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echo44 Offline OP
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So I have been looking for my first piano
I have tried numerous pianos.
I found a refurbished Steinway O

I had a tech look at it today. It has been rebuilt with original Steinway parts. The tech noted there was a crack in the sound board yet he said it had been repaired flawlessly. He said he wouldn't worry about it.

would this discourage you from buying a piano?

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Originally Posted by echo44
would this discourage you from buying a piano?

Absolutely not, no worries, agree with tech, easy question*.
smile
*assuming, which I am, the tech knows whereof he speaks

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Could have some effect on resale price, if you foresee that down the road, or on the cost to keep it in good playing condition. Or are you already taking a discount?

If you love it the way it is, then you love it. If knowing the crack is there will make you toss and turn at night, grinding your teeth and sweating til the dawn from buyer's remorse, possibly this is not the piano for you. The dental work alone could erase your bargain. Some people, knowing what you know about the same crack, would smile in their sleep, secure and happy in their windfall.

There is too much air in your report for anyone to opine dispositively, based only on what you have revealed. Your examining tech must have told you more. The condition of the piano conserved as a musical instrument, FOB the sellers front stairs, probably would tell the most. In tune, cared-for, loved and played, sold to a good home (you), any issues revealed (sounds like it might be that way); all that drives the opinion in one direction.

A crack, looked on one way, is about the same as horrid age spots. But a perfectly repaired crack is a measure of perfection (and status, too) in and of itself. It is the Porcelana for pianos. If the piano has been recently rebuilt using the more expensive parts from Steinway, and yet the soundboard has not been replaced, it could tell us that the previous owner and the rebuilders were confident, and did not wish to risk giving the instrument a different voice. Or, it could simply mean that the previous owner ran out of money during the rebuild. It is understandable; rebuilds cost plenty.

I have a sense that I am preaching to the choir--- right? You have already bought this piano. Well. Best of luck to you, either way. But if not, take some rest and rededicate yourself to the search. It is a sad thing to note, but crises in the economy tend to drive prices down, so there are sure to be some bargains out there. On the other hand, runaway inflation will probably tend to drive piano prices up.


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Since this is your first piano, it will be easy to be smitten by the first one(s) you look at.

Be aware that there are plenty of Steinways out there that don't have cracked soundboards.

Quote
The tech noted there was a crack in the sound board yet he said it had been repaired flawlessly. He said he wouldn't worry about it.

would this discourage you from buying a piano?

If "yes" or "no," then I would say yes. It would give me pause. At the same time, if I loved the piano, then I'd consider it, but factor it into its value (as I said above, there are lots of pianos with uncracked soundboards).


Quote
It has been rebuilt with original Steinway parts.

I understand that your question is about the repaired crack, but if you're going to pursue the piano, you should know more specifically what was rebuilt (perhaps you do). FWIW, "original Steinway parts" would not matter to me. Any quality or suitable parts would be ok, and I wouldn't assume "Steinway" parts are the best or most suitable.

People could probably give you more relevant feedback if you provide more details about the piano. Age? Price? Pictures? Etc.


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two questions:

How old is the piano?

How much is the piano?


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OK more info

The piano is a 1920's "o" Mahogany that was rebuilt around 15-20 years ago. The Piano store owner stated he was familiar with the rebuilder and he does great work.

The tech said the soundboard had been repaired flawlessly also there had been work on the bridges.
The keys are original but have been recovered. The hammers have been replaced with Steinway hammers.
The tech said she would probably replace the hammers eventually as the piano seemed slightly bright. It plays nicely. They want around 34K. There are two other steinway's they have for sale including a "L" from 1990's that basically is flawless and probably was never really played. I played that L and sounded very dull and muddy. The other L is also from the 90's also not as thrilled with the sound and has had extensive wear.

Two other pianos that caught my ear included a Yamaha S400 that had spent its life since 1982 in a recording studio it sounded nice yet the action seems a little heavy. One of the dampers stayed up. The piano store has a good reputation and will fix issues like that before any sale they just received the piano and it had not been worked on. This piano is 20K

The 3rd piano is a Yamaha G3 from 1988. This piano was owned by a concert pianist as a practice piano and is all scratched up, the store said they will fix all that. The piano has tremendous wear but a great sound. New hammers have been put on the piano recently. This piano is 14K.

It has become a very tough decision.

Here is what I am thinking so far.

The Steinway O
positives
-Liked the sound from the start, more alive than the other steinway's
-the outside of the piano is beautiful and will be put in a nice room so it looks great
-the piano plays decent
-the tech talked about the grain in the sound board being very desirable
Negatives
-Expensive for a used piano
-The crack may hurt resale value
-Mahogany not as popular also may lower the resale value
-a little bright sounding

Yamaha s400
positives
-nice sound (slightly below the steinway?, that opinion changes in my head and it is difficult to compare as the pianos are in different rooms)
-10k less than the steinway
Negatives
-the action is more difficult (maybe that can be fixed the store just received the piano and they have not worked on it.
-the glossy Yamaha look not my favorite ( although sound to me is more important)
-piano may need more work in the future tech hasn't looked at yet. though a good sign it had a humidifying system hooked up to it. It was on spider platform so probably was moved around a lot in the studio.
20K is still expensive for a piano from 1982?
-a little big for my room at 6' 3" although doable

Yamaha G3
positive
- has a very nice sound
-less expensive at 14k
-plays nice
negatives
-was heavy played
-outside of piano was not taken care of very scratched up
-may need a lot of work in the future
-made in Indonesia rather than Japan?

