Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/G.Schwechten Upright Piano


russellpollard wrote at 2013-03-22 15:41:00
It is G.Schwechten [not C as oddly suggested!?]

Your piano may be a piece of junk or it may be worth a small fortune. They can fetch as much as $15,000 and more, and of course a lot less too. This is one piano about which glib generalisations should not be made. And it is one piano that should not be tuned by any old any piano tuner.

Do not be duped, as many people have been, by salesmen who tell them otherwise and try to take them off their hands as some kind of out of tune old clunkers, so they can sell them a new piano.

There are however several things that you need to check out.

The timber used for the sound board of a new piano will be nothing like the timber that is likely to be in your Schwechten, depending on exactly what kind it is. You should know that the sound board that went into your piano was probably something like 25 years old. That kind of stuff is rarely available, let alone used, these days. A bit like the timber in a fine violin. May look ordinary but the sound in an old one made with the right timber is extraordinary. Piano making was hardly in its infancy in the late 19th century, and the value of such timber was well understood. Still is.

Because it has a steel frame it may have weathered reasonably well, depending on many factors. It could also need a fair whack of money spent on it.

The strings and the pegs may need some major attention and the felts will probably need to be replaced. But the thing is, it may well have had some of this work done once or more over its long life so the kinds of generalisations that get made too easily and too often are disappointing to say the least.

The piano might or might not hold concert pitch. If it does, excellent. If it doesn't you may need to decide how much you want to spend to bring it back to some or all of its former glory. This piano has an extra long keyboard and is in effect an early upright grand piano and if in top condition would be a joy for any serious musician to play, or own.

In my view it would sound as fine as any modern Steinway . . . though not as fine as an older concert pitch, in tune Steinway.

It may be that you tune it to being a semitone off and it will still sound utterly beautiful. They have an incredible tone that is close to magical to hear. So even if not 100% it may still be a pleasure to play and even to learn on, but it will not be suitable for playing in an ensemble. Then again this is one heck of a heavy piano and is not likely to move - or to have been moved - very often at all.

I suggest that you shop around for a firm who tune and sell very fine old pianos and ask then to take a look and to discuss your options. You may be able to have some work done on it now and some more later on. The frame may need re-polishing, or it may be fine as it is. Ivories are no longer supplied legally with new pianos in most parts of the world, but old pianos that are used for parts may still surrender ivory keys for yours if you're lucky. Some of the brass may be missing and so on but all that can be fixed.

If you do bring it all together you would almost be insane to sell it. Whatever you do just make sure you get some people who really know about Schwechten pianos before you do anything else.

They were, and many still are, beautiful and prized instruments and they were indeed imported by composers and people with the means to afford them, to the four corner of the world.

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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.

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