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Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
#1972139 10/12/12 12:48 AM
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Hello everyone. I’m a newbie to this site, and I’ve read a lot of great posts, but I have a question for some of you knowledgeable folks:

Is a 1930’s vintage Bradbury petite grand, in “excellent” condition, worth $10,000?

My wife and I found the above piano that we thought might be a good purchase for us, except that the sellers are only asking $1000. We wanted a grand but with a small footprint (this one's 4’6” x 4’6”), and we didn’t want a black finish, and this one’s color would be a nice match for our home décor. We drove 90 minutes to see it, and it seemed solid and in good shape, although it was slightly out of tune—more so in the middle of the keyboard than at either end. I haven’t played since I was a kid, but other than being out of tune it seemed responsive and “normal” to me. Played the chromatic scale all the way up and down the keyboard, and all the keys work.

Since the sellers are asking $1000, we thought it would be worthwhile to hire an appraiser to check it out. Well, I searched online for “piano appraisal” in that area and found a registered piano technician who agreed to go check it out. I told him I’d like to know what it’s worth and if there were any issues with it, or if it might need any work (I’d read online that older pianos will always “need a tune” but that due to neglect or age there may be other things wrong with them as well).

After going to see the piano, he left me a voicemail, told me he’d be sending me a full “report,” but was excited that the piano turned out to be 80 years old, and was in "great shape for its age." Well, after nearly a week, he emailed his “findings” to me, but it didn’t tell me the value, or detail any specific issues. It was a 2 page estimate of $4200 worth of work to bring the piano up to “excellent” condition. He also wanted me to ship the piano first to his shop (30 miles) and then to my home (100+ miles). I was disappointed that he didn’t tell me the current value or condition (to give me a frame of reference re. the “estimate”), since that’s what I’d asked him to do, and that I hadn’t asked for that sort of an estimate at all.

I sent him an email saying that I was disappointed that he hadn’t appraised the piano for me, but rather had charged me to then try to bill me the biggest repair job he could justify. I reminded him that I don’t own the piano, but am trying to decide whether or not to buy it, and that I can understand if it needs work, but that I want to know what it’s current condition and value are. From my perspective, his estimate turns the $1000 piano into a $6000 piano, and obviously, if I’m going to spend $6000 I can consider quite a few more pianos.

He called relentlessly, trying to follow up. I just let the calls go to voicemail. He called at 10:30 p.m. one night. 11:30 the next. This seemed odd to me, almost desperate (not to mention ill-mannered). I waited several days to call him back, partly because I was so agitated about this situation, but I decided to pin him down on the two questions I had before making any decisions about the purchase or refurbishing the piano.

I won’t detail the call blow-by-blow (this is already getting long), but I asked him what the piano would be worth if he did all the work on it. He kept hemming and hawing, telling me “there’s a lot of value there,” etc. Finally I said, “if you did all that work and put it up for sale in your shop, how much would you ask?” He said “ten thousand. “ Since I’d finally managed to pin him down on that, I asked “what’s it worth in it’s current condition?” He said “$2500.” I asked him why it’s worth so much, and he said the age, condition, and that it’s French provincial.

I’ve been doing some research online—including this site—and it seems to me that the Bradbury was never a remarkable piano. I’ve even seen a post or two about Bradbury grands from that era, and the advice was to not invest much money in them. I’ve also obviously been shopping for pianos lately, and I think $10,000 will buy a lot of piano. In fact, I’ve found a nice brown Steinway S for $13,000 that I wouldn’t mind squeezing into the living room (it’s only 7 inches longer).

Anyway, I’m getting off track. Back to my original question: Is a 1930’s vintage Bradbury petite grand, in “excellent” condition, worth $10,000? Or is this guy trying to cajole me into paying him a bunch of money that would be better spent elsewhere? I know there are some intangible factors, but I just can't believe that this piano is worth so much.

Thanks in advance.






Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see
~Mark Twain
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Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #1972141 10/12/12 12:52 AM
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No. You can buy better pianos new for that price. Some of them may be better than a Steinway S.


