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Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220177 12/31/07 02:40 PM
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You're pretty funny Turandot. laugh So at least you sliced all of us up in equal pieces laugh

...doesn't mean you'll get me to shut up though wink At least I don't interject myself in 'Chinese pianos are the greatest' discussions. That's your territory.


Pianoclues.com for Beginners
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Hamburg Steinway O, Nord Electro 4 HP

Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220178 12/31/07 03:50 PM
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William:
(perish the thought) write a piano-quest novel...

Was I the only person who read that as "Perri the thought"? wink

-Michael B.


There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.
Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220179 12/31/07 04:01 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Grane:
mrswright -- where are you on your proposed purchase?
I have learned a tremendous amount about used pianos from this forum, and although I wouldn't necessarily be scared off...I am now more aware of the complexity involved with purchasing a used or restored piano.
So now I am looking at new grands 3hearts I'll keep you posted!

Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220180 12/31/07 04:03 PM
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jazzwee,

You're a good sport. I knew you would take it the right way. (Let's hope the others are equally magnanimous eek )

Michael B,

I was thinking more like...'bury the thought', but I'll admit your way works better.

Happy New Year to Everyone! smile


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Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220181 01/01/08 12:00 AM
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Here is a pianist's view: I am a former owner of a 1924 Steinway M. (I now own a 1984 Baldwin L, 6'3", bought new.) First, the piano you're considering has gone 48 years without being restrung. If the piano has been tuned regularly since 1960, that alone means that those strings are no longer sounding up to optimum. Strings start to show their age and fatigue after 25 years or so. If it were to be restrung now, you'd be amazed at the difference. Also, while the soundboard is "good", evidently it's not excellent, so you need to probe that further, particularly as it relates to any damage or crown loss. Until fairly recently, there was the old trick of extending a thread across the underbelly to see if the curvature of crown could be visually perceived. That "test" has been debunked, and engineers today say that the far better crown test is the sound of the piano. It it is dull, thumpy and tubby, that can be a sign that the crown has lost curvature. The pinblock would also bear further examination. On my 1924 M, there were a few larger sized pins in place, and the higher treble was not holding tune well. I would have mentioned the verdigris problem, but if the flanges are new, I guess that's been rectified, unless a tech here can explain why I am mistaken on that one. Lastly, $18,000 for a partially rebuilt 80 year old Steinway seems excessive.

Some here will disagree with me, but I really believe that in most cases once a fine piano passes the 80 year mark and has not been fully rebuilt (which has some risks of its own), it's time to move on and to buy either a new quality piano or a younger pre-owned instrument that still has a plenty of life left in it. Just my opinion.

Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220182 01/01/08 12:38 PM
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Jazwee,
It is nice to know that your piano is indeed one that was actually reconditioned by Pianobroker.
I thought you should ask, since apparently you were under at least one false assumption regarding your piano, according to your posts on different threads, showing that you believed that as an old Hamburg, your piano should be more valuable than a US made pre war Steinway and therefore considered it a “bargain”.

Now, as to why you were under this false assumption, I have no knowledge. I do not say that Pianobroker put you directly or even implied that this was the case, and perhaps you were completely responsible for your own mistakes…

However, while your dealer is batting 100 in your book, if I were to buy a big ticket item, from one who is dubbing himself as an “authority” of some kind, and then found out that information that may have been important to my decision as to the monetary value of the product was not brought to my attention, that retailer would no longer be batting 100 in my book.

It is nice to know that there are more forgiving consumers like you.

Now, I do not mean to make an example out of your piano, but since you have brought it up in this thread, as well as others as an example of such a great value (“especially” since being a Hamburg), and commented that it “STILL didn't cost you $35K”...it worth commenting on.

This should be an interesting example not just for you, but also for others, in regards to assessing value of instruments in the “rebuild” market.

This market is more complicated than one thinks, and reading some of your posts in the past, I’m not sure that you are equipped with the necessary knowledge as to determine exactly what is a good “deal” or not in this market.
To be fair, this is not your business, and you should not be privy to all the complexities of the used/restored piano market, but perhaps this will give you and others a better insight.


First, whether you know it or not, unlike new Steinways, a per war Hamburg Steinway have a somewhat lesser value than that of a New York.
Perhaps the tonal quality, which is likely to be more percussive in an 80 year old board piano such as yours are appealing to you, and you find these particularly suiting to your taste and style of music, but as for the general monetary value of the piano it does not add anything, since another person may have a different taste, and perhaps a greater interest in classical music.

Second, I’m indeed relived to hear that you did not pay 35K for such a piano, since as I recall it has its original soundboard, and if so, it does not have nearly as high a dollar value even if the rest of the work was very good.


Let me give you an example as what I would have priced such a piano, had it came my way, only a few months after leaving the “rebuilder”.
Since the core of our business is high quality pianos, we are getting many, many “rebuilt”, and sometimes even close to brand new Steinways as trade ins.

I’m always happy to take trade ins that have yet to be rebuilt, but those that have seen more work are usually a more complicated story.
In many cases, as I described in my posts above, there is no value in the patch up jobs that were done to the pianos, and they would go to full restoration.
However, some instruments that we get from other rebuilders as trade ins have seen major work, done to good standards…but with only one problem…
These instruments have seen all the necessary work, yet the original soundboard was preserved.

While I’m aware that there are major climatic differences between the East and West cost, leading to major differences in regards to the philosophies behind preserving such boards, I would take a 90 year old board such as yours, and liken it at best, to an older car tire with 60,000 miles thread on it, and that had seen most of its use (how much exactly needs to be determined by looking at the piano, but whether it is 50,000 and “still good” or 70,000 and “already done” does not change much the value of the piano anymore).

Had you sent me your piano as a trade in, and assuming that the work was indeed of reasonable quality, what would I have done with it?

It is too good than to start all over, and it would be unfair for me to offer you as little as the value of such un restored piano. But, should I wanted to replace the board, the plate and strings would have to come off, making much of the work done rather useless.

No, I will have to sell the piano “as is”.
Since we do get a lot of pianos such as this, this is not an imaginary situation.
I’m doing it all the time.

