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#2144824 - 09/05/13 06:49 PM The right way to buy a Steinway?  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 22
Viola Offline
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Viola  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 22
Los Angeles
I am interested in buying a Steinway B which was recently made (last 10-20 years old) but is not necessarily new. The instrument will be played regularly but not overly heavily (several times a day, mainly by just two people).

What is the right way to do it? By "right" I mean reliable, cost-effective, with proper warranty, enough choices, etc.
How do the following ways compare:

1. Buying at a regular store (Steinway dealer)

2. Buying at a special event (sale at a music school, concert hall, etc.)

3. Buying through a rebuilder/technician (who might know of such an instrument for sale)?

4. Anything else?

I probably would not want to go for a private sale, as this does not give you any warranty. Besides, we will have an instrument to trade in.

Does buying at a special event ever make sense? I do not like the high pressure situation where you have to select an instrument in one-two days. However, they always claim that the prices are "a lot better". Is this really so?

What are the dangers/pitfalls of buying at a special event?

Thanks for all the ideas!

Viola.


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#2144840 - 09/05/13 07:37 PM Re: The right way to buy a Steinway? [Re: Viola]  
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 3,780
Keith D Kerman Online content
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Keith D Kerman  Online Content
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Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 3,780
Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Since you are open to the idea of buying a slightly used Steinway you have a lot of options. Since you also want a warranty, you will have to buy from an established retailer.

The special event sales are designed to create as much pressure as possible. Buy right now or miss out on the deal of a lifetime. Many people find that the pianos that must be bought now or the deal is lost are magically still available after the "special" event. Since you are looking at a very expensive, hand made piano which also varies widely in performance, the worst thing you can do is feel like you have to make a snap decision based on the deal. That is a good way to end up with a piano you regret having been sold.

A lot of the special event sales are also populated by hired gun sales sharks who only sell at these special events. They are experts at closing hard and fast and they have no interest in you once the sale is over. They have one shot at getting your money and so they go all out. If you like playing this game, you actually can negotiate a good deal since they only have the one shot. But, as soon as you start playing their game, you have lost focus on whether or not the piano is what you want and it is all about the deal.

Take your time. Go to the Steinway dealer. Go to other dealers. Play lots of Steinway Bs. Pick the one you like the best that fits your budget that also has the service/warranty you like. The service/warranty is only as good as the store that offers it since Steinway's warranty is non transferable.

If you find a rebuilt Steinway B that you like best, that might be a good option as well.

It is best to test these pianos with music you play very well from memory.


Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales - vintage and used Steinway, Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
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#2144845 - 09/05/13 07:44 PM Re: The right way to buy a Steinway? [Re: Viola]  
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BDB Offline
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Oakland
The right way is to try any that you hear about that fit your criteria, buy the one that feels right to you, and then stop shopping and start playing.


Semipro Tech
#2144852 - 09/05/13 07:51 PM Re: The right way to buy a Steinway? [Re: Viola]  
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 3,780
Keith D Kerman Online content
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Keith D Kerman  Online Content
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Joined: Mar 2003
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Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Since you have room for a B, maybe you have room for a Steinway D. It is basically the same foot print but the tail is 2 feet longer. Concert grands are bought for home use a lot more often than people think and as much as I love a good B, a good D is a whole different level.


Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales - vintage and used Steinway, Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Baldwin
www.pianocraft.net
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www.twitter.com/pianocraft https://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel

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#2144860 - 09/05/13 08:12 PM Re: The right way to buy a Steinway? [Re: Viola]  
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 79
Caowner2013 Offline
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Caowner2013  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 79
We just went through two Regular Stores and one Special Event held by a dealer on behalf of a local Univ. The factories represented by the dealer chipped in with a few new models at steep discount to boost the event. These are not Steinway dealers; and the special event dealer had several Steinways from the University for sale.

I am translating our experience to a Steinway Store and answering only questions #1 and #2. It is to share what we did and definitely not the only way. #3 and #4 are beyond my experience.