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Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #1972147 10/12/12 12:59 AM
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No! Unless it has been re-whatevered by someone who REALLY knows how to re_whatever everything on a piano. (Complete rebuilding with everything redone at a cost far exceeding $10K.)


Dale Fox
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Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #1972162 10/12/12 02:14 AM
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Considering the quality of Bradburys, that complete a rebuilding would probably start by discarding the entire piano!

I would also add that the original price of $1000 is too much, by about a grand.


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Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #1972204 10/12/12 07:30 AM
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Retsacnal,

I think that you have all the skills to react to your own first posting. Pretend that you were not the author and go back and read it in as detatched maner as you can. What would your own reaction be?

I'm sure you would come to exactly the same conclusion that we all have in the replies thus far. I just bet that you would suggest that the "mythical" poster to keep shopping and not fall for the line from the "rebuilder." Your very last sentence gives yourself some very good advice.

What year is the Steinway-S? Condition? If you are interested in it, I would suggest a different tech to check it out.

If you listed where you are located, you might possibly receive much more help in your actual area from people who know the market you are in.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #1972487 10/12/12 09:36 PM
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There's a mahogany 5'4" Bradbury for sale at a Dallas dealership right now for $2,500, and I suspect the price is negotiable. It's been for sale for well over a year.

My mother had a Bradbury bought new in about 1934. I never thought it was that great a piano. I cannot imagine a Bradbury, even with a fancy case, that would be worth anywhere near $10,000, no matter the condition. My admittedly non-professional advice: Pass on this one unless you can get it well below $1,000 and don't put any money in it beyond tuning. And find a different tech. smile

Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #1972501 10/12/12 10:36 PM
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I'm somewhat surprised by the fact that no one has yet mentioned that a 4' 6" piano can hardly be called a piano at all but, rather, just a piece of furniture. I hardly doubt that any serious rebuilder would even look at such an instrument let alone offer to rebuild it. If a piece of furniture shaped like a piano is what you're looking for, you can probably find something at a lot less than $1,000.00

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
BDB #1972682 10/13/12 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
Considering the quality of Bradburys, that complete a rebuilding would probably start by discarding the entire piano!

I would also add that the original price of $1000 is too much, by about a grand.


I think that's more or less what I was trying to say. Just took a different route. ;-}


Dale Fox
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Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #2327599 09/15/14 12:37 AM
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Reading dcnm50's post about action regulation costs reminded me a lot of my first experience looking at a piano, which prompted me to come here and make my first ever PianoWorld post (above). At the time, I obviously didn't post very often, and so I never finished the story, as it were.

At the time, it was very clear that the RPT I'd hired had lied to me. He'd taken $150 from me, and wanted to take much more, but left me really with nothing. In retrospect, of course, I know that a 4'6" piano is too small, and that its name was unremarkable, etc, but at the time my wife and I were smitten with a beautiful little piano. Because the guy had lied to us, we didn't even know if the piano was worth anything, or worth following up on. Everything he'd told me was suspect.

But the story gets worse... Because we were sort of in limbo, I called the piano's owner to touch base. He told me that the RPT had actually broken the piano while inspecting it. Naturally, I felt somewhat responsible--afterall, he represented me during his visit. He described what was broken, and I did a little research (I was still learning): hammer shank. To add insult to injury, that sounded familiar, so I reviewed the proposal he had sent, and it included one hammer shank ($1.00), and labor ($35, if I remember correctly). The SOB was gonna charge me to fix it too!

I called the RPT to ask him if it was true that he had broken the piano, and he tried to claim that it was already broken. I told him that I'd played every key and that they'd all worked. Then he tried to say it was a good thing, because no one else would want the piano since it was broken, and that would "protect" me from losing the piano to someone else. I asked him if he was saying he broke it intentionally! He said "no." He finally grudgingly admitted that he'd broken it while taking the action out because "it hadn't been opened in a long time."