Now, I have different categories, for my own business use, trying to sort out the rebuilt market mess for my customers.

A rebuilt, restored or fully rebuilt piano in my vocabulary, are terms saved only for pianos that were completely restored, including new soundboards, and have a life expectancy as long as that of a new piano.

Pianos from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, which sometimes get considerable work, including pinblock (not always), stringing, action etc, and have boards in very good conditions, are called “reconditioned”.

However, I dub pianos that have seen all the work “EXCEPT” a new soundboard, and are pre war vintage pianos, as “budget pianos”.

I will not restore for resale pre war Steinway and keep their original boards, and will not advise my customers to do so as well.
It contradicts common sense and reason, and usually produces a lower performing piano and a bad financial choice (which is important since often the owners are less happy with their pianos within a few years and come to trade them in).

So these “budget pianos”, often produced by either “price sensitive” rebuilders, or those that do not have the capability to replace boards, are sold without any MAJOR work from our part, except the necessary to bring the piano to perform at its best under its current state, like action regulation, often necessary bridge work, voicing etc.
Once we are done, they often sound quite good.

Yet, I do not recommend these “budget pianos” to our customers, and I make sure that they understand all the drawbacks of these pianos when they show interest in them, and consider them along with the lower price .

Often, we provide shorter warranty periods with these pianos (not always, depending on their life expectancy), but they are always being sold under WARNING that this is probably the worst choice they can make in spite of the lower price, and should they want to stick to a lower budget, almost any new piano in that price range, including those that we do not sell, will serve them better than these.

You may ask how come we sell these then?

Well, do not underestimate the power of the name Steinway along with a low price.
The customers that we keep these pianos for are mainly those who have no intentions to play the piano, and would like a “Steinway” to place pictures on.
From time to time, the occasional person who actually wants to play the piano, and had always “dreamed about having a Steinway”, decides to purchase one of these pianos against my advice, often liking the tone very much (as I said, we can actually make them sound pretty good for the price).
I comfort myself when delivering such a piano in the fact that we do give a real upgrading policy, and indeed, often we see these pianos a few years later come back as a trade for another round…

So Jazzwee, if indeed the work on your piano was good, yet its board had not been replaced, it would fall into this category of budget pianos.
Had it been a NY Steinway, it would have been priced in the low 20’s.
Being a Hamburg, well, I would have offered it for sale for less than that.

So the fact that you did not pay 35K for such a piano does not mean that it was any kind of “deal”, only that you were not ripped off.
I’m glad to hear that Pianobroker did not rip you off.

As I said before though, the market on the West coast may very well be different from here, but had you sent me your piano, this is what I would have priced it at for resale.
If, by mistake, my memory failed me and your piano DOES have a new soundboard, it does not make any of what I said here moot, since I only used your case as an example, and it is the general rule that I’m interested in relating to, rather than your specific case.

So I went through yet another long post as to demonstrate that not all that glitters is gold, and that most consumers are not informed enough as to determine whether a rebuilt, restored, reconditioned, or used piano value is really good or not.

This is where finding the right dealer who will make sure to explain the customer everything he needs to know, and extensive research and leg work on the customer's part, is useful.

I often read here comments from people complaining about hardship determining if they are indeed getting a fair deal on new pianos, but the used/rebuilt market is much more complicated.

The condition of the pianos, the scope of work was actually done to these pianos, the parts and materials used, the perpetration of these materials and the workmanship in putting these together and finishing the piano are all part of the equation.

The market and the quality of the end product usually dictates that some rebuilders can routinely sell their restored pianos for more than others, and they often sell the partially restored and “half jobs” for no more, or even less, than those who thrive on such a market.


Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - CT / NYC area.

One can usually play at our showroom:

Bluthner, Steingraeber, Estonia, Haessler, Sauter, Kawai, Steinway, Bosendorfer and more.

www.allegropianos.com
Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220183 01/01/08 01:11 PM
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Originally posted by pianobroker:
Ori,
You refuse to accept the fact that someone can be at a higher efficiency level or output than you.
You need to surface to the 21st century and out of the stoneage as for restoration capabilities.
As for my business mdl. I probably sell more Steinway grands in a month than you do in a year. So that would account for my growing Steinway inventory and my choice as for reinvesting in my co. Evidently our differences are not gonna be recounciled because "Talk is Cheap on both of our behalves. So as you say we let the consumer decide as for the better value.
I also wish you a very happy and successful new year. We both must be doing something right!
Pianobroker,
Pearl River, apparently, is much more efficient than Steingraeber.
It takes Pearl River a lot less man-hours to produce a piano.

Some customers are very pleased with their Pearl River pianos, they usually site the very low price of such instrument as a great advantage as well.

For my money, however, I prefer a Steingraeber.
Yes, it may cost a lot more, but I enjoy play on instruments of such caliber so much, that when taking everything into account, I see more value in a Steingraeber than a Pearl River.

I can understand and respect that you may not share my view of that matter.


As to your efficiency...you have repeatedly promoted on different threads your machinery as a factor allowing you, in a similar fashion to Pearl River, to produce more pianos.

In another similar fashion to Pearl River, you have been promoting yourself as the "largest" manufacturer in your segment.

If your operation is successful by taking Steinway pianos and restoring them n a similar fashion and "precision machinery" used (although to a much, much smaller scale of course) by Pearl River and other mass produced companies, that I'm very glad for you.

I see one of the major the advantages of high end performance pianos in the perfect fitting of parts of "live" material such as wood to each other, thus preserving and channeling the energy produced initially by he hammer striking the strings to produce the results desired by their makes.

I understand that you may not share this philosophy, and that your aim is to produce many pianos "efficiently".


Disclaimer,
I used Pear River only as an example due to their advertisements in professional magazines referring to the volume of their production.
I do not mean to suggest in any way that they produce inadequate pianos.


As a side note, there is another poster on this forum using similar rhetoric as yours.
He too, with dreams of grandeur, claimed to be a "force" in the industry, revealing to his local county gazette that he is shipping 50 pianos a week nation wide, and these included, apparently, "German made" pianos for a third of their wholesale cost...


