Square Grands: A Window Into The Past
I come across a lot of unique instruments in the piano business, and the old square or box grands are always fun to work with. I say that somewhat facetiously, because I don't know any tuner around who seriously enjoys tuning one.
Not only are the pins positioned off to the side, where you can hardly reach them, but some of the early models have a different type of pin that most newer style tuning levers won't fit. The last one I tuned for a customer was exactly this type, having an older more oblong shaped pin requiring a special tuning lever tip.
To me these instruments are like windows into the past, tempting us to sit down and recreate the sounds that have been produced by them for more than 120 years. It's kind of magical.
I regret that we are unable to schedule any major restoration projects this year, and probably for most of next year, with several projects already in line that I am pushing to complete. However, if you have an old square grand that needs any other type of work, or just needs tuning, I'd be delighted to be given your consideration.
Most of the parts can still be obtained or re-manufactured, with some effort, even though they stopped manufacturing these massive instruments in the late 1800s.
The one that I own, which I'm pictured standing beside, was built around 1878. The one pictured below, with the nice finish, is believed to have been built in the late 1840s, before the Civil War, and is one of the oldest instruments I have ever tuned and repaired. It is owned by a customer in Edwardsville. The other instrument pictured is one that we moved for another local customer.
I really don't have an accurate count of how many technicians in the country will work on these long-lost instruments, but there can't be many given the instrument's status as mostly a collection piece.
--- Steve Rensberry