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1875 Steinway Model B? #2935283 01/17/20 12:08 PM
Joined: May 2005
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rg171352 Offline OP
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I've lurked on here for quite a while and am always very appreciative of the far ranging insights many of the members here are able to provide. At long last, I have a room to enjoy a nice piano and have been intermittently looking. I play the violin, not the piano. I was always interested, however the piano my family had when I was young was in very poor condition. It wouldn't hold a tune and thwarted any of my efforts to learn. With my experience with violins and pianos, I've learned the importance of having something that is player friendly.

My goals for an instrument:

a piano my family and I can learn to play on
a piano that will be aesthetically pleasing
a piano that will retain its value
a piano that can be enjoyed with minimal maintenance over time

The room it is going in is not in a Victorian home, so I wouldn't want something too ornate, but I happened upon a Model B Steinway which I like. I have attached some photos below from the ad. The seller purchased it from its original city over thirty years ago and had a person in Rochester, NY restore it. The restoration included "shimming the soudning board, new strings, new ivory keys, and refurnishing the cabinet". The seller says it has some sun damage which appears to be patterned discloloration. It also supposedly "needs a new action, but otherwise is in wonderful condition". She says the "action needs voicing and regulation".

Reading this: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...dering-1875-pre-centennial-steinway.html regarding a similarly aged piano and doing some research has convinced me that if it is worth pursuing, I would need to have someone visit the piano and inspect it.

Here are some photos, which may be helpful?


[img]https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.ne...2b4b8ca7e7074aaeb3444172&oe=5E978470[/img]

[img]https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.ne...641f2dc98db529079872323d&oe=5E983C51[/img]

[img]https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.ne...6eae737082286c02e4ab694a&oe=5E9BF089[/img]

[img]https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.ne...24cf3575e21bb0177de59e43&oe=5E98F521[/img]

What are your thoughts and recommendations? Is it worth considering hiring someone to look into it? What would be a fair value to assign to it?

I have seen that a number of piano restoration companies have these listed for astronomical prices that are likely never realized.

Beyond liking the furniture aspect of this particular piano, the other pianos I am drawn to are the Steinway XR duo art units. I like the fact that if my hopes of my family or me learning to play never pan out, I could always slide in a roll and pray that the vacuum system is still operational.

Thank you very much for your thoughts!

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Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: rg171352] #2935293 01/17/20 12:25 PM
Joined: May 2005
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Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by rg171352
I've lurked on here for quite a while and am always very appreciative of the far ranging insights many of the members here are able to provide. At long last, I have a room to enjoy a nice piano and have been intermittently looking. I play the violin, not the piano. I was always interested, however the piano my family had when I was young was in very poor condition. It wouldn't hold a tune and thwarted any of my efforts to learn. With my experience with violins and pianos, I've learned the importance of having something that is player friendly.

My goals for an instrument:

a piano my family and I can learn to play on
a piano that will be aesthetically pleasing
a piano that will retain its value
a piano that can be enjoyed with minimal maintenance over time


Other than the possible historical/aesthetic attributes, I honestly don't believe this particular piano will come close to meeting your other criteria. I think you'll get more bang for your buck and personal satisfaction if you purchase something much newer.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: rg171352] #2935339 01/17/20 02:24 PM
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BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by rg171352
[...] The seller purchased it from its original city over thirty years ago and had a person in Rochester, NY restore it. The restoration included "shimming the soudning board, new strings, new ivory keys, and refurnishing the cabinet". The seller says it has some sun damage which appears to be patterned discloloration. It also supposedly "needs a new action, but otherwise is in wonderful condition". She says the "action needs voicing and regulation".

[...]


Unless "wonderful condition" is a description give by a reliable piano technician, this has to be taken with a serious grain of salt. While some owners may reliably state the condition of their piano because of knowledge or as a result of a technician's inspection, it is unfortunately true that some owners have no idea of what "condition" means nor how to judge it.

Moreover, for a piano that is almost 150 years old, one would have to know details about 1) so-called "restoration," 2) who did the restoration, 3) reliability and reputation of the restorer. Needing new action is another flag that could involve considerable expense before the piano could meet your stated needs.

So, I agree with Carey that you should give this a pass, unless you are willing to spend $100.00 to perhaps $150.00 to have a thorough inspection done by a reputable technician to determine the real condition of this instrument.

