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A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
#3002510 07/14/20 02:19 PM
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I have been considering a 1993, 5'10' Schimmel grand. It has had 2 owners over its 27 years; the current owner, a professional pianist, has had it for the past 16 years and the same technician has serviced it the entire time.

Overall it's in excellent condition - the case, keyboard & interior look showroom new. A Dampp Chaser was installed 16 years ago and has been regularly maintained. It has a lot of promise but there are a few things I am wary of, so I thought I seek some advice & opinions.


My inspection showed the following:
-The strings are in good condition although there are slight rust spots here & there on most of the tenor & treble strings. The bass strings are also clean but show age-related dulling.
-The bridges are smooth & clean except for some dust. There are no visible cracks. But two mounting screws are missing - one at each end of the tenor/treble bridge.
-The soundboard is intact, no cracks or other evidence of problems.
-The ribs are all solid and there are no visible gaps against the soundboard.
-The tuning pins & pinblock look perfect; all the strings are lined up as they should be.
-The dampers look brand new.
-The bass hammers (C1 & C2 octaves) are worn flat and have definite grooves. The rest of the hammers look practically brand new although there are slight string marks and some have the beginnings of grooves.
-The pedals work as they should. There is a slight squeak when you let off the sustain pedal.

I also played the piano for about an hour. I chose three pieces that I am familiar with that work different aspects of the piano - Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata mvts. 1&2; Gershwin's Lullaby; and a Schumann Arabesque.
-The bass octaves C1 & C2 sound very metallic & loose; I think this goes with the condition of the hammers.
-At C#3 the tone takes a definitely warm turn compared to the bass octaves and then gradually brightens as you go up the keyboard.
-The overall tone was pleasing to me, a nice balance between warm & bright ... except for the bass octaves.
-I could do a nice pianissimo on all the keys but it seemed to take uneven pressure to do that from key to key. I felt unsure about the touch from key to key while I was playing.
-The sustain is nice but as noted the pedal lets out a slight squeak when you lift your foot off it.

I was impressed by the piano but believe it needs regulation & voicing and possible replacement of the bass hammers. The owner said there was never any significant maintenance; and the technician said the same - that he never did anything other than tunings. The owner's position is just that Schimmel makes really good pianos.

I am puzzled by this picture - a piano in constant use over 16 years by a professional but without any meaningful maintenance. Bass hammers that are very worn but the rest look pristine. Dampers that look brand new. Rust spots on the strings. I would have expected some significant maintenance over the years, at least regulation & voicing. But no.

Have I missed something? Or do I just worry too much?

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 07/14/20 02:20 PM.
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Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002513 07/14/20 02:29 PM
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Yeah, there are some weird things in that description.

Also, you can't buy just a set of "bass hammers", you purchase an entire set for the whole piano. Sounds like some work was partially done and not finished here.

A rust spot or two on treble strings of a grand piano that's 27 years old isn't weird at all. You can clean that up with a Polita block or even a Scotch Brite pad if you're feeling cheap.


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Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002559 07/14/20 04:51 PM
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All sounds pretty normal given its age and history. The "missing bridge mounting screws" are probably not what you think. They could be production-related alignment holes or similar.

As is often repeated here: bring in a trusted and experienced technician to check on the instrument's health. A new set of hammers, properly voiced, a full regulation, and maybe new bass strings, if needed, will probably turn this into a very, very fine instrument. However, unless you just want to play it as is, you can expect to invest several thousand to get it back up to its full potential.

The non-service this piano has received over the past 27 years up to now should be taken into serious consideration in the price.


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Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002561 07/14/20 04:53 PM
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Some professionals don't take good care of their pianos so the lack of anything other than tuning may not be significant. I knew the former pianist for the NY Philharmonic who only had her piano tuned very infrequently.

Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002587 07/14/20 05:48 PM
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Check the side of the keys for excessive lead - my cc213 Schimmel was leaded heavily and I ended up performing a Stanwood conversion to remove some of it. Below is the touchweight measurement before the conversation which also has a slight dip in the middle of the keyboard.. I didn't want to plug the old keys, so Schimmel sent me a new keyboard under warranty for the conversion.

Looking back, I may not have gone to the trouble of this conversion and played through it instead as I had new challenges with upweight post conversion, just an FYI regarding your comments on touch and my experiences.

[Linked Image]

Last edited by blueviewlaguna.; 07/14/20 05:52 PM.

