Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/Wheelock Aeolian


QUESTION: I have my Grandmother's Wheelock Aeolian #305633.  I believe it is 1932-34.  The block is in good condition.  The tuner can tune it, but not bring it to the proper pitch.  The sound board has 3-4 cracks but other than that, it does fairly well.  I am moving from Maine to Nevada and getting it into the new house is going to be quite a chore. Was wondering if you had any words of advise for what I should do to it before moving it in, considering that it would be very difficult to have it taken afterwards to be restored.  I've heard it can be 6-8,000 to have restored.  If I ever wanted to sell it, could I at least cover my restoration expenses?  I have no idea of its worth now or what a fully restored Wheelock Aeolian Style RW Mahogany would go for.  Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Lauren:

The piano was made in 1934.

There is no reason it can't be brought to pitch.

I is NOT work restoration UNLESS you just you must keep Grandmother's piano in which case it has heirloom value ONLY!

6-8000.00 wouldn't put a dent in the restoration. For every dollar you put in you will be 30 cents back.

If you were my client, we would have a serious talk before I took your money.

Again, I have restored pianos at this level, but only when the client had disposable income for a family heirloom. The piano is never worth it.

I would say, if you had need of a piano, leave this one behind and talk to me when you get to Nevada...a good used Kawai will service your musical needs much more than this.

If you absolutely need it restored...we'll talk further.

Fist you must establish the "need".

I hope that helped!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for such a quick response.  I see many pianos of this age restored.  Do I take it from your response that this piano is not of the same caliber as those being restored and therefore, it would not be practical, unless I have money to throw away?

Is there something short of total restoration that should be done on an 80 year old piano, since it is being moved?  Should I at least have the sounding board replaced, the hammers redone and the pins seems to hold ok, but pin tight was used in the 60s so I am not sure if that indicates that it is becoming more loose.  

Thank you again.  Lauren

Hi Lauren:

It has nothing to do with "caliber". It has to do with cost effectiveness.

If you give me your Steinway and 37K, I'll return it to you worth twice that much in today's market.

If you give me your Wheelock and 37K, I'll return 8K to  you!!!!

The fact is that even the lesser grand pianos today are better than most older grands of little known manufacture like the Aeolian.

It would be imprudent to replace a soundboard in an Aeolian when you could buy a Kawai, which would be a better piano, than the refurbished Aeolian.

Most "rebuilders" would not cough up that information.

If pin tite was used in the 60's, you at least need a pin block. The soundboard, if replaced with the bridges is a big job beyond most rebuilders. Just know I outlined 12,000.00 worth of work, and a new Kawai would be around the same price.

The long and short of it is:

1. You should be talking to a REGISTERED member of the piano technicians guild. If they do wrong by you, you have recourse...if not...you have nothing but attorneys.

2. Aeolian Grands are never cost effective to rebuild.

3. You can find better grands, younger, with better acoustics than the Aeolian after reconditioning.

4. With a piano from a qualified retailer, you get a warranty.

5. I have rebuilt grands of that "caliber", after a long discussion with the owner and the end of that discussion resulting in: "I know it's not worth it but I can afford it and it MUST remain in the family". Then...I take the money.

My advice is to read the above three times, think hard, then make your decision.

I'm here for you!

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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.

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

Past/Present Clients
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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