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Discussion in 'The Piano' started by techneut, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm quite excited having resolved to have my Gaveau revised properly. Last time, about 5 years ago, only the hammers were renewed, and some work done on the keyboard and sustaining pedal. This time, it will be completely re-stringed and the mechanique will be throughly revised, with new damper felts, etc, and the hammers intonated. It's a lot of money to shell out but I except a lot of it, finally a responsive instrument with lighter action and a fuller and brighther tone, and no more tuning problems. Work will start next week or so, it should be completed by the end of may or maybe half june. I hope it will be as good as I hope it will (hm, that's a daft sentence, reading back...) I'll have a replacement instrument for the time being, of course. That will be fun, too.
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    wow - that is exciting! Your piano may come back sounding totally different/better than it does now and so you will want to re-record everything yet again! :p

    So I take it your piano will be taken out of the house to get worked on? Do you know what kind of replacement piano you will have in the meantime?
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    There is that danger, yes. But, I habitually want to re-record everything anyway, so it's not a big deal.
    I was told it will not sound totally different - just better. Have to trust the guy on that. The strings will be of top quality, hand-spun by a local master string maker.

    I'll hop into the piano chop saturday and pick one that I like - insofar as it's available for the task.
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    :shock: Noooo..don't do it! :lol:

    Take photos of your piano getting refurbished and your loaner piano if you can.
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    That would be a good idea.
     
  6. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    Congratulations on this great news! I love makeovers... and piano makeovers are the best of them all. :D I look forward to hearing your piano's new sound.
     
  7. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    My Baldwin went through a partial rebuilding in 2007 as you might recall. Because it was nearly 25 years old (much younger than your Gaveau), it needed less, but the job was still about $5,500 U.S., so not inexpensive. Luckily my tuner is also a technician and piano rebuilder with many years of experience, so the Baldwin was in good hands. What was done was this: Ronsen Wurzen hammers, shanks and flanges; Arledge Bass Strings; Mapes International Gold wires for the treble bridge; Chrome plated tuning pins one size larger; Crescendo wurzen conical key punchings on the front rail; Crescendo "accelerated" key punchings on the balance rail; replacement of about a dozen natural key coverings; and full regulation of the piano's action.

    Here are some things I learned:

    1) It is really best to move the piano out of the house to the rebuilder's shop. I started by having the work done in the home believing it would be OK, but little did I anticipate how noisy the restringing is when the new tuning pins have to be hammered into the pin block! My wife was quickly an unhappy camper, so I had to move the piano out ASAP. Otherwise, I might have been moved out. :lol:

    2) If the existing pinblock will not be replaced, it's better to hand crank the old tuning pins out of the block rather than taking the easier route of reverse drilling them out with an electric drill attachment. Why, especially where it's less labor intensive just reverse-drilling them out? Because hand cranking them out produces less friction and heat than reverse drilling, and is thus less damaging to the pinblock. You'll appreciate the heat aspect when you hand crank the first pin out. If you drop it into the palm of you hand, it'll burn! :shock: Reverse drilling makes them even hotter. To save expense, the rebuilder showed me how to do it properly, and I then cranked most of them out myself while he attended to other tasks.

    3) Here is something you many not have anticipated: The rebuilder will tune the piano at least a couple of times just before you get the piano back. But it will NOT have tuning stability unfortunately. So be sure you have a good tuning lever on hand, as you'll be fixing a lot of notes yourself as you practice. He'll have to return to re-tune at fairly short intervals at first, which will gradually become longer as the piano regains full stability. This phenomenon could take more than a year. The strings have to fully stretch and conform around the hitchpins, bridge pins, and the tuning pins. The wires have to bend to micro-tolerances. If you want to accelerate the process somewhat, tune sharp to concert pitch rather than A440, thereby putting more tension on the strings. It's a bit more shrill in the room, but once stability is reached, you can drop it down to A440.

    4) Make sure you get new felt strips under the strings directly in back of the tuning pins (some of the old strings might have worn completely through the felts, and especially the cloth under the copper-wound strings in the low bass such that they're actually contacting the metal plate. (This won't be apparent until the old strings are removed exposing the grooves--or holes--in the cloth.) Also be sure you get new damping ribbons in the waist-string area between the hitchpins and bridges in the tenor section of the scale. These aren't just for looks--they help control spurious and unpleasant vibrations. If the piano returns minus the ribbons, you'll notice it in the sound immediately!

