NOPD 1965 Grinnell Bros Spinet piano

Discussion in 'Ebony & Ivory' started by Col Mustard, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    I never learned how to play the piano, but always thought I had the
    aptitude, though not the skill.

    My girlfriend's parents bought her this 1964 or 1965 Grinnell Bros "Spinet" piano
    when she was about 12. We think it was made in Detroit about then. Don't know
    for sure. Recently she's been trying to get her mom to move out of her long time
    home, and into a better place. We thought it would help if we started moving her
    stuff out, including Cindy's old piano.

    A Spinet piano isn't too heavy, four hundred pounds maybe. I hired a strong
    guy and we borrowed a van and moved this puppy. Here it is at my house, in my
    practice corner. It isn't too badly out of tune. *laughs
    Piano corner@100.jpg
    Now I'm taking lessons, and at my age... Funny, the old entry level piano learning books were still in the wooden piano bench. My piano teacher is maybe ten years older than my grand daughter. She doesn't know what to make of me, really... but her normal students are air head
    pre-schoolers or surly grade schoolers. So she is enjoying teaching me, I believe. If she gives
    me an assignment, I do it. So that's got to be worth something.

    I told her I didn't mind starting from ZERO because I never learned to sight read, and have
    always felt the lack. I understand a lot about music, but I really want to learn it in a systematic
    way from someone who knows what they are doing. This ought to fill in gaps in my musical
    knowledge that I didn't know were there. *grins

    Anyway, that's my attitude, and I'm looking at this piano as an adventure. I look at this piano
    as music theory in three dimensional form. Everything's right there and I'm looking forward to
    my next lesson.
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  2. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Anybody know anything about Grinnell Bros. Spinet pianos? I think it's a lovely
    piece, and am looking for a good piano tuner guy. It's got one wonky key, that
    goes clank instead of making a note. Maybe it broke a string... (guitar player talking)
  3. Robert Herndon

    Robert Herndon Ambassador of Tone

    Lake Arrowhead, California
    Awesome! All the best in your quest!
    Col Mustard likes this.
  4. Mr Grumpy

    Mr Grumpy Ambassador of Comings and Goings

    Looks nice, and now you can learn to play - probably an interesting new way for you to write songs too?
    Col Mustard likes this.
  5. RVA

    RVA Ambassador of Luthier Affairs Administrator

    See below and click here for the page I got the content from. It has a list of models.

    Grinnell was originally established in 1882 as "Grinnell Brothers", an organ manufacturer. Their factories were located at 1515 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. Grinnell built their first pianos in 1902, starting with traditional upright and baby grand pianos. During the first quarter of the 20th Century, Grinnell increased their line of pianos to incorporate several models of upright, baby grand and player pianos, while at the same time slowly phasing out their organ production. In addition to building pianos under the names of "Grinnell" and "Grinnell Brothers", the firm built pianos under the brand names of "Lenard", "Clayton", "Playtona Player Pianos", "Holly", and "Uxbridge". During the Great Depression when most American piano manufacturers were closing and merging with larger conglomerates, Grinnell remained a strong leader in American Piano Manufacturing. The company introduced a very successful line of spinet, console and apartment size baby grand pianos during the 1930's and 1940's, and the firm continued to flourish until the early 1960's. In the 1990's, the Grinnell name was revived in a limited number of pianos built by Samick International, a large Korean musical instrument manufacturing firm.
    Session 5 and Col Mustard like this.
  6. smitty_p

    smitty_p Ambassador of Gearology

    Many congratulations, Col!

    And, that's a really good move you're taking with getting the piano lessons. New challenges like this keep the brain fresh.

    I gotta say, there's something really cool and nostalgic about those old pianos. That one looks really nice.

    If I could offer one small tidbit of advice, get a good piano tech to come in and give that beauty a proper tune-up. Your piano teacher may know of a good tech. Just like it's always good advice to get a good setup on a new guitar, the same applies to this piano. You may want to give it a couple of weeks to let the wood and all the piano parts to acclimate to their new surroundings. Of course, it sounds like you may have already had it that long.

    Anyhoo, that really is a fine piece and it will open up a new way of thinking about guitar, too.
    Col Mustard likes this.
  7. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Yes! Being a song writer on guitar will limit you in many ways.
    Thinking of the piano as "music theory in three dimensions"
    means that if I can master some technique, I can add to my style
    and go in directions not possible for guitar only.

    That's the quest. But I just turned 69, and I actually don't need a new obsession.
    So maybe it will be a hobby. And it's my girlfriend's piano, so she gets to play it too
    now that we've got it out of her mom's house.
    Mr Grumpy likes this.
  8. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the suggestion... I had sort of intuition about letting the piano settle in, but
    had not articulated it at all. I've found a person who is both a piano tuner and a technician.
    And it's been long enough for sure now.
    smitty_p likes this.
  9. Drumoid

    Drumoid Well-Known Member

    Nice looking piano and too cool on the piano lessons. I've wanted to learn keys for many years. Someone gave me an organ once, many years ago, I started learning from a series of books. The organ blew up and I haven't got another set of keys sense.
    Session 5 and Col Mustard like this.
  10. Hackmaster

    Hackmaster Ambassador of the Trifecta Magnetica Lifetime Member

    Cool old piece, Col. Your never too old for new adventures.
    At 89 my dad is teaching himself keyboards. Has a Yamaha electric keyboard, does piano and organ sounds.
    He's been dinking around with it for the last few years.
    He just buys a bunch of books and has at it in his spare time. He's often playing when I come over to visit.
    I can recognize many of the tunes he's playing when I walk in. So he's definitely getting the hang of it.
    Session 5 and Col Mustard like this.
  11. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    The piano tech is here for her second visit. The old beast was a whole step flat, which shows
    how long it had gone with no maintenance or love, or music. It has two broken strings, which
    may have happened during the move, but I'm not surprised. She cranked it up to about a half
    step low, and didn't want to stress it too much all at once. She says it's not a "Spinet" piano
    but a "Console" piano, intended for apartment use. To me it's a perfect size.