Indeed ,as you say, talk is cheap.

Over the sound of rolling laughter, form consumers and industry people alike, he too suggested that his bogus and false offerings are due to his efficiency, and that he only is the one who "developed" some ingenious method to selling pianos while everyone else is still in the "stone age" as you call it.

Sounds familiar?

If you feel comfortable in the company of TW, PM and the likes, who's major contribution is to try and promote their business with infomercials, then so be it.


Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - CT / NYC area.

One can usually play at our showroom:

Bluthner, Steingraeber, Estonia, Haessler, Sauter, Kawai, Steinway, Bosendorfer and more.

www.allegropianos.com
Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220184 01/01/08 02:01 PM
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Ori, your commentary is quite illogical to me.

The characteristic of my piano is complete lack of percussiveness and a wonderful singing tone with extraordinary sustain. Perhaps you need to get more pianos that have lived most of their live in the California desert before you make the assumptions about soundboards here.

I have heard all the theories about soundboards getting mileage. But can you prove it with sound? Not talk please. I'm sure it is to your advantage to prove the theory.

And I am absolutely no 'authority'. But I know enough to help some buyer to evade the sales job that is continuously spouted here. It isn't like every sales guy here tells the truth, more likely there is the motive to justify higher prices or to sell an alternate brand. Keeping this image of high prices has a secondary benefit of comparatively making Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber, Estonia, Mason & Hamlin, August Forster look like absolute bargains.

If an 'Authority' speaks with bias, then the authority is useless. All I have is a litte extra experience, and with absolutely no bias, which is worth something more than misinformation.

As a way to make me look bad, you imply to others here that I have never heard a rebuild or new piano with a fresh soundboard.

Your attempts at diminishing my perception of my piano (which is next to me producing a wonderful sound exceeding most new pianos I've heard of, even larger sizes), is a bit pathetic.

Now if I bought this from the Steinway dealer (which also sells rebuilds) and paid $35K, I'm sure I would not get this commentary.

You and pianobroker can battle with your philosophical differences but if a consumer needs information, I will take their side.

Note to Turandot: Turandot, I don't normally take this tone in a post but you're rubbing off on me laugh


Pianoclues.com for Beginners
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Hamburg Steinway O, Nord Electro 4 HP

Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220185 01/01/08 03:29 PM
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Jazzwee,

I'm sorry that you are taking this on a personal level.
As I said, I only used your case as an example.
I also commented that I'm well aware of the differences between the rebuilding attitudes of the East and West coast.

What you refer to as "theories" in regards to the soundboard, are very real to me. Not just from a logical and technical point of view, but also since I live and hear the differences day after day, time after time.

Once you have seen thousands of pianos with new, properly installed soundboards, and many others that had been "preserved" this too will no longer be a theory for you.

I also agree, by the way, that pianos will preserve very well over the years in the desert (although they should remain there and not be moved out after years), and understand the reasons behind that...but you should also know that this comes as a trade off in diminished tonal qualities and performance, especially in a compression crowned board such as that of a Steinway.


I do not cast any doubts that you have done your research and decided that you like your particular piano. In much of the same manner, other consumers have preferred other instrument that spoke to them, whether at your dealer or at other dealers.

Perhaps you think that there is something very special about your piano, and it is possible that there is something special about it, for you, but others have their preferences, as well as other pianos that are special for them.

Since we both agree that you are not an expert on pricing used or rebuild pianos, nor that you should be, interacting yourself into such thread giving analysis as to what is a better price is not beneficial to anyone, and serves only to increase confusion.

I have already stated that NY Steinway such as yours, will be priced at my showroom in the low 20's, and that your specific piano, being an old Hamburg, will be priced for less even if the work was done to good standards.

I usually have such similar pianos in stock.

If you want to be helpful, you can divulge now, within the context of this thread, how much you actually paid for your piano.
Saying that it was "under 35K" is not really helpful. You may as well say that it was not $200,000...

So please, there is no restriction, nor need to be a restriction in my opinion, on divulging the amounts paid for used/rebuilt pianos.
Should you want to be helpful to others, just disclose the amount you paid for sake of comparison.

Perhaps before participating in this thread, you were under the impression that 25K was a bargain basement price due to some illusive "efficiency", but now, hopefully, you understand that when comparing apples to apples, you could have purchased that very same piano from another rebuilder, for 20K, even though he has other similar pianos, fully restored to his own standard for 35K or above...so the same 25K does not appear to be a bargain any longer.

The problem with making statements such as: "we can sell used pianos for the least amount of money", in the rebuild market, is that the VALUE of a rebuild (other than the specific musical value as for the player's taste), has to do with the content and level of restoration, and comparing apples to oranges is not very helpful.

I find the practice of advertising "sales" for old worthless (or close to it) pianos at "80% off off" very misleading, since the value of these pianos has got little to do with the cost of a new one.

Imagine if we heard car dealers advertising Toyotas for 80% off...not disclosing that these cars are 20 year old and the 80% relates to the price of a new such vehicle.

Sad, but unfortunately such things occur on the piano business, and comparing apples to oranges in regards to older pianos, praying on the relative lack of knowledge of consumers in the industry, is not much better, in my opinion.


I hope that you can avoid personalizing this discussion, and understand that I only wish you well with your piano.


Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - CT / NYC area.

One can usually play at our showroom:

Bluthner, Steingraeber, Estonia, Haessler, Sauter, Kawai, Steinway, Bosendorfer and more.

www.allegropianos.com
Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220186 01/01/08 05:52 PM
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Ori, then given your description of the pricing, there should be quite a supply of full rebuilt pianos at $20K or under (Steinway O/L with original soundboard) and I must have clearly overpaid my piano. Of course I haven't seen that but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Then there's no issue. Pianobroker's prices are not cheap and in keeping with your price level. And since pianobroker's pianos with new soundboards that cost even more, then what's the argument about? Your prices aren't too far apart then.

Although as a consumer I would wonder how there would be a $15K difference between a NY Steinway that has a very good sustain, and one that had a new soundboard. $15K for the soundboard alone. Wow. Especially since I know how much someone is paid to put in a new soundboard.

