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#3072069 01/20/21 08:21 PM
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Hi my friends at Piano Forum. I usually post in the digital forum since I own a Yamaha AvantGrand digital hybrid. However, one of my neighbors is selling his 1984 Steinway B privately and I'm thinking to try at this weekend. I may need some advice from the wisdom of the acoustic piano forum.

I'm an amateur pianist having over 15 years of experience playing various acoustic pianos including very cheap Chinese uprights when I was young, and various brands of grand pianos at university practice room (Steinway, Boston, Kawai, Yamaha, Mason & Hamlin etc). I'm currently playing repertoire like Chopin Etude, Beethoven Sonata, Chopin Ballades and Rachmaninoff Preludes. I would say that grand piano action is almost a necessity for me so after graduation I bought a Yamaha AvantGrand which is a digital hybrid piano with a grand action. My rationale for that is because I'm living an apartment right now so I need a way to practice quietly.

I've been using my piano with different VSTs (software plugins) but my dream is to eventually get a good grand piano when I move to a detached house. This piano got me excited! The seller wants to list his house so I'm hoping to get a good deal from it.

Without trying the piano I can't determine the actual conditions but from the photos it seems like there is no cosmetic issues at least. This is not a one-owner piano and the seller bought it used in 1997. The seller didn't provide any more information.

What should be my initial offer like? I'm thinking low $20k+. My plan is to first try the piano to get a sense of how it sounds like and find a technician to see what would be the actual condition. Not sure if this piano will need a rebuild and if the answer is yes, is it worth it? Any risk in the process?

Grand piano is not a must for me since I will still need to use my digital piano for late night practice. I don't have much space for another 7 foot piano but it is really a good deal I can make space for it.

Let me know if more photos will be helpful and I can upload photos on this thread.

Last edited by Harpuia; 01/20/21 08:24 PM.

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I have a 1981 Steinway B. I got it 4 years ago this month. Happy Anniversary to me! Mine was a C&A piano, and I got it a really good deal on it. Steinway B's are usually really nice pianos. If the piano is in great shape, both cosmetically and functionally, $20k would be a steal. Used B's usually start at $40k and climb to the $80-90k range in piano showrooms depending upon the age, condition, whether it's been rebuilt or not, and cabinet style. New ones begin at $110k+. However, a private seller usually isn't able to demand that price, so you might get it for less. When you can get one in the $20k range, it usually needs quite a bit of rebuilding -- not just a tuning and regulation.

1984 would be at the end of the teflon bushing/CBS ownership era, so that's something to read up on and be aware of. Steinway started using teflon bushings in the actions during the 1960's thru the early/mid 1980's before it was completely phased out. The idea was that Teflon is not affected by humidity and that was the purpose, But wood does expand and contract. So this caused issues in some Steinways. The expansion and contraction of the wood around the bushings sometimes causes clicking noises in the action. Not all of them have issues from this era. Mine still had the Teflon parts when I bought it, and the action was fine. However, it did need new hammers. In the process of getting new hammers, I decided to replace the whippens, shanks, flanges, and capstans with WNG Carbon Fiber parts so the action parts and new hammers would be a better match.

Most of us here on PW recommend having any used piano inspected by a technician before purchasing. It's worth the time and money. You may have stumbled onto the deal of the life time like me.

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Thanks for the information GC13!

I’ll definitely find a tech to inspect the piano and trying to see if it has a Teflon action. Does CBS ownership imply lower quality than the new Steinway?

It would be nice if you could give me a price estimate of replacing new hammers and action parts. I guess those might be the first to replace. Also does that mean I need to send my piano to one of the local technicians for several months? I’m not sure if rebuilders are still in the business during the pandemic but I can always wait until things get back to normal.


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A new Steinway B from the NYC factory was $120,000 in 2020. Obviously we can't tell you what this particular piano is worth, because firstly it's incredibly difficult for someone who is not a tech and experienced with sales to value a piano (there are people on this forum experienced with that, I'm not one of them!), and it's impossible to value a piano without seeing it and playing it.