And speaking of "grains of salt," I am not a technician. My opinions, such as they are, are solely based on years of reading queries such as these and the responses to them on PW.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: rg171352] #2935353 01/17/20 03:05 PM
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For your criteria, this is a terrible idea. That soundboard looks like Swiss cheese.


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Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: rg171352] #2935445 01/17/20 06:33 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
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Jeff Clef Offline
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Welcome to PW, rg171352!

Such worthy ideas you have, and such a beautifully innocent intention. I almost hate to pile on. I hope you are not too dug in to a fortified position, taking fire and giving back as good as you get. Well, some people are like that; I have blundered into a crossfire before.

The problem is, you have two really bad solutions for two really excellent goals. Your solutions will take you either to the crazy house or the poorhouse, or maybe giving up on the whole project.

If you want to listen to really great recorded piano music, get some CDs and a good player system. You can very well record your own accompaniments. Prefer semi-antique media that requires adventure, treasure hunting and a lot of fuss? Some swear by LP discs and the turntable of my, and perhaps your youth. On a system that can play back the entire, unlimited frequency range, you can tell that the CD's Red Book standard is a compromise (if you can hear those frequencies--- it pays to be very young).

And, thanks to YouTube, you can watch the greats perform--- and even teach--- like being right next to them on the stage.

Never mind the 120-year-old piano with the bad action and the shimmed board. Well, maybe the board could be ok, but you do need, really need, someone who is qualified to inspect and advise you. I cannot do better for you than to recommend Piano Technicians Guild,



a professional association that can recommend qualified techs in your zip code, and they are likely to know who the good restore-and-rebuild people are, at the cost of a few e-mails. There are excellent techs who do not belong to the Guild, but their members do meet a minimum standard of proficiency, determined by hands-on test, and as members, they adhere to an ethical standard. If you had a really bad problem, you would have some place to turn. My own tech is a PTG member.

But, why not buy a new piano? Do you not have enough challenges, with your own goals as a musician, and those of your family? You will have no prayers to spare on a 120-year-old vacuum-operated piano roll system. Modern versions are available. Recordings of the old rolls are available, for that matter. Some people on PW who have that bug would likely make you recordings of rolls, to your order.

I would suggest you educate yourself about the new systems. Some of them are working on turning recorded performances of the modern greats into media that can bring the performances to homeowners' (or exhibitors') pianos with their system. But to be honest, I would really suggest that you get the best new piano you can afford as your own working instrument, and keep the player system out of it. Buy another piano if you simply must have it. No, really--- lots of people end up with more than one piano. If for no other reason, the player systems put a lot of extra wear on a piano, and some of them affect the touch.

If a new, or well-restored piano is out of reach, try to find one of good make that is 10 years or less old, which has had reasonable care. Pianos depreciate very much the way new cars do, but because they last so much longer, you have a wider window to find a good instrument, at a good price. As a rule of thumb, a piano that has been treated with respect will have something like 50 years of usable musical life. Only the most expensive ones are restored, except those which are kept alive for sentimental reasons. The prices you have seen are real. Restoring requires highly skilled labor, lots of time, expensive materials, and, let's face it, some willingness to roll the dice.

Lots of people start out with something more affordable, and move up the piano food chain as they realize their own commitment. A piano of a decent make and reasonable age has value that can be used to climb the stairway as a trade-up or outside sale. This is another reason to find a good tech: they sometimes know when a good piano value is about to come into the market.

I say again, welcome to PW, rg171352! This site can be a real goldmine of fellowship and good information. I like your ambitions, and wish you the very best of good luck at realizing them.

Please let us know how it goes, and ask all the questions you want. We love these piano stories.

Clef

Last edited by Jeff Clef; 01/17/20 06:38 PM.

Clef

Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: Jeff Clef] #2935471 01/17/20 07:43 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,874
Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
Welcome to PW, rg171352!

Such worthy ideas you have, and such a beautifully innocent intention. I almost hate to pile on. I hope you are not too dug in to a fortified position, taking fire and giving back as good as you get. Well, some people are like that; I have blundered into a crossfire before.

The problem is, you have two really bad solutions for two really excellent goals. Your solutions will take you either to the crazy house or the poorhouse, or maybe giving up on the whole project.

If you want to listen to really great recorded piano music, get some CDs and a good player system. You can very well record your own accompaniments. Prefer semi-antique media that requires adventure, treasure hunting and a lot of fuss? Some swear by LP discs and the turntable of my, and perhaps your youth. On a system that can play back the entire, unlimited frequency range, you can tell that the CD's Red Book standard is a compromise (if you can hear those frequencies--- it pays to be very young).