Since I already did not claim to be the piano expert, it would be interesting to readers that third parties (professional jazz pianists) should be ignored in their idea of what a good piano sound is. It's because I'm no expert that I sought additional opinions to confirm what I heard. You continue to imply that because my soundboard was not replaced then it is 100% certain that the tone is not up to par.

BTW - talking about soundboards, my neighbor purchased a NY Steinway L or O, I forget, same era as mine, from pianobroker . The soundboard was perfect. Not one crack. Incredibly rare I'm sure. But should that soundboard have been scrapped too? Another Southern California piano.

To you it's black and white.

A few months ago, I sampled pianobroker's latest collection of used and rebuilt Steinways. The most dead sounding of the bunch was a mid 1990's original Steinway M. Statistically what does this mean? Nothing other than I have learned not to generalize.

Even Fine's book documents the controversy of automatically replacing soundboards. So obviously this is not an issue of my invention.


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Hamburg Steinway O, Nord Electro 4 HP

Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220187 01/01/08 08:48 PM
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Man, this is unreal!
Ori,
I am quite aware of advantages of a new soundboard in that we remanufacture a minimum of 3 Steinway grands a month with new soundboards,bridgecaps,ribs along with the normal pinblock,hammer,shanks,flanges,wippens,backchecks,let off buttons,restring,new finish damper action etc.etc.Are you one of the many rebuilders that just reconditions the original damper action in these turn of the century Steinways?. My main rebuilder redesigned the damper action assembly kit for a major parts manufacturer to make Steinway Restoratrion's job easier along with maybe yours.
Even our efficiency level as for my bellyman David Rubenstein keeps up with our production output. I know you will again try to take out his capability of pressing,cutting,crowning,notching,installing a new soundboard bridges,ribs in under a WEEK if need be.
I will admit I am not in the camp of replacing soundboards in every piano for obvious reasons. We also don't choose to replace the keyset and rails in every vintage Steinway though we have the capability to do everything.You have to understand the pianos from the westcoast though totally worn out can be pristine rebuildable core pianos with perfect cond.soundboards along with everything else in the piano. Most every piano from the east coast that I have purchased,I have no choice as for changing the soundboard,bridges,ribs,action stack, back action,keyset etc. Though I am quite aware that their are alternate reasons for changing a soundboard other than the fact that it has 20 cracks,dowels,screws,off the rib cracked bridge capps.termite damage yiks! It is somewhat similar to the California car vrs. an east coast car. Who would want an all original Porsche from New York if available in CA.

Ori,I take your value assessment with a grain of salt of Jazzwee 's piano in comparison to your statement as for the replenishable supply of Steinway Ms for 5K. Again TALK IS CHEAP on both of our behalves. Let me remind you Jazzwee's piano is also higloss polyurethane acrylic. I would be very surprised you could even do a high gloss Polyester or Polyurethane acrylic finish for under 10K to your client.

As for mass production, all our Steinway grands are still hand made and hand assembled.It is just our efficiency and precision level that sets us apart from the stoneage in handling the various tasks of restoration in a more advanced technological approach. I really would not expect you to understand or comprehend our capabilities without viewing the facility. You are more than welcome to view our faclity when at the Namm show in that we are less than an hour north of Anaheim .The reason I feel I've had to interject in these threads because you basically write your extended commenraries figuring if none disputes your theory they will be considered as gospel in the piano industry according to Ori. I've noticed you have never made a single statement pertaining to an issue as to not benefiting one's self in your choice of piano manufacturers you wish to carry directly or indirectly. I agree one is naturally gonna display a bias as to benefit ones self but think their is a limit and etiquette among dealers and persons whom have already bought.

We should call a truce in that this is getting old and more personal to all parties involved which is not good for anyone. Happy New Year !!!


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Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220188 01/01/08 09:44 PM
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Jazzwee,

First, let me thank you for getting back to our discussion in a civil tone.
While I never suggested that “professional Jazz pianists should be ignored”.
I tried to emphasize that your particular taste is not necessarily the ultimate judgment of which pianos are good or not, and that you do not represent necessarily the majority of players.

In regards to the soundboards, I do not suggest that each and every soundboard MUST be replaced, but only that at a certain age, given the way boards are nade and the stresses athat they are exposed to, it would not make sense not to do it if the piano gets major work.
I agree and remarked before that this is MUCH more true and important on the East coast than in California, but it still have great merit at a certain age also in the desert, and especially in a situation that the piano may be moved to another area once sold or resold.

It is not the time or place to discuss soundboards construction and longevity here though, so I’ll move on to the more relevant issues.
Also, it makes sense to learn from your posts that when pianobroker actually restores a piano, including a new board, he is charging accordingly.

There was little argument actually in regards to our opinions as to the value or benefit of buying a Steinway privately and then contracting a rebuilder to restore it, and nowhere I suggested that either mine or pianobroker's prices, when comparing apples to apples were all that different.

It is even possible that when comparing a full restoration done at either shop, the more expensive restoration job may still be the better value of the two, either to the majority of buyers, or subjectively to one pianist who found the piano that "spoke to him".

So what was the argument about?

Well, Pianobroker in his first and rather confused response to me, indeed stated that there was little difference as to our view of the subject, however, he proceeded with a sales pitch (theoretically directed to me but actually aimed at other readers), paddling the idea that should one buy a piano from a restorer like him (and ironically me), he would save money since this was like buying at "wholesale" direct from the factory.

Pianobroker propelled this notion a few times before this thread, and although it can theoretically support me as well, I find these comments to be rather deceiving and harmful to our industry as a whole.


Why?

Let's leave for a moment the rebuilt market or any disagreement between pianobroker and me, and concentrate on the new piano market.

In this market, there are a good number of dealers, usually focused on the low end, who prey on unsuspecting consumers selling low cost products not by the merits of the instruments, who may or may not be decent values for the price, but by trying to transmit that the consumer is getting a “deal” and that this low cost piano is really a unique bargain by buying “wholesale”

One method of doing this is to add to the names of their usually short-lived companies (the owners often remain but the companies switch names) false descriptions indicating that they are not really marketing to consumers but rather to dealers.

