover.


It's groovy because piano is one of the few instruments that most players (even concert pianists) know relatively little about.
Why?
Because (unlike players of most other instruments) 99.99% of pianists can not afford to have their pianos shipped to their performances.
Many, perhaps most, pianos they are called upon to play will not be in perfect mechanical/musical condition.
And pianists (well 99.9999% of them) can't even tune their own instruments at all, let alone tune them properly.

All this means that in proper piano pedagogy teaches little about the instrument itself.
Pianists must be trained to just get the best out of every piano they are stuck with at the venue.

IMO every piano owner will benefit from this book.
 
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