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Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
Coda9 #2840319 04/17/19 11:22 PM
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Coda9,
Since you are on the West coast, come visit my shop in Mukilteo, (just north of Seattle).

I have a 9' you can try. You can experience my patented Fully Tempered Duplex Scale and other state of the art design features. My work combines exquisite dynamic range, control, color and durability. I believe I have derived the most refined and successful model of how a piano should be configured in the industry.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
Coda9 #2840324 04/18/19 12:03 AM
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Coda9, you did ask for recommendations for rebuilders in the California/West Coast area, which is why I suggested Dale Erwin. But closer to where I live (St. Louis), I can vouch for the work of both PianoWorks in Atlanta and Reeder Pianos in Lansing, Michigan, by virtue of my having visited both rebuilder's workshops and having been favorably impressed by multiple examples of previously rebuilt pianos that I was able to try out at both places. In the end, I chose to have Jim Reeder/Reeder Pianos rebuild my 1997 Steinway D. In fact, I just took delivery of the completed rebuild last week. I still plan to post a review of my impressions of the piano after I've had more time to evaluate it. But my initial impressions are that it's now a gorgeous sounding, responsive, powerful piano, whose tone still is very much in the range of tones I've come to expect of a Steinway concert grand. Playing it is like heaven, and I'm very happy I had Jim do the rebuild.

So, what exactly did I have done on the piano? Well, it was very nearly a complete rebuild, including a newly rebuilt soundboard, pin block, recapped/repositioned bridges, new strings, new agraffes, new dampers, and a whole new action including hammers. The only thing short of it being a complete rebuild is that the original keysticks were spared, because they were in good shape. There was no refinishing needed, but some minor cabinet work was done. The price for all of this including transport costs to and from St. Louis was just over $22,000. In fact, after completion, Jim and his son-in-law personally transported the piano the 500 miles from Lansing to my home in St. Louis for the ridiculously low price of $200! That's half of what I pay to have a grand moved locally!

Despite Jim Reeder being one of the first people decades ago to figure out how to rebuild a Steinway soundboard effectively so that it still sounds like a Steinway, he's very confidently quiet of his skills and does little to no advertising. When I asked him why he doesn't advertise, he replied, "I'm too busy with the work I've already got!" So, it's no accident that Jim does all of the rebuilds for the Eastman School of Music (except for rebuilding the actions, which Eastman does using its own techs for economical reasons). It's my understanding that in the early days, before Steinway got on the gravy train and opened their own Restoration Center, Steinway actually used to refer people wanting their pianos rebuilt to none other than Jim Reeder, because of the excellent results he was getting.

All of this is to say that if you're willing to have your piano transported to a rebuilder outside the West Coast area, I can personally vouch for Jim Reeder's excellent and affordable work.

Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
Coda9 #2840325 04/18/19 12:08 AM
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I'll never forget the Mason and Hamlin A I played at Ed McMorrows shop about 15 years ago. The piano had a depth, richness, and clarity that made it sound like a much larger piano. I remember the voicing and tuning being perfect. Well worth a visit for sure.
-chris


Chernobieff Piano Restorations
"Where Tone is Key"
Lenoir City, Tennessee U.S.A
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Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
Coda9 #2840445 04/18/19 01:41 PM
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What justifies over 2x range of costs for rebuilding mentioned in this thread? even if you add $10,000 refinishing costs to the lower estimates, that’s still a range of $30k+ to 75K+.

Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
Coda9 #2840450 04/18/19 02:51 PM
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SMA55,

Thanks for all the valuable information provided in your post.

One question, how comes your 1997 Steinway D needed a complete rebuild, isn't a 20 year old considered "almost new"?

Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
noyes #2840473 04/18/19 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by noyes
SMA55,

Thanks for all the valuable information provided in your post.

One question, how comes your 1997 Steinway D needed a complete rebuild, isn't a 20 year old considered "almost new"?



