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Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
#2768159 09/28/18 11:40 AM
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Friends,

I'm looking for advice on shopping for a rebuilt Steinway.

In particular, there are two pianos I am going to see tomorrow here in the Boston area. One is a rebuilt O from 1912 and one is a rebuilt M from 1915. They are priced at just under $40,000. I have a beautiful Schimmel full size upright in great condition less than a year old, that I am looking to use to trade-in towards a grand.

Both of these Steinways retain their original soundboards. It is not yet clear to me if they had their pin blocks replaced. The action parts were replaced I am told with Steinway parts. I will confirm in person if this was the ENTIRE action or bits and pieces here and there.

I will also ask for a full list of the replaced parts.

Can a 100+ year old piano really have an original soundboard and not have any issues for another one hundred years if it's well maintained? Also, a pin block on a 100+ year old piano - that's GOT to be replaced right?

...I'll add that 4 years ago I had a horrendous buying experience buying a "rebuilt" Steinway S from 1945. I'll leave out the piano business that this happened with since they promptly took the piano back, reversed the piano loan and paid me a little extra for my trouble. But in summary: My tech came a week after delivery and pulled the action out to correct a weird noise and found that the worn, original 1945 action was the culprit. It turned out that the action hadn't had hardly jack done to it save some newer random back checks. So much for the "Fully Rebuilt Steinway." The hammers in particular would hardly swing when the tech pulled them out to show me how incredibly worn the action was. The weird noise I was hearing was wood on wood in the action.

So suffice it to say, I don't want to go back down that road. If I buy rebuilt Steinway, I want a piano that lasts another century with no serious issues.

Thanks!


Schimmel C126
Bach, Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
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Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768169 09/28/18 12:26 PM
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I know you will be getting different opinions from some very knowledgeable piano technicians regarding your soundboard question. The just under 40K price seems high to me for pianos of that age with the original soundboards. Also I would not spend that kind of money for a piano that did not have it's pinblock replaced.

Rich


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Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"
Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
Rich D. #2768175 09/28/18 12:51 PM
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Thanks Rich. Yes, if I find out the pin blocks haven't been replaced - or simply that EVERYTHING hasn't been replaced, forget it out. I would be financing the remainder after my upright trade in, so if I'm paying interest, then by god I want a piano that won't need a thing for the rest of my lifetime outside of normal tuning and voicing/regulating seasonally as needed.


Schimmel C126
Bach, Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768181 09/28/18 01:22 PM
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Here is a 141 years "young" Steinway & Sons Centennial D concert grand - with it's original soundboard made from Appalachian white spruce.

Yes, it has some shims, but so what!?


Pls excuse any bad english.

Centennial D Sept 1877

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Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768200 09/28/18 03:26 PM
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Without insightful modifications to the actions, current Steinway parts will not work well with either of those pianos. You could use Steinway hammers, but there are better choices for those pianos if you want an authentic Steinway sound from that vintage.
We have restored soundboards that old or older on Steinways, but in terms of boards that age, especially Steinways, and especially ones that have lived in the Mid-Atlantic, it is not usually the best practice. I will say that we restored a 19th Century Steinway B and kept the board about 10 years ago that came back to us on consignment and that board was insanely good sounding. Again, that is the exception and not the rule.
I wouldn't be surprised if the original pinblocks were kept, but for me that would be a deal breaker unless the price was so low that it made sense to have the belly redone.

If you are looking for peace of mind in a Steinway rebuild I think your current budget is 10-20k too low.

If you are looking for peace of mind in a grand piano purchase at that budget, there are a lot of excellent new and slightly used options that will have new or nearly new keysets, pinblocks, soundboards, action parts, bridges, etc etc .that are likely much safer choices than what you are considering.


Keith D Kerman
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Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768205 09/28/18 03:51 PM
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As a non-technician and just an amateur player, I do wonder why, with a budget of $40,000.00, you are limiting your choice to a rebuilt Steinway. At that price there should surely be newer, more "reliable" instruments available, although the name on the fallboard may not be Steinway & Sons (or some previous version thereof).

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768227 09/28/18 05:29 PM
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Dear KlavierLiebhaber,

Just sent you a PM.

-LLW

Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
BruceD #2768255 09/28/18 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
As a non-technician and just an amateur player, I do wonder why, with a budget of $40,000.00, you are limiting your choice to a rebuilt Steinway. At that price there should surely be newer, more "reliable" instruments available, although the name on the fallboard may not be Steinway & Sons (or some previous version thereof).

Regards,


+1. For that money, you'll do well to also consider used/rebuilt Baldwins. You can buy more piano by buying less "name"....


-- J.S.

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Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768256 09/28/18 07:59 PM
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with a budget of $40 k., and a good German upright already in house, is there some reason not to consider pianos at least 175 cm in length (the steinway O or longer, in other words). there's a ceiling in what the steinway S or M can give, because of their design, in which the length plays its part.

Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768311 09/29/18 06:52 AM
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Upright soundboards are not grand soundboards, but the 102 year old one on my Model K (w/ WNG replaced action) is its best asset by far. When I compare to other uprights I come across, or even baby to mid-size grands, I can't believe my luck with the resonance I get out of that old wood.

Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768353 09/29/18 10:29 AM
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Hi KlavierLiebhaber,

Using Larry Fine's guidelines (https://www.pianobuyer.com/Articles/Detail/ArticleId/261/How-Much-Is-It-Worth), it seems that at $40,000, both of those pianos are overpriced up to 100%. Neither of those pianos has had their soundboards replaced, and whether they've had their pinbocks replaced is unknown. It's also unknown what materials they were refurbished with, and who did the refurbishing.

My question is: What definition of "rebuilt" is this? To me, it's a definition meant to speak to those who don't know enough about pianos to ask further questions, and subsequently suffer an inflated price. There are loads of such pianos here in the Chicago market, where sales activity is extremely low.

The soundboard, pinblock, and bridges are all essential components that will deteriorate with time. Dean Barker's and those like it might be exceptions that resist deterioration very well in ideal conditions. I think your instincts are right, and that you have to be somehow compensated for the risk of failing parts that you're about to bear with a piano that old. Ideally, you won't have to be compensated and you'll find a piano to last you as long as you like.

Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
mcontraveos #2768386 09/29/18 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mcontraveos
Hi KlavierLiebhaber, Using Larry Fine's guidelines (https://www.pianobuyer.com/Articles/Detail/ArticleId/261/How-Much-Is-It-Worth), it seems that at $40,000, both of those pianos are overpriced up to 100%. Neither of those pianos has had their soundboards replaced, and whether they've had their pinbocks replaced is unknown. It's also unknown what materials they were refurbished with, and who did the refurbishing.
Larry Fine's article and chart is not for rebuilt or partially rebuilt pianos. It's for used pianos that have had no work done on them.

Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
pianoloverus #2768464 09/29/18 10:14 PM
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His tables explicitly have a column for the prices of rebuilt pianos

Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768773 10/01/18 11:30 AM
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Thanks for all of the comments and messages friends. The pin blocks were replaced, and the tone of each was beautiful, but the actions just weren't for me - I like a whisper-light, easy-peasy action. In fact, I preferred the action on my C126 Schimmel upright to the Steinways. For grands, I think I've discerned that New Schimmel, Bösendorfer and Hamburg Steinways exemplify the kind of touch and tone I like. NY Steinway actions CAN be amazing, but they need a lot of prep it seems for me to like them.

I did see a Bösendorfer 170 that I fell in love with and I nearly bought, but when I looked closely at the math today - the financing costs+ principal+ what I spent on my Schimmel less than a year ago - I realized I would spend well into 6 figures when it was all said and done. Seeing the numbers laid bare made me feel a bit woozy.

As I told the dealer, I need to sit down with an amortization schedule and calculate what I'm really comfortable spending on a grand piano, including what I already spent on my Schimmel and the finance costs.


Schimmel C126
Bach, Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2768947 10/01/18 11:38 PM
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I agree that the price seems slightly on the high side if the board is original. Perhaps you could negotiate the price. Another option is going with an almost new steinway piano, which would put you in roughly the same ballpark from a price perspective, and would last generations.

Last edited by steinwayman18; 10/01/18 11:39 PM.

Ronen

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Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
steinwayman18 #2769060 10/02/18 12:08 PM
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Thanks Steinwayman. Indeed, I was going to see a 2003 L this last weekend, but it got snapped up. The key is being able to trade up and get the full amount I paid on my Schimmel toward the grand which thankfully the dealer I went to this weekend will do. It's a matter of finding the piano(!)


Schimmel C126
Bach, Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
KlavierLiebhaber #2769182 10/03/18 12:55 AM
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I own a Model O Steinway from 1912. I bought it in 2016 for $13K from a local piano warehouse seller in Bohemia, NY (my area). I was told it was rebuilt, and I had my piano tuner guy (who is certified by Steinway) to check it out and he verified all was in working order. You can hear me playing on it in my YouTube channel (see my signature below). If I had 40K, I would buy a newer Steinway!

I spent 6 months shopping for a piano so I can relate. I visited so many private homes with rusty old Steinways sitting in million dollar homes where the owners or their kids barely played..so when I saw the Model O in decent condition for that price, I jumped on it...

Last edited by AssociateX; 10/03/18 01:00 AM.

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Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
AssociateX #2769261 10/03/18 10:09 AM
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Thanks Liz! You're a lucky duck for that find! And I enjoyed your Chopin smile


Schimmel C126
Bach, Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
AssociateX #2769305 10/03/18 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by AssociateX
I own a Model O Steinway from 1912. I bought it in 2016 for $13K from a local piano warehouse seller in Bohemia, NY (my area). I was told it was rebuilt, and I had my piano tuner guy (who is certified by Steinway) to check it out and he verified all was in working order. You can hear me playing on it in my YouTube channel (see my signature below). If I had 40K, I would buy a newer Steinway!

I spent 6 months shopping for a piano so I can relate. I visited so many private homes with rusty old Steinways sitting in million dollar homes where the owners or their kids barely played..so when I saw the Model O in decent condition for that price, I jumped on it...


I think maybe you misunderstood - maybe they said that the bench was rebuilt? [i][/i]


Amateur Pianist and raconteur.
Re: Shopping for a Rebuilt Steinway
AssociateX #2770583 10/08/18 01:40 PM
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@AssociateX - i enjoyed your chopin, and well done on the choice of piano!


Ronen

Park Avenue Pianos | Steinway Piano Reseller

https://www.steinwaygrand.com
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