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I recently got an Ivers and Pond upright made in 1898 but rebuilt and refinished maybe 20 - 30 years ago. It sounds good. The bass strings are a tad tubby but overall it sounds very good. The cabinet is a thing of beauty with wonderful hand carvings and ornate. Not Victorian but still ornate. My wife loves the look of the piano. The piano does have some minor problems though. The dampers need some work as several notes (maybe about six) don't dampen well and ring out after you play them. I'm not crazy about the damper pedal as it seems hard to push the pedal down far enough to get a complete lift of the dampers off the strings. There are a couple of other minor issues but nothing major.

Recently I went to play a Steinway K52 built in 1908. It played well and didn't have any issues. The damper action was easy and smooth. I didn't care for the sound though. It sounded stuffy and small. It was quite a bit better with the top lid opened up. It too has been rebuilt probably 20-30 years ago. The cabinet wasn't bad but it had many scratches and dings and really wasn't pretty at all. It is also fairly plain Jane compared to my piano. Quite frankly the quality of the cabinet (and I'm not talking about the ornate carving but just the quality of the woodwork.) Seemed cheaply made compared to my I&P. The guy would take $2000 for it which is a good price but I am kind of thinking if I put about $500 into my piano it would end up being a better overall piano. The fall board on the Steinway is very banged up. It looks good open but terrible when closed.

I'm thinking I would be better off fixing up my Ivers and Pond. What do you guys think?


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Have you had a piano technician look at the Ivers & Pond damper situation? They may just need a minor regulation.

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Stating the obvious, the technician would also advise on what's involved in fixing up the Ivers and Pond.


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Take the bottom panel off your piano and you'll probably figure out how to adjust the damper pedal travel just by looking at the mechanism. There's probably a piece of threaded rod coming up from the damper pedal and through one end of a see-saw lever arm, and on top of that there's a circle of felt and a nut for adjustment. Hold the pedal up and push the lever arm down to give you clearance to spin the adjustment nut.
It's easy to see in this photo: upright piano pedal connections


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There are lots of 100-year-old pianos that aren't so hot, and may never be. No reason that a Steinway couldn't be one of them.

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Relative quality of "rebuilds" could be a significant factor. Ivers & Pond made an excellent upright. SS no slouch but their action has always been their Achilles heel.

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You're just speculating about everything except the look and cosmetic condition of both pianos. You need a good tech to examine one or both and tell you what needs fixing and how much it will cost. Knowing a piano was "rebuilt" in the past isn't useful to you or responders unless we know what was done and the quality of the work.

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A very common occurrence has long been mis-labeling "reconditioned" as "rebuilt". Many of us have seen pianos that were simply refinished referred to as "completely redone", etc. Marketing 101.

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Just a snippet of my thinking and past experience... I saw an older Steinway upright for sale on Facebook Marketplace a while back, which was located in Columbus Ga. Not a long distance for me, but still a couple of hours drive. I think the owners were asking like $1000 for it, which made it even more tempting, for a Steinway.

I PM'd the owners and asked a few questions and they responded back and said three dealers/techs had already come to look at it and passed on it. I thought to myself, if the dealers/techs passed, something must be wrong with the piano, or they decided to pass for some reason, although I'm sure their interest was mostly profit motivated. So, I decided maybe I was not as interested as I thought, and chose not to go look at it.

That said, the Steinway name in itself spurs interest, for better or worse.

Pianolance, I believe you have said here before that you are somewhat of a piano broker, or that you buy and sell on occasion. If that is still the case, the Steinway upright might have some resale potential for you.

That said (part II smile ), it sounds like your old Ivers and Pond upright might be hard to beat, for what it is...

Good luck, my friend!

Rick


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I thought about picking up the Steinway to flip but it's been awhile since I've been in the horse trading side of things. I don't think it sounds any better than my Ivers and Pond but it definitely plays better. I think it wouldn't take that much to significantly improve my piano. I did have a piano technician out to look at mine and she improved it greatly. It's about 90% of the way there to being a fine piano, but still needs some tweeking to get it there. My piano tech wasn't super experienced with dampers but did a great job getting it to where it is. I think a more experienced tech would get it where I want it. That's the route I'm looking at for now. If the Steinway looked better I think I would give it more serious consideration, but looks are important to my wife, and you know, happy wife, happy life, lol.


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Actually I did not like the look of the latest Steinway upright..It was the console/studio, the one just a little smaller than the K52. It was in Satin Ebony and no not nice at all.I also thought it looked cheap.In fact the Yamaha uprights in PE looked far nicer.

