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Estonia Pianos
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Just saw this video by James. This $100 console upright is just amazing. So I assume James got it tuned, voiced and regulated after getting this 50-year-old piano. My question is that can every average-Joe went to Craiglist and find a $100 dollar piano like that? If you include moving, tuning and regulation it should also not exceed $1,000.

James also proposed that the maple used in that $100 console upright is not used in today's piano unless you get to a price range of $40,000. Is that also true?

If this piano is that good why did piano buy digital pianos if not for the digital feature, or the $4,000 Yamaha B1 new upright?


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I’m no expert so this is just my opinion. The $100 spinet does look better than expected but I don’t think it sounds great and probably never will because it has a small soundboard. I have no idea about the action or how enjoyable the playing experience would be. If I only had $100 and family and friends to help me move it, that piano might interest me.

If you want a piano for $100 as a DIY project for learning to tune that piano could be useful.


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Originally Posted by j&j
I’m no expert so this is just my opinion. The $100 spinet does look better than expected but I don’t think it sounds great and probably never will because it has a small soundboard. I have no idea about the action or how enjoyable the playing experience would be. If I only had $100 and family and friends to help me move it, that piano might interest me.

If you want a piano for $100 as a DIY project for learning to tune that piano could be useful.

The eBay listing is for a 1957 41” console. Is the listing incorrect?


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How much you pay for an acoustic depends on a lot of factors including where you live snd the re-sell market there, the age and condition of the piano, your diligence and patience in looking. $100 pianos are not common.

James was able to do his own inspection. For most of us, hiring an independent tech for an inspection is recommended so there are no surprises


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by j&j
I’m no expert so this is just my opinion. The $100 spinet does look better than expected but I don’t think it sounds great and probably never will because it has a small soundboard. I have no idea about the action or how enjoyable the playing experience would be. If I only had $100 and family and friends to help me move it, that piano might interest me.

If you want a piano for $100 as a DIY project for learning to tune that piano could be useful.

The eBay listing is for a 1957 41” console. Is the listing incorrect?

The listing looks correct. 41” uprights are small. It’s 63 years old. Thinking about him using a leaf blower to clean the clouds of dust, he must have spent some time on tuning and regulation. No matter what you do to it, it will still be an old spinet.


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James is far from being an expert about pianos. He is just a piano enthusiast. He is not an advanced pianist or a tech, and I am not at all sure he can tune a piano. His find is probably much better than most $100 finds but it's probably not a very good piano. I doubt his comment about the piano case being solid maple is correct, and I can't imagine that a piano like this, if it was produced today, would cost 40K as he claims.

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A little frame of reference,

What he bought is actually a compressed action console. That means that it is not a drop action, like typical spinets, but it is a direct blow action (the action sits on the keys). Compressed action consoles were sold in the 1950's as pieces of furniture first. What James refers to as "solid maple".... isn't.

It is what was typically referred to as "fruit wood", which included a natural stain on cherry, plum, pear, or apple, and it is veneered. He may have been misled by the framed trim on the lid (which is solid) or he was simply mistaken.

The piano was built by Aeolian in Rochester, NY. They made thousands of consoles that looked close to exactly the same. Some said George Steck on them, some said Chickering, or Knabe, or Fischer, or Marshall Wendell. When the piano was new, it was a middle of the road piano. I would compare it to a new Chinese. Korean, or Indonesian piano in today's marketplace. Although today there is not the same concern for the piano to look "petite" or match the furniture, so it is rare to have a piano built as small as these little consoles (sometimes called consolettes) were. In fact, because most of the lower quality pianos of today have full sized actions and longer strings and bigger soundboards, I might say they are better pianos than this little Steck was when new. It is all about physics.

.... but those new pianos ain't $100.00. smile


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Thanks so much, Rich for the action explanation


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Thanks so much, Rich for the action explanation

Sure. I also think that the condition of that Steck is rare. It is in good shape and has obviously been loved.


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Unless I missed it, he didn't tune the piano, nor did he inspect it before buying it. He bought it online and sent a family member to pick it up.

In any case, as a lover of acoustic pianos, I would agree with his take aways, 1) that this piano is way better than a $100 digital piano, and 2) if you were a beginner or someone with limited means, this would be an absolutely fine piano to start learning on. Would I trade my Yamaha C2 for it? Or even any of my previous uprights (Petrof, Baldwin Hamilton, Yamaha U1)? Heck no! But wow, for $100, it's great. Still, I agree, he probably got very lucky, because I think most $100 pianos like this are in much worse shape...

I can't help but wonder if the piano belonged to an older person who passed away (as others note, it seems like it was obviously cared for well).