There are ballparks though, and GC13 has given you a few good ideas - and happy anniversary to GC13 and their Steinway! First of all I'd advise that if you have your heart and mind set on a Steinway B. Secondly I'll advise you that unless the stars align and you find yourself in a very lucky situation, if you are getting a Steinway B for $20,000, it probably won't be in very good condition, and I would imagine that the seller of the piano already knows this.

Whether or not the piano needs a rebuild (or rather, whether or not you would require the piano to be rebuilt) depends on a few things:

1. What do you want from the piano? Factory-fresh perfection or are you willing to compromise? Some people require an optimal level of response from their instrument and some people require it to be playable. A lot of pianos that are rebuilt are actually quite playable before they are rebuilt, but they just don't have much dynamic range, sustain, or response, but that doesn't mean it's not possible to milk a decent sound from them.

2. What condition is the piano in? Does it require a new action? If it has teflon bushings it may require a rebuild, but even if it has teflon bushings, if the piano has been kept in a moderate climate all its life, it may not require a rebuild. I hear the Bay Area is quite kind to pianos. Teflon bushings does mean the piano will have a lower market value, but does it mean it won't be good enough for what you need? Only you can answer that. I think that most experienced technicians on this forum would agree that if the action has the teflon bushings, it would be better to replace it. The piano is almost 40 years old, so it wouldn't be unheard of that if a Steinway dealer took this in for resale, they'd replace the action anyway - but again I add, that doesn't mean the action isn't serviceable and useable as it is, and you need an experienced technician to assess it for you.

It's highly likely that the strings, soundboard, and pin block are serviceable. Obviously, if you want optimal performance, you'd want the piano strung with new strings, and a new pin block installed, and then if you're going that far you might as well do the action too. I'd be very surprised if there was anything wrong with the soundboard on a piano that young made with modern glues, but it's not unheard of so make sure your technician can check the piano, check the sustain in the fifth octave, check the crown, assess if there's any work needs to be done to the piano, or if the piano is good to go.

If the piano is good to go, it would seem from a quick glance on eBay that asking prices (asking prices are not final prices) are in the $30-$50K region. Good-to-go doesn't mean it would be equal to new condition - equal to new condition would only happen with a fully rebuilt piano from either a private atelier or the Steinway factory and you would expect to pay much more money for that.

A technician experienced with Steinways would be able to give you a better idea of what the piano is worth in its current condition, and nothing that I have said here counts as professional advice, and is the result of me knowing people who have bought Steinways, worked for Steinway in both Europe and the USA, but you can't take what I say as anything other than me commenting on my own experience! Nothing will replace the advice of a trained, experienced technician.

Good luck!

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Dream on.

$50k+

Depending

Good luck


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Check out these private seller listings and you'll see what we're talking about.

https://www.pianomart.com/manufacturer/205/steinway-sons-pianos-for-sale


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Pianos are relatively illiquid. As Joe noted, asking prices aren't necessarily selling prices.

Regardless of what it's worth. Figure what you're willing to pay--lowball, whatever it is--and tell him. But you don't even have to make it an "insulting" low offer. Phrase it nicely: "I love the piano. But all I've got to spend is $20,000" (or whatever you're willing to pay). In other words, you're not even saying it's worth that little. You just don't have any more to spend on it. Leave the ball in his court, and if he's desperate enough to sell it, you may hear back. Or you might get a counter offer.

I see Steinway B's languish on Craigslist for months--even longer--with asking prices of what they're "worth." Apparently people don't want them. Or private sellers can't finance them. Or private sellers can't sell unless they clear the balance on the bank loan. Or whatever.


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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Regardless of what it's worth. Figure what you're willing to pay--lowball, whatever it is--and tell him. But you don't even have to make it an "insulting" low offer. Phrase it nicely: "I love the piano. But all I've got to spend is $20,000" (or whatever you're willing to pay). In other words, you're not even saying it's worth that little. You just don't have any more to spend on it. Leave the ball in his court, and if he's desperate enough to sell it, you may hear back. Or you might get a counter offer.
Very good advice.

