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#1970804 - 10/09/12 01:33 PM 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b?  
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Icefox Offline
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http://raleigh.craigslist.org/msg/3319803640.html

I was pondering about a 20k quote on a new kawai rx2 when this 1981 model b for 30k came out. I am inexperienced when it comes to used pianos and here I am asking for advice. I talked to the owner. He said his parents had this piano before they passed away, has always been well maintained, it's not being played in the past two years, slightly yellowish ivory otherwise very good condition etc. Owner is 3 hrs driving so I can't just drop by and check it out, but if what I find out here is promising enough, I am willing to make the trip.

A few things I would like to ask particularly:

What should I reasonably expect from a 30 years old model b, physically and harmonically? Will the paint be dull? Yellow ivory with hairline cracks? Will it sound and play much like a brand new model b, or will there be noticeable deterioration? If a brand new model is 100/100 in both appearance and sound, how would you grade a 30 years old one in reasonable condition?

Suppose condition is very good for it's age, Is the price right? How would you compare this model b for 30k with a brand new rx2 for 20k? FYI I would describe myself as an intermediate level amateur pianist and at my age likely not going to advance far in my skills.

My intended space for the piano is 15 x 12 x 12 (high ceiling). I'm not likely to move again in 10 years. Is a model B an overkill for the house? Will it bother neighbors?

At 30 years of age, what repair or restoration is in stock for me? How many years can I expect to just regularly maintain it and keep its condition good, before an expensive repair or restoration is mandated? And how much would that be, if it were to happen?

It's a very significant commitment and I really appreciate your inputs!

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#1970811 - 10/09/12 01:47 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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The keytops from that era will not be ivory, so any yellowing or cracks is in plastic. Also, that is still in the teflon era, so you may or may not have expensive action issues even if well cared for. That's a wild card.

I think it is worth pursuing but plan on having it inspected and leave budget to make it nice. It's only in budget if you can afford to make it nice.


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#1970856 - 10/09/12 03:17 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: PianoWorksATL]  
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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
The keytops from that era will not be ivory, so any yellowing or cracks is in plastic.


It very well could be ivory. I know a NY D from the mid-80s that has very nice one-piece ivory tops.

#1970858 - 10/09/12 03:20 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: beethoven986]  
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
It very well could be ivory.


He won't know unless he looks at the piano.

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#1970866 - 10/09/12 03:37 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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Originally Posted by Icefox
has always been well maintained


Everyone always says this, and it's usually BS. Look at the pictures. Do you see how dusty it is? Well-maintained pianos don't look like that.


Originally Posted by Icefox
What should I reasonably expect from a 30 years old model b, physically and harmonically? Will the paint be dull? Yellow ivory with hairline cracks? Will it sound and play much like a brand new model b, or will there be noticeable deterioration? If a brand new model is 100/100 in both appearance and sound, how would you grade a 30 years old one in reasonable condition?


You have to judge the individual piano on its own merits, as there are too many variables. A 30 year old Steinway should still be structurally sound, but you will not have a concert-ready instrument without intervention. Additionally, I consider the Steinways built during the last two years to be vastly superior in general to the ones from this era.

Originally Posted by Icefox
Suppose condition is very good for it's age, Is the price right? How would you compare this model b for 30k with a brand new rx2 for 20k? FYI I would describe myself as an intermediate level amateur pianist and at my age likely not going to advance far in my skills.


As far as I know, that's in the ballpark for this age. For reference, a Steinway B that is unplayable (aka a core piano to be rebuilt), will typically cost $10-15k. It is impossible to compare the two pianos without seeing them. That said, I doubt any performance advantage of the B (if there is any), will be worth the extra $10k to an intermediate pianist.

Originally Posted by Icefox
My intended space for the piano is 15 x 12 x 12 (high ceiling). I'm not likely to move again in 10 years. Is a model B an overkill for the house? Will it bother neighbors?


No.

Originally Posted by Icefox
At 30 years of age, what repair or restoration is in stock for me? How many years can I expect to just regularly maintain it and keep its condition good, before an expensive repair or restoration is mandated? And how much would that be, if it were to happen?


It depends on how well you want the piano to perform and what environment the piano is subjected to. You may be able to get another 30 years out of it as is if you're not picky. If your goal is optimal performance, I can tell you just by looking at the condition of the inside that you're probably due for new strings, at which point you're likely going to want to replace the pin block and do bridge reconditioning work, etc. It will likely benefit from voicing and regulation, too, if not outright replacement of the action.

