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Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
#3029497 09/27/20 09:04 AM
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Hi all -
I'm new here and would be thankful for any outside opinions.
My wife and I went into an appointment at an authorized Steinway dealer looking to buy a 1098. We were told that they're barely, if at all, being produced anymore. In our desired finish (Satin ebony) we were told essentially that brand New isn't an option anytime soon.

We were talked into putting down some money (surprisingly small amount) and signing a purchase agreement to have them ship over a 2015-2016 "Festival" 1098 which has been used at Tanglewood - part of a program described as "gently used" in this context.

Honestly at the time I really felt like we were getting a deal and saving about $5-7,000 on an essentially new instrument. Then I did some research and have realized that these Festival pianos, especially the 1098s, may have significant damage to the case etc (one dealer at another site went so far as to call them "beaters" and to say that he rarely deals with them).

Obviously a bit less enthusiastic now about the arrangement.
Any general thoughts here on luck (or lack of luck) with these Festival pianos? Should I feel foolish about this?

Many thanks

Last edited by Aldonius; 09/27/20 09:13 AM.
Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
Aldonius #3029499 09/27/20 09:13 AM
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I assume you can try the instrument for final approval?

Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
dhull100 #3029502 09/27/20 09:21 AM
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The "purchase agreement" I signed has me a bit concerned that my walking away could be challenged. But the manager did explicitly say we don't need to give them any more money until we've tried it. It seems unlikely they'd escalate things if we had a problem with the piano. Especially since we'd be trying to purchase an alternative through them.

Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
Aldonius #3029515 09/27/20 09:55 AM
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I would demand that the agreement includes full refund of your deposit, with no restrictions if you reject the piano for any reason.


-Bill L. - former tuner-technician
Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
Aldonius #3029518 09/27/20 10:01 AM
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So, it’s apparent that you haven’t played the specific 1098 in question. However, have you played any newer model 1098 to see if you like the touch, tone, and appearance better than other high end European, American, and Japanese vertical pianos at the same price level (Or, should you prefer to stay in the Steinway family of brands, the Boston uprights)? You may be in for a surprise...

If you want a furniture piece or to save money on a used one, there are plenty of used 1098s in that finish on Pianomart.


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Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
Aldonius #3029528 09/27/20 10:21 AM
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How much did you have to put down? Since you don't know anything about the condition of the piano(telling you it was "gently used" is meaningless IMO),or whether you like the tone and touch of the piano, unless the amount was less than $100, I think you should try to get out of the agreement. Everything should be in writing. salesperson saying you wouldn't have to pay more until you tried it is not good enough. The piano is a used piano four or five years old so that would automatically mean it would be discounted from the price of a new one.

Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
Aldonius #3029533 09/27/20 10:54 AM
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Aldonius, 1) welcome to PW!

2) No need to feel foolish. Piano salesmen have one job, to sell pianos, and some of them are incredibly good at it. And, it's likely that they will present you with a decent instrument (whether or not that instrument meets your standards in all aspects being a separate issue), so it's not like you were giving someone money so they could sell you a bridge in San Fransisco (or whatever that old line is!)

Now, back to the matter at hand: you want an upright piano, presumably one that looks, sounds, and plays nice? Right? I don't know how much money you put down (and whether that's an amount you could walk away from), but it seems to me that the dealer will want to do right by you... And this dealer is a shop you'd like to work with? If so, could you perhaps call them and tell them not to ship the Tanglewood piano yet? if you put money down Friday or Saturday, it might not be too late?

Or perhaps you could confirm the terms of the deal? (e.g., what are your options for rejecting the instrument they present you with, etc.)

Also maybe share with the dealer your concerns about getting a piano that's not in very good shape, and ask them about that.

In any case, I'm sorry you're feeling stuck here, but assume the dealer is an upstanding shop and will treat you fairly, and approach your interaction with them in that way. Most of the time, people will respond in kind, and I truly believe that most piano dealers are run by good people who love pianos.

Keep us posted and good luck!


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Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
ShiroKuro #3029596 09/27/20 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Aldonius, 1) welcome to PW!

2) No need to feel foolish. Piano salesmen have one job, to sell pianos, and some of them are incredibly good at it. And, it's likely that they will present you with a decent instrument (whether or not that instrument meets your standards in all aspects being a separate issue), so it's not like you were giving someone money so they could sell you a bridge in San Fransisco (or whatever that old line is!)

Now, back to the matter at hand: you want an upright piano, presumably one that looks, sounds, and plays nice? Right? I don't know how much money you put down (and whether that's an amount you could walk away from), but it seems to me that the dealer will want to do right by you... And this dealer is a shop you'd like to work with? If so, could you perhaps call them and tell them not to ship the Tanglewood piano yet? if you put money down Friday or Saturday, it might not be too late?

