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1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
#2765165 09/13/18 09:31 AM
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In perusing the forums here, I've learned that certain years of certain pianos are better than others.

I often hear comments like "Well, from 1995 - 1999 [X Piano Brand] started using [X wood] in their actions, which made them more sluggish. They corrected this in their 2000 models." Or "The golden age for Mason & Hamlin pianos was from 1920 - 1930, and then not again until 2000." Or "[X new design] in 2005 really improved the integrity of the soundboard in [X Piano Brand]."

Anyway, generally speaking, is a 1983 New York Steinway Model M a "good vintage?" I ask because one near me is available for purchase, and I want to know if there is anything particular I should be aware of.

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765166 09/13/18 09:40 AM
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Well, though it is technically out of the PTFE era, it is still POSSIBLE that it has it in it. You would want to have it inspected carefully. And check the damper action. At 35 yrs old it's going to need some attention in the action department, and perhaps most important is what kind of environment has it been in all these years.

I cannot think of anything in particular about that time period that would be a serious negative...but environment is a biggie for any instrument.

Maybe someone else knows better.

Pwg


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Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
P W Grey #2765170 09/13/18 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Well, though it is technically out of the PTFE era, it is still POSSIBLE that it has it in it. You would want to have it inspected carefully. And check the damper action. At 35 yrs old it's going to need some attention in the action department, and perhaps most important is what kind of environment has it been in all these years.


I'm a good pianist, but not a good pianoist. I have to confess I don't know exactly what you mean when you refer to "PTFE" or damper issues unique to that vintage.

It's been carefully stored in a home by an avid pianist. Frequent tunings etc.

Also, just generally, yes, I will absolutely have it inspected. My inquiry is just a general one.

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765171 09/13/18 09:51 AM
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Also, while we're on the topic, what about C series Yamahas from 1998 - 2001.

I'm looking at a C1, C2, and C5 from that era.

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765177 09/13/18 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Piano90X
Originally Posted by P W Grey
Well, though it is technically out of the PTFE era, it is still POSSIBLE that it has it in it. You would want to have it inspected carefully. And check the damper action. At 35 yrs old it's going to need some attention in the action department, and perhaps most important is what kind of environment has it been in all these years.


I'm a good pianist, but not a good pianoist. I have to confess I don't know exactly what you mean when you refer to "PTFE" or damper issues unique to that vintage.

It's been carefully stored in a home by an avid pianist. Frequent tunings etc.

Also, just generally, yes, I will absolutely have it inspected. My inquiry is just a general one.


I've never seen the "PTFE" acronym before, but Peter may be talking about Steinway's use of Teflon bushings in the action parts from the 1960's to early/mid 1980's, trying to eliminate verdigris issue with traditional wool bushings. The result was that while the Teflon did not expand and contract with humidity and temperature changes, the wood parts surrounding the Teflon still did. When this happened, one would often hear clicking sounds in the action when keys were being played. There were various methods of trying to resolve the issue and Steinway tried a couple of attempts at improving the design before finally phasing out the use of Teflon in the 1980's. You can read all about that in PW history if you're not familiar with that.

Another issue during the Teflon era was Steinway's approach to action geometry and key weighting. Pianos from that era have a lot of lead in the key sticks. I needed new hammers on my 1981 Steinway B. My Teflon action was in great shape and really had no issues, but to do the job right, I went ahead and replaced the hammers, shanks & flanges and whippens. Then my technician re-weighted the key sticks to complete the job. Mine would have been fine for me, but the hammer job was an absolute necessity.

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765274 09/13/18 03:25 PM
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Some soundboard issues and overall quality issues occurred during the 80s.


A441
Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
A441 #2765277 09/13/18 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by A441

Some soundboard issues and overall quality issues occurred during the 80s.

Nevertheless, the prices continued to go up up up every year. grin


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Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
A441 #2765290 09/13/18 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by A441

Some soundboard issues and overall quality issues occurred during the 80s.


If I were inspecting a piano, what are some indications that I should look for?

If I get serious about buying the piano, then I'll hire a professional technician, but I'd like to be able to notice something beforehand to avoid having to pay a technician if a problem is obvious.