I asked him if he planned to fix it. He said if I bought the piano he'd fix it. I said "I know, it's on your proposal!" I asked him if he would go back and repair it. He said, "no." Well, I had already decided that I wouldn't work with him, but that told me even more about his integrity than I had already surmised. It also might explain why I got irritated thinking perhaps dcnm50's tech was the same one.

Anyway, if it weren't for the broken shank, I might have just walked away, but because we were in limbo about it, and we liked it, and because I felt bad about the owners now trying to sell a broken piano, or paying to have it repaired, I decided to call another technician. I explained the situation to him. He said he'd fix the broken shank while checking the piano out for me. His report was that the piano was in good condition for it's age, and that it had apparently been well maintained up until it went into disuse (i.e. consistent with the seller's story). He said it needed a pitch raise and tuning ($200, I think), and could use "a little" regulation and voicing. He was also candid about the piano's limitations, size, value, etc, but said that it was otherwise a decent little piano. He said if it were a "family heirloom," it'd be worth tuning and adjusting, but in terms of paying $1000 for it, shipping it, tuning it, regulating and voicing it (all of which would have added roughly another $1000), he recommended passing on it.

So, I invested $300 in a piano that's probably not even worth that much, but at least my conscience was clear.





Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see
~Mark Twain
Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #2327620 09/15/14 02:27 AM
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I'm confused - is it $1,000 or $10,000? I'm seeing both figures and it's a rather critical point in the equation.

Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
ando #2327633 09/15/14 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ando
I'm confused - is it $1,000 or $10,000? I'm seeing both figures and it's a rather critical point in the equation.

$1000 was the seller's asking price.
$10,000 is what the first technician said he'd advertise the piano at if he had purchased it and done all the required work.


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Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #2328168 09/16/14 05:31 PM
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In 1918 Freeborn Smith (Owner of Bradbury piano Mfg.) hired Wm.Knabe to design the New Bradbury pianos (and the Petite). But 1930 was their last year in business, so who knows if the quality was even there.

Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Ben_NZ #2329300 09/20/14 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Ben_NZ
Originally Posted by ando
I'm confused - is it $1,000 or $10,000? I'm seeing both figures and it's a rather critical point in the equation.

$1000 was the seller's asking price.
$10,000 is what the first technician said he'd advertise the piano at if he had purchased it and done all the required work.

That's correct. ^^^ Sorry, the original post has been corrupted a bit and hard to read.

The sellers were asking $1000. I hired a tech to check it out, to see if it was worth that much. He tried to convince me to spend $4k+ to do quite a bit of work to it, mostly labor, and claimed it'd be worth $10,000 afterwards.

At the time, I had a really strong feeling that he was being unethical, and posted here for confirmation. As I said to dcnm50 in a PM the other day--when we were figuring out if it was the same tech--I was so offended by his behavior that I was wondering if the PTG had a process to "report" an RPT (since being an RPT is what gave him credibility in my eyes), but at the same time he struck me as pitiful and had some sympathy for him. I never met him, but the piano seller described him as elderly, using a walker, and clearly ailing. He brought a family member to help him in and out of the car, house, under the piano, etc. I learned this in the same conversation in which I learned he'd broken the piano, and it sort of softened my anger--it's hard to be angry at someone when you feel sympathy for them.

Anyway, after exchanging a couple notes with dcnm50, and posting the above, I got kind of curious and wondered if that guy ever had any sort of reputation for doing rebuilds, or the kind of work he wanted me to hire him for, so I googled his name. The only thing that came up was his shop, and an obituary. Sadly, he's passed away, so it couldn't have been the same guy anyway.

So, that puts this story to bed. May he rest in peace.



Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see
~Mark Twain
Re: Bradbury Petite Baby Grand--$10,000...?
Retsacnal #2329336 09/20/14 04:48 PM
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It's not worth $1000 and the $10,000 price is ludicrous. Don't even give this another thought. It is not even worth the price to move it out of the seller's house.


Sally Phillips
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