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Advice sought: move damage #2127417 08/03/13 10:38 AM
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PianoWorksATL Offline OP
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Hello All,

We were recently contacted for advice to a common situation with an uncommon variable. We gave advice to the customer but wanted to reach out to this community (with the client's permission) for additional ideas or perspective that the client can read.

The owner contacted a local, reputable dealer about moving the piano from Atlanta to an adjacent state within a days drive. The dealer used a moving company they recently switched to but regularly use with experience. It was an accident, but based on our information, was avoidable.

While on the truck, the piano fell over onto the bench which was upside down. The underside of the piano was damaged with some minor crushes to the rim and struts but, most noticeably, a hole was punched through the soundboard.

What would your advice to the owner be?

The hole is about 6"-7" from the belly rail (close to the dampers) near dead center.

***WARNING*** The images you are about to see are graphic in nature and may be disturbing to piano owners.


Sam Bennett
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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127418 08/03/13 10:39 AM
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PianoWorksATL Offline OP
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[Linked Image]
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The piano is a Steinway model B, approximately 20 years old.


Sam Bennett
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Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127425 08/03/13 10:54 AM
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Well, I suppose there are a few ways one could go about this, and it would depend on two things:

1. How attached is the owner to this piano, and how it plays/sounds?
2. How long are they willing to wait for a functional piano?

Even though I'm confident this could be repaired without completely rebuilding the belly with a new soundboard, I don't think I personally would accept anything less than a new soundboard... or a new piano. There's no reason the customer should have to wait or suffer on account of someone else's accident. That's what insurance is for!

If, however, the customer is very particular about this piano, and how it plays/sounds, and doesn't care about an imperfection in the soundboard, I'd suggest unhooking the strings in that area and shimming the soundboard with everything else in place, if possible.

Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127426 08/03/13 10:55 AM
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No advice. But, I would hope the movers carried insurance for just such a reason. Yes, the pictures are very disturbing. If this were my piano, I would be crying.


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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127435 08/03/13 11:13 AM
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If it were mine I would be furious. I would push for replacement with a comparable piano acceptable to my ears and fingers. Of course, the mover's strict legal liability may only extend to the repair of the damage in so much as it is possible to do so.


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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127436 08/03/13 11:15 AM
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The legal liability of the mover is generally under $1 per pound unless the owner paid for additional insurance. That will not cover the damage.


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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127438 08/03/13 11:18 AM
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This is indeed unfortunate for all parties involved, but particularly for the piano owners. In my view, this can be repaired by the right professionals (which the movers were apparently not).

Case in point, I saw a TV documentary about Bill Monroe’s (the famous bluegrass artist) prized mandolin. It seems that thieves broke into his house and, for some strange reason, tried to totally destroy his prized F style Gibson mandolin. The TV documentary showed how some musical instrument repair experts gathered as many microscopic pieces of the mandolin as possible and using magnifying glasses and microscopes pieced the mandolin back together. I’m sure it was not cheap or easy, but it was rather miraculous, considering how badly it was damaged.

Another option would be to replace the piano's sound board and struts, or perhaps replace the piano altogether, but I doubt the insurance company would agree to that… if they had insurance.

Let us know how this all turns out, Sam.

Rick


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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127460 08/03/13 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
The owner contacted a local, reputable dealer about moving the piano from Atlanta to an adjacent state within a days drive. The dealer used a moving company they recently switched to but regularly use with experience.

Did the owner contract with the dealer to move the piano ("The dealer used a moving company") or the moving company?


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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127479 08/03/13 12:46 PM
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Almaviva Offline
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Sam,

A new Steinway B would cost between $90,000 and $100,000, depending upon the finish. Ouch!

Damaged rim, ruined soundboard. The bench was probably ruined, too. Deja vu "ouch" all over again!

How much would it cost to repair damage of this magnitude, or can it be repaired? Even if it can be repaired, will the piano be of the same quality as it was before being damaged?

If the answer to that last question is "no", the piano will obviously have to be replaced.

If the answer to that last question is "yes", and the cost of the repairs would be less than that of buying another 20-year-old Steinway B in the same pre-damage condition, that would still a major repair bill.

Regardless of the outcome, a major hassle for all concerned.


Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127484 08/03/13 01:02 PM
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If I were the owner, I would want another B that I agreed to. Movers to pay for all expenses in acquiring the "new" piano.

Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: Almaviva] #2127494 08/03/13 01:29 PM
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...The bench was probably ruined, too....
Steinways usually come with Jansen Benches. In that case, and especially seeing how impact seems to have been a vertical blow as opposed to a glancing one, it could very well be that the bench only has a few scratches. But of course it is not about the bench here. We are talking soundboard replacement.

Question is: who pays, and will there be a decent loaner grand for the months it will take to do the restoration?

Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127501 08/03/13 01:56 PM
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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127507 08/03/13 02:00 PM
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Unless there was a signed waiver or limit to responsibility the owner should be made "whole". That is he/she should be provided with a similar pianos, acceptable to the owner, at no cost.