I wonder how many dealerships with names like “piano wholesalers”, wholesale pianos” , “piano and organ wholesale”, “Piano liquidators” and such can be found in this country…

How many “sales” advertisements does one get in the mail, indicating of “blow out prices” and adding the words “dealers welcome”… as if any dealers would be interested to buy the pianos on that ‘sale” offered at retail prices…
Or, of course, the reverse psychology, when the advertisement is trumpeting out loud “no dealers please, private customers only”… as if dealers are just banging on their doors day and night to purchase these unique ‘wholesale pianos’ at “blow out prices”.

This grim and false tactic’s aim is to prey on the unsuspecting buyer, selling him an inexpensive piano at retail, and making him believe that the low price is because he is buying it at wholesale…

Well let me make it clear, when a retail customer is entering a showroom/warehouse showroom/shop etc, and he is dealing with a salesperson/tech/owner and buying a piano he is paying RETAIL.
If this retail operation provides very low or no service it does not mean that they are a wholesale operation, all it makes them is a retail operation offering low or no service.
The false advertisements, leading people to think that they are getting a bargain are just lies, flat and simple.

Pianos that are sold at wholesale are ordered usually unseen, at quantities, and no piano dealers are going to be stupid and buy from a true wholesaler if he were to offer his pianos to the public in the same prices…

Whenever an operation is exposed to the expenses of running a dealership, including advertising to the public by yellow pages, radio, direct mail or Internet, and is selling to the public, than this is a retail operation and not wholesale.

Let’s move on to another segment of the market, some factories, including (and perhaps especially) at the higher end, have their own stores as well.
Whether it is Steinway, Bluthner or C. Bechstein, when operating these stores, the companies are exposed to all the expenses that other dealers have, including rent, salespeople commissions, moving, preparation /tuning/ maintenance, advertising, utilities etc.

According to NAMM and the stats given, the actual profit margins are simply not great enough to motivate most factories to operate like this.

Rest assured that the last place on earth one can expect a large real “discount” is in one of these factory owned stores.
Does anyone think that they can save money buying a Steinway at a NY or CT Steinway-owned stores because they are buying “factory direct’?
I hope not.

Had a factory opened its own store and was indeed selling at or near wholesale to customers, any dealer would drop the line like a hot potato, and the company would remain with a service intensive product, and no one around the country to present and sell it.

So all the talk about “wholesale direct to the public” is just another ugly side of the industry, rearing its face.

Now lets go back to Pianobroker and his comments, had he said, for example, something like: “I gave up on prime expensive retail space to lower my overhead and be able to better compete”, I would understand and respect his argument.
Whether this is a smart strategy for an operation trying to be what sounds like a mass producer of rebuilding jobs I do not know…but I would still respect it.

However, when he claimed that he is selling at “really good prices” because he is selling “wholesale direct to the public”, I do not find it to be much better than the tactics I described above, and that are thriving at the low end of new pianos.

I asked Pianobroker a simple question, does he do wholesale rebuilding?
Yet, received no answer.

Due to other comments he made in the past, I believe that he DOES, like most rebuilders, do wholesale rebuilding. But rest assured that any consumer bringing a piano to him, or any other rebuilder actively doing wholesale restoration, will pay according to a different and higher price list.

You see, when you are a prospect sending to the rebuilder 5 pianos annually, year after year, he will settle for a much lower margin.
Often, the margin on wholesale rebuilding is so small, that when everything taken to account, the rebuider is hardly braking even there and cost him almost as much as the cost to rebuild his own pianos…. But still, he is interested in these jobs because they provide the necessary cash flow to pay the workers, shop rent and expenses, while the bulk of his profit comes from the RETAIL rebuilding jobs, and the completed pianos he is selling at RETAIL.

The wholesale market is such that technicians and dealers with no restoration capability will send the work elsewhere had the prices were higher or anywhere near to the prices the same rebuilder would charge his retail customers.

I do not need to know the specifics of Pianobroker’s operation, to know that the techs/dealers won’t send business his way had they were not been able to collect the commissions due to them for essentially acting as the retail operation, and absorbing the costs in operating such a shop.

For what its worth, our shop has been working at full capacity for some time now, and although there is some growth there, it is more limited.
We have of course the option to further increase our facility, and have done so gradually over the past few years, however, one of first decisions that we made was essentially to eliminate the bulk of wholesale restoration, and especially refinishing, focusing on producing only the instrument that are for sale or for retail customers.

So while I too can claim the status of a “wholesaler direct from the factory”, I can assure you that you will not hear such pearls coming out of my mouth, since it would simply be a lie.


Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - CT / NYC area.

One can usually play at our showroom:

Bluthner, Steingraeber, Estonia, Haessler, Sauter, Kawai, Steinway, Bosendorfer and more.

www.allegropianos.com
Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220189 01/01/08 10:24 PM
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Ori,

Earlier you suggested that someone should be selling fully restored but without replacing the soundboard, and fully refinished, would be sold at $20K or less at your location. Or in my case, one with glossy acrylic finish and fully refinished plate. I suppose it's price should have been so low because the original ivory keys were not changed to plastic? Aren't you damaging your own industry with this statement? I have purposely left vague statements of pricing so I don't offend anyone.

Even my statement of '$25K plus or minus' for a rebuild is based on common information on the internet (Ebay, etc.). I have seen many fully rebuilt Steinways at this price though I cannot speak to their quality. That's for the buyer to decide.

But to say that my piano is worth under $20K, or that I'm supposed to go to any dealership locally and find Steinways at $20K or under fully rebuilt (same soundboard) is not reflective of reality. That tricks the readers to the false fact there are many rebuilt Steinways available under $20K. Which of course, they are, as in the OP's original post. But this piano was NOT completely rebuilt and NOT completely refinished. So your statement aims to confuse buyers to immediately question lower prices to equate to shortcuts or incomplete restoration. At your extreme of under $20K you're probably right.

My piano is FULLY restored so I don't know what your point is by saying you sell it for under $20K.

