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Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
#2868722 07/12/19 12:17 PM
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Hi everyone,
I am looking to buy a grand piano with a budget.
I looked at a rebuilt Steinway (everything rebuilt in the 90s except action) which is a little over 6 feet.
The keys have some visible stripping on sides but overall tone is nice.
and a 1936 Bluthner (5’4)
Thing is, I like both and would like some opinions. Both are in decent condition I believe, and I’m buying primarily for my young kids.
I’m afraid the Steinway is too old?
Have not sent technician for inspections yet.
I apologise in advance I do not have all the specifications.

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Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
shukiki #2868727 07/12/19 12:28 PM
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If you are buying the piano for your young kids, why does it need to be a grand piano as a opposed to an upright?

What is the ballpark budget you are working with?

You won't know the condition of the grands until they are inspected by a technician. I'm guessing you'd be facing some needed repairs to either piano.

You could probably buy a newer upright piano in excellent condition for the same amount that you'd pay for the purchase and repair of one of the
ancient grands.


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Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
Carey #2868733 07/12/19 12:32 PM
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shukiki Offline OP
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Thank you Carey.
We have a very large space and to be honest it was always a dream to own a grand someday smile just can’t afford brand new...
I will send a technician to both; just wanted some general thoughts. Thank you again!

Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
shukiki #2868742 07/12/19 12:51 PM
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I think there are some very nice grands from the makers Cunningham, Hailun, and Perzina available for 10K-20K. If the Steinway and Bluthner are selling for the low end of that range they probably have significant problems due to age or incomplete rebuilding. The Steinway is well over 100 years old so that not rebuilding the action makes no sense to me. If you definitely want a grand but don't want to spend a lot, I think you should at least consider the new makes I listed. Don't just buy the name on the fallboard.

Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
shukiki #2868743 07/12/19 12:52 PM
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We can't give you any real advice until we have a $ number.


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

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Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
shukiki #2868759 07/12/19 01:31 PM
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What everyone else has said, please consider some used but more recent models, say more like 20-30 year old grand pianos rather than the 80-100 y/o models you're considering. Especially if the goal is to have a piano for children to learn on, rather than to have a nice piece of furniture, you want to prioritize the quality and durability of the instrument.

And yes, if you can share your approximate budget and (at the very least) where you are in the US or not, then you can get a lot of great advice here.

best of luck!


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
shukiki #2868844 07/12/19 06:05 PM
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Many Kawai and Yamaha grands 30 years old will last another 15 or at most 20 years before it would have to have a great deal of work done.It is perhaps different
if one is able to work on the instrument .
In this situation a new upright or a new grand would
be far better than a great name on a very old worn out piano. If you still decide on a grand you could try
and find perhaps a 10 or 15 years old one ,especially if it is for the children.

Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
Lady Bird #2868862 07/12/19 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Many Kawai and Yamaha grands 30 years old will last another 15 or at most 20 years before it would have to have a great deal of work done.It is perhaps different
if one is able to work on the instrument .
In this situation a new upright or a new grand would
be far better than a great name on a very old worn out piano. If you still decide on a grand you could try
and find perhaps a 10 or 15 years old one ,especially if it is for the children.

thumb +1 A used but well maintained Kawai, or Yamaha grand, or maybe even a used 20 to 30 year old Baldwin grand.
***But then the fallboard won’t say Blüthner or Steinway & Son.


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Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
shukiki #2868894 07/13/19 01:33 AM
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My Bluthner is from 1932 and is a very good machine. Of course a lot depends on how much use and care it has had over such a long life.What matters is condition.


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
shukiki #2868896 07/13/19 02:23 AM
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Hi shukiki,

Either piano could be a gem... or a bust. Frankly, there is a lot more bad rebuilding going on out there than very nice work, so without more information, it would be difficult to give you any sound advice.

A few questions - what price range are these pianos in? What work specifically was done (or not done) to each? Who did the work?

Good luck and I look forward to hearing more.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
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rich@cunninghampiano.com
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Re: Buying used - 1936 Bluthner or 1878 Steinway?
shukiki #2868899 07/13/19 03:35 AM
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I once owned an 1873 Chickering 8’4” grand. It had a straight strung plate. Because of the age, it only cost 800 US$. Actions (at least those made by Chickering) were different in the 1870’s. Compatible parts were unavailable when I owned the piano. If something made out of wood were to break, a piano technician might have to whittle a replacement part out of a block of wood. This almost happened once but a resourceful MPT was able to pull a rabbit out of a hat and fix an issue while avoiding that exercise. That instrument eventually found its way to an antique piano restorer who restored much older fortepianos so had the ability to fully restore the instrument in question. I don’t know if that occurred.

I subsequently owned a 1920’s Chickering 6’ grand that had been rebuilt. Even though a modern design, it had its idiosyncrasies. Jonas Chickering was very inventive and famous for trying different ideas, so vintage Chickerings can have alot of variability in design from model to model.

Thus, I don’t know if an 1878 Steinway would have similar issues to the 1870’s piano I had, but I’d be suspicious of why the action was not rebuilt. I think Steinway invented the overstrung plate, so an 1878 Steinway may not be straight strung. Nonetheless, I would pass on that piano.

My suggestion would be to find a stable dealer who offers a trade-up policy. Start your children with a vertical piano and trade-up to a used grand if they make steady progress.


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