Improving a concert grand vs replacement

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matthewjames
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Improving a concert grand vs replacement

Post by matthewjames » 28 Jun 2014, 01:08

Hi all,

Having spent, including the purchase price, 4700 on a 70's Estonian concert grand (restrung bass strings and new hammers), I feel disappointed by the upper treble. The sustain under a pluck test is lacking in that region and consequently the treble suffers. I am aware that in terms of investment one ostensibly should never spend significant finance on such an instrument because one can never get it back. Notwithstanding in my case I am only interested in the best sound for the cheapest outcome. Names mean little to me and this piano has a very good bass and good midrange. If at the end of the day I could get the piano sounding significantly better by shimming the soundboard or by being even more radical then I would consider, but only if the outlay would be substantially less than getting a replacement instrument. Also I already am unlikely to get back what I have invested in the instrument.

I should be very grateful for any advice with suggested prices of what might be possible for alternative options.

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Improving a concert grand vs replacement

Post by Colin Nicholson » 28 Jun 2014, 16:24

I can't quite understand why a concert grand of that age has not been fully restrung?
I certainly wouldn't be too disappointed knowing only half a job has been done.

If the bass has only been restrung, then the old treble strings will "reflect" on this in comparison, and nor sustain in unison with the bass. If the tension of the treble strings (about 2/3) has not been released during the bass string replacements, this would cause horrendous strain on the 18 tons of down-bearing on one side of the piano - hence putting strain on the soundboard/ bridges/ (agraffes?) and wrest plank.... and the general structure of the instrument. Shimming a soundboard can be a lengthy and expensive job, and should have been done prior to re-stringing - depending on the length of the crack/separation.

When I went to Australia nearly 2 years ago, my colleague had an Estonian concert grand (well, about 7ft in length) .... and personally, it sounded great and played well.

Replacing all the treble strings is cheaper than replacing the bass!
Someone else on the forum may be able to help you re investment, however its best to state the currency you are quoting/ country where you live.... this is a UK based website.

Hope that helps

Colin
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matthewjames
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Re: Improving a concert grand vs replacement

Post by matthewjames » 28 Jun 2014, 18:00

Thanks Colin for your reply. The piano is a 9 foot and less was done because of budget considerations and the fact that bass strings deteriorate quicker than the treble. Obviously if I have work done on the soundboard eventually then the treble strings would be replaced but I have a can do attitude and if it isn't broken then I wouldn't want to throw money at something unnecessarily. The piano does sound fantastic after playing most any 6 foot piano in the mid and bass but an old baby grand challen has more resonance and quality in the upper treble. I am in the south east UK.

joseph
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Re: Improving a concert grand vs replacement

Post by joseph » 30 Jun 2014, 16:58

The Estonias from that period weren't excellent pianos but it was due to the quality of parts available rather than anything else. I know of one Estonia concert grand from that period that has been fully rebuilt by Piano Restorations Ltd in Twyford, with a new soundboard and plank, and the results are stunning. The piano is honestly beautiful. Perhaps it's not worth the money in the sense that the resale value of the instrument might not be as high as the restoration costs, but it was worth it in that the piano is now as good as any tier one concert grand, for around £15,000 (perhaps a little more now)

Withindale
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Re: Improving a concert grand vs replacement

Post by Withindale » 30 Jun 2014, 18:25

Have you checked your upper treble strings are clean and well seated and that the capo bar is in good shape? Rather than the strings themselves, it may be that all the things that (should) get done when replacing strings are the main reason for your problem. I found that paying attention to those details made a significant difference to my 110 year old piano. I have no idea how old the treble strings are (not new, not orginal). Similar treatment also worked on an upright with 88 year old strings.

matthewjames
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Re: Improving a concert grand vs replacement

Post by matthewjames » 01 Jul 2014, 22:57

Thank you very much Withindale for your optimistic comment regarding changing of the treble strings, and also I am very grateful to you Joseph for the plug for Piano Restorations.... with these two comments I have something possibly to further my cause. I shall communicate with Piano Restorations and see how the land lies with them regarding their perspective of the Estonian's faults and whether they consider a smaller job than a new soundboard/wrest plank could be worthwhile. Many thanks again for two helpful posts.

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