Cracked frames in Bechstein Pianos

Everybody in the piano industry knows about the cracks that often appear in the cast iron frame of many Bechstein grand pianos but not many private individuals know about them. Proud owners of Bechstein grands are often horrified to hear that their beloved piano may have a crack. This page is designed to help you figure out if your Bechstein grand has a crack or not and what that means for the value and performance of your piano. Here goes…

Which models and what ages are affected?

In my experience the cracked plate affects about 50% of all Model B, Model C and Model V grand pianos which date from the 1800s into the first couple of decades of the 1900s. ┬áSome of the Model V grands don’t actually say “Model V” on them but you can spot one as it is 6ft 6in or 6ft 7in in length and has the “fishtale” style of back end instead of the more modern smooth curved cabinet design. I found that the Bechstein Model D and the Model E (larger grands) tend not to be affected quite so much. The same goes with the smaller Bechstein Model A which is also not usually cracked.

How can I spot the crack?

Please follow these instructions to find the area that is most commonly affected by this crack.

  • Stand in front of the keys
  • Remove the music desk – it should slide off towards you
  • Notice the metal struts that run away from you (I think there are 4 of these)
  • Look at the middle 2 struts
  • Get very very close to them with your eyes – within just a few inches.
  • Look at the area where the flat strip of felt ends and the tuning pins start.
  • At that area look at the metal struts very closely.
  • You are looking for hairline cracks that run vertically form near the felt & tuning pins. The cracks start at the bottom and tail off after 1-3cm. Just look in that area for a minute or 2 and if you don’t see anything you may not have any cracks.

Here is a photo I took (sorry for the poor quality) showing an example of a crack in a Bechstein grand piano

Here is a photo that I have found on Google (the source was courtney pianos). I claim no copyright for this photo but it shows a Bechstein crack very clearly. They look frightening don’t they!