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765307 09/13/18 05:24 PM
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what is the longest grand piano that is practical for you ? their size has made the steinway model M very successful for the company, with many in the used market as a result. for me, it doesn't really stand out from several other pianos in that size, whereas the next longer steinway models (O or L) have a considerably higher potential ceiling. in my experience there's a huge variation in the quality of the used M's that is not necessarily correlated to when they were made. a 1983 piano probably has all the original components, and at that age the big variable becomes how was it cared for, and, has an expert technician worked with the piano to bring it to its full potential over the years. if you play the piano and love it, the price premium a seller usually puts on that brand name probably won't matter to you, but otherwise it's often the case that patience in the search will result in your $$ going farther with other brands of pianos, or finding a good model O or L is worth the extra couple of thousand $$.

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765375 09/14/18 02:02 AM
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I'm going to give you a worst case scenario, because you asked what you should be aware of.

Every piano has the potential to develop issues. Let's leave action issues aside for now. Even young (under 40 years old) pianos can be in terrible condition.

The soundboard may have split (easy to spot).

The soundboard may have lost its crown (not so easy to spot, obvious in the tone, and measurable with a tool, but not so easy to spot with the naked eye)

The tuning pins may have become loose.

The pin block may be split (unlikely, but not impossible)

The bridges may have split or warped.

The bridge pins may have become loose

The frame may have defects, particularly around the capo bar (not so easy to spot, and can be a problem even in new pianos).

The frame may have hairline cracks (unlikely, but not impossible)

The piano may have taken on excessive humidity over the years causing the felt to get damp and rust the strings.

Basically the worst case scenario is the piano requires a full rebuild costing about £30,000 (UK prices).

The action issues could range from needing a simple regulation, to needing new whippens, shanks, rollers, hammer heads, and a new damper mechanism, or even needing a new keyboard.

I have actually seen younger pianos with all of these issues, but it's not common (I've seen a lot of pianos, even though I'm not a technician). You need to take a competent and trusted technician with you to inspect any piano you might wish to buy, because coming on to a forum will give you a starting point you need an experienced eye and ear (a technician's eye and ear) to make the final judgement on the piano for you.

Huaidongxi makes a good point about the Model M not being Steinway's greatest achievement. The S and the M are, in my opinion, not good pianos and they are marketed as a compromise. You may even find that the model K is more satisfying than the M. Musically speaking I think the K is better.

Since you want a grand and not an upright I would suggest, if you need to have a Steinway, go for an O or an A. The O is streets ahead of the M, and the A is better than them both. The B can be variable, and it can take time to find a good one.

If I was faced with choosing a Yamaha C3 in perfect condition or a Steinway M in perfect condition, I would take the C3, just so you know.

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765380 09/14/18 02:37 AM
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There are plenty of people here who are vicariously shopping through you, giving you reasons to spend more money than you may want to. They try to convince you that the piano you are looking at is likely to have tons of problems, will sound terrible, and will fall apart once you put down your money.

The truth is that you are not likely to have any really serious problems in a quality instrument made in the past 50 years, unless it has been kept in bad conditions or played constantly by a professional who practices incessantly. The difference between a smaller piano and a larger piano may never be an issue for you.

My advice to you is to try it, and if you like it, and you cannot find any issues with it, it is more than likely to be good enough. If you do not like it, feel free to walk away. If bringing in a technician to evaluate it makes you feel better about it, do that. Just be aware that there are no more than minimal standards for technicians, and not every technician follows them, even if they passed a test at some time. It may be more difficult to find a good technician than it is to find a good piano.


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Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
BDB #2765382 09/14/18 03:06 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
... It may be more difficult to find a good technician than it is to find a good piano.


+1

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765383 09/14/18 03:27 AM
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To be honest, I don't think that the piano is likely to need anything more than a tuning and regulation, plus voicing. Even if it's played to death the most it will probably *need* is new action parts. However, the original poster did ask for what kind of things they should be looking out for, and with any piano, one needs to be sure that it is in good condition all through and, as far as is possible don't simply take it for granted before spending the money.

It's true though that the biggest problem is finding a good technician. I'm fast becoming of the opinion that if one can't find or can't afford a good technician, then it might be better to go for a high end digital piano than an acoustic piano. I know this isn't a popular view, and I wouldn't have said it ten years ago.

Of course nothing comes close to a well maintained quality grand in good condition, so factor into your budget money for maintenance. Take the following scenario:

In the UK a Steinway M of that age (Hamburg over here) would sell for something in the region of £25,000 in a private sale or £40,000 from a dealer, assuming the piano is in good original condition.