Or perhaps you could confirm the terms of the deal? (e.g., what are your options for rejecting the instrument they present you with, etc.)

Also maybe share with the dealer your concerns about getting a piano that's not in very good shape, and ask them about that.

In any case, I'm sorry you're feeling stuck here, but assume the dealer is an upstanding shop and will treat you fairly, and approach your interaction with them in that way. Most of the time, people will respond in kind, and I truly believe that most piano dealers are run by good people who love pianos.

Keep us posted and good luck!
Everything about the piano in this post is speculation. No one knows who the dealer is or the condition of the piano. The dealer probably doesn't even know the condition of the piano assuming there are many pianos in the batch of used Tanglewood pianos. And since Steinways are known to be among the most variable, it's unclear if the OP will like the tone and touch. Unless the OP is extremely unfussy about how a piano sound, feels, and looks this is not a good way to buy a piano.

Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
Aldonius #3029599 09/27/20 02:10 PM
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pianoloverus, if you're going to accuse me of speculating, get it right: my whole post is speculating about the dealer, I hardly mentioned the piano at all! grin

Anyway, my aim is try to encourage the OP to not feel bad about the situation they find themselves in, and instead, work with the dealer to try to make sure they don't get stuck in a worse situation.

I agree, this isn't an ideal way to buy a piano, the OP seems to have realized that, so the next question is how to move forward. That's what I was focusing on.


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Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
Aldonius #3029846 09/28/20 10:02 AM
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I was a piano technician at Tanglewood in 2013. We had (if I recall correctly) only 4 1098s that all functioned as secondary green room/dressing room pianos for the main performance venue (the Shed). The headlining artists got green rooms with Steinway Bs, so the 1098s were relegated to smaller rooms and were very lightly used. They all received prep before the start of the season, and periodic tuning throughout the season. That said, festival pianos usually go to more than one festival per season, and its very likely that these 1098s also went to other festivals where they may have received far more use/abuse.

In general though, even the instruments that were played heavily also received quite attentive care throughout the festival. The green room Bs were tuned every other day, voicing and regulation were constantly refined throughout the season, and any issues that cropped up were addressed very quickly.


Adam Schulte-Bukowinski, RPT
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Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
adamp88 #3029892 09/28/20 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by adamp88
I was a piano technician at Tanglewood in 2013. We had (if I recall correctly) only 4 1098s that all functioned as secondary green room/dressing room pianos for the main performance venue (the Shed). The headlining artists got green rooms with Steinway Bs, so the 1098s were relegated to smaller rooms and were very lightly used. They all received prep before the start of the season, and periodic tuning throughout the season. That said, festival pianos usually go to more than one festival per season, and its very likely that these 1098s also went to other festivals where they may have received far more use/abuse.

In general though, even the instruments that were played heavily also received quite attentive care throughout the festival. The green room Bs were tuned every other day, voicing and regulation were constantly refined throughout the season, and any issues that cropped up were addressed very quickly.

I think the OP's extraordinarily lucky to have this information. I'd been very skeptical of any "institutional" piano - knowing the abuse they often get - just from hours of use every day. This is awfully reassuring. By all means, have an independent tech check it out all the same.

Re: Buy Steinway 1098 Tanglewood piano?
tend to rush #3029906 09/28/20 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by tend to rush
Originally Posted by adamp88
I was a piano technician at Tanglewood in 2013. We had (if I recall correctly) only 4 1098s that all functioned as secondary green room/dressing room pianos for the main performance venue (the Shed). The headlining artists got green rooms with Steinway Bs, so the 1098s were relegated to smaller rooms and were very lightly used. They all received prep before the start of the season, and periodic tuning throughout the season. That said, festival pianos usually go to more than one festival per season, and its very likely that these 1098s also went to other festivals where they may have received far more use/abuse.

In general though, even the instruments that were played heavily also received quite attentive care throughout the festival. The green room Bs were tuned every other day, voicing and regulation were constantly refined throughout the season, and any issues that cropped up were addressed very quickly.

I think the OP's extraordinarily lucky to have this information. I'd been very skeptical of any "institutional" piano - knowing the abuse they often get - just from hours of use every day. This is awfully reassuring. By all means, have an independent tech check it out all the same.
Possibly reassuring, but the pianos mentioned in the above post may not even be the same 1098s the OP is interested in, and adam88 states that the pianos probably went to other festivals where they may have received far more use/abuse. They may have even been used for many years as green room pianos all over the place. Where have the pianos been since being used in 2015-2016?

That's why the OP should have a tech check the piano after he likes it after he's played it and not agree to a purchase beforehand. The pianos could be anything from a great buy and in excellent condition to the opposite.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/28/20 01:27 PM.

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