First of all the core value of the unrestored piano is a fixed amount. You claim it is $5K. And you say that Hamburgs are a dime a dozen so they must be $2K (now let's see other rebuilders agree with you on this).

Given that, is your total restoration value $15K if you don't change the soundboard? Now how does this restoration value jump to $30K in some instances? Just from the soundboard? Let's talk value here (not your wholesale cost as that is your private information). How much does each step of a restoration process attribute to the value of the piano?

Top End
Soundboard
Action Stack
Refinishing

Yes, as you say, I'm no pricing expert. It's like saying my wife is not a pricing expert on brand name clothes even though she's looking at bargain prices at TJ Maxx every week. Does she have to be the TJ Maxx buyer?

In any case, your pricing details are in conflict and it sounds like you are manipulating it to make me look non-credible.


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Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220190 01/01/08 10:34 PM
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Ori,

Specifically about your comments about Hamburg Steinways which you claim to be cheaper than NY Steinways pre-war.

Could you explain why that is?

Since sostenuto pedals were not installed on Hamburgs until decades after WWII, what specific differences in pre-war, post-war would affect it's price. And again this is the core piano we are talking about. I'm not talking about restoration here which is really the bulk of the value of the Piano.

Hamburgs have a distinctive sound. Go ask the Hamburg owners here of both vintage and new. I know you know that. So is there a different sound between post war and pre-war?

Given that there are so few vintage Hamburgs available in the US, did you get someone dump Hamburgs from Europe and is that accounting for your clarity in price?


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Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220191 01/01/08 10:56 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by pianobroker:
Man, this is unreal!
Ori,
I am quite aware of advantages of a new soundboard in that we remanufacture a minimum of 3 Steinway grands a month with new soundboards,bridgecaps,ribs along with the normal pinblock,hammer,shanks,flanges,wippens,backchecks,let off buttons,restring,new finish damper action etc.etc.Are you one of the many rebuilders that just reconditions the original damper action in these turn of the century Steinways?. My main rebuilder redesigned the damper action assembly kit for a major parts manufacturer to make Steinway Restoratrion's job easier along with maybe yours.
Even our efficiency level as for my bellyman David Rubenstein keeps up with our production output. I know you will again try to take out his capability of pressing,cutting,crowning,notching,installing a new soundboard bridges,ribs in under a WEEK if need be.
I will admit I am not in the camp of replacing soundboards in every piano for obvious reasons. We also don't choose to replace the keyset and rails in every vintage Steinway though we have the capability to do everything.You have to understand the pianos from the westcoast though totally worn out can be pristine rebuildable core pianos with perfect cond.soundboards along with everything else in the piano. Most every piano from the east coast that I have purchased,I have no choice as for changing the soundboard,bridges,ribs,action stack, back action,keyset etc. Though I am quite aware that their are alternate reasons for changing a soundboard other than the fact that it has 20 cracks,dowels,screws,off the rib cracked bridge capps.termite damage yiks! It is somewhat similar to the California car vrs. an east coast car. Who would want an all original Porsche from New York if available in CA.

Ori,I take your value assessment with a grain of salt of Jazzwee 's piano in comparison to your statement as for the replenishable supply of Steinway Ms for 5K. Again TALK IS CHEAP on both of our behalves. Let me remind you Jazzwee's piano is also higloss polyurethane acrylic. I would be very surprised you could even do a high gloss Polyester or Polyurethane acrylic finish for under 10K to your client.

As for mass production, all our Steinway grands are still hand made and hand assembled.It is just our efficiency and precision level that sets us apart from the stoneage in handling the various tasks of restoration in a more advanced technological approach. I really would not expect you to understand or comprehend our capabilities without viewing the facility. You are more than welcome to view our faclity when at the Namm show in that we are less than an hour north of Anaheim .The reason I feel I've had to interject in these threads because you basically write your extended commenraries figuring if none disputes your theory they will be considered as gospel in the piano industry according to Ori. I've noticed you have never made a single statement pertaining to an issue as to not benefiting one's self in your choice of piano manufacturers you wish to carry directly or indirectly. I agree one is naturally gonna display a bias as to benefit ones self but think their is a limit and etiquette among dealers and persons whom have already bought.

We should call a truce in that this is getting old and more personal to all parties involved which is not good for anyone. Happy New Year !!!
Pianobroker,

Please read the above comments to Jazzwee in order to understand why you are getting this cold shower.

I'm not sure why you keep on coming back, again and again trying to justify your actions with confused words, which are mostly unrelated to the subject.
Much of your last post was a relevant as a discussion on the economy in South Africa.
You come out of your corner swinging widely in your post, try to insult me, and than call for truce?

If I were you I would think twice before opening my mouth, since you hang a noose around your neck with each and every post, and I start feeling uncomfortable acting as a hangman.

At least this time I could make something from your posts.

First, let me answer your question about the damper action…
We replace the damper action in all Steinways prior to 1916, as I recall, and often to younger ones as well, as needed.

Second, after hailing yourself as the “authority”, “advanced”, “high tech” and “efficient”, and condemning the rest of the restoration industry, among which restoration facilities which quality of product is light years ahead of yours, to the “stone age”… and especially with your apparent obsession with size…. you now admit to install only three boards a month in your facility.
If this is the case, and I mention this again only since you are apparently preoccupied with being the largest, you still need to grow more before claiming to be the "biggest", as our factory produces considerably more fully restored pianos with new boards than that.

In any case, size is not a measure of quality, but you have said enough things, and I know enough to be certain that had the quality of your rebuilds justified it, you too could have collected top dollars as some of the other rebuilders in the industry.

Perhaps with less focus on speed and size, you may be able to increase quality to the level that people will pay for it without your feeble attempts to justify it as “wholesale”.

As you keep on saying,…“talk is cheap”, but I shall add that a picture is worth a thousand words.
One quick visit and a look on your website, and viewing the photos of your “restored” pianos, is very telling.
The fact that you feel proud in presenting these pictures, leads me to believe that this indeed is the standard that you’re trying to achieve.

