Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/info


I have acquired Davis and Son serial #29955. upright
Can you tell me anything about it.


Hi Keith:

Your piano was made by Weaver in York, PA in 1902.

It is a typical American upright from that period, and as I remember, Weaver pianos were pretty substantial.

By the way...that is all there is to know about your piano...sorry!

However, if you were looking for information about upright pianos in general...her goes.

And upright piano is like a grand only in that it has keys and strings...the rest is coincidental.

The case: generally veneered over a core of some substantial wood poplar. The veneer is thin and there for decorative purposes only. It is the veneer that is finished and give the piano it's furniture value. Davis and Son, made by Weaver is not exception.

These pianos were called "cabinet grands" for marketing purposes only. They manufacturers used to say the the string length was as big as a grand, but by and large, the acoustical value of a vertical piano was marginal at best.

Ok...let's move on to the soundboard. Your piano has a board made of spruce with, I'm guessing since I'm not there to see it, Pine or Spruce ribs. The job of the board is to expand the amplitude of the vibration of the string. Think stereo amplifier and speaker here.

The bridge on the board is there to "bridge" or connect the vibration of the string to the board to effect the amplification.

On to the action: In a full upright...as I'm guessing yours is since you sent no picture or measurements, is a compromise from the grand. It is escapement in function much like the trigger mechanism on a revolver or a mechanical clock. The escapement system allows for fast repetition. The Grand piano has a similar mechanism but much more responsive. Most of the parts in the action are made of wood. The hammers themselves are made of felt. Felt comes from the process of taking wool and literally sprinkling it in layers and then compressing. The hammer felt, triangular in configuration is pressed onto a hammer molding, glued, and in better pianos, reinforced with staples. I'm not sure about your piano as I can't see it from here. By the way I would be happy to do a full on site evaluation. If you have a Weaver made piano, perhaps you are in the Pennsylvania area...just a guess.

The pedal mechanism or trap work as we call it is a system of levers that allow for the dampers, those parts that shut down the sound after the key is released. The dampers have wooden heads, felt contacts, and its own system of levers and springs to effect the shut down process.

Keys: These are generally quarter sawn spruce covered in Ivory back then for the naturals and Ebony for the sharps. The ivory is installed in three pieces; front, head, and tail. This comes from the tusks of elephants. No good piano builder will touch ivory today. As in the case of all action parts, metal never touch metal or wood touch wood or wood touch metal. Wherever moving parts are concerned there is a layer of woven cloth. This cloth allows for quiet operation as well as replacement in the inevitable event of wear.

Pin block: The block is that piece of laminated lumber with the sole purpose of holding on to the tuning pins which are anchored there in. It sits directly behind the cast steel plate.

The plate is there to hold the enormous tension, some 20 tons, that's 40,000 pounds of stress exerted by the strings.

The strings, interestingly enough are cast also. They get to be the correct size by a process called drawing which case hardens the strings. Drawing is the process by which the strings are passed through a series of plates with smaller and smaller holes until the desired diameter is reached. This is where case hardening comes in. The outer layer of metal gets compressed and is more dense than the interior...thing hard candy with a soft center.

What did I leave out...not much...oh...the glue. The glue was made of protein from the hides of horses, steer, rabbit, and fish. In the case of pianos, mammal hide was the protein base of choice. Hide glue comes from boiling the hides, removing impurities, then letting it cool until it is hard. It is then ground and sold for furniture purposes. Hide glue is extremely hard when dry, has immense holding power, is hare to work with since the tack time is shore and has two main enemies; moisture and bacteria. I still use hide glue today because of its amazing acoustical properties...I'm probably the only one left.

Weaver was a typical manufacturer of its day started in 1901 and ended as many manufactures did in 1930 after the great depression.

The name Davis could have come from anywhere from being made up or and actual family member of the Weaver group.

Well...I hope I didn't leave out anything you might want to know.

There is know way of knowing where your piano was sold, or to whom, or the succession of owners until it got to you.

You piano might be great, or it might have the normal issues of a mid level instrument that is this old; weak pin block, dried glue joints, loose ribs, work out action parts, etc.

These old piano are never worth investing much more than the minimum maintenance necessary to keep it tunes and playing.

In the best of circumstances, your piano is worth one to two hundred dollars at best.

If you want to send a host of photos, in and out of your piano, perhaps I can tell you more.

You can go to http://www.onestipiano.com and get to me through any of the sections listed. If you need my resume, I believe it is posted there also.

Happy Holidays!

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Ralph Onesti


I am a Registered/tested member of the Piano Technicians Guild (RPT) with 49 years of experience in all phases and levels of the acoustic piano. I will answer any questions regarding acoustic pianos only. All questions and answers are to remain public. Please to not include sensitive material! If they are marked private, I will change them to public. My answers may be of assistance to others. If privacy is an issue, please contact me through my web site: http://www.onestipiano.com Electronic keyboards, organs, and player/reproducing piano mechanisms are outside of my expertise. Anything to do with: Construction, Service, Tuning, Climate Control Systems, Piano Disc, Purchasing, Selling, Insurance Appraisal, Rebuilding, Repairs, Legal issues, Maintenance, Environmental issues, Finish issues with acoustic pianos. My full resume can be found at: http://onestipiano.com/pages/history.html You can like us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/onestipianoservice


In business since 1964, Extensive Rebuilding/Repair/Service facility. A certified, tested, member of the Piano Technicians Guild, Member of the Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. Have performed piano service on Concert Stage, Recording Studios, and in the home. Http://www.onestipiano.com. The shop's work comes from all over the world from private clients or other techncians.

The Piano Technicians Guild, Master Piano Technicians of America, Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. (TASA), IAPBT. The Piano Technicians Guild is the only organization in the US that offers a certification test to become Registered. There are no "factory authorized techncians".

The Piano Technicians Journal

Attented Temple University, Drexel University, Philadelphia Community college all in the areas of engineering and Music. I taught a two semester course in Piano Technology and the related acoustical physics at Temple University. I have taught extensively for the Piano Technicians Guild and the Master Piano Technicians of America.

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Service Award for the Rose Tree Media School District in Pennsylvania. Chapter Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild.

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The list is rather extensive. I would suggest you go http://onestipiano.com/pages/testimonials.html where there is a comprehensive list of clients past and present.

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