Mechanical Music Digest  Archives
You Are Not Logged In Login/Get New Account
Please Log In. Accounts are free!
Logged In users are granted additional features including a more current version of the Archives and a simplified process for submitting articles.
Home Archives Calendar Gallery Store Links Info

Spring Fundraising Drive In Progress. Please visit our home page to see this and other announcements:     Thank you. --Jody

MMD > Archives > January 1999 > 1999.01.17 > 11Prev  Next

Big Tone From H. C. Bay Grand Piano
By Bob Baker

Greetings, all!  I'd like to add yet another perspective to the old
vs. new piano raillery going on.  Even cheaply-made old grands can
surprise you !

Three years ago, I was asked to resurrect a very, very battered
H. C. Bay 5-foot grand which had sentimental value for its owner.  This
sad little instrument had had its pinblock and harp sprayed with gold
enamel.  The soundboard had many large cracks, and many of the bridge
pins were loose.  Years of dust, moth dung, and hair were found beneath
the keys and the felts had been liberally dined upon.

In short, it was a typical, tonally-dead, unrestored grand of low
degree.  I informed the owner that there wasn't going to be much
tonality even after a lot of money was spent on this piano's restora-
tion, but she insisted that that was what she wanted.  Against my
better judgment, I acquiesced to her request and got to work.

This mean little piano got a complete restoration, including a
refinished sound-board, new oversized tuning pins, new strings, new
hammers, new felts, regulation.

To my complete amazement, the customer's faith (and lots of grinding,
dirty work) gave rise to an extremely beautiful instrument with the
best tonal resources I'd ever heard on a piano of that size -- ever!
Somehow, the installed Pianocorder System wound up with one of those
rare, exceptional playback boards that would make even Joe Tushinsky

Today, I'm unable to explain such a remarkable transformation.  I've
listened to many new small grands and not one could match this restored
5' H. C. Bay!  I suspect that part of the answer may lie in the quality
of the wood available to the piano manufacturers for even the cheapest
pianos built in the 'teens.  Also, this was only the second piano I'd
ever restored, so it had nothing to do with expertise!  Of course,
I did use the best materials I could obtain.

I've since had two old uprights professionally restored by Alex Keylard
& Sons.  One is a 56" tall Walworth made in the l920s by Schulz Piano
Company of Chicago.  It remains my favorite because of its overall
tonality.  It's sobering to realize that almost no one will restore a
manual upright these days because it's very costly.  On the other hand,
the tonal equivalent is a 5' l0" Schimmel grand which, if one can find
used, will cost the better part of $10,000.00 or more.

Domestically, they just don't build 'em like they useta!

Bob Baker

(Message sent Sun 17 Jan 1999, 04:10:39 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Bay, Big, C, Grand, H, Piano, Tone

Home    Archives    Calendar    Gallery    Store    Links    Info   

Enter text below to search the MMD Website with Google

CONTACT FORM: Click HERE to write to the editor, or to post a message about Mechanical Musical Instruments to the MMD

Unless otherwise noted, all opinions are those of the individual authors and may not represent those of the editors. Compilation copyright 1995-2024 by Jody Kravitz.

Please read our Republication Policy before copying information from or creating links to this web site.

Click HERE to contact the webmaster regarding problems with the website.

Please support publication of the MMD by donating online

Please Support Publication of the MMD with your Generous Donation

Pay via PayPal

No PayPal account required

Translate This Page