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Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
#2985879 05/30/20 04:39 PM
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Hi all, hoping to get some advice about a 1935 Bosendorfer 170 that was re-built in 1993. I live in small city and there's not a lot of stock here. I have been also considering a used Steinway, but no luck. I was shocked to find a Bosendorfer for sale in my little city! It's been quite a while since I played a Bosendorfer, but I remember loving the feel and the sound.

The seller is some sort of musician. He says that the piano is in "tip top" condition, and that it was completely re-built. He's asking $25k. The ad is very sparse and gives no further detail. I know very little about how to go about assessing a used a piano. What should I ask, and look for?

I will ask a technician to go take a look as well once we're able, but honestly, there aren't many techs in my region and I don't know if they'll be all that familiar with Bosendorfer.

I've had an upright Yamaha U1J ever since I was a kid. I'm not in the music industry and took at 20 year hiatus from playing, and am now getting back into it. I will go and test out the piano when I'm able (due to the pandemic, we're not supposed to be congregating with other households yet). Any opinions on transitioning from a (bright-sounding) Yamaha to a Bosendorfer? I play a variety of stuff, but love Debussy, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff.

Thanks for any help you can provide. I've never bought a "new, used" piano before and am excited!

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Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2985905 05/30/20 05:53 PM
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A good tech will not have to be very familiar with Bosendorfer to evaluate the piano. Try and find out who rebuilt the piano and exactly what work was done. The best books to learn about evaluating a rebuilt piano are The Piano Book(available on Amazon) and The Piano Buyer(see free link on this site) but they definitely don't take the place of having a tech look at the piano.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/30/20 05:56 PM.
Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2985907 05/30/20 06:00 PM
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Ok,

So a 1935 Bösendorfer would have been built as a beautiful parlor instrument. At the time they came with 2 pedals as standard, although one could have ordered the piano with a sostenuto at a nominal extra charge.

I have to add that I have seen some independent rebuilders (not used to this piano) do a restoration and miss the mark a bit. I think it has to do with the fact that there was a lack of education for some time among piano technicians as to what made this brand of piano beautiful. If they chose materials and used techniques that worked well with brands they were familiar with here in the USA, they might come up short in a final product.

Then there is the maintenance and use to be considered since the rebuild.

Definitely have the piano examined - and stay in touch.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Philadelphia, King of Prussia, and Cherry Hill, NJ
(215) 991-0834 direct line
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Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2985910 05/30/20 06:04 PM
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Brand name notwithstanding, I would approach this with some caution. You might also want to take my words with a grain of salt, as I am no technician myself.

The worth of any used piano as a musical instrument depends entirely upon condition. Even though the piano was completely rebuilt (you would have to find out what "completely" entails, with written proof, if possible), that rebuild was done 27 years ago. Given that the seller is "some sort of musician" that could mean that the piano has had extensive use since the rebuild was done and anything that was not included in that rebuild would likely be a candidate for overhaul at this point. Although the musician says that the piano is in "tip top" condition, that observation has to be taken with a grain of salt as well. Owners are not always the best assessors of their pianos.

Once you have had a chance to try the piano, and if you like it, your best course of action is to have it thoroughly gone over by a reputable technician. At this point, it's very hard to say whether $25,000.00 is a good price for this instrument since there is as yet no professional assessment of its condition.

Good luck with it.

Regards,


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Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2985917 05/30/20 06:24 PM
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Rich hit the nail on the head. It depends very much on the quality of the rebuild. The thing is that 1993 is a long time ago now, and rebuilt means a lot of different things. I asked Colin Leverett at what point he'd consider a piano to be "rebuilt" as opposed to "reconditioned" or "serviced" and in his mind once you've replaced the pin block it can be called a rebuild. Replace the soundboard and it's definitely a rebuild. Note, not all soundboards need to be replaced, but in 1993 on a piano from 1935 I'd probably have wanted the pin block replaced if it was being restrung.

Rebuilt can also mean a new action has been installed, although it could mean that the original action was reconditioned. You can actually achieve excellent results from reconditioning original parts although for pianos in heavy service an action replacement can be more reliable.

Anyway back to this piano:

It's 1935, so yes it was a beautiful piano when it was made but it's now old. The rebuilding work in 1993 could have involved a range of things that we don't yet know about so for that reason it's impossible to value.