So I could live with any of these 3 pianos sound wise although the Steinway is a little bright. Condition wise the Steinway is probably in the best condition except for the crack in the soundboard. Aesthetically The steinway is by far the best piano for my house. Obviously the G3 fits my budget the best. All of these pianos seemed priced a little high. However, my piano tech said this store has a great reputation for working on the piano before selling them and all the pianos in the store are nicely tuned. Not sure what to do? Maybe sell a kidney? What do you think the typical markup is on a used piano? One thought is to go with the cheapest as I am a beginner although not with music just with piano. That way I have the least amount to loose. Although the piano tech said sometimes a nicer piano will help inspire a person to keep playing.

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Personally, I wouldn't buy a piano with a crack in the soundboard, especially not for 30k, Steinway or no Steinway. I wouldn't be confident of the reasons that the soundboard had the crack, even if the crack itself isn't that much of an issue. Other people on this forum may not be put off by cracks in the board and that's fine too, but I wouldn't be putting my money there.

The Yamaha S400 is an excellent model, it's the direct predecessor to the CF4, and it's also very close to the Hamburg A. Is 20K too much for it? I don't know, perhaps. There was one sold in the UK recently for 16K GBP, so it seems like the 20K US is a normal price for that model. It's 40 years old, a lot can happen in 40 years. Yamahas from that era tended to have some stiffness in the action if they haven't been played a lot, but this can be dealt with by regulating and lubricating the action, and if I was parting with 20k I'd ask the store to put that right first.

The G3 for 14K sounds a bit steep even with the new hammers, but I could be wrong there. They're good pianos, extremely reliable of course and have a great sound if the hammers are in good shape.


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Ok, echo44, thanks for sharing more info. I'm just gonna jot down some thoughts in no particular order.

For starters, it's clear that you don't really know what you want. You're slaloming between 3 different pianos of various condition and price. If you're going to drop up to $34k on a piano, you need to really know (1) what you want and (2) what you're getting.


Regarding what you want:

You need to decide if you want a family heirloom, or do you just want a good, playable piano, so you can focus your shopping efforts. Go out and play some pianos. If I read the above correctly, then you've only been to one dealer. ?? Maybe there's only one dealer in your area. ?? You may need to travel a bit. If you're going to spend a lot of money, then it's worth doing. Comparison shop. Try a lot of pianos.

If you share your location, then people can help you with potential places to shop. If you're willing to travel (or buy without trying), then people can advise you of all the "destination" piano places worth checking out.

You're talking about resale value! In a broad sense, someone who's worried about resale value probably shouldn't be considering a 100 year old Steinway. One way you can mitigate losses is by not overpaying for the things that impact value in the first place: cracked sound board=value deduction; unpopular style or finish=value deduction; etc. Another way to mitigate losses is to simply spend less. A lot of what's priced into the Steinway is simply the name. You can buy a good quality piano for less, and cap your potential losses simply because you haven't spent as much money. Regardless, you are very likely to lose money on any piano you buy. Pianos depreciate just like cars do.

Mainly, you need to resist making a regrettable impulse purchase.


Regarding what you're getting (re. the Steinway):

Since you've hired a tech to inspect the piano, I think you should get much more detailed feedback, and perhaps you've gotten more than you've typed here, but there are a couple things that give me pause about what you've shared.

For example: "The tech said she would probably replace the hammers eventually as the piano seemed slightly bright." So, first of all, "slightly bright" is a simple voicing problem that the dealer should fix upon request before you purchase (not an unreasonable request, certainly for a rebuilt vintage piano). Voicing is not a problem that you fix "eventually". You fix it prior to purchase. You don't replace Steinway hammers because they're slightly bright. You replace them if there's really nothing left to work with, and that shouldn't be the case with 15 to 20 year old Steinway hammers (unless the piano has lived in an institutional setting, and/or played hard). The tech should suggest you ask the dealer to address the voicing, as opposed to suggesting future work.

For another: the dearth of info on the rebuild. Now that we know this is a vintage Steinway, there's so much more to consider than "the repair looks good," and "all Steinway parts." In fact, there are a lot of people who would tell you that a vintage Steinway can't be properly rebuilt with modern Steinway parts because of design changes over the years. Did the rebuilder put modern parts in the action 15 years ago? Are the parts still original? What was rebuilt? What's it's current condition? When it comes to vintage pianos, you should be sure to have someone who's well-versed in them do the inspection, because there's much more to consider.

You've mentioned "genuine Steinway parts" a couple times. That may or may not be significant (to each his own), but the reality is that the Steinway brand commands a premium. There are people out there polishing up worn out old Steinways and charging the premium to people who don't know any better. If you're going to pay the premium price, than you need to be sure that you're getting a premium piano. Not the piano equivalent of a shined up jalopy. If you want a vintage Steinway, then be sure someone with genuine experience and knowledge of vintage pianos gives it a green light.

