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Long post warning!

I'm a piano shopper and I was blowed away by a rebuilt 1878 Steinway with 85 keys. I would like to get some input from your experts here!

This piano was the first design of the Model B manufactured in 1878 (before that design it was a different name). It is a tiny bit shorter than the modern Model B and only has 85 keys. This piano was rebuilt in Dec 2016 with Steinway action parts, hammers, repetitions, hammer shanks and back checks. The rebuilder worked for Steinway in the past. After it was rebuilt, the piano got very little play (less than 30 hours according to the seller). I've looked the action and the hammer and can confirm those are in mint condition.

The soundboard and the bridge are original. Graphite coating was applied to the bridge caps. The rebuilder didn't re-glue the soundboard but shimmed several cracks. According to an onsite technician, the crown and down bearing are good. The case, plate and soundboard had been refinished by the rebuilder. The pin block was replaced earlier than 2016 and the rebuilder thought it was still solid.

Action frame, key stick, damper heads and back actions are all original. The original ivory key top has been replaced.

The piano has a gorgeous tone on all registers. It is thicker than the modern Steinways. I also noticed that the sound was still ringing for a while even if the strings were damped. I was specifically looking for sustain in the treble range and it didn't let me down. Very good sustain and singing tone, and the piano has a resonance that modern pianos don't have. It's like I'm playing in a "live" room with more reverb although the piano was in a small room. The piano is also very easy to control and it enables me to voice the chord easily and have a wide dynamic range.

This seems like a piano checking all the box to me. The tone is so good that it's very hard for me to find another piano like that good in this price range. I love the Victorian legs and the carving music desk. It has a vintage Steinway decal on the fall board, printed Steinway patents on the plate, and vintage decals on the soundboard also. The action and hammer has been replaced. I was quoted $36,000 for this piano including delivery and first 2 tuning.

Now, I have the following concerns:

1. Cracked soundboard. I noticed at least 3 cracks in the soundboard. However, I'm not a piano technician so I'm not able to evaluate any potential issues with this. The tone is a lot better than another modern Steinway I tried though. So for now there is no issue. I'll be using this piano in a home setting with only one player so thought it should be fine.

2. 85 keys. I thought I would never buy a piano with 85 keys but this piano is so good that I can accept this. I rarely use the top 3 keys and wondering if anyone knows specific classical repertoire that uses the top 3 keys?

3. Original bridges. Again I'm not a technician so I'm not able to evaluate that.

4. This is a first version design of the Model B. Any Steinway specialist knows about the design differences and do those matter a lot to pianists?

Thanks for the patience reading this long thread!


Piano: 1982 NY Steinway Model B, Yamaha AvantGrand N3X
VST(preference in order): VSL Synchron Pianos, Vienna Imperial, Garritan CFX, VI Labs Modern U, Ivory II American Concert D, Pianoteq
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A Steinway action of that period might not have screws to adjust the jack position back or forward in the repetition lever notch, to align it with the knuckle. It might just have a felt pad in the notch that sets the position.

But, you know, if you love the sound and feel of it, and love playing it and it makes you want to keep playing, what's not to like! Assuming the price is right, of course. Soundboards can go a very long time with splits and be fine, as long as they are not buzzing.

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If you put the piano into a fully climate controlled environment, you should not see any significant deterioration of the superstructure for a good long time. Action maintenance over the years is SOP, as is tuning and voicing. Just remember that you will never sell this piano. You ha e to buy it because you like it and you have the money, and cost is not an issue. I would still have it checked over and preferably tuned by an independent tech, preferably the one you know and trust.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8

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