Finding a good home for an old piano

General discussion about piano makes, problems with pianos, or just seeking advice.

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marcon
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Finding a good home for an old piano

Post by marcon » 27 Jan 2017, 23:06

To make way for a new piano, I'm looking for a good home for an old one. Where do I start?

I could of course list on Gumtree, EBay and so on and hope that someone will be able to make use of it, but might a restorer want it to work on and resell? I'm not looking to make money from it, but I would rather see it live on if that's worthwhile.

The piano is a German overstrung/underdamped upright, probably c.1910, by Johann Kuhse of Dresden, also marked with the seller's name (Claypole, Peterborough). It's been in the family from new. It really could do with some work, but it is still played daily and has a good tone and touch.

I'm not intending this post to be an advert, more a request for general advice about what would make it worthwhile (or not) to approach piano dealers/restorers/tuners to offer it up.

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Finding a good home for an old piano

Post by Colin Nicholson » 28 Jan 2017, 10:28

You haven't said whereabouts you live? .... that is very important.
Town or city name will do for now.
Also access for piano.... ground floor? ...... steps?

You will need to very patient to sell your piano. You will also be desperate for the space to put your newer piano in place? Will be much earlier than 1910.... I have their listings and serial numbers. Make sure you include photos of the whole piano, mechanism, lid open with keys & piano name. No need to mention the retailer's name - not important. People also want to know when last tuned? was the tuning successful? only part-tuned? ...... you have to be honest as possible about any tuning issues.... if there are, then give the piano away for free, but not to a young family with kids wanting to learn.
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marcon
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Re: Finding a good home for an old piano

Post by marcon » 29 Jan 2017, 14:51

I'm in West Norfolk, and access is reasonably straightforward (ground floor, lift through uPVC door then wheel around to front of house on patio/paved path, gravel area at front, no problems with parking/lorry access).

I've taken a few photos, which are here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dobgc76fk25b ... 9mTUa?dl=0. There are also a couple of videos, which are of limited use in terms of sound quality -- but all the notes work. It's been tuned and had minor maintenace work done regularly in the 20 years I've had it, I'm not so sure before that although there are some pencilled marks indicating work done in the 1920s and 30s! Tuning is now not holding as well as it did, and there are some other issues (not all notes damping cleanly, a bit of clicking/rubbing on some notes). There is also known to be a crack in the wrest plank, by some of the low bass pins, although it is not there that the tuning is slipping.

From family history I knew it must be pre-1920, and my tuner thought nearer 1910, but if you can tell from the serial number that would be very interesting.

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Re: Finding a good home for an old piano

Post by Model V » 30 Jan 2017, 21:31

If there's a crack in the wrest plank and some pins are slipping it's probably a scrapper, sadly. No restorer would take it as it wold cost too much to make it good, and it doesn't have a "name" so the time and money couldn't be recouped. Shame, as it's a nice looking piano and fully restored would probably be a very good one.

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Re: Finding a good home for an old piano

Post by Colin Nicholson » 31 Jan 2017, 03:37

For someone even to be given this piano/ restorer etc.... the cost of the removal would be 10 times more than the value of the piano, unless someone had their own van. Also, the condition of the casework/ huge contrasts in veneer colour/ fading/ sun bleached etc.... quite an expensive process to strip down and re-polish, and the cost of this plus action work would not be economical, and low profit margin; may never sell with that name. The cracked wrest plank is probably game over - would cost a lot to put right.

Suggestion: Sell it as "spares & repairs" only £20 - not to be restored - not possible now,
or: sell separate, chop hammer heads off, pop in a bag, sell front panel with side trusses (the MO Pearl/ brass inlay is quite attractive and rare looking) £30, then take strings off, remove cast frame and weigh it in, or make a coffee table. OR, make a drinks cabinet from whole piano. Hardest bit is buying an axe.
Pianos don't last forever sadly :(
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Re: Finding a good home for an old piano

Post by marcon » 01 Feb 2017, 11:23

Thank you for the advice. The supplier of my new piano will take the old one away for a fee, so I always have that option if nothing else works. It will be a shame to see it go...

Just out of interest, how old do you think it is?

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Re: Finding a good home for an old piano

Post by Colin Nicholson » 01 Feb 2017, 18:13

You would never get an exact age to the year for this piano, partly because the suspected serial number is normally the location for a cabinet or stock number, and probably should only be four digits not five.
Impossible to check because the name of the piano is not known to the world.
In cases like this, even if this IS the serial number, Kuhse only supplied serial numbers to Pierce from 1875 to 1885.... the latter having #12500 serial number for 1885. Previous to this, 1883 was #8400, so estimated about 4000 every 2 years, but this is grossly estimated.

So.... we then just look at the piano/ action design and give a default year span between 1900 - 1910 (like the Antiques Road Show do) .... and the ornate designs/ Mother of Pearl / wooden action brackets etc tend to fit into this period. If you re-post your photos onto the History section, Bill may be able to date it more accurately using the Action makers number you photographed, or steer you to one of his websites for you to find the action makers.

Probably best to have it taken away, less hassle that way.
You'll be surprised that many retailers have to hire a skip to break down pianos, usually in their back yard!
All costs money and time.... and of course convenience.
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Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

marcon
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Re: Finding a good home for an old piano

Post by marcon » 21 Feb 2017, 22:58

The piano now has a new home -- I'm told mainly for accompanying other instruments. It does still tune up to concert pitch, and although it slips a bit, it's not that bad (and it's probably worse just now as I've been playing a lot, having started lessons again). I'll be sad to see it go, but hopefully the new one will make up for that.

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