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I have recently looked at a 1924 Bechstein model 7 upright. I'm wondering whether it's worth spending the money on a rebuild. Most reputable rebuilders I've spoken with do not even bother with most uprights, with rare exceptions, e.g. a rare or special make/model, or if the case is exceptional or if they're doing it for someone who has a sentimental attachment to the piano.

This piano needs to be rebuilt, as the pins are 'uneven at best and at worst loose'. The soundboard is OK, but I'm concerned that once the tension is removed and then restrung, it may not retain any crown at all. The action is decent as well but will need reconditioning. The piano was cared for very well, so thats a plus. The case/finish is nothing special.

I've received "estimates" on rebuilding ranging from $6000 to $15000, the low end was a technician who inspected the piano, others were sight unseen ballpark estimates.

Thoughts? Is a rebuilt Bechstein really "worth" $15,000-$20,000?

I have an appreciation for vintage things, generally in my life. However, I'm concerned that sentiment is giving me a bias in this case. Perhaps I'd be better off just looking at a new piano in the same price range, such as a Petrof or Schimmel.

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Quote
Originally posted by yeldarb:
The soundboard is OK, but I'm concerned that once the tension is removed and then restrung, it may not retain any crown at all.
Restringing doesn't affect the crown, either for good or bad.

There are cabinet styles and veneers available in older pianos that are no longer available. No one but you can say if it's "worth it".

--Cy--


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I used to have a 1904 Bechstein model 7 that was a delight to play.


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Courtney Pianos in Oxford, UK, specialises in restoring Bechsteins. Check them out for thoughts and ideas http://www.courtneypianos.co.uk/ I've phoned them in the past about restoring my mother's bechstein 8, and they were extremely helpful.

I personally think that a good upright such as a Bechstein is well worth restoring, but I'm probably in a minority on this forum. I like the "quietness" and "gentleness" of these pianos (I'm groping for words here). I also like having a piano with a case that has character and style rather than just being a slab of black.

Here in europe, where there are proportionally far fewer grands than in the US (if I've understood the figures correctly), there isn't the same attitude towards only having an upright, and so the question "Is it worth restoring an upright?" doesn't arise in the same way that it seems to in the US.

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I also like having a piano with a case that has character and style rather than just being a slab of black.
That cracked me up!

A man after my own heart...

R


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I would not attempt it in this country, maybe europe but not here.


"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

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Reviving a dead thread, but a never-dead question. Has anyone any experience with Bechstein 7? 138cm, often nice cabinetry.
Any common flaws to be alert for? Any raging success stories?

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I think Cunningham has done a few nice Bechstein upright restorations.


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I've played Bechstein uprights that have been rebuilt through Blüthner UK. Some had new soundboards and some didn't. If they didn't, it was because it was not required (yes, I know some rebuilders believe it isn't required at all, that's fine, just relaying the facts of my experience here).

In each case these pianos sounded, felt, and looked beautiful. Although all large upright pianos built between c.1890 and today look the same to the naked eye, or at least very similar, internally, enough has changed now that they're not the same. There are design differences that have been implemented and I say that so that you know that your piano will not sound like a modern piano. It may sound pretty close to how it did when it was new, or at least it may be restored to a recognizable vintage Bechstein tone, but it will not sound or feel or respond like a new piano. The design of the piano means that it can't sound like a new piano no matter how bright or mellow you make it through voicing.

Will the piano be 'worth $15 - $20,000?'. Probably not, in reality, even with premium makes, you are very unlikely to recoup the cost of the rebuild via a sale. Unless you are a dealer, which I assume you are not, there is no point in trying to restore a piano for the specific purpose of reselling it. Restore the piano because you want that piano restored, restore it because you want that sound, restore it because you want a vintage Bechstein upright.

When a piano is valued, even a rebuilt piano, there is more than one figure that can be quoted, for example the new for old cost of the equivalent model, the value of the individual piano at that particular time, or the cost of rebuilding the piano again. A fair market value for a rebuilt piano can be a very complicated subject. For example, I've seen pianos that have been fully rebuilt by Steinway Hamburg at a cost of 50,000 GBP and when the owner comes to sell, they struggle to get 15,000, but sometimes you get a surprise and the piano sells for much closer to the rebuilding cost.


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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
Reviving a dead thread, but a never-dead question. Has anyone any experience with Bechstein 7? 138cm, often nice cabinetry.
Any common flaws to be alert for? Any raging success stories?

I think if you are considering purchasing a Bechstein upright, it would probably be better to start a new thread. Esp. since a lot of people may look at the top post, not noticing it's over 10 years old, and respond to that rather than to your new question.

Just my two yen.


Started piano June 1999.
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I didn't even notice this was 15 years old...... I wonder what they did?


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Perhaps rebuilding it-- again?

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Anyway, I was most intrigued because there are some shops in the UK that seem to cherish the B7 more than most other models. And I'll be in a flat there for a few years.

It is always interesting to see what someone who knows what the state of the art would say.

