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W.M. Knabe & Co. Piano - Help (Read 6228 times)

Offline mattmc88

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W.M. Knabe & Co. Piano - Help
« on: December 05, 2013, 08:33:13 PM »
Hi,

I work for a small real estate company in Chester, SC and we have acquired a foreclosed home that contains what appears to be a baby grand piano made by W.M. Knabe & Co.. The piano is pretty beat up but still carries a tune when the keys are pressed. I was wondering if someone would be able to tell me if it is worth keeping and trying to restore or if it is beyond repair. I will try to post some pictures on here and would greatly appreciate any advice that you can give me. There appears to be some sort of serial number on the inside and I have tried to date the piano but I can't seem to find any helpful information on it.











Offline hfmadopter

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Re: W.M. Knabe & Co. Piano - Help
«Reply #1 on: December 05, 2013, 08:55:55 PM »
Most pianos can be rebuilt, it's a matter of if you want to spend $5000 to make it work and look just presentable or $10000-$15000 or even more to fully restore it. That said it also would be impossible to assess all that from pictures. It has to be physically assessed by a competent rebuilder in the business of rebuilding pianos.

Additionally, with brand new knock offs from China out there that are built to very exacting standards with fancy computer tooling and German parts, American parts and Canadian soundboard and selling for $6000 ? It makes one wonder if any piano is worth rebuilding that is not a family heirloom or a specific life long desired instrument ( If a Steinway O fell in my lap I might consider that worth while for instance, since I like them).
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: W.M. Knabe & Co. Piano - Help
«Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 12:30:55 AM »
As to date, probably around 1924 based on the serial number.  Knabes were very good pianos, on the whole, but that particular one looks -- visually -- pretty beat up.  Much as I hate to say it, I'd be a little hesitant about spending a whole lot of money on it.  That said, it isn't beyond repair...

On the other hand, you might very easily manage to sell it on some site such as Craigslist.  Not for a whole lot of money, but better than nothing -- and if it will hold tune make some other person very happy indeed.

for hfmadopter: if a Steinway O fell in your lap... OUCH!
Ian

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: W.M. Knabe & Co. Piano - Help
«Reply #3 on: December 06, 2013, 09:43:17 AM »
for hfmadopter: if a Steinway O fell in your lap... OUCH!

It used to be a figure of speech around here when something great magically appears ! But 30 some odd years ago it was to be my Henry F Miller (HFM  :: ) not a Steinway O that magically was able to happen, thanks to my tuner who had a look out for a grand for me. We bartered off some work and with a couple thousand dollars added into the pot it was mine. My wife says it's never leaving even if I get an O or an A some day, we can just move the Miller into the studio room according to her.

I agree that the OP's Knabe looks able to be restored and that is a decent brand. If he knew that old tuner I had back 30 years ago ( long since passed away I'm sure) it might be worth while but these days restoration is quite expensive. And from photos it's hard to say what it really needs. Hey maybe a tuning, some key tops and a finish job  would get it working pretty well for all I know ! Can't tell from photos.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline indianajo

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Re: W.M. Knabe & Co. Piano - Help
«Reply #4 on: December 06, 2013, 07:11:41 PM »
These pros get all excited about restoration with their $5000-10000 estimates. Steinways of that age are often beat to death by too many hours of use, and require a lot of work to felts and pins etc.  But home pianos often were more of a fashion statement than something people played a lot.   Many 1924 pianos that I have played in Sunday school (uprights) are fine except for some missing keytops and 50 year old tuning.  Many uprights were junk, but Knabe was one of the quality brands IMHO.  
You could probably get $500 on craigslist as is where is.  If the middle pedal works right (holds up only the keys down at the time it was pushed) maybe it would draw even more. This is more of an advanced hobbiest piano, and I would be tempted if it wasn't 800 miles away.  
A furniture restorer could probably do a job on the finish and external dings for $600 if you are a pro and he has a chance at some repeat business. I don't know if this would increase your price a lot.  Picky rich people don't care how it sounds, they want a Yamaha because the salesman is so cute! I can't find a piano teacher around here, they have all bought Yamahas, which I think sound generic and have really stupid middle pedals (console). I have a rich high school friend that was repeating all the lore from the store of his "superior" Pearl River console piano when he bought it three years ago, and I bought my very used 1941 Steinway.  This fall he tells me he has quit playing the Pearl River, having had 5 strings put in it on the same note, and nobody can repair it. My 41 Steinway needs tuning again after 3 years, and has a faint boink on one note due to usage or a spliced string.
Getting the one key top repaired probably would take someone with piano experience, but there are lots of junky donor uprights that have keytops.  Modern glues should be quite reliable.  Check with a tuner; some might take on the replacing the keytop and one tuning for a fixed price.   Some tuners are mechanical wimps; the one I stopped calling in tried to fix the loose tuning peg on a two year old piano with an electric humidifying heater device. Didn't work.
I wouldn't mess with the keytops that have broken front edges.  I've played many pianos in Sunday school that had that problem and I never cut myself once.  One hits the middle of the key, not the front edge.  Of course as a fashion statement, it is not going to win any beauty contests that way.  
Edit 12/8 I played 2 hours yesterday on a lovely sounding Baldwin Acrosonic console at the weekly free dinner for walkups at a downtown church, and it had a lot of broken key front edges.  No problem, no pain.  A cosmetic problem only.   

Offline beethovensonata

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Re: W.M. Knabe & Co. Piano - Help
«Reply #5 on: December 16, 2013, 02:36:49 AM »
Judging by the pictures, and that W. Knabe is a very cheap company, i would trash it.  If it was a steinway totally restore it, but the way it sits, it would not be worth the work that needs to be done to that piano.