1. Regular Steinway Store
All models available for playing and immediate comparisons. All questions about Steinway (new and used) properly answered. May have used models fully restored by Steinway with warranty.

2. Special Event - sponsored by Factory and local Store.
May not have the Steinway you want. May have many more brands of different sizes, styles and ages for trials and tests. If Steinway of interest is available, then it is a good place to compare and contrast that against others.

Some Special Events include new models when Factory is trying to promote the sale. The new models may (or may not) be deeply discounted. If purchased new, there is warranty. Some local stores offer their own warranty on used piano while others do not.

Special Event can have really nice deal. We saw quite a few at this Special Event.

In order to know if a price is truly "a lot better", we prepared by having the following:

1. Larry Fine book data on MSRP and SMP. It will immediately identify if a new unit discount is "good".

2. On-line research to find prices of various Steinway B's (age, finish) listed by dealers, private sales and other sales in your area. This provides a ballpark understanding of pricing in your local region.

3. Bluebook data to complete the picture.

4. Know my own "pain" factors. What is the most comfortable price I am happy to pay if the ONE is there? How much to stretch for that SPECIAL ONE? Can I go beyond the limit if the once-in-a-lifetime surprise catch grin is there to be had if I could just stretch a bit?

5. What if there is a new one that is just a bit more than a 10-yr old one? Is there a %-range I am willing to stretch for?

6. Most importantly, I would want to clearly know the measure by which to make a final call. If there are multiple Steinway B's available, some new, some old and they all have different prices (age & finish) and play and sound different, then it is a matter of deciding what is most important? Is cost the overriding concern? Is touch? Is sound? Finish? etc.

Being prepared and clear about these factors made it easy to ignore the "pressure". It also made it that much easier to walk away as well as to seize a surprise good deal.

Good luck & have fun!

Last edited by CalifPianoUser2013; 09/05/13 08:17 PM.
#2144866 - 09/05/13 08:21 PM Re: The right way to buy a Steinway? [Re: Viola]  
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 79
Caowner2013 Offline
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Caowner2013  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 79
Piggy-backing on Mr. Kerman's post:

1. We did meet the "sharks".

2. One was "pushy" and we politely asked to work with another.

3. They told us it was a once-in-a-lifetime and when pressed, they said they will just keep selling them grin after the two-day "special".

As a consumer, I am comfortable attending a "Special" event because I can ignore the "pressure". Each of us will have to decide if such encounter is worth the time and effort.

Last edited by CalifPianoUser2013; 09/05/13 08:23 PM.
#2144889 - 09/05/13 08:55 PM Re: The right way to buy a Steinway? [Re: Viola]  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 10,776
Rich Galassini Offline
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Rich Galassini  Offline
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Philadelphia/South Jersey
Good thoughts so far. A good Steinway is a gem, no question.

May I also suggest trying other great makes? In LA there lots of choices and some world class voices that many enjoy more than Steinway.

Good luck and keep us posted,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
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#2144920 - 09/05/13 09:55 PM Re: The right way to buy a Steinway? [Re: Viola]  
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 2,604
Dave B Offline
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Dave B  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 2,604
Philadelphia area
Find a dealer your comfortable with and be patient. Keep in mind that your going to maintain a relationship with the dealer through warranty, moving, delivery, and other services.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
#2144936 - 09/05/13 10:19 PM Re: The right way to buy a Steinway? [Re: Viola]  
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 4,196
terminaldegree Offline
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terminaldegree  Offline
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Posts: 4,196
Georgia, USA
4. If you have a good relationship with a technician who will look after your interests and services a lot of Steinways, bring 'em along and get their blessing. Although by all accounts the '93-'03 Steinways were an improvement over the stuff from the '70s and '80s, there's still enough variability between them I'd want to know how everything stands.


Pianist, teacher, apprentice technician, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
#2145023 - 09/06/13 12:49 AM Re: The right way to buy a Steinway? [Re: Viola]  
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 112
TomazP Offline
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TomazP  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 112
Ucluelet, BC Canada
Lots of great advice here. Try as many as you can. The right piano will find you. Mine did. 1967 Hamburg "B".


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