#1970874 - 10/09/12 03:55 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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Originally Posted by Icefox
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/msg/3319803640.html

How would you compare this model b for 30k with a brand new rx2 for 20k? FYI I would describe myself as an intermediate level amateur pianist and at my age likely not going to advance far in my skills.



Let's see....a 31 year old Steinway B for $30K that definitely is going to need work over time ($$$$), versus a brand new Kawai RX2 for $20K with a nifty millennium action and a new piano warranty. Plus, you are an intermediate level player and the space the piano will be kept in is not very large.

IMO, the Kawai will be easier on your pocketbook, most likely give you fewer worries and headaches, be well-suited to your skills, and more than adequately fill your house with beautiful sounds.



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#1970877 - 10/09/12 04:02 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: PianoWorksATL]  
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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
The keytops from that era will not be ivory, so any yellowing or cracks is in plastic. Also, that is still in the teflon era, so you may or may not have expensive action issues even if well cared for. That's a wild card.


Well I guess I should have used another word -- I used "ivory" just to refer to the keys being fully aware that most likely the keys are just plastic. My impression is that the "teflon era" ended in 1980 and this is 1981, but I maybe wrong. If it is indeed from the teflon era, I would avoid it.

#1970880 - 10/09/12 04:08 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Carey]  
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Quote

IMO, the Kawai will be easier on your pocketbook, most likely give you fewer worries and headaches, be well-suited to your skills, and more than adequately fill your house with beautiful sounds.


Well said. I was sure I wouldn't be able to fully appreciate a Steinway over a Kawai. But I also thought, well not all Porsche 911 owners are racing drivers, many are just average men in mid-life crisis. I guess there is a bit of "hey it's a Steinway" behind it. Not to say this is definitely inappropriate. Anyway thanks for your input.

#1970883 - 10/09/12 04:20 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: beethoven986]  
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"Everyone always says this, and it's usually BS. Look at the pictures. Do you see how dusty it is? Well-maintained pianos don't look like that. "

Owner said the finish was satin, not shiny. Don't know if this explains it all though.

"As far as I know, that's in the ballpark for this age. For reference, a Steinway B that is unplayable (aka a core piano to be rebuilt), will typically cost $10-15k. It is impossible to compare the two pianos without seeing them. That said, I doubt any performance advantage of the B (if there is any), will be worth the extra $10k to an intermediate pianist."

Well said.

"It depends on how well you want the piano to perform and what environment the piano is subjected to. You may be able to get another 30 years out of it as is if you're not picky. If your goal is optimal performance, I can tell you just by looking at the condition of the inside that you're probably due for new strings, at which point you're likely going to want to replace the pin block and do bridge reconditioning work, etc. It will likely benefit from voicing and regulation, too, if not outright replacement of the action."

Thank you so much for the info!

#1970891 - 10/09/12 04:49 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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On the other hand, if your goal is optimal performance, whatever that may mean, you may not get it from a much smaller Kawai, either.

Optimal opinions are not going to come from someone who says, "I can tell you just by looking at the condition of the inside that you're probably due for new strings, at which point you're likely going to want to replace the pin block and do bridge reconditioning work, etc. It will likely benefit from voicing and regulation, too, if not outright replacement of the action," without looking at the inside of the piano in question. Or listening or playing it either, for that matter.


Semipro Tech
#1970911 - 10/09/12 05:26 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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Originally Posted by Icefox
Quote

IMO, the Kawai will be easier on your pocketbook, most likely give you fewer worries and headaches, be well-suited to your skills, and more than adequately fill your house with beautiful sounds.


Well said. I was sure I wouldn't be able to fully appreciate a Steinway over a Kawai. But I also thought, well not all Porsche 911 owners are racing drivers, many are just average men in mid-life crisis. I guess there is a bit of "hey it's a Steinway" behind it. Not to say this is definitely inappropriate. Anyway thanks for your input.


There is nothing wrong with wanting to acquire Steinway B regardless of your playing level. One other quick thought. Since you've already spoken to the owner, maybe he could provide you with the name and contact number of the piano technician who serviced the piano. The technician may be able to give you a better idea about the condition of the instrument to help you decide whether it's worth taking the trip to see it. If you do decide that you may want to buy it you still need to get have your own tech examine the piano. Good luck.

Rich


Retired at the beach (well maybe not completely)

Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"
#1970915 - 10/09/12 05:28 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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Originally Posted by Icefox
My impression is that the "teflon era" ended in 1980 and this is 1981, but I maybe wrong. If it is indeed from the teflon era, I would avoid it.