And if we are already in the subject of the finishes, I will relate to your other question as well.
We do not do Polyurethane acrylic finishes in our factory, and also, we do not send pianos from our factory to be refinished in Poland as well…

Do you send pianos to Poland to be refinished?

After all, if you do send pianos to Poland for refinishing, than it kind of pulls the rug under your “wholesale argument”, or should the consumers in your area go “factory direct” to Poland for their refinishing jobs…


I have been around long enough to know exactly how to read between you pompous lines, self crowning as an “authority”, and dreams of grandeur.
And so does the rest of the industry.

If you don’t see it yet, then let me finish here with a story about perspectives.

Sometime ago, you uttered one of your “pearls” and claimed that all high end manufacturers of European pianos ask ed you to represent their lines, and which of course you declined since your life long ambition is apparently to be a used car…sorry, a used piano salesperson.

I would usually tend to dismiss your megalomanic comments, as they are obviously doused with good portion of imagination.
However, on that thread, you made a reference to a comment, that although was twisted enough as to completely distort the meaning behind the sentence, it carried familiar words with it, which allowed me to identify the manufacturer you were referring to.


I went then to this manufacturer, whom I’m on good friendly terms with, and asked him if indeed, as you claimed, he was considering giving you this line of high end pianos.
Well, after he finally stopped laughing, he indicated that this was not the case. Actually, I think that his exact words were… “no way, no where, not in heck” or something of the sort.
Afterwards he added that apparently you do not understand the difference between a preliminary polite meeting at NAMM, to see who is he dealing with, and the screening process that follows as to which dealers he will actually consider giving representation to.


I hope things are now more clear between us, should you need further clarifications I will gladly oblige.

Oh…and since you believe that this is becoming old and personal, as you said, how about a truce?
Thanks you for your kind New Years wishes, I’m sure these are coming from the bottom of your heart.
I’m returning mine to you as well for the second time…

Anything else?


Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - CT / NYC area.

One can usually play at our showroom:

Bluthner, Steingraeber, Estonia, Haessler, Sauter, Kawai, Steinway, Bosendorfer and more.

www.allegropianos.com
Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220192 01/02/08 01:08 AM
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Jazzwee,
I would really like to relate to your post, since it seems that this is really important for you.
Your post is full of so many inaccuracies, however, and things that I did not say, so before I begin let me correct your comments in regards to what I said and/or make clarifications.


1. I said that a 90 years old original board NY Steinway “O”, with the same kind of “restoration” and assuming that it was done to a good enough level to keep, would be priced at the low 20’s. I said that your piano would be worth less, but did not say that I would sell such a piano for less than 20K.
2. I did not suggest by any way that this price has to do with plastic or ivories.
3. I do not feel that there is any need to be vague in any way in the used/restored piano market, for what it’s worth I’m for a lot more transparency in the new piano market as well, but this is a different story altogether so let’s not go there.
4. In my vocabulary, any piano that has the original board has not been “fully restored”, I understand that you and others may see it differently, and I think that the lack of common vocabulary is just another hurdle adding confusion in this market. I’m under no illusion that the “gospel according to Ori”, or anything else I may write here is about to change this sad fact.
5. I said the un restored value of a base “M” is 5K-6K. If it is the larger “O”, such as your piano, it would be worth around here between $6500 and $8,000. The cost of restoration is pretty much the same.
6. I never said that Hamburg’s are a ‘dime a dozen”. In fact, in this country they are much more rare. When we are talking about recent vintage pianos they are somewhat more valuable. When you are talking about older vintage pianos, they are less valuable than NY Steinway, mostly due to the lack of sustenuto and the refusal of the market to pay the same for a piano with two pedals whether they use it or not. I didn’t invent the market, I’m just reporting as to the real values of such pianos prior to the restoration.
7. I would say that the value of a Hamburg “O” prior to restoration is about 5K-6K on the East coast. Your piano, had I received it, would have likely been priced in the very low 20’s, and around 21K.
8. I know that prices for such pianos tend to be somewhat higher in the West coast, but I already been through this bridge once, and the price difference may be perhaps 10% higher on the West coast. The higher the price for the un restored piano, however, the less competitive the rebuilder is in the final restored piano price. This is why these pianos have quite a set value in the market.


I hope that these are now clear, please compare these to your comments to view the contradictions.

Now to answer your questions:
There are few major parts in the restoration of a piano, let’s take for example a 1920’s 5’10 and a half “O” or “L”.
Depending what is actually done and the level of workmanship the cost spread should be vary large.

Belly work: This may include anything from replacing the strings only, to replacing the strings pinblock and soundboard.
Cost can be from about $1,000 and up to $11,000
Action work: this may include anywhere from regulation of existing parts to new hammers, shanks, flanges, repetitions, back checks voicing & prep.
The cost will range from $600 to over $7,000.
Dampers” from replacing and regulating just the damper felt, to replacing the damper felt and under lever sockets or complete new damper system and overhauling the trap work.
Cost is anywhere between $500 and $2,500.
Key work: replacing key tops and front with new plastics $400 - $700 most works (new ivories cost more).
Key Bushings front and center cost $400 - $700
Complete refinish: anywhere between $2,500 to over $10,000 for ebony (wood finishes can cost more).

The cost of moves and price of money for deposits need to be added to calculate the real cost of the job.

So now, I hope that you understand how great is the spread, and why it would have been great to come up with even terms as “rebuilt” or “reconditioned” describing the job done.

I have seen pianos that received less than $5,000 worth of work called restored just as much as those that got $30,000 worth of restoration.

If everything indeed was done, including a soundboard usually the rebuilder is also not likely to skimp as much on the finish or cut other corners.
So, when all is done, and the main difference is usually the quality of the work (dictating how much the rebuilder can actually get for the piano), the range will be smaller but still considerable, mostly between a 20K – 30K with some exceptions to either side.
This is the retail cost projection depending more on quality than anything else, and remains “retail” whether the charge is 18K or 32K.



I believe though that your main question is in regards to the soundboard and the cost/value of its replacement.
Unfortunately they are not always the same, and I believe that in a 90 year old piano such as yours the value greatly outweighs the cost.
When the plate is out and the pinblock replaced, a new soundboard will add to the cost anywhere between $3,500 and $6,500.

