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Live Streamed Piano Recital with Murray McLachlan

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Author Topic: Restored, Refurbished, Rebuilt: What are the differences?  (Read 6638 times)
hdpsr7
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« on: December 02, 2010, 10:50:23 PM »

I am looking to buy a used piano. Seller frequently describes his/her piano as restored, refurbished or rebuilt. Is there a definition accepted by the industry? What are the differences?  many thanks in advance.
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stevebob
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2010, 11:33:23 PM »

Your perception is exactly right.  The terminology is frequently misused or confused—sometimes deliberately—and there’s no industry standard (in the U.S., anyway) about precisely which tasks and replacements (i.e., items of labor and parts) are implied by the various terms.

"Restoration" and "rebuilding," when accurately used, imply the highest level of endeavor to return the instrument to like-new condition in performance and appearance.  It should entail a new action, new strings, new pinblock and probably a new soundboard.  Some rebuilders choose not to replace a soundboard unless it’s sonically dead (or nearly so).  Conversely, a point has been made that when literally all the systems of a piano have been replaced, there’s nothing left of its original pedigree!

"Refurbishing" and "reconditioning" involve significantly less work done to improve the instrument, and a substantial amount of it might be cosmetic.  It probably means new strings, new (or reshaped) hammers, regulation of the action and refinishing of the case.  If the pinblock has sufficient integrity, it would generally be saved and larger tuning pins employed.

Sometimes refurbishing or reconditioning is really all that a piano needs (or warrants), but sometimes an instrument that needs a lot of work is merely refurbished instead—and then advertised as “rebuilt”!  It‘s probably worth considering that only the highest quality brands (e.g., Steinway and Mason & Hamlin) are considered candidates for true restoration on spec; many other “lesser” makes could also be restored to excellence, but they couldn’t command a high enough market price to make the job worthwhile economically for the rebuilder.

I hope this helps—and that any possible inaccuracies will be addressed by people who know more.  (I’m not an industry professional, but I did purchase a piano that was warranted to be “rebuilt” but instead was just refurbished, i.e., dressed up to sell.   Sad )
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keys60
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2010, 12:17:57 PM »

I've pretty much understood refurbishing to be getting everything to work as designed, like regulating the action, adjusting the lyre and trap work, maybe rebushing flanges, unsticking keys and leveling them. Not really using to many new parts but adjusting everything and refelting to rid the instrument of any unwanted noises.

Refinishing would include the first paragraph and finishing the cabinet so it cosmetically looks good either through french polishing or revarnished. Possibly new strings and hammers and shanks.

Rebuilt would be new hammers, shanks, strings, maybe pinblock, reconditioned trapwork as opposed to restored, all of the above with new all new action parts, including wippons, which in many cases does not include them, new sound board, finish. Just a total gut job and everything replaced and refinished.

Of course as Stevebob mentioned, even these things vary and are a matter of perception and many a time the public gets shortchanged. Total rebuilds/restorations are the wonderful provided they are
done by a person or shop that is qualified to to so. They generally will save you 35%-50% the price of new.
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keys60
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2010, 12:20:59 PM »

One more thing, there are much more qualified technicians on these boards than myself so in a matter of time, I'm sure you'll get a few more detailed answers to your inquiry.
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pianorebuilder
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2010, 10:04:30 PM »

Unfortunately, there is no "standard" anywhere to define exactly what a vintage pianos' status is after it has been "Restored", "Refurbished", "Rebuilt", "Reconditioned", or whatever other designation a used piano seller has for it.  I have evaluated MANY vintage pianos for clients where the seller has claimed "completely restored" only to find all original parts with the hammers filed and action regulated!  More often than not, unsuspecting consumers are mislead about the true nature and condition of a used piano.  

Your best bet is to hire a highly respected and qualified piano rebuilder/restorer (not a piano tuner) in your area to evaluate any piano you are interested in, find out exactly what has and has not been replaced, make up your own mind if it is "restored" to your satisfaction, and has the touch and tone you are looking for.
Good luck!
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Franco Skilan RPT
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hdpsr7
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2010, 01:04:25 PM »

Gentlemen, Many thanks for your comments and professional input.  Hai
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silverwoodpianos
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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2010, 03:53:10 PM »


On this issue here is a blog posting I have on another forum.

Restoration and Rebuilding
 
There are a variety of opinions on what these words mean to various people. These words can mean many things. To restore a vintage piano is to attempt to return it to its’ former glory when it left the factory floor many years ago.

Sometimes you can restore a part of the instrument by rebuilding the badly worn component part. Other times you have to replace the part with a new part. Many of the replacement parts for pianos today are what are called generic after-market parts. These parts kind -of, almost- fit, every piano with some adjustment. One has to be careful in the choice of replacement parts for vintage pianos; especially the components that produce tonal qualities, for example, replacement hammer sets, replacement strings, sounding boards and bridge work. Improper choices in these areas may produce undesirable results in the finished product.

Also one has to be mindful of the fact that maybe this is a historical piece and it must be kept as original as possible while at the same time attempting to get the instrument to function correctly. It can be a delicate balance indeed; trying to retain the vintage or antique value……
Years of experience tell the restorer what replacement parts will work with certain instruments better than other parts.