$25,000 is about £20,000 and while everything piano related IS more expensive in America than it is in the UK, at this price the piano certainly is not a steal. If it was me, I'd have to make sure that the piano was in absolutely perfect condition for that price at that age, and until I knew what rebuilding work was done - because if it was done badly it would need to be redone again - I'd be treating it as an 85 year old piano with possibly new strings and hammers.

For the price range you're looking at, there's actually a range of pianos you could buy. You could probably buy something new and I've no doubt Rich Galassini could help you there. There are some very fine uprights you could buy, and there are some relatively young Steinways you could source in other parts of the country. I'm not saying this to put you off the Bösendorfer, but I'm just making sure you know all your options.

For $25,000 I'd have to really love the piano and I'd have to think it was an unmissable deal, and I'd have to convince myself of that. At the moment, in my own opinion, there are no unmissable deals in the piano market Bösendorfer or not. Let us know!

Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2985920 05/30/20 06:32 PM
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Rich is closest to Ground Zero on rehabbed Bosendorfers, so I would focus on his statement. As Joseph reminds you, though, your original errand of a used (and/or rebuilt) Steinway would have turned up quite a few options in the same bracket. Golden Age M models seem to show up a lot on dealer pages priced between $20k and $30k.

So, this could be a great item. But make sure you want it.

Last edited by Maestro Lennie; 05/30/20 06:34 PM.
Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2985924 05/30/20 06:52 PM
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That's a huge asking price for a piano that was "rebuilt" 27 years ago. For some reason, you're not sharing your location, so we are unable to recommend any technicians in the area to thoroughly inspect the piano.

I love a good model 170, for what it is, though I don't see as many of these pianos from that era, in the various places I've lived in the US. However, even if the inspection was glowingly positive, I'd be prepared to offer much less than that amount.


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Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2985935 05/30/20 07:29 PM
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Lots of great advice so far, thank you. @terminaldegree Sorry, I wasn't trying to hide my location, I'm just new to the forum and now quite sure what I'm doing yet. smile I'm in Canada (in the interior of British Columbia), so that $25k price tag is in CAD$.

I've called around Vancouver, BC as well (about ~5 hours drive), trying to find a used Steinway but for some reason they seem to be in short supply.

Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2986292 05/31/20 05:09 PM
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The seller has responded with:
"Hi, the Bosendorfer has been restored to new condition by Rick Cox in the Netherlands http://www.coxpiano.nl/ he still has a full report on his work. It has been a while but it came back new in 1995 and we paid somewhere around 10.000 for that job in Holland.
Since I'm a guitar player I haven't been using the piano a lot."

Is anyone familiar with Rick Cox's work?

Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2986324 05/31/20 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by WYTILTLIS
Is anyone familiar with Rick Cox's work?

I am not. Get the work summary. However, when you have work performed you are as much buying the rebuilder as you are the actual parts, components, and scope of work.

Also, even if the work was perfectly performed in 1995, it is 25 years old now. You should still have the piano examined.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Philadelphia, King of Prussia, and Cherry Hill, NJ
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2988575 06/06/20 07:00 PM
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An update: seller says he has the re-build report, but I still haven't received it (I don't think anything nefarious is going on, just someone not familiar with tech). He says he can't find the opus number, though; does anyone know where this is located on a Bosendorfer 170?

Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2988601 06/06/20 08:57 PM
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I have some customers with rebuilds to like new condition I did 30 Years ago who take care of their piano well, and you would be hard pressed to look at them, and play them, and not think it was done within the last couple of years.


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Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2989217 06/08/20 09:50 PM
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Thanks, Ed. I'm waiting for COVID restrictions to be loosened before I can go play it for myself.

Re: Need Advice on Re-Built Bosendorfer 170
WYTILTLIS #2989236 06/08/20 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by WYTILTLIS
An update: seller says he has the re-build report, but I still haven't received it (I don't think anything nefarious is going on, just someone not familiar with tech). He says he can't find the opus number, though; does anyone know where this is located on a Bosendorfer 170?

On a 1935 Bösendorfer the serial number will be most easily found on the bottom of the soundboard. Yes, that means getting underneath the piano to find it.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Philadelphia, King of Prussia, and Cherry Hill, NJ
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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