Bentley Upright

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

Moderators: Feg, Gill the Piano, Melodytune

Post Reply
Richard Garratt
New Member
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Mar 2020, 18:12

Bentley Upright

Post by Richard Garratt » 28 Mar 2020, 21:09

Hello, I have a small 85 key Bentley upright that my parents bought new in c.1974 and seems to have lasted well. It's kept in a centrally heated room but away from radiators etc. and played moderately often but not to great extent. I learned piano to Grade 7 but play to Grade 8+ standard but primarily sing choral and song. All this is background saying that I'm musically aware; it is important to me but the piano is a tool that I enjoy but very much part of the background rather than foreground. I always felt the Bentley to be fine, small and quite 'magnolia' and but serviceable. However, reading posts the Bentley seems to be almost despised and the Richard Harley Action that mine has is really hated. I'm curious "Why"? Can someone explain? Thanks in advance,

chrisw
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 283
Joined: 05 Feb 2012, 13:37

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by chrisw » 29 Mar 2020, 10:49

Hello Richard,
Somewhere on this website I think I have seen a history of Bentley Pianos but I can't find it this morning. When I was shopping for my very first piano in 1983 I remember going into a piano shop in my wife's home town and it seemed full of new Bentley pianos. I wasn't sure how long I would stay interested in learning to play and wishing to limit how much money I was to spend on myself bought a Bentley electronic piano.
In 1994 I thought it was time to change to an acoustic. At that time my local music shop seemed to be full of Japanese and Korean pianos and just one British piano which was a Kemble. I bought the Kemble and this also has 85 keys.
I attempt to play grade 8 and grade 8+ repertoire and I still like my piano even though nowadays I could splash out on something that others might consider a better piano. I like the touch of the keys, the sound although it could do with some toning down at the moment, it stays in tune, is reliable and satisfies my needs.
It sounds to me that your Bentley does much the same for you.

Richard Garratt
New Member
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Mar 2020, 18:12

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by Richard Garratt » 29 Mar 2020, 22:12

Hi Chris, thank you. Yes, I think we are in the same place. There are a huge number of Bentleys around, which surprises me. It's odd that there are so many people critical of it as I think it is serviceable. I have found it reliable and it does hold tune incredibly well - I had it tuned recently after about five years as I could tell it was holding its pitch well. In fact, I find it a bit sharp once its tuned. I'd love to have and play a 'good' piano daily but have some sentimental attachment to the Bentley. However I'm genuinely curious what I don't hear in the Bentley that other people do (and in the Action that is so detested). Kemble such as yours seem to have a better rep than my Bentley, albeit comparatively.
Richard

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4003
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by Barrie Heaton » 30 Mar 2020, 09:13

Bentleys made the Richard Harley Action, the hammers were not that great, and the action from a regulating point of view was not that forgiving. After the fire Bentleys started to use the Langer 75, which was the same action that Kembels used in there pianos, but it was called Langer 80 same action.

Now the Bentley workforce in the 70s was not as attentive as the Kembel workforce as part of my training I worked at both factories in 1978-79 and Kembels were more strict on quality control even before Yamaha got involved in the production.

However, you need to remember the Richard Harley Action is over 40 years old and with little use are not that responsive when re-regulated, I have found in some Bentleys, the Lange action was set up very badly on some pianos.


Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

Richard Garratt
New Member
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Mar 2020, 18:12

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by Richard Garratt » 30 Mar 2020, 12:24

Thanks, Barrie.
Since I started looking at pianos (initially silent then digital as an additional instrument to allow me to practice at night) I've got absolutely obsessed with them. I'm even thinking about knocking down walls to fit a grand piano! Actually I have a nice old Bluthner that is at my parents' house and they want to free some space so I genuinely might need to look at logistical options!
The research i've been doing into this has led me to be surprised how many Bentleys like mine there are, how cheap they are and how poorly regarded they are. I do wonder whether I imagined my parents having the action sorted in the past as I couldn't see any plastic flanges on the Richard Harley action, so maybe they did.
Anyway, it's all fascinating. The cost of changing a serviceable piano which I have some sentimental attachment to is high. I might still buy a digital piano for practical as well as entertainment reasons.
Thanks for your response - I think it must have been interesting working in the factory. I do wonder whether my piano is the opposite of a Friday afternoon piano!
Richard,

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4003
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by Barrie Heaton » 30 Mar 2020, 13:39

The problem with the plastic flanges of the late 70s was not the flange; it was the wooden Butt that's the bit that failed. The floating centre was a great idea and still is, but the problem is the wooden Butt you need to come up one or two sizes of pin for the Butt to stop clicking and that type of flange will not let you do that, so you have to replace the flange which is expensive and most generic ones the gate (mouth) of the flange is too wide.

Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

Richard Garratt
New Member
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Mar 2020, 18:12

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by Richard Garratt » 01 Apr 2020, 22:21

Thanks, Barrie. I will need to look into this. I get the impression that my piano is not as poor as many people suggest it is, although it is clearly a mid-market, mass produced, domestic piano. I'm finding my piano to be a little harsh and shrill in tone, rather than the action causing a problem. At the moment I'm thinking about buying a replacement but wondering whether to buy a better old upright, a silent piano, a digital hybrid or a digital piano. Any thoughts would be valued. Thanks, Richard.

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4003
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by Barrie Heaton » 01 Apr 2020, 23:07

Try having it voiced down first - then that will give more time to look for a piano after we get back to normal

I am hoping we will be let out for a few weeks at the end of the month I have a huge backlog of work.


Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

chrisw
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 283
Joined: 05 Feb 2012, 13:37

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by chrisw » 02 Apr 2020, 13:06

Hello Barrie and Richard,
I hope we can all get back to normal before not too long. It is getting time that I should be contacting my tuner technician.
Some of the piano meetup groups are inviting people to join virtual meetings where video recordings are played instead of doing a live performance. I have tried to record using a smart phone and this laptop but it sounds dreadful. Almost made me want to give up piano altogether.

User avatar
Barrie Heaton
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4003
Joined: 30 May 2003, 20:42
Location: Lanc's
Contact:

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by Barrie Heaton » 02 Apr 2020, 13:13

Why not use Zoom the sound quality is not too bad from an iPad

From a tuners point of view.. some of my teacher clients are using distance learning. one told me she telling them to get the piano tuned when we get back to normal



Barrie
Barrie Heaton
Web Master UK Piano Page

Richard Garratt
New Member
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: 28 Mar 2020, 18:12

Re: Bentley Upright

Post by Richard Garratt » 04 Apr 2020, 22:18

Yes, when normality returns....
I think I will get it voiced down - or have an honest assessment from a technician of whether the tone is what it is or can be improved on.
My daughter had a piano lesson via Zoom on Friday - it was okay (better than via WhatsApp the previous week). I attempted a choir rehearsal using Zoom. Sound quality was okay but we had problems with time lag etc. However it was good for chat or one person to sing such as a singing lesson where the teacher needs to assess and give feedback.
Thanks for your feedback,
Richard

Post Reply