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Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002613 07/14/20 06:47 PM
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OP: Same advice with this instrument as with any piano not brand new - if you're considering investing thousands of dollars, spend $100 or $150 up front and have it evaluated by a skilled technician not otherwise compensated than by you should you buy the instrument.

The bass hammers worn down thing is... interesting. Was this professional pianist a professional "Stride" specialist? I've been practicing/playing/pounding on pianos for years, and the bass hammers typically trail the hammers further up the instrument in terms of wear. Grooving shows up sooner on the unwound tri-chords then on wound bass strings in my own experience.

Without pictures, and maybe even with them, it's hard to tell without examining all the hammers if all the hammers EXCEPT the bass hammers have been filed down and reshaped (one possibility), or if the hammers EXCEPT the bass hammers were replaced (possible but less likely). I have certainly worn down hammers from their pristine original shape, but again, the bass hammers have gone last, and usually, the bass still sounds goods, if a bit forward in sound.

Time to spend a little $ if you're serious about the purchase.

Once you have that information, you can make an informed offer on the piano if you still want it, and you can price in maintenance necessary to bring it up to your standards. After that, the usual rules involved with buying and selling apply - NEGOTIATE, be willing to walk away, even if you've paid for an inspection.

Good luck, and let us know what happens.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
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1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002635 07/14/20 07:41 PM
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Thank you everyone for your input so far. I do want to assure everyone that if I plan to move ahead it will ONLY be after my technician inspects the piano and provides his/her independent findings. And any necessary work would most definitely be taken into consideration before I'd make any offer.

So, here are some pictures to help you see some of what I observed.

Bass hammers. This was the best I could get with my smartphone. In real life the hammers look more flattened than in this picture.
[Linked Image]

Bass bridge showing what appears to be a mounting screw. There are screws like this about every 8" along both bridges.
[Linked Image]

Bottom end of long bridge showing hole but no screw. Since there are other screws along the bridge, this appears to be a missing one.
[Linked Image]

Top end of long bridge showing hole but no screw. Since there are other screws along the bridge, this appears to be missing one.
[Linked Image]

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 07/14/20 07:51 PM.
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002642 07/14/20 07:59 PM
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Oh - those are not the bass section hammers, it's the tenor-- probably the most used section of the piano is the middle. Looks like they definitely need reshaping.

I remember watching a new Steinway A being delivered into my office about 12 years ago and seeing 1-2 holes drilled into the soundboard and being mildly outraged. Later, someone told me they were "registration holes" or some such, that were used for lining up parts of the piano during the assembly process with a CNC machine. This could be a similar situation.


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Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
terminaldegree #3002645 07/14/20 08:10 PM
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Oops ... wrong picture above. This was the first time I tried to include images in a post and it was challenging to do. Obviously I uploaded the wrong picture.

Here are the actual bass hammers:
[Linked Image]

And, yes, I also believe the tenor hammers need reshaping. The two holes are not just straight holes, they are chamfered as you would expect for a countersunk screw. That's what makes me wonder.

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 07/14/20 08:17 PM.
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002648 07/14/20 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Pianosearcher
Thank you everyone for your input so far. I do want to assure everyone that if I plan to move ahead it will ONLY be after my technician inspects the piano and provides his/her independent findings. And any necessary work would most definitely be taken into consideration before I'd make any offer.

So, here are some pictures to help you see some of what I observed.

Bass hammers. This was the best I could get with my smartphone. In real life the hammers look more flattened than in this picture.
[Linked Image]

Bass bridge showing what appears to be a mounting screw. There are screws like this about every 8" along both bridges.
[Linked Image]

Bottom end of long bridge showing hole but no screw. Since there are other screws along the bridge, this appears to be a missing one.
[Linked Image]

Top end of long bridge showing hole but no screw. Since there are other screws along the bridge, this appears to be missing one.
[Linked Image]
Originally Posted by Pianosearcher
Oops ... wrong picture above. This was the first time I tried to include images in a post and it was challenging to do. Obviously I uploaded the wrong picture.

Here are the actual bass hammers:
[Linked Image]

And, yes, I also believe the tenor hammers need reshaping. The two holes are not just straight holes, they are chamfered as you would expect for a countersunk screw. That's what makes me wonder.

H Pianosearcher,

I've just noticed great photography here smile

Can I ask how you took those photographs ??

Last edited by DreamPiano80; 07/14/20 08:24 PM.
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002652 07/14/20 08:42 PM
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Quote
H Pianosearcher,
I've just noticed great photography here smile
Can I ask how you took those photographs ??