    She's got the action out of it and in the middle of the living room floor, and is cranking on
    it with tools and implements of destruction. My piano lessons have been going well though
    I haven't had my break through yet. I still have to think too much, which makes me crazy.

    But I'm coming along. And I've already learned some things I never knew, which is the point
    of the exercise. I'm happy to pay the technician to put this old beast right. And my breakthrough
    will come when I can just look at a musical score and put my hands down in the right place
    and begin.
    smitty_p likes this.
  12. DonP

    DonP Ambassador of Science

    London, UK
    Just thinking of that Elkie Brooks song's first line "Pearl's a singer. She stands up when she plays the piano". That stool has to go!

    Good luck with this adventure, and keep us posted.
  13. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    It is an adventure... because I play other instruments, I might have a head start on other beginners.
    But I don't want to act like that. I don't want to figure things out by ear. I already know how to do
    that. I want to keep at the lessons until I feel totally natural with the keyboard, like I do on the neck
    of my bass. And I want to keep at the lessons until I can look at a music score and understand it all,
    and then play it. That will take some time to get to those points, but I can feel it coming.

    The other day I sat down on the bench and started playing a song I had written, without writing
    the music out. I just wanted to use what I'd been practicing. I was able to orient myself on the keyboard a
    and figure out chords with my left hand while figuring out the melody with my right hand. I chose one in
    the key of C, so I was playing all on the white keys. I work in sharps and flats later. Bb is a good key for
    me vocally, so I'll be working in that key, using white and black keys as needed. I can feel it coming.

    Anyway, it's slow and a little frustrating, because I want to be better than I am. I feel like a monster
    in a freeway tunnel under a mountain, with all these cars colliding with me and getting in my way
    while I'm trying to find my way out.
    Mantis 3.jpg
    but it's coming along anyway.
  14. eSGEe

    eSGEe Ferengi Ambassador of Trade Administrator

    VERY cool Piano and DAMN COOL new adventure you have begun upon............makes me think perhaps ----I should take up saxophone.......I ALWAYS wanted to play Saxophone----but I got to band trials late---and got stuck with a trumpet......nasty things those....stuck it out for 2 years......still can taste the cleaning oil .......ugh
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  15. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Broken strings have been replaced... a new piano tech has come to work on the beast.
    He's got the instrument tuned pretty well, so it's at least tuned to itself. It's funny how this
    seems like a piano rescue thread. The instrument just sat for about fifty years... with no
    maintenance or love. It seems like an extravagance on the part of my girlfriend's father,
    but she was his firstborn, and so it also seems like a proud father kind of gift. I believe he'd
    be glad to see someone taking care of it now.

    It still isn't in concert pitch. But it's much more fun to play when the intonation is correct.
    I've made some progress. The fact that I know something about music has helped to speed
    me along... but I'm still learning things I never knew. *rolls eyes

    I don't have perfect pitch, so the instrument sounds close enough right now. I've got my left hand and
    right hand going... that's a partial breakthrough. But I haven't had my real breakthrough yet. I still
    have to think too much, which means I'm forming new grooves in my aulde brain, and they ain't deep
    enough yet.

    I've been a bass player for a long time without ever learning to sight read on the bass clef. *shrugs
    ...I mean, I can do it but I'm so slow and clumsy that I just don't have the patience. I go, let me hear
    it, and as soon as I hear it I can perceive the structure, and I practice and I'm there. This works, but it ain't
    right. So that's also one of my goals... to correct this deficit. I already know how to work by ear,
    and that's a fine skill and all. But filling in gaps in my knowledge and gaining depth in the theory department
    just feels right. Once I can do it on the piano, I'll move the skill right over to my electric bass playing.

    I should have done this years ago. I've picked up bits of it as I went along, so I'm filling in blank spots
    now. And this old piano is a pleasure to work with. Funny, I always thought I'd buy myself a spiffy new
    compact keyboard thingie, that has lots of bells and whistles concealed in the circuit board. I never
    anticipated that I'd own a wooden acoustic that weighs more than 200 kilos. (440 lb)

    That's a lotta kilos. Heavy music, heavy music.... heavy music... there are NO stops to pull out.
    It has three pedals... and they work. So I don't have any recordings to play for you yet. I won't be
    up to speed for a while, I can tell. But the breakthrough is just under the surface in me.
    I can feel it. When it comes, I'll know.
  16. Tony M.

    Tony M. Ambassador of Straight Talk


    Lowest note all the way left.
    Highest note at other end.
    All notes in order in a row.
    Makes perfect sense.

    Now look at a guitar fingerboard...
    WavMixer, Col Mustard and smitty_p like this.
  17. Session 5

    Session 5 Ambassador of Strings & Wings

    Congrats on the New Piano and the lessons!! It will help with memory, learning is always a good thing.

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