PART 1

You'd think a 20 year old piano shouldn't need such extensive rebuilding, right? Well, let me just say to begin with that I purchased this piano in 2017, from the original owner who had chosen this piano over 5 others in Steinway's Factory Selection Room. When I went to see the piano, it's case condition was excellent. I pulled out the action, and found only mild wear of the felts and buckskins. I examined the soundboard, and found it to be free of any cracks or even compression ridges. But I measured the crown, and found it to measure about a millimeter at best (not great, but according to some techs not a reason in and of itself to rule out a piano). I played the piano and it had a lovely tone, but lacked projection and sustain in the region of the 5th and 6th octaves (unfortunately not all that uncommon with pianos in general and in Steinway model B's and D's in particular). I decided to buy the piano, despite some of its faults, as I was open to the idea of having it rebuilt to some degree. I had a couple of techs look it over, and they both felt it was a good piano, that I had gotten a steal of a deal. When I pointed out what my ears were telling me about the weakness in its 5th and 6th octaves, they both felt that some voicing would take care of the problem. I disagreed. I've seen that techs like to use lacquer on the hammers in the 5th and 6th octaves to make up for any weakness they find there. And while in my experience that does give the piano an increase in volume, it creates shrillness and, due to a diminution in the resilience of the hammer felt, and in so doing, narrows the range in its tonal palette.

Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
noyes #2840484 04/18/19 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by noyes
SMA55,

Thanks for all the valuable information provided in your post.

One question, how comes your 1997 Steinway D needed a complete rebuild, isn't a 20 year old considered "almost new"?



PART 2

So I began investigating and decided the best route would be to get my piano to a trusted rebuilder and find out what could be done to improve the piano. Eventually I sent the piano over to Jim Reeder and paid him a visit just as soon as he got it. I spent the day with him as he began to dissemble the piano and take some measurements. He found that the piano had been built by Steinway with several mistakes. Among the mistakes was a very uneven distribution of downbearing of the strings upon the bridges. Also, in Jim's own words:

"Your piano came in with the string height close to 7 7/8th inches in height as measured at the center of the key bed. The action and hammer bore specifications for the string height need to be 7 5/8th inches. Corrections were made in the soundboard - bridging, the hammer bore distance, and action height to take up this gap. (It has been brought to our attention that there a number of other model D pianos near your piano's serial number with similar problems.) One would think that this quarter inch difference would not make much difference in touch response but it does!!"

Also found were inferior gluing and poor sizing of the soundboard to the rim, further limiting good resonance and transmission of sound.

So, while Steinway likes to tout the variability in sound and performance of its pianos as a strength, guaranteeing that no two pianos will be the same, saying "there's a Steinway for everyone", and saying "there's no such thing as a bad Steinway" (both quotes from Steinway salesmen), the reality is that there are very demonstrable causes for why a given Steinway may be less than it could be if constructed correctly.

So that was the longwinded answer to your question, noyes. The shorter answer is that while my 20 year old piano started off as a pretty good piano with a lovely tone, I felt it could be even better--and my prediction was borne out by Jim Reeder's results.

Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
Coda9 #2840485 04/18/19 05:34 PM
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SMA55:

Fascinating account! Thank you for sharing that and recounting the favourable results. But, with such apparently almost shoddy workmanship, does it not make one wonder how Steinway still remains "on top" - at least in the minds of many?

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
SMA55 #2840500 04/18/19 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by SMA55
Coda9, you did ask for recommendations for rebuilders in the California/West Coast area, which is why I suggested Dale Erwin. But closer to where I live (St. Louis), I can vouch for the work of both PianoWorks in Atlanta and Reeder Pianos in Lansing, Michigan, by virtue of my having visited both rebuilder's workshops and having been favorably impressed by multiple examples of previously rebuilt pianos that I was able to try out at both places. In the end, I chose to have Jim Reeder/Reeder Pianos rebuild my 1997 Steinway D. In fact, I just took delivery of the completed rebuild last week. I still plan to post a review of my impressions of the piano after I've had more time to evaluate it. But my initial impressions are that it's now a gorgeous sounding, responsive, powerful piano, whose tone still is very much in the range of tones I've come to expect of a Steinway concert grand. Playing it is like heaven, and I'm very happy I had Jim do the rebuild.

