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Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
#3050544 11/28/20 04:06 PM
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I’m considering purchase of a 1929 Steinway Model M. The owner is moving and looking to downsize to a smaller piano. Wants $9750, including dolly and transport, and tuning after the move.

It was refurbished by Keylark and Sons, about 10-15 years ago. Not familiar with the name but online search checks out.

Action was nice, sounded good throughout the range, no glaring mechanical issues. Exterior is scratched in places, faded overall but I’d say not too bad considering its age.

Question I have is (of course) is this a good price for that age of piano, and what would a typical complete rebuild cost? I’m planning on keeping it around to hand down to my kids at some point, so I’d be willing to get it rebuilt professionally.

Thanks!

Last edited by J-Net; 11/28/20 04:07 PM.
Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050556 11/28/20 04:16 PM
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Do you know a reputable and independent technician? S/he will be able to at least advise on condition and imminent work needed. Whatever the price at least you will have some reassurance and knowledge of what you are getting. Hopefully a gem!

Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050562 11/28/20 04:35 PM
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I don’t know a piano tech personally, but I can search around. Oh, the refurbishment was done by Keylard and Sons, sorry for the typo smile.

Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050571 11/28/20 04:51 PM
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It makes sense to have a tech. look over the piano, even if the work was perfectly performed 15 years ago.

Things happen. For an easy way to choose a tech, go to ptg.org and follow the prompts.

Good luck,


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Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050575 11/28/20 04:58 PM
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Have you considered calling the restorers to ask what exactly has been done with the piano you're considering? Identifying it as a model M, along with the serial number, should be enough info to go on.

What I would consider complete rebuilding for a piano that size and age could cost (retail) at least $30k or even more, depending on what you request and who does the work.


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Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050590 11/28/20 05:52 PM
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Without knowing what was done in the "refurbishing" it's hard to know if the price is reasonable. If very little was done(which is possible) or the work was poorly done, then the price is way too high unless the case is very fancy.

So you need to find out what was done and have a tech evaluate the condition of the piano and whatever work was done.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 11/28/20 05:57 PM.
Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050640 11/28/20 07:52 PM
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I am a little confused because, you say the owner will move and tune the piano. Is the owner a technician?

In any event, hiring an independent tech to evaluate the piano should answer most of your questions.

If the piano is in good working order, and still looks presentable; the price is reasonable.


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Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050669 11/28/20 09:34 PM
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All Steinways are very expensive, even a 1929 M. There are some really nice Ms out there in the world, and there are some not so good ones, and a quick search through this forum will tell you it's a model which attracts varying opinions. A good M though, is a beautiful piano, so don't let my slight shade put you off.

The price is good, even without moving and tuning, it's about right. Yeah, sure, there are Ms for cheaper, there are Ms that are more expensive, but you're not in any way being ripped off here. Regarding the restoration 15 years ago, I'd ask for an inventory. 15 years is actually a long time if the piano has been played extensively, so I'd be interested to know what was done. If, for example, the pin block was replaced and the soundboard was replaced or is in exceptional original condition, the piano will be fine. Stringing a piano is a difficult task and if the stringer really knew what they were doing 15 years ago, presuming the strings were replaced, you could have quite a long time left in them depending on everything else.

As far as rebuilding the piano is concerned, there are always various options. You can have a full factory-style restoration done which usually includes a new pin block, almost always includes a new action, may include a new keyboard, and may include a new soundboard, and these things depend on what you require from the piano, what the piano needs done to it, and what the rebuilder thinks is best for the piano, as well as your budget. You can have this work done through Steinway NYC themselves, but it would at that point be not that much cheaper than buying a new M. Even having a partial restoration done through Steinway NYC (action, pin block and strings) can end up costing an exorbitant amount of money even though they do a good job. I would look for a good third party rebuilder if you're serious about having the piano rebuilt, if the piano needs rebuilt, you never know you might be lucky.