Here is a Chickering piano that I restored recently. Depending upon how the vintage piano is cared for in its early years will determine the amount of work required to return the instrument to its former glory.

This one comes with an interesting history. Originally this instrument was owed by an English geologist. In the early part of the last century this person was commissioned to work in northern Canada; a place called Frobisher Bay.

Back then this instrument was first loaded onto a ship bound for Greenland. Then, upon arrival the instrument was loaded onto a dog sled and taken up over the Pole and down into Frobisher Bay where it remained until this person passed away. It was then purchased by my clients’ mother and sent to a place called Loon Lake (north of Winnipeg) where it stayed until she passed.

Both of these places were heated by wood stove or furnace. Because of this, the instrument was subject to huge swings in temperature and humidity. This caused the animal hide glue to come apart on almost every seam. So basically the instrument was all complete; just that everything was coming apart.

The instrument had to be completely dismantled and then re-assembled. While re-assembly was taking place, many of the wooden parts could be re-used. This is sometimes where the words restoration and rebuilding are confused. With many of the wooden parts in the antique action I restored them by rebuilding the felt work built into them. So yes the action components were “rebuilt “with new cloths and felt, but they were also “restored” to their original condition.

This instrument took 16 months to complete. Here is a photo album to browse through. This is a Picasa on-line web album. Please left click once on this link, that will take you to the location of the photo album. Then left click once on the first photo, top left and this will open up the photo album so that you can read the text below each frame. Inside this photo album you will see the some of the problems associated with certain replacement parts.

 Here is the link for the photo album…..happy viewing…..

http://picasaweb.google.com/silverwoodpianos/1905ChickeringGrand66#


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Dan Silverwood
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keys60
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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2010, 01:49:25 PM »

Very impressive rebuild indeed.
Curious to the 6 triad bass strings: I'm betting they sound awesome....do they?
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silverwoodpianos
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2010, 02:57:54 PM »


Interesting that you ask that Curtis. At this point in time Chickering was experimenting with a lot of different designs for string scaling and different designs for actions.

This instrument here is mahogany veneer over yellow oak rails; the cabinet is more than 3 inches thick, the instrument has a lot of wood in the sound; dark and mellow. This would change of course if the owner wanted a brighter sound; the instrument was tuned to 442 or 443 for example.

The triads in the upper bass provide a smooth transition from the treble wire to wrapped strings.  This is not a scale that has wrapped strings on the tenor side of the scaling. The whole bass in this instrument has a deep full timbre; the triads have plenty of power as does the tenor area just to the right of that.

I have come across several  string scale designs from Chickering that have the triads in the upper bass section.
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Dan Silverwood
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keys60
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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2010, 09:32:22 PM »

I personally love Chickerings as opposed so many who think they are too temperamental.
Unfortunately, instead of sticking to one sure thing, they seemed to have experimented themselves right out of business, but they really did put out some interesting designs and scaling.
Very impressive job you did there. Wish I was at that point of know how.
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silverwoodpianos
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2010, 08:13:03 PM »


I like the Chickering too Curtis. At one time they were on the leading edge of experimental designs for pianos. Possibly this contributed to their downfall; not sure really.

Thanks for the comments on the rebuild. You will get to that point soon just keep at it. A little a day and after a lifetime of practice you have arrived…..

There are more photo albums of my restorative work on my web site under photo galleries.  You can continue on and have a further look there if you like. I didn’t want to turn this thread into my rebuilds and restorations only.
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Dan Silverwood
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keys60
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« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2010, 01:55:27 AM »

Can't think of a better place to share. Thanks. I'd love to take a look.
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silverwoodpianos
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2010, 06:07:51 PM »


Sure just click on my web site icon and go to “photo galleries”. I have some that I have restored shown there. I have some albums coming up for posting there.

I can post more links here if you like Curtis.
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Dan Silverwood
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keys60
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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2010, 09:05:26 PM »

I took a look right away. Really nice results from what I can see. Are you kiddin'? Post away. I love looking at someone elses primo work. Grin  I check out rebuilt piano pics and go to the shops constantly. Its great to compare.
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silverwoodpianos
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2011, 04:37:14 PM »

Hello Curtis,

Just coming back to this one now. I recall you mentioned in the pitch raise thread about not being too experienced in that process.

I am wondering if you are on the email list for Chuck Behm. . He is a restorer like myself, but also writes articles for the PTG Journal. 

He started this thread over on the Piano World forums.  Here is the link……

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1551992/Promo%20materials%20research%20proje.html#Post1551992

Another later thread about the same thing……

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1556162/New%20info%20on%20available%20promos.html#Post1556162

Also if you could email me direct from my web site email icon I have a ton of his stuff already that you can use for reference materials and materials to sell your jobs. There are about 30 emails here from the past year or so. I can forward you all of them; you look them over and keep what you like.

Here is another restoration project I did last spring. This one was refinished improperly at some point and then after the candle on the music rest damage was done, she decided to have the instrument refinished properly. You will see how the shellac if not applied correctly is not very durable. Happy viewing.….

http://picasaweb.google.com/silverwoodpianos/BroadwoodGrand#
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Dan Silverwood
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http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/

If you think it's is expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
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