The value of such job, in my opinion, when everything else is done is much greater though.
As I explained before, liken the life of your soundboard to a tire thread.
A 90 year old board has long past its life expectancy here on the East coast and its relatively harsh environmental conditions.
Whiel it may still function OK in what you referred to as the Californioa desert, some questions become very important.

1.for how long will that board still be good?
2.What happens as it is sold and moved from its environment to another one?

As I said, I do not want to go right now into a discussion about the reasons that boards lose their life over time, but quite simply, if you have 55,000 miles on a tire with a life expectancy of 60,000 it will affect its value and life expectancy dramatically.

Another example, a car with 120,000 miles can bring you to your destination just the same way that a similar car with 10,000 miles will.
However, while one subjectively may like the softer ride of the 120,000 miles car just as much, or even more, it does not have the same life expectancy, and will have as much lesser value should he want to sell it.

These are of course given’s when we talk about most items, so I’m not sure as to why you think that this would not be the case with pianos and their soundboards.

I repeat, should I had taken your piano as a trade in, and the quality of everything else was good enough, preventing me from tearing it up and starting all over again, I would price it in the very low 20’s.

A piano like this would have never been worked on in our factory, and its board preserved, since it will last for a VERY short time, especially here on the East coast.


Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - CT / NYC area.

One can usually play at our showroom:

Bluthner, Steingraeber, Estonia, Haessler, Sauter, Kawai, Steinway, Bosendorfer and more.

www.allegropianos.com
Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220193 01/02/08 01:40 AM
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Ori, I don't see anything in your figures that are different from my understanding. Yet you continue to state that my piano is worth less than $20K.

Obviously the value of all the rebuilding pieces are the same since everything was done. According to your value formula, I'd be hard pressed to see you you could break even at $20K even without a soundboard.

So it seems the crux of your argument is that the value of my piano is minimal because of

(a) Soundboard not changed -- which let's not argue further as obviously you're not going to change my opinion nor am I going to change yours.

(b) Sostenuto Pedal. Now you said this before but you countered with comments about pre-war/post-war. Now since sostenuto wasn't added till 30 some years ago or so, I guess now you're extending the supposed drop in value (of I assume the $2K for the core piano difference, in your opinion) to all Hamburgs of whatever time frame with no sostenuto. Which I also guess applies, again in your opinion, to any other vintage brand like early Bosie, or other European pianos that also do not have sostenuto pedals.

Anyway, if this is the crux of the 'price is low' argument, then you must live in area of purely classical pianists. So perhaps, you should wholesale those Hamburgs here where I am sure Hollywood types playing popular music won't mind. Of course, you and I seemed to have agreed that Hamburgs are rare so your accuracy in market pricing is amazing, given that.

You also make no mention of the fact that people buy pianos because of tonal differences and that somebody may be drawn to particular types of pianos because of tone. And that affects supply and demand. You have not said anything to suggest that vintage Hamburgs have worse tonal characteristics than newer ones (I know you will say soundboard which applies to all pianos).

But there's no point arguing about any of this since at least we have both clarified our opinions. Issues (a) and (b) are your opinions and many don't share it, including myself. I think we can agree to disagree and leave at that.

I appreciate your response.

Please leave me out of the debate with pianobroker. I will make sure not to interject.


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Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220194 01/02/08 01:53 AM
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Ori
As for what transpired during my meeting with the so called piano manufacture you are so sure you know who I was refering to,you have no idea. You don't have a clue what his proposition was to me. It was I who decided not to take him up on his offer. He was well aware of how many Steinways in Southern CA. we were selling and as he put it wanted to catch the overflow of individuals whom did'nt want to go for a restored Steinway but maybe a new high level German piano. I will tell you this much, the proposition entailed a minimal $ commitment by me and the word "consignment" all over his proposal. Who do you think wanted the the meeting of the minds to take place more as for a future source of selling their pianos. I hope if we are refering to the same manufacture which is a line you carry and you are not privy to the same arrangement,I suggest you renegociate your arrangement.
I wonder if Steinway consigns any pianos to their dealers.?

In Southern Ca.of all the manufactures you represent one can't keep track who representts them month to month. I admit most are fine pianos
but unfortunately they are struggling in todays market. After Namm I will give you an accounting as to what piano manufactures are willing to accept representation in that my pockets are deeper than most. with no flooring needed.

I have sent pianos in the past to Poland strictly for reveneer and hand inlay work and not for solely refinishing. I was the only dealer whom they made an exception as for (case only) in that our internal work was handled inhouse. Since 2004 we do our own exotic reveneer and refinishing in our own facility. Again the exception was made than because I was sending them 10 Steinways at a time to be reveneered/hand inlay via container ocean freight and helped them secure an account with a source for pinblock and soundboard material. Since 2004 our arrangement has somewhat lapsed in that they sold their factory to Schimmel where the Vogel is now being manufactured.

You do your thing and we'll do ours and I'm sure both of us will stay ahead of the game.

Also if you promise to condense your commentaries to a couple of substantive sentances I'll do the same. I think a positive can be had in that individuals are praising how infomational these threads are while others think we 've gone off the deep end. Happy Holidays


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Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
#220195 01/02/08 01:54 AM
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I have seen a number of old (pre-WWII) Hamburg grands with sostenuto pedals, probably more with than without.


Semipro Tech
Re: Is an 80 year old Steinway a good piano?
mrswright #2518633 03/07/16 09:46 PM
Joined: Feb 2016
Posts: 24
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Joined: Feb 2016
Posts: 24
I was planning to drive - 2 hours each way - to see a 1924 Steinway M tomorrow when I stumbled upon this string. In my naivete, I was under the impression that this piano was still playable for a novice (me and my very young granddaughter). It is under consignment by family heirs to the registered piano tech who has tuned the piano for the past ten years. He says it is in very good condition, that soundboard is in good condition and pins are tight. He says action has been regulated. He says it was refinished 20 years ago - I assume that means the case.

After reading this string, I feel foolish considering this piano. Asking price is 11,500. Comments?

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