So, what exactly did I have done on the piano? Well, it was very nearly a complete rebuild, including a newly rebuilt soundboard, pin block, recapped/repositioned bridges, new strings, new agraffes, new dampers, and a whole new action including hammers. The only thing short of it being a complete rebuild is that the original keysticks were spared, because they were in good shape. There was no refinishing needed, but some minor cabinet work was done. The price for all of this including transport costs to and from St. Louis was just over $22,000. In fact, after completion, Jim and his son-in-law personally transported the piano the 500 miles from Lansing to my home in St. Louis for the ridiculously low price of $200! That's half of what I pay to have a grand moved locally!

Despite Jim Reeder being one of the first people decades ago to figure out how to rebuild a Steinway soundboard effectively so that it still sounds like a Steinway, he's very confidently quiet of his skills and does little to no advertising. When I asked him why he doesn't advertise, he replied, "I'm too busy with the work I've already got!" So, it's no accident that Jim does all of the rebuilds for the Eastman School of Music (except for rebuilding the actions, which Eastman does using its own techs for economical reasons). It's my understanding that in the early days, before Steinway got on the gravy train and opened their own Restoration Center, Steinway actually used to refer people wanting their pianos rebuilt to none other than Jim Reeder, because of the excellent results he was getting.

All of this is to say that if you're willing to have your piano transported to a rebuilder outside the West Coast area, I can personally vouch for Jim Reeder's excellent and affordable work.


Thank you for sharing this. I am eagerly awaiting your evaluation of the piano after the work was done. Did you have any concerns that rebuilding might yield a piano tone you may find unfavorable as compared to the original tone?


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Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
BruceD #2840501 04/18/19 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
SMA55:

Fascinating account! Thank you for sharing that and recounting the favourable results. But, with such apparently almost shoddy workmanship, does it not make one wonder how Steinway still remains "on top" - at least in the minds of many?

Regards,

I was thinking the exact thing!



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Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
BruceD #2840534 04/19/19 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
SMA55:

Fascinating account! Thank you for sharing that and recounting the favourable results. But, with such apparently almost shoddy workmanship, does it not make one wonder how Steinway still remains "on top" - at least in the minds of many?

Regards,

Well, if you're asking for my opinion, here it is. I think there are primarily two reasons why Steinways are held in high esteem by many (but certainly not all). First, without going into the details (as these have been discussed extensively by others), Steinway, nearly from its inception and through a variety of shrewd marketing ploys--managed to position themselves as "the best made piano in the world" in a very real sense simply by telling us so. Second--and again this is my opinion--they do make a good piano. Even some of their duds are pretty good, but only when compared to the majority of mid-range pianos--and of course the price they charge for these pretty good pianos has to be considered way too much. And yet when everything comes together like it should in their factory, sometimes they put out some truly great pianos. To be fair, it's been my experience that the product that Steinway is currently putting out is significantly more consistent than what they were putting out as little as 10 years ago. But there's still some degree of that infamous variability, and that makes it necessary to be cautious in shopping for one. That being said, I myself believe that the best of their pianos are among the best pianos made.

The gambler keeps coming back to the casino, because just often enough he or she does win, and that kind of occasional reward is a very powerful reinforcer. And I think that's part of what keeps Steinway "on top"--occasional rewards.

Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
Grandman #2840535 04/19/19 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Grandman
Originally Posted by SMA55
Coda9, you did ask for recommendations for rebuilders in the California/West Coast area, which is why I suggested Dale Erwin. But closer to where I live (St. Louis), I can vouch for the work of both PianoWorks in Atlanta and Reeder Pianos in Lansing, Michigan, by virtue of my having visited both rebuilder's workshops and having been favorably impressed by multiple examples of previously rebuilt pianos that I was able to try out at both places. In the end, I chose to have Jim Reeder/Reeder Pianos rebuild my 1997 Steinway D. In fact, I just took delivery of the completed rebuild last week. I still plan to post a review of my impressions of the piano after I've had more time to evaluate it. But my initial impressions are that it's now a gorgeous sounding, responsive, powerful piano, whose tone still is very much in the range of tones I've come to expect of a Steinway concert grand. Playing it is like heaven, and I'm very happy I had Jim do the rebuild.

