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Julius Bauer 1882 Grand

Currently in my shop, I am rebuilding a 6' grand piano made by the Julius Bauer Co in 1882. This piano is unique in that it has no thick bottom support beams bracing the cabinet, a full perimeter plate, and soundboard ribs on both top & bottom. In this first photo, taken right after it arrived in my shop and prior to any disassembly of the original parts, you can see the top-mounted ribs under the old strings (and several layers of dirt.) Very rare. I have only seen ribs on top of the soundboard on a couple other instruments in my 40 years as a piano technician. One was an 1880s Steinway, the other was built by the A. B. Chase Co.

The concept in sandwiching the soundboard between both bottom & top ribs was to hold the soundboard's crowned shape for longer, and indeed this 130+ piano still has retained more good crown than many grands half its age. The improvement must have not caught on widespread in the industry, though, because most piano makers never adopted it.

 

 

I will post more photos as the rebuilding job progresses :-)

 

After removing all the strings & dampers you can more clearly see the "ribs-on-the-top" design.

 

This Bauer's design continues to present surprises. As you can see, the plate is a "full-perimeter" plate, meaning that it extends to touch all sides of the inner rim. In most grands, the plate spreads out to the front (over the pinblock,) and all along the right-hand "S" curve of the rim to the back, but the cast iron usually ends at the point where the back curve straightens out to become the straight left-hand side, and there's a long gap in the metal till you reach the front left-hand corner over the pinblock, like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But this Bauer plate has a continuous cast iron bar that connects that "gap", so it touches the "full-perimeter." Interestingly, this 6' Grand has no thick wooden cross-beams under the soundboard, bracing & holding the rim in it's S-curved shape (like the more modern piano shown here,)  so it is assumed the full perimeter plate in this Bauer grand is, in part, bracing the rim in place of wooden beams. This is further confirmed by the fact that the outer edge of the plate is not just a thin perimeter that sits on top of the soundboard. On the Bauer, the outer rim of the plate is a 6" deep "wall" of cast iron, bolted to the rim all around, as well as bolted down to the board.

So, as I've done for 40 years, I removed all the strings, dampers, and all the plate bolts visible from the top, which should then allow me to lift the plate up & off the board and out of the piano. But it wouldn't budge. Even lifting with my crane & hook, it just wanted to lift the whole cabinet up with it, as if it was stuck or there was one bolt I missed still holding it down. Turns out there were quite a few bolts still screwed in...under the soundboard.

That 6" vertical wall of iron that forms the outer rim of the plate, has "tabs" on the bottom, small extensions in the plate's casting for a dozen bolts to screw the plate to the cabinet perimeter just under the soundboard:

 

Never seen anything like it in 4 decades of piano rebuilding!

 

4 comments to Julius Bauer 1882 Grand

  • Vicki Pastore

    Very nice article. Clear illustrations and explanations. I own a Julius Bauer grand. Other tuners/movers have expressed surprise at its construction. I will use your article to study my piano and its features. Thank you for sharing your work.

  • Karen Palmer

    Hi!
    I was quite taken with your article about the Julius Bauer Grand restoration! Have you posted other restoration photos of the piano? I also have a Julius Bauer 6′ Grand in need of restoring, but do not know when it was made. It was so interesting reading what you had found and looking at the pictures, because mine has ribs on the top and bottom of the soundboard, and no braces underneath. How long long did the restoration take? I would appreciate any information you can share. Thank you! Karen Palmer

  • Witold Wojciechowski

    Hi,

    I recently acquired an old 6′ Julius Bauer. Tried to search for any information which may reveal its age, but was not successful. Do you know how I can establish that based on the serial number?

    Another question is how much money is reasonable to spend on its renovation. It does not have a big brand name, so it’s resale value is limited. Restoring it to original condition by stripping all the alligatored shellac is prohibitively expensive. I am curious how are you approaching this problem.

    I had basic mechanical restoration and tuning done so far and the result is a very nice velvety sound.

    Thanks ,

    Witold

  • Gerri Bowers

    I have found a Juluis Bauer Grand piano serial #29845, how do I find the date is was purchased. I think 1881, but I don’t have proof. Thanks for any help.

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