With the number of B's being bought and sold, this shouldn't be very difficult.


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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: Almaviva] #2127509 08/03/13 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Almaviva
How much would it cost to repair damage of this magnitude, or can it be repaired?


A new soundboard from a high quality rebuilder would cost $20,000ish (installed). I'm guessing Steinway's restoration center would cost more.

Originally Posted by Almaviva
Even if it can be repaired, will the piano be of the same quality as it was before being damaged?


You might be surprised at what kind of trauma these things can take. Gould's prized Steinway D fell from a loading dock, was subsequently rebuilt, and is still in use today. Is is still the same piano? No, but it is still a viable musical instrument.

Hurstwood Farm's Boesendorfer Imperial was dropped during a move and was subsequently rebuilt by them as a prototype for the Phoenix System. They even kept the original soundboard (which was partially separated from the rim, I believe). I dare anyone to find an Imperial as nice as that one.

Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127511 08/03/13 02:11 PM
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Yikes. I don't see in the web page if there are any maximums on claims? But I would imagine/hope, that they are insured to cover the value of what they're moving. A Steinway B is obviously towards the extreme of what movers deal with but it shouldn't be completely unusual. A lot of people have really expensive furniture, maybe not $100K pieces, but $20K dining tables maybe?

When I got property insurance for the contents of my home, my insurance agent said that in case of an incident (fire, theft, etc...) they will replace with "like" items. For example, I have a $4500 dining table, they said they wouldn't get that exact one unless I carried a "rider" on that dining table which requires me to send them my receipt beforehand, and it'll cost a lot more. Same with jewelry, and same with my piano. So I wonder if my RX-5 burned down (and didn't have a rider) would they just give me any piano. She couldn't predict what the adjuster would do which probably helps them sell riders.

Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: Almaviva] #2127519 08/03/13 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
The legal liability of the mover is generally under $1 per pound unless the owner paid for additional insurance. That will not cover the damage.
This is not my assumption though I do not have any specifics about the insurance yet in this case. We have our own movers and delivery truck and much higher insurance than most house movers that are covered by different regulations.
Originally Posted by Withindale
Did the owner contract with the dealer to move the piano ("The dealer used a moving company") or the moving company?
That is another legal question that I didn't ask. Prior to the move, the owner did ask us for a move quote and either a scheduling conflict or price led them to contact the other dealer.
Originally Posted by Almaviva
How much would it cost to repair damage of this magnitude, or can it be repaired? Even if it can be repaired, will the piano be of the same quality as it was before being damaged?
I approximate that sending it to Steinway for a new board and any other minor things might be $20k+. That is less than its value, so it would not be "totaled." If that is offered as a solution, then a minor side issue is the time spent without a piano, which could be a year.


Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bösendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Hailun
Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
Full Restoration Shop
www.PianoWorks.com
www.youtube.com/PianoWorksAtlanta
Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127581 08/03/13 05:08 PM
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So what was your advice?


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Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: Roger Ransom] #2127589 08/03/13 05:26 PM
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PianoWorksATL Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Roger Ransom
So what was your advice?
So far, it was to contact a lawyer and send the piano to Steinway for a new board. My feeling is it makes for a simple legal position for the owner.


Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bösendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Hailun
Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
Full Restoration Shop
www.PianoWorks.com
www.youtube.com/PianoWorksAtlanta
Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127628 08/03/13 06:27 PM
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I approximate that sending it to Steinway for a new board and any other minor things might be $20k+. That is less than its value, so it would not be "totaled." If that is offered as a solution, then a minor side issue is the time spent without a piano, which could be a year.


There is also the risk that the owner simply will not like the result that comes back from the rebuilding process. If it were me, I would want my money back, or my choice of another B that all parties agree was equivalent. I would not accept a repair without an opt-out clause. And that would not be what I would ask for. In the case of severe damage of this sort, I would probably want out immediately (money back in full). Then I would start over.

In any case, all of this would seem to hinge on what insurance people have.

Re: Advice sought: move damage [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2127636 08/03/13 06:50 PM
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Money back? New piano of "my choice"? Start over?

As I understand it, this was not a purchase, it was the moving of someone's family piano.

The dealer took on the moving and contracted it out to a moving company. The mover's insurance should be the first in line to cover costs. Failing that, the dealer should have insurance to cover pianos belonging to clients. In a perfect world, of course.

The truth is that although the hole looks gruesome (and it really needs to be repaired), the damage may actually be more "cosmetic" than most people think. There is a good chance the piano sounds no different now than it did prior to the move.

Every soundboard has holes in it of about that size, where the plate bolts go through. The positioning of these holes is dictated by the plate struts. I don't think acoustical considerations enter the picture. In other words, you could safely bore out a few two inch holes here and there in the soundboard and the piano's performance would not be noticeably affected.


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