To John and MMD, I hope I can persuade John or another MMDer to
rescue the gutted Weber Pianola (semi-art upright) before it ends up
in the dump. Think of this as "crime prevention."
This piano is probably identical to one I owned several years ago -- a
65/88-note dual tracker with the control levers hinged in the fallboard.
What you have to do is pull up on the nickel plated fallboard knobs to
release the thin panel concealing the levers. If the fallboard knobs
are wood turnings then it's likely a later piano with a conventionally
located controls below the keys in a hinged keyslip panel.
I felt more like I was actually playing, closer to "feeling" whatever
roll I was playing with the levers located this way; maybe that's why
they were located above the keys, but unless you locked the keys the
sharps would rattle the thin panel under your hands. Probably why that
didn't last long. How many player piano owners even know about the
keyboard lock?! Well, eventually I traded mine for a Steinway Duo-Art
upright and sold the Steinway for more bucks than the Weber would've
brought but now I regret more than ever I let the Weber go. ;(
Live and learn.
Once I rebuilt a Steinway Pianola built about the same time period and
even though my ugly beat-up Weber looked like it had been shelled it
blew away the Steinway in listenability when compared side by side.
Believe me, the Steinway was also a grade A instrument that still
sounded good, yet second place. I wouldn't say so if I didn't hear it
and prove it myself. I should mention that I considered the Steinway
action superior in playing by hand but not as clear or well-balanced
regarding the overall tone.
Of all the many pedal pumpers I've owned or restored the one I miss
the most is that Weber. Here's why:
Ever since I can remember I've always enjoyed playing the piano and
I am at least reasonably good enough to have gotten paid to do it from
time to time. Very few upright pianos ever made come close to the
finely toned scale those old Webers have and I consider them to be
about the best sounding mass-production upright pianos, player or not,
ever produced on a large scale. The range between pianissimo and forte
is vast and a good Pianolist can really express rolls intricately.
Bush & Lane / Farrand-Cecelian pianos are close, maybe at par in the
regularly made upright pedal pumpers that I've encountered and if you
know of one better let me know, I sure want to hear it ASAP.
The Weber treble end clarity is like glass and crystal clear during
soft or loud passages. The tone is so rich and warm, ingeniously well
balanced from top to bottom. But the bass section will register on
the nearest Richter scale when you apply the power! Holy __ (fill in
the blank), it will swell and roar! Nevertheless, even heavy chords
remain clear without becoming harsh or distorted.
I think there are five or six trichord notes copper wound at the top
end of the bass section and at the split the first five tenor unisons
have damper extensions added above the hammers to prevent over-ringing.
The transition between the wound strings and the heavy 20-22 gauge
piano wire is virtually undetectable. On the inside, even the sides
are lined with golden oak and/or maple veneers; yes, _inside_ the case.
Mine had a 3/4 plate but I've seen some later pianos with the same
scale and a full perimeter plate; possibly the only improvement made
before ceasing production and Weber became just another fallboard decal
slapped on whatever Aeolian called a piano.
I need another piano like a hole in the head but I would like to see
this one saved. But not at the risk of a purse flogging or sleeping
alone in my storage unit. The home-girl here says no more pianos
unless you will trade the Weber for my dead Thomas organ and take that
to the dump instead, that would fly. Anyhow...
John, I have an early set of Aeolian large pedals/governor and 88-note
cross-valve stack (no primaries or spoolbox) that you can have donated
to the cause if you go to the rescue; I'm sure with the help of MMD
you could easily dig up the rest. The case can probably be brought
back to presentable without completely stripping it and I'm sure you're
not going to dig up many freebies that have an art case and tone like
this one, player or not, it's worth saving.
Remember, no matter how good any piano playing device is, it is only as
good as the piano it's in. A human pianist can compensate somewhat if
forced to play a crappy piano but the trackerbar can't. Just look on
YouTube awhile and listen to the majority of "rebuilt" player pianos
there that play the rolls just fine but are an auditory assault to the
functioning pair of ears. I challenge anyone to find an upright piano
being made today that even comes close to the quality and love that
went into those old Webers.
There's nothing like hearing an E.T. Paull march coming out of a Weber
Cheers from the Pacific Northwest,
[ Eric, thanks for putting my feelings into words! I've always loved
[ the early, big Weber uprights -- now I know why! ;-) -- Robbie