Quote
I see Steinway B's languish on Craigslist for months--even longer--with asking prices of what they're "worth." Apparently people don't want them. Or private sellers can't finance them. Or private sellers can't sell unless they clear the balance on the bank loan. Or whatever.
Or perhaps they really aren't "worth" what S&S would like us to believe. Steinway B's can be very nice pianos - no question - but $120K for a new one is almost absurd IMHO.


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Regardless of what it's worth. Figure what you're willing to pay--lowball, whatever it is--and tell him. But you don't even have to make it an "insulting" low offer. Phrase it nicely: "I love the piano. But all I've got to spend is $20,000" (or whatever you're willing to pay). In other words, you're not even saying it's worth that little. You just don't have any more to spend on it. Leave the ball in his court, and if he's desperate enough to sell it, you may hear back. Or you might get a counter offer.
Very good advice.

Quote
I see Steinway B's languish on Craigslist for months--even longer--with asking prices of what they're "worth." Apparently people don't want them. Or private sellers can't finance them. Or private sellers can't sell unless they clear the balance on the bank loan. Or whatever.
Or perhaps they really aren't "worth" what S&S would like us to believe. Steinway B's can be very nice pianos - no question - but $120K for a new one is almost absurd IMHO.

I wonder to what extent the higher prices reflect retaining and supporting a highly trained (and irreplaceable) work force in the NY metro area with its high cost of living. There is a pretty significant amount of hand work compared with more commercial factories and that's certainly part of what sets them apart.

I also wish that their pianos were more affordable, but I wouldn't want them to change their production methods (much<g>) and I doubt that anybody is really making a killing on them.


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Originally Posted by nhpianos
I wonder to what extent the higher prices reflect retaining and supporting a highly trained (and irreplaceable) work force in the NY metro area with its high cost of living. There is a pretty significant amount of hand work compared with more commercial factories and that's certainly part of what sets them apart.

I also wish that their pianos were more affordable, but I wouldn't want them to change their production methods (much<g>) and I doubt that anybody is really making a killing on them.

Good points. HOWEVER, there's MORE TO IT than we realize. I would encourage anyone who is interested in the Steinway operation to read (SCROLL DOWN THROUGH) this Annual Report I found from 2013. Did you know that Steinway is a major producer of band instruments in addition to pianos? Did you know that half of the workforce in Astoria is unionized? Ever wonder about the skill level, age, education and income of folks who purchase Boston, Essex and Steinway pianos? Tt's all here........

https://sec.report/Document/0001047469-13-002752/


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All that said, every high end piano is extremely expensive, and in America the European makes are far more expensive than steinway.

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Originally Posted by Harpuia
Thanks for the information GC13!

I’ll definitely find a tech to inspect the piano and trying to see if it has a Teflon action. Does CBS ownership imply lower quality than the new Steinway?

It would be nice if you could give me a price estimate of replacing new hammers and action parts. I guess those might be the first to replace. Also does that mean I need to send my piano to one of the local technicians for several months? I’m not sure if rebuilders are still in the business during the pandemic but I can always wait until things get back to normal.

1st, Joseph Fleetwood lends excellent advice in his comments!

No, CBS ownership doesn't imply lower quality in my opinion (others will disagree), other than the issues some pianos had with Teflon. Many pianos from that era have been retrofitted, like mine. Many of them were repaired successfully. Some piano technicians were good at solving the issue. Steinway set out a variety of protocols for technicians to use during those years. Some were successful, and some weren't. It's just something to have your eyes wide open about. Mine is a lovely piano, and I've played many from that era that are lovely pianos.

The Steinway family sold the company to CBS during the 1960's. CBS had nothing to do with the decision to try Teflon. It's just that the Teflon years also overlaps the CBS era of ownership. Steinway has been sold a couple of times since then. They are now owned by Paulson. Only one member of the Steinway family, Henry Z. Steinway, was still involved in the business. The family decided it was best to sell Steinway since there really wasn't any interest in running the company among the other then-living family members. Henry Z. stayed on as a manager and adviser until his death in 2008.