So, what exactly did I have done on the piano? Well, it was very nearly a complete rebuild, including a newly rebuilt soundboard, pin block, recapped/repositioned bridges, new strings, new agraffes, new dampers, and a whole new action including hammers. The only thing short of it being a complete rebuild is that the original keysticks were spared, because they were in good shape. There was no refinishing needed, but some minor cabinet work was done. The price for all of this including transport costs to and from St. Louis was just over $22,000. In fact, after completion, Jim and his son-in-law personally transported the piano the 500 miles from Lansing to my home in St. Louis for the ridiculously low price of $200! That's half of what I pay to have a grand moved locally!

Despite Jim Reeder being one of the first people decades ago to figure out how to rebuild a Steinway soundboard effectively so that it still sounds like a Steinway, he's very confidently quiet of his skills and does little to no advertising. When I asked him why he doesn't advertise, he replied, "I'm too busy with the work I've already got!" So, it's no accident that Jim does all of the rebuilds for the Eastman School of Music (except for rebuilding the actions, which Eastman does using its own techs for economical reasons). It's my understanding that in the early days, before Steinway got on the gravy train and opened their own Restoration Center, Steinway actually used to refer people wanting their pianos rebuilt to none other than Jim Reeder, because of the excellent results he was getting.

All of this is to say that if you're willing to have your piano transported to a rebuilder outside the West Coast area, I can personally vouch for Jim Reeder's excellent and affordable work.


Thank you for sharing this. I am eagerly awaiting your evaluation of the piano after the work was done. Did you have any concerns that rebuilding might yield a piano tone you may find unfavorable as compared to the original tone?


Well, I did hear several examples of Jim's work, and this helped to reassure me that I would likely get a rebuilt piano with the kind of tone I like. That being said, there definitely was still some risk involved. But I'm glad I took it.

Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
SMA55 #2840551 04/19/19 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by SMA55
Originally Posted by noyes
SMA55,

Thanks for all the valuable information provided in your post.

One question, how comes your 1997 Steinway D needed a complete rebuild, isn't a 20 year old considered "almost new"?



PART 2

So I began investigating and decided the best route would be to get my piano to a trusted rebuilder and find out what could be done to improve the piano. Eventually I sent the piano over to Jim Reeder and paid him a visit just as soon as he got it. I spent the day with him as he began to dissemble the piano and take some measurements. He found that the piano had been built by Steinway with several mistakes. Among the mistakes was a very uneven distribution of downbearing of the strings upon the bridges. Also, in Jim's own words:

"Your piano came in with the string height close to 7 7/8th inches in height as measured at the center of the key bed. The action and hammer bore specifications for the string height need to be 7 5/8th inches. Corrections were made in the soundboard - bridging, the hammer bore distance, and action height to take up this gap. (It has been brought to our attention that there a number of other model D pianos near your piano's serial number with similar problems.) One would think that this quarter inch difference would not make much difference in touch response but it does!!"

Also found were inferior gluing and poor sizing of the soundboard to the rim, further limiting good resonance and transmission of sound.

So, while Steinway likes to tout the variability in sound and performance of its pianos as a strength, guaranteeing that no two pianos will be the same, saying "there's a Steinway for everyone", and saying "there's no such thing as a bad Steinway" (both quotes from Steinway salesmen), the reality is that there are very demonstrable causes for why a given Steinway may be less than it could be if constructed correctly.

So that was the longwinded answer to your question, noyes. The shorter answer is that while my 20 year old piano started off as a pretty good piano with a lovely tone, I felt it could be even better--and my prediction was borne out by Jim Reeder's results.


What a joy to read your fascinating story, SMA55! That was totally unexpected, thanks for sharing. Stories like this is why I love this forum, and I wouldn't be surprised if many other people feel the same way.

Re: Cost of rebuild Steinway Model D?
Coda9 #2840662 04/19/19 01:36 PM
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I agree on the Steinway views, more or less. The good news is there are plenty of buyers who know nothing of pianos but want the best so they buy a Steinway for their living room. They are happy and that fact the piano may be a factory dud is no issue for them. This is possibly the majority of buyers of new Steinways. For others who are either technically adept or simply know how a top piano should feel and sound, there are examples of spectacular Steinways out there. They are a bit rare in my experience, but more frequently encountered as you move up the size range particularly into the Bs and Ds. Even in that range, we found about 30% of the larger late model instruments were good and maybe 15-20% fabulous. Then it is just a matter of finding one at a great price, which is another story.

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