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Dale, Forty & Co. Upright / Wm. Knabe & Co. Square Grand 1883


This is the Action (mechanism)

My client's ‘Dale, Forty & Co.’ Overdamper piano

Overdampers were made around the late 1800's in Great Britain and Europe. They typically have candlesticks (if not lost),
a burled walnut finish with flower design inlays, and 2 pedals.
If you saw the movie ‘
Titanic (James Cameron), an Overdamper piano was played in the dance band on the ship.

Notice all the metal bars in front of the Action (mechanism). This is where they got the name "Birdcage" from in the U.S. however

the correct name is "Overdamper". The reason being, the dampers on the action are over the hammers which is unlike a

conventional upright piano where the dampers are under the hammers.

The keyboard is also a little shorter than a standard piano, 85 notes instead of 88 notes and the strings go straight down on the frame (straight strung), instead of being overstrung. The keytops are usually celluloid (an early form of plastic), the music rack will fold up and fit inside the top lid of the piano, and very old Overdampers have oblong tuning pins.


Wm. Knabe & Co. Square Grand 1883

This is a Knabe Square Grand that I found for a client. These pianos while having great
cabinetry and ornate designs are not very good as instruments and should be looked on as an antique. If you saw the movie
The Piano’ (Holly Hunter), it was a Square Grand that they used in the film.

Notice the unusual string design


Original ivory keys in excellent condition

Tuning these pianos is more difficult because the tuning pins are at the back of the piano. Also because of its design, it can be hard to tell which string is connected to which tuning pin.
The Action (mechanism), is unconventional and repairs usually need to be improvised since you can't get parts for them.
Other unusual features are: the keys inside the piano are very long (especially in the treble),
it has two strings per note, the hammers
are much smaller and are designed in a fan shape and the soundboard is suspended between the strings and keyboard. Very old Square Grands also have oblong tuning pins.
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