    I hope that helps.

    David
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks a lot for that David !

    Indeed my grand will move out to the workshop. It seems hardly practical to re-string an instrument at the customer's home...

    It will be collected this evening, and I'll have a nice 1912 Grotrian Steinweg Braunschweig as temporary replacement. Completely revised into new condition, with Renner action, Abel hammers, double-wound bass strings, the lot. A marvellous instrument from which I'm not at all sure I'll want to part when the time comes !

    You raise some good points there. Although I trust my technician unconditionally, and these things probably go without saying for him, It can't do harm asking him about them, which I'll surely do.
     
  9. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    I'm glad that was helpful.

    Yes, that old rebuilt Grotrian could be fabulous. If you really get attached to it, maybe the rebuilder could finish the work on the Gaveau, which will then have a higher appraised value, take it on consignment to sell it for you, and then you could apply the proceeds to the Grotrian. But who knows, once the Gaveau is finished, you might like it so much you'll want to stick with it. Or... might you have room for both pianos? :lol: You have some interesting possibilities there!

    David
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Room for 2 grands, haha, if only that were true, plus the financial room. I wish I'd studied to be a dentist now :p
    To keep the Grotrian would cost me €7,500 extra (after having paid the revision, that is). I'm not sure I have that money. Actually I'm sure I haven't, unless I sacrifice the rest of our piddling savings...
    So yeah, I can only hope the revised Gaveau will make me real happy...
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well yesterday evening they came and took my Gaveau away. Bit of a struggle to get it out the door onto the gravel path, then make the turn. They were not happy bunnies for a little while there :)
    So now I'll have to make do for a while with a shiny Grotrian Steinweg as seen in the pictures. Plays wonderfully smooth but I've to get used to the sound, action and pedal which is all very different.
     
  12. alf

    alf New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Chris, I'd like very much to hear the sound of this apparently beautiful piano, could you post some random excerpts?
     
  13. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    Me too! Could you please play/record something so that we can hear the Grotrian?

    David
     
  14. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Me three! And nice pics - thanks for showing us.
     
  15. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    Very pretty piano! I second (or third, or fourth!) the motion to hear some excerpts. :D
     
  16. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    I'm curious, what is the length of the Grotrian? Hard to determine from the picture. You can give it in metric if that's more convenient, and I can convert it to English measure. It sure looks formidable!

    David
     
  17. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok, I'll try and record something today. So far I'm not convinced I like the sound better than that of the Gaveau.
     
  18. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It's 1.85 m long, just like the Gaveau. Somehow it looks much bigger and bulkier though. Partly because the bend on the right side is not smooth but rather sharp (could be art deco design, given the age). Also, the far end is 1.5 cm higher from the floor than the front
    (keyboard) end. Looks pretty strange - 1.5 cm drop over 2m looks really skewed. Maybe it's the design, or there's something wrong with the legs.
     
  19. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    OK, that would be about 6 feet 2 inches, almost the same as my Baldwin. That's considered to be a parlor grand, larger than a medium grand, and truly excellent for a home. It should have a very ample sound. Where it's so recently revised, probably it would need to be played for several months until the hammers become grooved to hear its true voice. I can't wait to hear a recording.

    That elevation at the tail end is very odd indeed. Next time you're speaking with the rebuilder, you should probably ask about that where it's so curious. If it's not the leg, it would seem like a strange design as to function.

    David
     
  20. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok, I recorded and videotaped some stuff this afternoon on the Grotrian. I hope that gives an idea of the instrument. It's brighter and smoother but not quite as burnished and characterful as the Gaveau. Plays very nice though. But I do miss my sostenuto pedal, just a bit. Not that I use it that often, but still. As for the Chopin, sorry I'm a E-flat man, always have been, always will be. As for the Kapustin, a couple of fluffs here, but this does not replace my current recording of it. Not very original choices here... but I had not really practised anything for recording. I did not change anything in the recording and postprocessing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enL06fBUVYE ... Chopin - Preludes Op.28 - 20: Largo (1:33)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfSezSIYSY8 ... Debussy - Preludes Book I - 8: La fille aux cheveux de lin (2:24)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA2ba95n-3o ... Kapustin - 24 Preludes and Fugues Op.82 - 19: Prelude and Fugue in A major (5:02)
     

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