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Greetings,
There is something about a Steinway...... Yep, something special, in the sense that most other brands don't have it. This special thing is called verdigris, and it can be a death knell. Steinway pianos have brass action rails, and before 1950's, seemed to have used tallow or some other grease-based treatment of either the wooden action parts or the felt bushings. I suspect verdigris is the result of a chemical reaction between the brass and whatever is in the felt, as I also see it between the rails and the flange cloth. It is a greasy, green, gunk that is found in the bushing felt and on the ends of the center-pins. It appears in most of the older actions from New York.

Why is verdigris a reason not to buy an older Steinway? The actions freeze up, becoming sluggish, heavy, or even unplayable as the corrosion tightens the center-pins. There are solutions on the market to lube these actions, and they sometimes work for a while,(maybe long enough for the piano to be sold....). Sometimes they work for several years, other times, several months, and sometimes not at all. Pianos are often sold as "rebuilt" when the actions have been treated with the current snake-oil, and I have seen a number of customers with unplayable pianos that they thought would be their lifetime instrument. Sad day when they get the $12,000 estimate to replace the action, and replacement is the only thing guaranteed to remove the verdigris problem.

This is one more reason to pay an independent technician to examine an older Steinway before you buy it. I have restored several uprights of this vintage and they were outstanding instruments, which I sold to professional musicians, but there is little chance to make a profit, as they take longer to restore than a Steinway grand yet don't command near the same price. (New parts are extremely expensive and very labor-intensive to install properly). The Ivers and Pond instruments of this vintage are easily the same quality and if you can find a competent tech, well worth the investment to fix the damper problems.
Don't invest in an old piano without paying a tech to tell you what your are buying. There are thousands of moving pieces in there, and they all have to work.
Regards,

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What Ed has discussed is what I meant by SS "Achilles heel".

It has been determined definitely (by SS own admission in an advertisement back in the 20's or so) that they dipped their flanges into boiling paraffin oil. The idea was to "waterproof" them i.e. seriously handicap the hygroscopic action of the wood for greater stability through the seasons.

So did it work? Who knows? Maybe it made a difference. No one alive today can say. The big question is did they know when they did this that there was going a chemical reaction between the paraffin and any exposed brass or copper alloy (e.g. cut center pins and/or metal rail)? Or were they totally ignorant of this and it was simply an honest little booboo? One has to wonder considering that SS is virtually the only piano company on the planet with this problem.

Eventually they stopped the practice...precisely when I don't know. Evidently it was limited to just the flanges, not the hammershanks themselves or whippens, however in an upright treatment of the flanges puts the paraffin almost in direct contact with the center pins (as opposed to a grand which is indirect contact). This explains to me why SS uprights seem to suffer even more so (and aggressively) from verdigris than grands. But its still pretty bad in the grands too.

A surefire way to find out is to simply watch the rebound of the hammershanks. They should be free and instantaneous in the rebound. If they appear slow in any way...youve got verdigris (or steinwayitis as we say).

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I cannot bare this when other piano become old, they just become old clunkers.Not important enough (not even old Bechsteins) to have a certifiable disease! 😔
But Steinway, this winner of wars is SO important that yes 🙄 when age creeps up, this amazing animal developes "Verdigris!" (a kind of arthritis of S&S pianos! )

Do not worry Steinway owners you may take the little bag of garlic (to chase away the musical vampires and disease of grave dissonance)out of your piano now as long as it's a new, newish, rebuilt, or its a recycled teenage Steinway now., You see the dread disease "VERDIGRIS" has been eradicated by these piano doctors.
Could you please tell me now if my 50 year old Yamaha may have a registered disease as well.. perhaps she could be cured to sing gloriously in her young voice yet again..for another 50? 😳 just maybe?


My piano's voice is my voice to the great unknown, out there..in other words a hymn.That is all but that is enough.

Just sold my old C2 and am thinking of replacing it with a CBechstein124, Schimmel K132 or a YUS5.
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Did I miss something?

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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P W Grey

It was supposed to be a Steinway (non Steinway)joke. I.understand perfectly how the problem was given its own
name.I appreciated yours and ED Footes explanation and your expert knowledge that you are always willing to share in this place.If I caused offense I truly did not mean to do that.

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No problem. I just didn't get it. 😁

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Gray

It is just that I had never heard about this problem before and never knew it existed.Verdigris just sounds so much like a human aging problem..it just set me off.Perhaps I have bit of the same problem, especially in the past few years at least.

I appreciated your explanation (and Ed Foote's explanation)


My piano's voice is my voice to the great unknown, out there..in other words a hymn.That is all but that is enough.

Just sold my old C2 and am thinking of replacing it with a CBechstein124, Schimmel K132 or a YUS5.
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Tre corda,

Interesting that you never heard of it as it is a very widespread condition (on NY SS anyway). The term verdigris actually applies to color (as it does on copper). The stuff is actually more like a fungus of sorts. Doubtlessly tied in with the oil in the wood. I have never seen it in a Hamburg instrument.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Verdigris is a copper oxide. It is the green patina on bronze statuary.


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