And, thanks to YouTube, you can watch the greats perform--- and even teach--- like being right next to them on the stage.

Never mind the 120-year-old piano with the bad action and the shimmed board. Well, maybe the board could be ok, but you do need, really need, someone who is qualified to inspect and advise you. I cannot do better for you than to recommend Piano Technicians Guild,



a professional association that can recommend qualified techs in your zip code, and they are likely to know who the good restore-and-rebuild people are, at the cost of a few e-mails. There are excellent techs who do not belong to the Guild, but their members do meet a minimum standard of proficiency, determined by hands-on test, and as members, they adhere to an ethical standard. If you had a really bad problem, you would have some place to turn. My own tech is a PTG member.

But, why not buy a new piano? Do you not have enough challenges, with your own goals as a musician, and those of your family? You will have no prayers to spare on a 120-year-old vacuum-operated piano roll system. Modern versions are available. Recordings of the old rolls are available, for that matter. Some people on PW who have that bug would likely make you recordings of rolls, to your order.

I would suggest you educate yourself about the new systems. Some of them are working on turning recorded performances of the modern greats into media that can bring the performances to homeowners' (or exhibitors') pianos with their system. But to be honest, I would really suggest that you get the best new piano you can afford as your own working instrument, and keep the player system out of it. Buy another piano if you simply must have it. No, really--- lots of people end up with more than one piano. If for no other reason, the player systems put a lot of extra wear on a piano, and some of them affect the touch.

If a new, or well-restored piano is out of reach, try to find one of good make that is 10 years or less old, which has had reasonable care. Pianos depreciate very much the way new cars do, but because they last so much longer, you have a wider window to find a good instrument, at a good price. As a rule of thumb, a piano that has been treated with respect will have something like 50 years of usable musical life. Only the most expensive ones are restored, except those which are kept alive for sentimental reasons. The prices you have seen are real. Restoring requires highly skilled labor, lots of time, expensive materials, and, let's face it, some willingness to roll the dice.

Lots of people start out with something more affordable, and move up the piano food chain as they realize their own commitment. A piano of a decent make and reasonable age has value that can be used to climb the stairway as a trade-up or outside sale. This is another reason to find a good tech: they sometimes know when a good piano value is about to come into the market.

I say again, welcome to PW, rg171352! This site can be a real goldmine of fellowship and good information. I like your ambitions, and wish you the very best of good luck at realizing them.

Please let us know how it goes, and ask all the questions you want. We love these piano stories.

Clef
Very thoughtful, helpful post.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: rg171352] #2935476 01/17/20 08:03 PM
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rwsavory Offline
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Having just parted with a 100-year-old instrument in favor of a new one, I have some perspective on your situation. With regard to your goals, they point to a new or, at least, modern piano. The Steinway pictured will be a project, not something that you can rely on day to day.

Visit a good piano store and look around. You will find a new or used instrument that will meet your needs.

Good luck!

Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: rg171352] #2935529 01/17/20 10:11 PM
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The seller probably has minimal knowledge about pianos so their comments cannot be trusted. Saying a piano needs a new action and then saying the action just needs regulation and voicing are completely different things.

Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: rg171352] #2935542 01/17/20 11:10 PM
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I could not warrant that this piano would satisfy any of your criteria. Look for something newer.


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Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: rg171352] #2935703 01/18/20 12:46 PM
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rg171352 Offline OP
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Thank you all very much for your insight and warm welcome. Here is the one piano in question: https://www.pianomart.com/buy-a-piano/view?id=38665 It has been falling in price rapidly over time and I was enticed by its design. However, it seems that even if it continues to fall purchasing this piano would be a white elephant.

You have convinced me that this likely isn't the instrument for us. I like the design and mystique of the instrument, but I don't have the desire for any more projects. I sent a message to the seller thanking her for her time and additional photos, but passing on the instrument. I hope it does find a good home.

Also, Clef, thank you for your thoughts on the XR. While it would be neat to watch, you're right that it's likely not the best choice either.

A few of you have mentioned looking for a newer piano. What vintage would you recommend?

Re: 1875 Steinway Model B? [Re: rg171352] #2935717 01/18/20 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rg171352
A few of you have mentioned looking for a newer piano. What vintage would you recommend?


Ideally, brand new, or as close as you can find in your price range.


Semipro Tech

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