Two very old Knabe uprights

Two very old Knabe uprights – VERY different conditions of pianos

Yesterday I saw an old Knabe, about100 years old, that had huge problems – and so much had been done to it. Today I saw an almost identical Knabe in great condition!

The first one had been worked on extensively at some point in the last 50 years; many parts had been replaced, but not all of any particular part. This is a strange set of choices in what was worked on vs what was left alone.

It had a complete set of new bass strings, a fairly expensive upgrade, but the hammers and dampers were still old and poor.

The ivory had been replaced with plastic, some of which were warping, causing sticking keys.

The original wood hammer flanges were either cracked or crumbling, so any work I tried meant replacing a part. Many of them had been replaced as problems came up, but not every one – that would be almost as much work as replacing the whole action. This was most likely due to excessively dry climate or large fluctuation in humidity.

The top section of hammers had been replaced, probably due to excessive wear, but the hammer shanks had not all been replaced. Possibly someone didn’t want to pay for all that labor.

Many of the jack return springs were too weak due to metal fatigue. I replaced a few, but not all, also due to cost considerations of the current (new) owner.

I spent over two hours and only fixed a handful of problem keys due to aging and/or broken parts!

The one today was a slightly younger, maybe 10 years, and not as high end at manufacture date.

However, it had been cared for much differently. And the quality of the work was much higher.

The parts were almost all original; just a few strings in the upper treble section, bridle straps, and a few little things.

The ivory keys had been cared for and were almost perfect!

The hammers had been shaped and were still serviceable.

The case had been re-touched and showed its beauty.

It was certainly a concentrated look at the contrast of good workmanship and caring owners!

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