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Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2922755 12/14/19 03:15 AM
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@terminaldegree I agree with all of this and I wish you good luck in finding a nice instrument. You should maybe take a look at Robert Estrin's final sale at livingpianos.com if Baldwin might be an option.

Good ears in regard to the Brahms. Yes, the treble has some irregularities and the recording was done right after it was tuned by a concert technician, so this is the best one can do. The irregularities come from 40 year old strings and some tiny cracks in the bridge and the original agraffes as well as a badly repaired soundboard. There is nothing I can do about it other than sending it to my technician's workshop for a couple of months for a complete overhaul of the acoustic assembly - and I have decided that it's not worth it. The expected improvement would be in no correlation to the amount of money I would need to spend on it, plus the piano would be gone for quite some time and that's just not acceptable to me at this point. I've done everything possible that could be done right here in my apartment and I am perfectly happy with it.

You're also (a little) right about the voicing, but this is something I consider a work in progress. 4 weeks ago this piano had its first real voicing session with nearly 6 hours of hard needling and reshaping of completely new hammers and it's already a massive improvement that simply stunned me. I'll have the same done in about a year, but at this point I am in awe about the quality of sound and huge dynamic range of a 130 year old piano. I am in love with it and one would probably have to offer me a brand new Bechstein C234 before I would even consider giving it away. When I wake up in the morning, my first look of pleasure lands on my wife and then on the ugly duckling (it's visuals are really not appealing with its thick square legs), knowing that playing it gives me shivers of delight.

Maybe you should consider a 1 week trip to Europe to find your instrument. I'll be happy to arrange for the right places to visit to find expertly rebuilt Steinways at a decent price.

Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2922825 12/14/19 10:49 AM
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Hamburgs of that year need a lot of work. Especially the action. In order to be playable it will need an entirely new action. I worked on one several years ago and there was no rescue possible for the action parts. They just have to go. On the other hand depending on use the piano might be tunable with the old strings but it won't sound its best until it gets new ones. All this will cost a bunch but if the finish is still good and the soundboard and bridges are good the cost of restoration will be lower than a full job.


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Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2922840 12/14/19 12:19 PM
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How much does a 'core' cost over here for rebuilding? How much does a c.1960s Steinway from either factory sell for? I know that back in the UK these pianos can fetch inflated prices. A model B Hamburg c.1930-1970 in original could achieve as much as £20,000 or even more, which is outrageous because they always need a lot of work done to them. There's still this conservative approach to piano repair in Europe and the UK - outside of Steinway Hall and Piano Restorations, and a couple of other places - that would say that if the piano is playable then it's a good piano. It's a view I don't share. £20,000 for a piano that is 50 to 90 years old, even with it being a Hamburg Steinway, is not a bargain. Technically you could send it to Steinway and ask them to perform a full restoration (last year's price £45,000 for everything done), and then you'd have spend £65,000 on your Steinway B, it would be like new, and it would be a saving over a new one, but it's hardly the steal of the century.

From a pianist's perspective, the latest Hamburg actions feel far superior to those from the 70s and 80s. In conservatoire we had As from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, most being from around 1980-90 at that time. These were teaching pianos only, no practice was done on these pianos, and the professors had a second piano in their room that they or their students used for practice - usually a Yamaha or Kawai. The pianos had beautiful tone, but the actions weren't as fast as when the newer instruments started to come in. In the concert hall there were two Ds from 1988 when (when the new building opened) and one that was bought new in 1998 which is when I started, and the difference between even them was huge. The 1998 model was far, far superior in every way. The 1988 Ds were still nice to play but they weren't in the same league as the newer one. How much of that was to do with age and how much was to do with differences in the design that may have been implemented in that time I have no idea.

Move forward to 2019: The concert hall in my home town of Dundee bought a new D this year, and it is phenomenal. It's far better than any D I've played previously. They have a 1984 D to which Steinways fitted a new action and pin block at the same time as they bought the new one, and there's really no comparison. The '84 is good, and if I was gifted it I'd be happy with it, but it doesn't compare to the new piano. The new piano has so much more life to it, a broader range of colour, everything in it is better.

Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Joseph Fleetwood #2922845 12/14/19 12:39 PM
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The OP has already decided against purchasing the piano in question.


J & J
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My piano’s voice is beautiful!
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Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2922864 12/14/19 01:18 PM
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Yes but the conversation goes on, and that's fine.

Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Joseph Fleetwood #2922928 12/14/19 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by joe80
Yes but the conversation goes on, and that's fine.


And so it does. grin


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
Casio Privia PX-330
My piano’s voice is beautiful!
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Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2922955 12/14/19 06:49 PM
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and on

Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2922962 12/14/19 08:01 PM
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and that's just fine...



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Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2923040 12/15/19 06:03 AM
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Steinway Hall in London currently has several restored pianos up to a century old with the original soundboard. Perhaps that is due to their selection of instruments and climate than anything else.

Where I live, the humidity is the same all year long with only mild swings in temperature compared to many parts of the world. It's the same in the UK.

Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2923096 12/15/19 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Skiiman1
I'm actually the buyer.

I haven't found any Hamburg Bs advertised for lower than 50 (these are rebuilds) so I thought it was a bargain to get a playing piano for half that price.

From your comments it seems like I would be getting ripped off at 27k...but I can't find a better B at that price.

For comparison, a core NY S&S from about 1970 (no ivory, though) can be had for about $15k retail, $10-11k wholesale. Out of curiosity, what would you realistically want to pay for it? $27k might be priced with negotiation room built-in.

I guess for me, when I was looking for Bs, the major questions were how much will it cost to rebuild the piano, and when must the piano be rebuilt (i.e., does the piano have any satisfactory musical value as-is).

Very frustrating to me are the Bs that are priced as rebuilt, but need rebuilding because the job was poorly done...as well as original Bs priced as if they were rebuilt.

Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
johnstaf #2923105 12/15/19 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Steinway Hall in London currently has several restored pianos up to a century old with the original soundboard. Perhaps that is due to their selection of instruments and climate than anything else.

Where I live, the humidity is the same all year long with only mild swings in temperature compared to many parts of the world. It's the same in the UK.


Looking at the Steinway UK website, you're absolutely right. They have three instruments between 90 and 110 years old - an O from 1909 with a price tag of £82500, an M from 1929 with a price tag of £54500, and an A from 1912 with a price tag of £78300. They have the original soundboards. They have new actions and damper mechanisms and the cases have been repolished. They say nothing about the pin blocks, so I suspect there are oversized pins in the original pinblocks but don't quote me on that.

I suspect it's not that the original soundboard was somehow better quality than a new one, but rather that Steinway UK didn't want to pay to send the piano to Hamburg to have the pin block and soundboard replaced. The Hamburg factory is the only place in Europe that Steinway will send their pianos to for a new soundboard and pin block, and sending the pianos there is very expensive for the showroom. The cost of the remanufacture at Hamburg is also very expensive to the showroom. Remember, although Steinway and Sons is one company, the showroom is autonomous from the factory, at least that's the case in London.

These pianos are way over-priced, and I certainly wouldn't want to spend £82500 on a 110 year old piano that had the original soundboard in it. The case work on these pianos also pushes the prices up, since a natural wood finish automatically increases the 'desirability' in the eyes of Steinway Hall. I could buy a new Steinway for the same money, if not a Hamburg then a New York, and a new New York Steinway is a good piano.

Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2923129 12/15/19 12:33 PM
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Certainly are over priced. I wish them luck in getting those sort of prices but "there's one born every minute".


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2923249 12/15/19 05:40 PM
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They send some of them to Hamburg for a new soundboard. AFAIK they change everything else. The workshop downstairs in Steinway Hall is fascinating.

Re: Hamburg Steinway B early 1960s
Skiiman1 #2923264 12/15/19 06:37 PM
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I've seen it many times.

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