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If you are patient and look around you can find amazingly nice pianos for very low cost. Even free. Certainly moving, tuning and regulation aren’t free, but in the grand scale of things, pretty cheap.

It just means, as long as you have a place to put it, you don’t have to be well off to have a nice piano.


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Unless I missed it, he didn't tune the piano, nor did he inspect it before buying it. He bought it online and sent a family member to pick it up.

In any case, as a lover of acoustic pianos, I would agree with his take aways, 1) that this piano is way better than a $100 digital piano, and 2) if you were a beginner or someone with limited means, this would be an absolutely fine piano to start learning on. Still, I agree, he probably got very lucky, because I think most $100 pianos like this are in much worse shape...
James' comment that the piano is better than a $100 digital is true but rather silly. I think a much better comparison would be a $1000 digital to most used pianos costing that much where I think the digitals are generally superior.

The other reason I think his video is not very good is that finding pianos like that is very rare so finding a one off example is not helpful. He also got a relative to deliver the piano from 600 miles away. Under ordinary conditions, that delivery alone would be maybe $500.

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Great deals are definitely out there as I can personally attest. But it would take diligence to find it and have knowledge and means to check, move, and work on it for cheap or free. The additional costs are not too expensive if the piano itself is of higher value, but in the realm of free or lower value pianos those can be rather high, relatively speaking.

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Many people over the years have commented "there's no such thing as a free piano" and so it goes, there's no such thing as a $100 piano. How much did it cost in gas, hotel and wear and tear on the vehicle, probably at least a couple hundred. Get it tuned every year or so? More hundreds, assuming it can keep a tune for a year. The little digital keyboard might not sound great, but the true ownership cost is $100 plus a few bucks in shipping and then whatever electricity it draws. The $1000 comparison is maybe more fair as that's probably closer to the TCO of the spinet he got.

And Rich, thanks for the info on the action, I'd never heard of a direct blow action. I found a few pages that talk about it, http://www.islandpiano.com/uprightaction.htm this one made it the most obvious what it looks like (though you have to use your imagination.)


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He said that piano would cost $30K-50K to produce today xD.

It seems to be mainly a youtube video for views. So the goal wouldn't really be to show what you can expect for $100. The goal would just be to make an interesting video with a clickbaity title that can help him get more views, likes, and subs.

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Interesting video. Interesting thread. Hmmm. Well. I'm not about to go buy a spinet for $100, but interesting nonetheless.

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I've watched several of young James's YT videos. I enjoyed watching his videos. He's young, enthusiastic, and is rather knowledgeable about pianos and other keyboard instruments. He also has a nice personality, and is somewhat charismatic; very personable.

But when you put yourself out there on YouTube, you will get likes, dislikes, praise and criticism. You will also get some really nasty and hateful comments. But that is price of putting yourself on YouTube.

As for the $100 acoustic pianos, or free acoustic pianos, they are out there, in droves, if you are interested.

But buying an old piano is like buying an old house. If you do all or some of the work yourself, it may be worth the effort. If you have to hire someone to do everything that needs to be done, it is probably not worth it, and a new, newer piano, or digital, would be best.

Same with an old house. Even if you get it pretty cheap, if you have to hire all the work needed, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, interior, exterior, roofing, etc... it could be a money pit.

However, there are some exceptions where an old piano might be worth the effort, and cost, even if you have to hire all the work done, depending on the make, model, brand, etc...

Same with houses. Depending on the location, the investment and work could be well worth it, as a primary residence, a rental property, or selling for a profit.

Just a few thoughts, that I'm sure will be scrutinized, criticized, with wide eyes, and a pointing finger... smile

Rick


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My experience with older pianos has been very different than yours— and I have done none of the work myself. Since you are the one with more experience, guess I have been very lucky.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Originally Posted by rkzhao
He said that piano would cost $30K-50K to produce today xD.

He was wrong. After all, he is still a kid who is learning this stuff. That is the charming part. I kind of live through his discoveries and remember when I realized those facts.... and when I got them wrong.

(But that was a verrry long time ago for me) smile


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I grew up playing my mother's 41" Aeolian console from the early sixties. That piano says "Mason & Hamlin" on the fallboard, but once I was experienced enough to understand what that meant I was not fooled by it. It was not a good instrument when I was learning on it in the nineties, and it is in very rough condition today. The action is very light and it only ever had one dynamic level--LOUD.

I would guess the Aeolian "Steck" James bought for $100 has been better cared for than my mother's piano has been, but I don't think many people would consider a midcentury Aeolian stencil piano as anything other than a mediocre instrument. In the case of my mother's stencil Aeolian, mediocre would be a generous evaluation.

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