Advice please for 100yr old piano

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bellerina
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Advice please for 100yr old piano

Post by bellerina » 03 Jan 2017, 15:50

Hello,

I have a cottage upright piano, Maple London. It was my grandmothers and is circa 100yrs old. I would like some advice regarding whether it's worth keeping? I did have it tuned a year ago but the tuner found it very hard to get it in tune and was not able to completely do it. In addition it did not stay in-tune for very long. I dont play it because I know it doesnt sound right and now I need to make a decision. I have it for sentimental reasons but if it's never going to be playable then I really need to accept it and get rid of it.

I would be extremely grateful for any advice you could give me regarding whether it has any future as a piano or that it has had its day.

Many thanks,

Belle

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Advice please for 100yr old piano

Post by Colin Nicholson » 04 Jan 2017, 01:45

Hi Belle,
We have a good team of experts on this forum who may reply at certain times with interest and different opinions and advice - watch this space!. This is just my opinion......

I'm sorry to hear that your cottage piano cannot be tuned easily anymore :( , and you are faced with a dilemma of what to do - keep it, or ...... (hate to say this, but realistically....) scrap it. Please don't sell it though - a young family in hope for a piano to learn on would be very distraught when they too find out it cannot be tuned.

Unfortunately many cottage pianos that I have attempted to tune have ended in tears!
Main cause is old strings/ wrest plank / wooden framed / historic movement / over-damped etc....

We cannot obviously make the final decision for you, but perhaps offer some useful advice instead.

To restore a cottage piano costs well over £15K .... and even for sentimental reasons, no amount of money like this can justify this, and the piano would never fetch anything like that amount when coming to selling - so uneconomical I think. Paying over this amount would ensure your piano lasted for another 100 years! .... many pianos have a future, it just depends on your budget? .... but there are risks involved with cottage pianos having a wooden main frame with cast iron brace bars (not to be confused for the rear wooden frame, and a cottage piano of that type even after restoration would not sustain a centrally heated room or any kind or under-floor heating. Pianos of that age were not designed for modern homes. An old thatched cottage with a flickering open fire would be ideal!

For a fraction of the cost, another possibility would be to convert your piano into a drinks or china cabinet. I have converted several old pianos with great success. Your whole piano would need to be shipped away to the workshop, the mechanism removed/ strings removed, leaving the tuning pins in for vintage (patina) reasons/ front panel split into two opening hinged doors, then quality shelving fitted inside. The lower section would require the pedal mechanism removed (the pedals put back for display only), again, hinged doors or folding down "desk" panel, and used as storage. The keys would be burnished up/ locked down, casework cleaned and polished - and would still look like a piano until your guests arrive!! :D
The doors would also be fitted with ornamental/ Victorian style door knobs, unless the sconces are still on your piano? (brass candle stick holders). We have even fitted 12v lighting inside (with a transformer) for added effect.

Once again, depends on your budget?
Or.... the piano just left alone for ornamental / piece of furniture for nostalgic reasons.

Hope that helps.

Colin
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chrisw
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Re: Advice please for 100yr old piano

Post by chrisw » 04 Jan 2017, 13:31

Another option could be to have the frame, strings and keys etc completely removed and have an electronic piano fitted into your cherished piano cabinet. This would always stay in tune and be somewhat more pleasurable to play. The cost is still appreciable and I guess you could obtain a reasonable modern acoustic piano for the same price. It all depends how much the old piano means to you. A company called Vale Pianos who are located not far from Worcester offer this service but there may be others.

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Barrie Heaton
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Re: Advice please for 100yr old piano

Post by Barrie Heaton » 04 Jan 2017, 20:46

chrisw wrote:Another option could be to have the frame, strings and keys etc completely removed and have an electronic piano fitted into your cherished piano cabinet. This would always stay in tune and be somewhat more pleasurable to play. The cost is still appreciable and I guess you could obtain a reasonable modern acoustic piano for the same price. It all depends how much the old piano means to you. A company called Vale Pianos who are located not far from Worcester offer this service but there may be others.
They do a nice job, a few clients of mine have gone down that road
However, the piano has to be a certain width not all 85 note pianos will work

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