I just used my iPhone 6 and my favorite camera app Camera+ 2. One of the features I use a lot is the focus tap. Somehow it digitally focuses on the selected object or portion of the image. It's especially useful when you're trying to separate one object or portion of the picture from the rest. (But I will also say that the iPhone's built-in Camera app is also very very good.)

These are just basic shots. The lighting in the room was pretty bright and even, so I didn't have to adjust exposure or use flash. I also did not do any post-processing other than reducing the image size for the forums, so these are straight shots from the phone.

Best advice I can give is to do everything you possibly can to hold the phone/camera steady. I've seen more pictures ruined by unsteady hands than any other cause.

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 07/14/20 08:51 PM.
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002664 07/14/20 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Pianosearcher
Quote
H Pianosearcher,
I've just noticed great photography here smile
Can I ask how you took those photographs ??

I just used my iPhone 6 and my favorite camera app Camera+ 2. One of the features I use a lot is the focus tap. Somehow it digitally focuses on the selected object or portion of the image. It's especially useful when you're trying to separate one object or portion of the picture from the rest. (But I will also say that the iPhone's built-in Camera app is also very very good.)

These are just basic shots. The lighting in the room was pretty bright and even, so I didn't have to adjust exposure or use flash. I also did not do any post-processing other than reducing the image size for the forums, so these are straight shots from the phone.

Best advice I can give is to do everything you possibly can to hold the phone/camera steady. I've seen more pictures ruined by unsteady hands than any other cause.


Impressive! smile

Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002681 07/14/20 10:41 PM
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Folks, that was a phone released around 2014.


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

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Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002683 07/14/20 10:52 PM
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Quote
Folks, that was a phone released around 2014.

And it's still going strong after 6 years of daily use, 6,200 photos, 66 videos, countless audio captures (using RODE Rec) and multiple trips to Europe. Sadly, Steinway discontinued their excellent metronome app, which I ended up replacing with Soundbrenner.

That said, I admit that I am in the process of upgrading to an iPhone SE 2020 with its 12MP camera, 6-element lens, optical image stabilization and 4K video. I hope it lasts as long as my 6.

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 07/14/20 10:57 PM.
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002686 07/14/20 11:24 PM
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I only came here because of the photos. Well played! 👍🏽

Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002692 07/14/20 11:45 PM
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Just saying, the casual photo bar hasn't be raised much in five years.


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

Casio GP-400
Schimmel SP-182T
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002709 07/15/20 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Pianosearcher
Quote
H Pianosearcher,
I've just noticed great photography here smile
Can I ask how you took those photographs ??

I just used my iPhone 6 and my favorite camera app Camera+ 2.

Just downloaded the App - Thanks!


~Lucubrate


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“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.“ ~Epictetus
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002718 07/15/20 02:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Pianosearcher
Quote
Folks, that was a phone released around 2014.

And it's still going strong after 6 years of daily use, 6,200 photos, 66 videos, countless audio captures (using RODE Rec) and multiple trips to Europe. Sadly, Steinway discontinued their excellent metronome app, which I ended up replacing with Soundbrenner.

That said, I admit that I am in the process of upgrading to an iPhone SE 2020 with its 12MP camera, 6-element lens, optical image stabilization and 4K video. I hope it lasts as long as my 6.

I just upgraded to the new iPhone SE after 4+ years w/the previous SE!



Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see
~Mark Twain
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Seeker #3002865 07/15/20 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Seeker
The bass hammers worn down thing is... interesting. Was this professional pianist a professional "Stride" specialist? I've been practicing/playing/pounding on pianos for years, and the bass hammers typically trail the hammers further up the instrument in terms of wear.

The owner is an accompanist, concert pianist and teacher. Mostly classical, chamber & folk music. No jazz or stride interest that I know of. All the more puzzling that the C1 & C2 octave hammers are the ones that look beaten up.

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 07/15/20 08:51 AM.
Re: A nice but puzzling Schimmel grand
Pianosearcher #3002879 07/15/20 09:21 AM
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Not much to add here. I do love Schimmels. Definitely get your piano technician to check it out. Hopefully the asking price is a deal because that Schimmel will need some serious catch up maintenance in regulation and voicing to bring it back to the piano it was designed to be.

I find it weird when professional pianists ignore getting the maintenance done on their home pianos. It’s like a prima ballerina ignoring her feet and the condition of her toe slippers.

Best Wishes on your search. Keep us posted.


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