After reading earlier posts on this subject, I have an experience
plus a few thoughts to share.
A long time ago I acquired a 1910 three-quarter plate Weber upright
65/88-note Pianola piano. When I got it home I found a three-inch
gap between the bottom of the plate and the bottom of the piano.
It seems that Aeolian had to raise up the whole back of this model
just to fit their 3-tier stack in between the wippens and the keys.
The non-player version would be only 50 inches in height.
I felt cheated! Not only that, but the upper bass bridge, located
immediately below the tuning pins, was badly cracked, rendering the
instrument un-tunable. Now, about 35 years later, my prize languishes
unrestored and in my way. But please be assured, _it will be saved!_
(Normally, the upper bass bridge is part of the plate casting and
virtually immune to trouble. I have obtained a piece of steel of the
correct dimensions for replacing the wooden bridge, but the machining
will be a complex and expensive process, low on my list of priorities.)
The full-size Weber upright Pianola piano is about 58 inches in height
with the plate and soundboard going all the way to the bottom. Even
though my Weber demonstrates remarkable tonal potential at well over
a semitone below A=440, that eight or so inches it effectively lacks is
going to make a big difference. Also, in the bigger Weber the smaller
angle of the bass strings puts less stress on the wooden upper bass
I fully agree with everything Eric Shoemaker had to say about these big
old Weber uprights. A while back I had the opportunity to acquire one
such instrument but rejected it because it was built to play only
65-note rolls. Later on, an attempt to track it down proved futile.
Over the years I've owned five Steinway Vertegrands, both 65/88-note
and Duo-Art. Most of these have a midsection that sounds harsh and
twangy compared to the tall Webers, unless the hammers are voiced way
The Steinway vertical to look for is the somewhat taller "Upright
Grand", which has a grand-type capo d'astro bar cast right into
the plate. The scale is laid out in a most unusual manner, with
numerous breaks within sections to accommodate the bracing of the bar.
Tuners must have hated these almost as much as the Mason & Hamlin
screw-stringers, but for different reasons. My own Steinway Upright
Grand, built in 1911 and containing a double-valve 65/88-note Pianola
action, does compare quite favorably with the best taller uprights --
so much so that I've worn out a set of hammers to the point where it
doesn't sound that great anymore...
Until this past weekend, I'd never heard of an Eilers (of Portland,
Oregon) piano. Well, one from 1909 has appeared on YouTube, and its
tone reminds me very much of the Weber:
This also is a large three-quarter plate instrument, and it contains
an Auto Pneumatic Action, advertised in 1910 as being "Used in
90 percent of the Highest Grade Player Pianos." Pictures may be viewed
Jeffrey R. Wood