Teflon era was from 1962 to 1982. New York-built pianos only. A lot of Teflon bearing repetitions and hammershanks will be replaced, merely in "well-maintained" (..) pianos.

Last edited by BerndAB; 10/09/12 05:32 PM.

Pls excuse any bad english.

D 1877 satin black plain
#1970920 - 10/09/12 05:39 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
It very well could be ivory. I know a NY D from the mid-80s that has very nice one-piece ivory tops.
One piece ivory should be your first clue that it isn't usual.

Originally Posted by Icefox
My impression is that the "teflon era" ended in 1980 and this is 1981, but I maybe wrong. If it is indeed from the teflon era, I would avoid it.
Teflon trickled on into the early 80's, however I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss because of it. There is a lot that could be right about this piano since your current needs are moderate. That said, carey's comments make a lot of sense.


Sam Bennett
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#1970922 - 10/09/12 05:46 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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Or you could go get a new 7'2" Hailun 218 if you're wanting that bigger instrument, ready to go. Just sayin' smile


Sam Bennett
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#1970971 - 10/09/12 07:37 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
On the other hand, if your goal is optimal performance, whatever that may mean, you may not get it from a much smaller Kawai, either.


True. But you'll save $10k in the process.

Originally Posted by BDB
Optimal opinions are not going to come from someone who says, "I can tell you just by looking at the condition of the inside that you're probably due for new strings, at which point you're likely going to want to replace the pin block and do bridge reconditioning work, etc. It will likely benefit from voicing and regulation, too, if not outright replacement of the action," without looking at the inside of the piano in question. Or listening or playing it either, for that matter.


So tell me, then.... is it just in my world that filthy looking 30 year old pianos tend to be musically sub par? I suppose there's always an exception to the rule, but I like my odds. Pianos degrade over time, buddy... it's not an opinion. Heck. I've heard of pianos half the age of this one getting new actions and restringing!

Regardless, I didn't say that the piano definitely needed the work I listed... only that I wouldn't rule it out as possibly of being necessary for the sake of optimal performance. If that's the case, and you're going to go through all the trouble of restringing, you might as well clean up bridge notches and install new bridge pins, along with replacing the pin block. Yes, it's possible to up the tuning pin size instead, but this wouldn't be my first choice on a Steinway B. Furthermore, I don't need lectures from you about replacement vs. working with what's there; I've done my fair share of refurbishing action parts, hammers, etc. But, it is my believe that first tier instruments deserve first-tier care whenever possible.

#1970973 - 10/09/12 07:41 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: PianoWorksATL]  
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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
Originally Posted by beethoven986
It very well could be ivory. I know a NY D from the mid-80s that has very nice one-piece ivory tops.
One piece ivory should be your first clue that it isn't usual.


Well, sure. But it is an unaltered factory keyboard, though, so all I'm saying is it's possible smile

#1970991 - 10/09/12 08:21 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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"Filthy?" The piano is unused for two years. It's going to have dust. It's the tuner/techs who tell the owners not to touch anything inside. Dust doesn't mean it's a basket case.

That looks like the water resevoir for a D-C system underneath. It might be better cared for than credit is being given.

Bottom line - It needs a detailed inspection rather than speculation.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#1970996 - 10/09/12 08:30 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: Icefox]  
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There are certainly lots of things to consider when buying a used piano, many of which have been covered here. On the other hand used B's can be quite amazing (or on the other hand - can be pretty disappointing - the range of possibilities is so wide you really can't generalize, especially given the era of this piano. I had the experience of watching and playing 2 Bs from the mid '70s with consecutive serial numbers develop into two very different instruments - one amazing, the other basically firewood). I'd certainly give it a try if you can manage the logistics. As a B owner (1958) I can appreciate how good they can be and 30K could be a good deal for you. (and a 29K ad on Craiglist could easily be $25K in your home).

#1971055 - 10/09/12 10:52 PM Re: 30k for a 1981 Steinway model b? [Re: gmf001]  
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Appreciate the insight!

Originally Posted by gmf001
There are certainly lots of things to consider when buying a used piano, many of which have been covered here. On the other hand used B's can be quite amazing (or on the other hand - can be pretty disappointing - the range of possibilities is so wide you really can't generalize, especially given the era of this piano. I had the experience of watching and playing 2 Bs from the mid '70s with consecutive serial numbers develop into two very different instruments - one amazing, the other basically firewood). I'd certainly give it a try if you can manage the logistics. As a B owner (1958) I can appreciate how good they can be and 30K could be a good deal for you. (and a 29K ad on Craiglist could easily be $25K in your home).


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