Don't worry about investment value or passing the piano on, romantic thoughts about pianos are nice but largely lay outwith your control. The best thing to do is to buy a piano you like and let the future take care of itself, in my opinion.

Hey, I don't and likely won't have kids, and none of my family are particularly interested in music and wouldn't even want one, let alone two grand pianos, so I'm not yet sure who I will leave my pianos to when I shuffle off. I really don't care. Maybe my partner would auction them and stash the money away, but I'll be busy in the afterlife negotiating a reincarnation, or talking to Mozart about trills.

Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050695 11/28/20 11:05 PM
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Paying more for the piano than a core and then full freight for a rebuild is probably not the best route to a rebuilt piano. If what you want is a rebuilt Steinway, then that's what you should look for. You have no reason to be attached to this one, and there's no compelling reason to take a risk on it.


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Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
Joseph Fleetwood #3050815 11/29/20 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
The price is good, even without moving and tuning, it's about right. Yeah, sure, there are Ms for cheaper, there are Ms that are more expensive, but you're not in any way being ripped off here.
How can one know if the piano is reasonably priced without knowing what was done in the "refurbishing" and the present condition of the piano?

Refurbishing could mean spending an hour cleaning up the case and replacing a few chipped keys. Or the refurbishing could have been very poorly done or the piano could have deteriorated a lot since the refurbishing. The piano could be close to a core, in which case it's overpriced.

If the OP knows a lot about pianos then his personal evaluation would mean somewhat more, but I don't think we know anything about the OP's piano knowledge.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 11/29/20 09:44 AM.
Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
pianoloverus #3050818 11/29/20 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
The price is good, even without moving and tuning, it's about right. Yeah, sure, there are Ms for cheaper, there are Ms that are more expensive, but you're not in any way being ripped off here.
How can one know if the piano is reasonably priced without knowing what was done in the "refurbishing" and the present condition of the piano?

Refurbishing could mean spending an hour cleaning up the case and replacing a few chipped keys. Or the refurbishing could have been very poorly done or the piano could have deteriorated a lot since the refurbishing. The piano could be close to a core, in which case it's overpriced.

One can know how much extremely worn-out Ms sell for, and what playable Ms sell for, and one can see from the market that the price of even worn out Ms that require extensive rebuilding can be between $7000 and $10,000.

Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
Joseph Fleetwood #3050853 11/29/20 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
The price is good, even without moving and tuning, it's about right. Yeah, sure, there are Ms for cheaper, there are Ms that are more expensive, but you're not in any way being ripped off here.
How can one know if the piano is reasonably priced without knowing what was done in the "refurbishing" and the present condition of the piano?

Refurbishing could mean spending an hour cleaning up the case and replacing a few chipped keys. Or the refurbishing could have been very poorly done or the piano could have deteriorated a lot since the refurbishing. The piano could be close to a core, in which case it's overpriced.

One can know how much extremely worn-out Ms sell for, and what playable Ms sell for, and one can see from the market that the price of even worn out Ms that require extensive rebuilding can be between $7000 and $10,000.
What do core M's that are not art case designs and that would normally have everything replaced in a rebuilding sell for? My impression was that it was not 10K. We don't know anything about the M in question because we don't know anything about the OPs knowledge of pianos and what was done in the refurbishing.

Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050885 11/29/20 12:48 PM
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Honestly they can go for anything. A quick browse on eBay shows a price range of 6k to 15k for pre-WW2 examples. Younger models, art case models, and Steinway-sanctioned rebuilds have asking prices of far more.

Of course asking prices are not sale prices, and it's difficult to know what a final sale price is even on eBay, since the site is subject to so many scams.

Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050913 11/29/20 02:25 PM
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Steinway Ms can be very good indeed. But, worth all that extra money? Also, the last few notes on the bass end are pretty horrible, IMO.