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It might be simply that there were a lot of Bechstein model 7s imported into the UK before the wars. Bechstein was an extremely popular make in the UK. Apparently they used to come in through the port in Edinburgh. A school I used to teach at in St Andrews has about 4 or 5 Bechstein uprights, 3 of them are model 8s and at least one of them is the Model 9. They've a few grands as well, and all these pianos are now 100 years old. They still function, just. They're pretty dilapidated because they've had no rebuilding work done on them. In a small town called Forfar, there's a victorian town hall that was opened in 1890, called the Reid Hall. It's an extremely beautiful hall but it has fallen out of use as a concert hall and now looks more like a sports hall where church groups and play groups meet, and it all feels a bit sad. They have a Bechstein concert grand which I think is the Model II, it's about 8'6. It's in terrible condition of course, miraculously still playable but you wouldn't want it in your house without a serious amount of work done on it. Turns out they're having problems giving it away, so if anyone wants to call the charity Angus Alive in Scotland, and ask for Audrey, she may help you procure this piano. I am, at this juncture in my life, not interested in it.

Anyway it's very interesting because before WW1, Steinway was a highly regarded piano, but it was one of many regarded as equally good in the trade. Steinway then grew a reputation as being the only piano worth considering, which was pervasive for a long time, and all these old concert grands fell out of use. Artists were reluctant to play on pianos that weren't Steinway, even in the UK, and so the pianos were neglected as hire pianos were brought in, and a lot of them are mothballed. Some have found their way into churches, and some have been rebuilt and placed in peoples homes, schools, etc, but some of them have naturally found their way to the junk yard, unfortunately. I think it's better to have a new, modern piano in a venue of course, for several reasons, but it's a shame to lose history. I do love watching OE1FEU's video of all the old concert grands in his friend's room in Vienna.


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May take a spin through some of the older guys. There is what appears to be a fine shop in Oxford that specializes in rebuilt old things. Also Feurich, for the less romantic of us.

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Hello,

This video 'aired' yesterday, may give a nice impression?

I'm also all for restoration of all things beautiful -- wherever possible.

Cheers and happy playing,

HZ


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That was the shop. laugh

They have a few others in inventory now, but also seem to have a steady rotation.

I've got larger priorities than to sort that out, but if it is nice enough to use for a few years and then import to the US, it could be a pleasant find.

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Hello,

Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
That was the shop. laugh

Sweet coincidence 😄.

Cheers and happy playing,

HZ

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Originally Posted by lilylady
Quote
I also like having a piano with a case that has character and style rather than just being a slab of black.
That cracked me up!

A man after my own heart...

R
Originally Posted by HZPiano
Hello,

This video 'aired' yesterday, may give a nice impression?

I'm also all for restoration of all things beautiful -- wherever possible.

Cheers and happy playing,

HZ

I thought the "black slab" Kawai 500 sounded very nice against this particular Bechstein.I wonder if the action of this Bechstein could be rebuilt to match some of the modern Bechsteins or Kawai K500's of today?(usually black slabs that sound Great!)

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There was a thread about dropping modern pianos into old cases. This would be a prime candidate if the measurements worked out right!

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Maybe a note to Bechstein would produce some interesting results. There are a lot of these old ones floating around, and a new Concert 8 or 124 could do worse.

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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
There was a thread about dropping modern pianos into old cases. This would be a prime candidate if the measurements worked out right!
True, though some restored uprights can really have a beautiful tone,because they have survived well and/or have been well restored.If rebuilt properly I think they can have a good action too.
I think that the action of the modern upright is generally excellent although in the more massed produced examples the
tone can sometimes be very much "out of the same can."(or it could be just me who also tends to be more romantic)

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We'll see how this one behaves/sounds. They also have an old Steinway K, a few more Bechsteins, and the Feurich line to provide a bit of a reality check, in case I get too sucked into the romance of klaviers gone by.

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Oops-- Hamburg K (1930ish, rosewood) now 'reserved'. Oh, well. That would have been a pain to bring to the US, being younger than antique, and filled with precious wood and ivory. The Bechsteins are all pre-WWI.

Last edited by Maestro Lennie; 08/03/21 09:57 AM.
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and if the pins are not rock solid you can always put CA glue (just kidding).

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I think those models were tuned at the factory, so shouldn't be a problem.

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So would you have the piano (Bechstein 1924) restored/rebuilt in the UK and then ship to US? It sounds like you are in the UK at the moment.Perhaps better to restore here? (just thinking of the piano being shipped over) It would probably would suffer no problems related to the shipping though.(not sure)

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Originally Posted by pold
and if the pins are not rock solid you can always put CA glue (just kidding).
That's what we do not want!


My piano is my friend and my voice to the great unknown, out there..
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Originally Posted by tre corda
So would you have the piano (Bechstein 1924) restored/rebuilt in the UK and then ship to US? It sounds like you are in the UK at the moment.Perhaps better to restore here? (just thinking of the piano being shipped over) It would probably would suffer no problems related to the shipping though.(not sure)

I split my time these days. But the vintage German uprights seem more plentiful in the UK, and they are more sensible for squeezing into a temporary flat. (Size, price.)

If I find one worth living with in the longer term, that would be another $5k shipping to the US and possibly some additional restoration. But worth keeping as an option.

Last edited by Maestro Lennie; 08/04/21 06:39 PM.
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Originally Posted by tre corda
Originally Posted by pold
and if the pins are not rock solid you can always put CA glue (just kidding).
That's what we do not want!

agreed, it's just gross, bad for the metal, bad for the wood.

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