My total job was a little over $7k. It could have been done for less, but it cost more because of some of the choices I chose to make. You can never tell the exact cost until you get into the specifics with your technician. Also, there were some design changes in the action between 1981 and 1984 as Steinway was phasing out Teflon. For instance, mine did not have Teflon between the flange and shank on the hammer, but Teflon everywhere else. At some time in the 1980's, Steinway NY decided to eliminate Teflon all together. So they temporarily stopped using the NY accelerated action, and they built some pianos with the Renner action they use in German in the interim. So this 1984 B may have a Renner action in it, which is very, very nice.

Steinways made in NY have a reputation for being inconsistent in the past when it comes to performance (tone / regulation / etc.) Their builds are pretty solid, and usually a good technician can make the perform. Steinway always said they did this because of the wide variety of tastes among musicians. Modern Steinways out of NY are more consistent and much more in line with the instruments coming out of the Hamburg factory. But the two instruments still have their differences.

Last edited by GC13; 01/21/21 11:33 AM.
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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
All that said, every high end piano is extremely expensive, and in America the European makes are far more expensive than steinway.
Understood - but you still are paying premium for the Steinway name.

For example, I believe that the American built Steinway B and Mason & Hamlin BB pianos are comparable in quality. However, the Steinway B retails for $114,300, and the Mason & Hamlin BB has an MSRP of $100,252 and can usually be purchased for much less than $84,511 (SMP).


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
All that said, every high end piano is extremely expensive, and in America the European makes are far more expensive than steinway.
Understood - but you still are paying premium for the Steinway name.

For example, I believe that the American built Steinway B and Mason & Hamlin BB pianos are comparable in quality. However, the Steinway B retails for $114,300, and the Mason & Hamlin BB has an MSRP of $100,252 and can usually be purchased for much less than $84,511 (SMP).

Andy you're paying a premium for a C. Bechstein or a Bosendorfer or any other high end European piano too, right?

I choose not to buy Heinz ketchup and pay the extra $ because I think our grocery store brand tastes just as good for less. It's just a matter of personal preference and what people are willing to pay and the perceived value.

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Originally Posted by GC13
And you're paying a premium for a C. Bechstein or a Bosendorfer or any other high end European piano too, right?

I choose not to buy Heinz ketchup and pay the extra $ because I think our grocery store brand tastes just as good for less. It's just a matter of personal preference and what people are willing to pay and the perceived value.
I completely agree - and it is also a matter of what people can afford.

Last edited by Carey; 01/21/21 11:51 AM.

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
A new Steinway B from the NYC factory was $120,000 in 2020.
The Piano Buyer's figure for 2020 was around 110K with zero discount. So unless you are including tax, which I believe only applies for some states, your figure seems incorrect. The price in the PB for 2021 is 114K.

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Understood - but you still are paying premium for the Steinway name.

For example, I believe that the American built Steinway B and Mason & Hamlin BB pianos are comparable in quality. However, the Steinway B retails for $114,300, and the Mason & Hamlin BB has an MSRP of $100,252 and can usually be purchased for much less than $84,511 (SMP).
Yes, in NYC, a very expensive area, I think they were at least 20% off SMP although there is no longer a NYC dealer for M&H.

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"To B, or not to B..."

Sorry-- you wanted a quote.

Last edited by Maestro Lennie; 01/21/21 02:56 PM.
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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
"To B, or not to B..."

Sorry-- you wanted a quote.
thumb thumb


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Understood - but you still are paying premium for the Steinway name.

For example, I believe that the American built Steinway B and Mason & Hamlin BB pianos are comparable in quality. However, the Steinway B retails for $114,300, and the Mason & Hamlin BB has an MSRP of $100,252 and can usually be purchased for much less than $84,511 (SMP).
Yes, in NYC, a very expensive area, I think they were at least 20% off SMP although there is no longer a NYC dealer for M&H.
Faust Harrison carried them - correct?


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