Last edited by Roy123; 11/29/20 02:26 PM.
Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050962 11/29/20 04:59 PM
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I think a playable, presentable, working Steinway M is worth $10,000. I personally would be enthusiastic about a golden era instrument that hadn’t had too many surgeries performed. As close to original as possible. I would approach restoration as using the least invasive procedures as possible.


-Bill L. - former tuner-technician
Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050984 11/29/20 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by J-Net
1929 Steinway Model M. $9750, including dolly and transport, and tuning after the move.

refurbished 10-15 years ago.
Action was nice, sounded good throughout the range, no glaring mechanical issues. Exterior is scratched in places, faded overall but I’d say not too bad considering its age.
typical complete rebuild cost? to hand down to my kids
.

Greetings,
Some considerations: The M is the second smallest piano Steinway makes and your kids may or may not want to be limited to that one. I think you should aim for yourself, now and here.

That action might be original with a lot of lube in the bushings, or have later model new shanks, hammers, and other parts. Refurbished can mean anything from a 5 hour clean up/adjust all the way up to the $15,000 action restoration/rebalancing. I personally won't sell an action job on a piano that has problems in the sounding structure,(block, strings, bridges, board, case, plate). Without being sure of the pianos build, you are gambling with finding a money pit in your house. You will need to hire a tech to tell you if the beginning price makes sense in what you are looking at if you want to make improvements. Too many moving parts in the equation for our guesses to be very valuable. .

I know of at least one Steinway Artist that uses an M at home for their practice, these are professional capable instruments. They don't have the low bass response that many serious musicians really desire, but they are playable. A Steinway M is the tracking piano on all of Garth Brooks records, as well as the hits by Chrystal Gayle, and Don Williams from the same studio. I rebuilt it in the middle of its history there, but that particular instrument was an extremely responsive instrument, no matter what kind of hammer I put in it.
Regards,

Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3050985 11/29/20 06:39 PM
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Also, as perhaps a price perspective. I was recently in a Southern city, a state capital, and was evaluating a 1983 model L. One owner, elderly lady who had it tuned every 6 months for life. Downsizing, had to go. Case was mint. Local dealer offered $ 8,000 for it. Don't let the vintage blind you to the amount of work a 90 year old piano may require to recapture what made it so good when new.
Regards,

Last edited by Ed Foote; 11/29/20 06:40 PM.
Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3051189 11/30/20 10:57 AM
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Thanks for the replies all, I appreciate it! I sent an email to the restorer company (Keylard) to verify what was done, what parts were used, and when the work was done, waiting for a reply.

I’ll admit, the most recent comparison pianos I’ve played are a new Yamaha C2X and older C3. Of course these are 3X the price (or more) of this Model M.

Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
J-Net #3051322 11/30/20 03:11 PM
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Also, nothing stops you from making an offer such as $6k. The worst that can happen is that they say no.

Additionally, if you do not have the capital to do all that it needs IF it needs it, then it's not a good deal for you. But if you do, and can acquire it at a price that reflects the need to do everything, you may get a bargain (at least for some time). Remember that the piano has a DESIGN LIFESPAN of about 30-40 years. At that point, major internal systems are in the process of failing. Perhaps not failed yet, but failing. By 90, unless some of these these things have been addressed for long term function, you are looking at a near total rebuild.

Repeat: if you've got the money, go for it at the best price you can negotiate. If you don't, next to forget it. Just an opinion based on 45 years experience.

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Re: Considering 1929 Steinway Model M
P W Grey #3051440 11/30/20 09:04 PM
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I got a reply from the restorer - it was restored about 14-15 years ago, internals, hammers, new strings. Soundboard was in excellent condition. It was a church piano initially that was played sporadically but regularly. I checked some reviews online and the restorer (Keylard) seems to have a good reputation.

Another consideration - the sostenuto pedal works sporadically. I didn't check it specifically the first time I played, but the damper and sustain pedals work well. I'm going to play it again tomorrow and take a closer look at everything including the soundboard.

I did offer $8000, he was willing to come down to $8500.

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