If your total piano budget is, say, £35,000 and you are able to secure a Steinway from a dealer at that price, you've spent all your money and you might not have anything left for maintenance, and it'll take you a while before you can afford your first servicing (which could cost £1000, but you don't have to spend that amount every time...).

If you were to find a Yamaha in good condition, a C3 for instance, of similar age - say 1983 - 2000, you'd be looking in the region of £7000 to £15,000 depending on the age, condition and seller. You'd have £20,000 left of your savings, which you could use for tuning, maintenance, holidays, a downpayment on an apartment, a car, you get my drift.

Finally, I'm assuming you're of average income for your age, and don't want to spend more than you have to on a piano. If you're wealthy, then, well, buy what you want and enjoy it!

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
BDB #2765391 09/14/18 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by BDB
There are plenty of people here who are vicariously shopping through you, giving you reasons to spend more money than you may want to.
I find this to be an extremely common situation at PianoWorld.

It's very common for posters to recommend a more expensive or larger piano than the piano someone else is considering. Or if someone is considering two pianos, posters almost always recommend the more expensive one. But no one making these recommendations has ever offered to pay the difference in price haha.

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765410 09/14/18 08:03 AM
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Yes, I was referring to Teflon.

Have you actually looked at and PLAYED this piano yet?

Can you speak with the tech who has been servicing it? Does he/she corroborate the service schedule you have been told? What assessment does this person give?

Why is the piano for sale? There is always a reason.

Is it in your price range?

Can you negotiate?

Why is it hard to find a qualified tech in your area?

Pwg


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Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
pianoloverus #2765413 09/14/18 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by BDB
There are plenty of people here who are vicariously shopping through you, giving you reasons to spend more money than you may want to.
I find this to be an extremely common situation at PianoWorld.

It's very common for posters to recommend a more expensive or larger piano than the piano someone else is considering. Or if someone is considering two pianos, posters almost always recommend the more expensive one. But no one making these recommendations has ever offered to pay the difference in price haha.


This is very true. Another factor is that the "Piano World" out there can be riddled with scammers and there are many bad pianos that haven't been properly cared for. It's easy to put on rose-colored glasses and buy a money pit. So posters here on PW do tend to throw out the worst case scenarios to educate the uneducated.

On the other hand. There are lots of excellent pianos out there in the hands of uneducated owners, and one can find great deals. In fact, the piano may not play or sound the best, but with a little regulation and voicing by an excellent technician they can be turned into jewels.

The intent of my post earlier was to educate you about the pitfalls of the Teflon era. PLEASE don't let my story scare you off of this model M on that issue. My Steinway B was a former C&A services (rental) piano that had been played heavily for many years. The hammers had been filed down and voiced many times. The string cups were very deep and it was very bright. I had no choice but to replace them which lead to the rebuilding of the action. Had it not been for that one issue, I would have never touched the action other than regulation and voicing.

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765447 09/14/18 10:32 AM
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I'll piggyback on this topic and maybe it will also help the OP. I recently ran across 2 Steinway M's, one a 1981 and the other a 1984 and both are priced similarly at $20K. Both have been checked by a tech as being in excellent condition. Is this a reasonable price and what should be the difference in price between a teflon and non-teflon Steinway?

Last edited by jarobi; 09/14/18 10:33 AM.
Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
HansC2 #2765509 09/14/18 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by HansC2
Originally Posted by BDB
... It may be more difficult to find a good technician than it is to find a good piano.


+1


How do I know if someone is a good technician? Is there a particular certification I should look for?

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Joseph Fleetwood #2765510 09/14/18 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by joe80
It's true though that the biggest problem is finding a good technician. I'm fast becoming of the opinion that if one can't find or can't afford a good technician, then it might be better to go for a high end digital piano than an acoustic piano. I know this isn't a popular view, and I wouldn't have said it ten years ago.


Why is that?

Just not as much demand? Not as many people entering the profession?

Re: 1983 New York Steinway Model M. Good vintage?
Piano90X #2765514 09/14/18 03:31 PM
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I wouldn't have said it ten years ago, because ten years ago digital pianos still weren't really good enough for a serious pianist to practise on. We still didn't have triple sensor actions back then meaning we had to bottom out the key on the key-bed before the key sounded properly, and repeated notes and trills were a problem on digitals. This is no longer the case, and the four top makers (Yamaha, Kawai, Roland and Casio Grand Hybrid) are now producing instruments which can cope with some serious practice.

Ten years ago finding a good technician was just as much of a problem as it is today.

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