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Steinway 1920–30’s #2762333 08/31/18 07:40 PM
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Coda9 Offline OP
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I’m desperately shopping for a practice piano and keep finding lots of Steinways offered built in the 1920s and 30s . I will be learning advanced classical literature 4 to 5 hours a day and would like an instrument that has good working mechanism and sound quality that supports a range of tonal expression.

Big question is could I find a Steinway of that era in decent working order to support serious practice?—Chopin, Rachmaninoff , Prokofiev , Scriabin, Shumark — you know , The “big and famous ones .” I’ve found a few fixer uppers of this era for $12,000 or less.

Currently I have a 1950 Grotrian-Steinweg which was hardly played so the bass strings sound terrible. And I don’t like the general ttonal characteristics of this era of Grotrian. We are definitely selling it . It was given to my husband by a former choir member .

Has anyone experience purchasing a 1920s 30s Steinway grand and how much refurbishing did it need for serious practice? Ultimately my husband and I want a Steinway D as soon as we can find a price on a preowned instrument we can afford . But the model D is more challenging to find and so we’re looking for a steinway grand between 5‘10“ and 7 feet .
Thank you for any advice !

Re: Steinway 1920–30’s [Re: Coda9] #2762359 09/01/18 12:37 AM
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huaidongxi Offline
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am somewhat familiar with your piano market. if you budget is $12 k. (not really clear what your ' willing to spend' limit is from your message here, and that was the only number specified) you will probably find it very difficult to find any model O or L (at the lower range of the lengthy you prefer) in any condition that didn't require serious rehabilitation. good technicians in the bay area charge premium rates. you have to find one whose rebuilt pianos you've tested and like, and get his/her opinion on rebuild/restoration candidates. the other week a dealer in Oakland with many used grands of all sizes had a steinway model A around thirty years old at just under $ 50 k., but the boesendorfer right next to it was longer, in better condition, seemed more responsive and lively to me, and was listed for about $ 6 k. less.

if you want a bargain steinway grand from model O/L on up to a D in your area, you have to be very patient and spend plenty of time chasing after it. if the piano doesn't play and sound the way you want when you buy it, you need to have the utmost confidence in your technician's opinion and quality of work, that it can be altered to suit you. if your budget is a major concern, after looking at steinways it's possible you'll reconsider how essential having that brand is for you.

Re: Steinway 1920–30’s [Re: Coda9] #2762363 09/01/18 02:02 AM
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Thank U huaiddonaxi, you’ve confirmed my experience so far in looking at 1920s 30s Steinways offered for sale on craigslist; eBay , and prices listed on various dealers & rebuilders websites . I have found some Steinways offered for sale by owner to be possibly much lower in price if the family wants to get the instrument out of there living room.

I should clarify that I’m looking actually for two pianos simultaneously .....A smaller more affordable one as an interim piano until we find a super deal of a Steinway model D. Then we would sell smaller piano to buy steinway D.Price limit for a Steinway D could be $35-$40,000 .
Yes I prefer the Steinway voice . I’ve played Mason & Hamlin, Baldwin , Yamaha , but their total colors are not satisfying in all the registers as are the Steinways . We don’t care what the case looks like. We found a Steinway D for 35,000 but it had water damage . My husband has a very treasured harpsichord and we would not want the mold to travel into the wood of that instrument.
Thank you for all of your observations as they confirm my instincts .

Re: Steinway 1920–30’s [Re: Coda9] #2762772 09/02/18 12:30 PM
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The idea of getting a Dfor $35-$40K in any kind of decent shape is not realistic. Try $70-$90K.that said, there seem to be more D models around because few people buy such a large piano. You may get extremely lucky and find something cheaper, but most likely, those cheaper DSLR will require a lot of expensive work.

Steinway has some magic qualities attached to the name. I get that. In fact, it has mesmerized me at times.if you are dead set on one, go for it. Consider though, that there are other fine brands. You could, for example, get a fine Baldwin SD-10, or SDconcert graNd for less than $30k


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Re: Steinway 1920–30’s [Re: Coda9] #2762906 09/02/18 07:25 PM
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I got a 1910 A2 and did a little bit of work to it. The board has cracks but sounds fine. The action was cleaned up a bit and adjusted which helped, and the hammers were reshaped which really helped. Right now, I'm about 9k in and I'd say it would be comparable to a new A (for the time being, more strings are going to start breaking and the board will only get worse) with some new bass strings and perhaps 4k more invested into new hammers and action work. With a full restring and soundboard/bridge repair I would actually be pretty happy with this piano.

If you like the Steinway sound (I don't, I just got one because it's easier to sell a Steinway) and get one at wholesale price with a workable soundboard and pinblock, you might be able to hit that 12k target. If this is for a serious pianist and this is a piano you want to keep, I would just increase the budget...

Last edited by trigalg693; 09/02/18 07:28 PM.
Re: Steinway 1920–30’s [Re: trigalg693] #2762947 09/02/18 11:23 PM
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Thank you Trigalg693 and Duke of Dunning for your observations about Steinways of the 1920s 30s and model D . I have no doubt that I am seeking the sound of a Steinway grand . I’ve played Baldwin , Yamaha,and Mason-Hamlin. and currently a 1951 Grotrian-Steinweg——- they are not offering the ttonal characteristics, colors I’m seeking from a Steinway. So far it seems that to find a model D, best situations are
when people must get the piano out of their space . OR if someone in the piano selling or restoring business lets me know there is an instrument at wholesale price available .
You’ve confirmed my impression that most Steinways of the 20s 30s will need some critical improvement to become playable for serious practice of 4 to 5 hours . So maybe a piano of the mid century era would have more immediate use without so much refurbishing .

Re: Steinway 1920–30’s [Re: Coda9] #2763241 09/03/18 09:16 PM
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You sound like you're in a bit of a hurry. You say you've tried three other brands, but you didn't indicate which models or years (old and refurbished/rebuilt, new?). What specifically don't you like about those other brands that you find in a Steinway? Have you played a pre-owned Steinway at your price point that you loved?


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Re: Steinway 1920–30’s [Re: Coda9] #2763760 09/06/18 01:17 PM
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Re: Steinway 1920–30’s [Re: Coda9] #2763779 09/06/18 03:10 PM
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In your situation and for the workload you are subjecting your piano to, I would recommend not going for an old, unrestored piano of any make, including Steinway. Steinways ARE great pianos, but an old one, in original condition, might be as disappointing to play as any other worn out piano. The other thing I would warn you about is when you find a piano that you love, find out it's original, and then decide to buy it. These old pianos which have hardly been played or somehow find themselves with good tone after 90 years are fine as long as they're not subjected to heavy practice. Once you start using one for heavy practice they tend to go downhill very quickly.

If I were you I would look for something newer. If you like the Steinway O, for instance, you might want to look for a Kawai KG-2 in good condition. I used a Kawai KG-2 for practising on over the summer when I was on holiday and I found it to be perfectly adequate in every way, very strong, very stable, a great singing tone, and it looked beautiful too. Just a thought. They're usually to be found at prices well within your range.


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