Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/1908 Piano - worth my time?

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Question
I visited the piano yesterday...

It's beautiful! The keys all work and it's in relative tune for not having been properly tuned or serviced for at least three years. The only issue I noticed was that the bottom is dropping out - the baseboards (it's on rollers) and the pedals have completely fallen off. Upon closer inspection, I can see that the pedal mechanism is still inside and the dowel connecting the pedals and the lifty-bar-thingies has become detached.
Can this be fixed? Is it as simple as nailing the bottom back on?

Thanks for your indulgence!
-J.
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The text above is a follow-up to ...

-----Question-----
I have been offered a 1908 57 inch Hobart M. Cable piano. While very generous, I am trying to decide if this piano is really worth my time. I am a poor, starving college student and can barely afford to pay the movers to haul the darn thing up the stairs; it will be several months before I can afford to have it tuned. What signs or characteristics should I look for to know whether or not the piano can even hold a tune? How do I know if it will need more refurbishing than I can afford?

Thanks for your help!
-J.
-----Answer-----
Hello Jennifer!  A piano must be assessed on its own merits regardless of it age, name or looks.  This is best done by an expert.  Whether the piano will hold a tune is hard to say.  However, I can give you some pointers:

1)  Check the piano's pitch against a known pitch source such as a pitch pipe or small guitar tuner.  If the piano is quite flat, it may be very difficult to bring it back up to pitch particularly if it has been a long time since its last tuning.  If the strings are rusty (dull and rough looking) it could be they will break if an attempt is made to bring the piano up to pitch.  In this case it is better to tune the piano where it is.  At least setting the  temperament is better than nothing.  

2)  Check every key for proper damper function, repeating function, etc.  Unless you find something that is particularly troublesome, the action should be useable for practice at least until you can upgrade.  If you have doubts about the piano, ask an accomplished piano student or two to check the piano out.  

3)  As a "starving" student, you can't be too choosey.  I know, I've been there.  However, getting an upright upstairs is a major accomplishment, let alone trying to get it down again.  It may be you can find a weighted, touch sensitive keyboard for a good price that would cost less than bothering with the upright...and you wouldn't have to tune it.  Try checking out craigslist.com in you locality.

Write back if you have any specific questions!

Answer
This is going to be a tough call without seeing the instrument.  Anything is repairable.  However, whether it is practical depends on the extent of the repair.  I've not seen a piano with a floor board come undone.  If the board is not splintered and is still intact, then I suspect the piano could be placed on end and repaired by gluing and screwing the board back into place (no nails).  However, if the board is broken into pieces, the board should be replaced.

Piano, Organ, and Keyboard

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Thomas Britanyak

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I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics. If you need a piano's date of manufacture, please go to http://www.pianoexchange.com/howold.htm or http://www.bluebookofpianos.com/pianoage.html I am happy to answer musical or technical questions, however, I CANNOT offer appraisals on pianos or organs. Please do not ask what an instrument is worth. For this service please contact an experienced local appraiser or try the following links: https://mmm1100.verio-web.com/blueb1/appraisal.html or http://www.57piano.com/questions.htm

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I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics.

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I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics.

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