Again, if you share your location, then people can recommend tech's.


On a positive note:

There's a school of thought that says Steinway was sourcing their soundboard wood from the Appalachians at that time, and that the soundboards were more durable and worth saving. I think repairs were historically more commonplace than replacement. Perhaps this is one of those pianos.


Ok, I've run out of steam.

TLDR:
Play a lot of pianos.
Shop widely and wisely.
Get good advice.
Don't buy impulsively.


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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
TLDR:
Play a lot of pianos.
Shop widely and wisely.
Get good advice.
Don't buy impulsively.

+1. + more.
I would add: really think about your budget. There are a lot of pianos out there, and the cost will vary considerably from piano to piano. Many times, the advice on this forum is to buy the best piano you can afford… and by ‘best,’ that means best for you… the piano YOU like best, that is within your budget (and assuming that if it is a used piano, the technician inspection does not indicate any major problems). If your budget is really as high as 34k, you should be able to find a very nice piano, but we all have different preferences. You will only be able to learn what your preferences are if you play lots and lots of pianos. Take notes.
I certainly wouldn’t be considering a nearly 100 year old piano with a price tag of 34k unless I was absolutely in love with it. And you say you prefer the tone of newer, less expensive pianos. So I would pass on the Steinway, just on that point.

Good luck, and have fun!

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I have played lots of pianos at different stores. One store had several used Steinways but they were in need of some work and their price reflected it L's from the 1920's were around 12k. The store where I found this latest Steinway seemed more upscale and My tech said they really do a good job of putting work into pianos before they sell them. A friend recommended the Tech who seemed very thorough. He took out the action and looked at it carefully, also tuned it a little to feel the pegs. The only negative is the Tech recommended the store in general to buy pianos which to me is indicator of bias.

I definitely will take my time as there are plenty of amazing pianos out there. I have been shopping now for 3 weeks and I have certainly learned a lot from the first piano store I visited.

As a guitar player it seems much more difficult to buy a piano than a guitar. In piano stores in general so far I have found a used car sales person vibe.

Last edited by echo44; 11/14/21 06:28 PM.
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I just talked to my tech she said the entire action has been redone

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So 20year old hammers,15 year old S&S action, small crack on the bridge, repaired crack on the soundboard.A great name on the fallboard....but you have not said how it plays, apart from being bright? It looks great too.It just sounds awfully expensive for this piano.(and these problems)


My piano's voice is my voice to God and the great unknown universe, and to those I love.In other words a hymn.That is all, but that is enough.Life goes on, despite pain and fear.Music is beautiful,life is beautiful.


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I agree it seems a little expensive , no crack bridge or other issues except a small repaired crack on the sound board. It plays nice. Yet I am no expert as I am a beginner. How much do most dealers mark up a used piano?

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I don't think they made any G3 here in Indonesia around 1988 - perhaps smaller 5' grands only,
seems you like the most the G3 sound, $14k still a bit high for a good 1988 G3 but it'd be my choice.

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I will have to look at that G3 again. The dealer is really nice but from my research the Steinway should be closer to around 22K rather than 34k.

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Originally Posted by echo44
I agree it seems a little expensive , no crack bridge or other issues except a small repaired crack on the sound board. It plays nice. Yet I am no expert as I am a beginner. How much do most dealers mark up a used piano?

As much as they can get away with, it is up to you to negotiate a better price.


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Here's a few more thoughts. You mentioned an unused L that sounds muffled. It sounds muffled because the hammers have never been played in. These days Steinway suggests voicing the hammers up by juicing them (with lacquer IIRC). This simulates a few years of playing in and is the way new Steinways are typically voiced now because Steinway hammers are typically some of the softest on the market. What's the price for the L?

If you're going to spend as much as $34K on a piano you should shop all the major and minor brands. Have you heard of Brodmann, Hailun and Pearl River from China, for that kind of money you can get their best 7 footer (and they are fine pianos). Have you seen any Mason & Hamlins in your travels, or Charles Walter or used Baldwins? And then there are fine European brands such as Schimmel, Petrof and what I felt was the best bang for buck Estonia. Have you seen any of them? While you're out there it helps to play the very best European pianos Bosendorfer, Bechstein Bluthner and Fazioli. In this entire thread you've only mentioned used Yamaha, have you seen any new ones, or Kawais. Both of these best Japanese brands have up market models, Yamaha's CF and S series and the Shigeru Kawai (SK series).

So far it seems you've been focused on Steinway only. That tells me you aren't aware of the pitfalls of chasing the Steinway pedigree. There are a lot of used up and in need of complete restoration Steinways out there. They are referred to as core pianos, but if a dealer can sell such an instrument for more than $1000 per foot of length (what a core Steinway typically goes for) to someone who's focused on that one brand and can't afford $70-$90K or more for a new one they'll happily take your money. My suggestion is visit a lot more piano dealers and get to know what's available. Feel free to travel to a bigger city if necessary (your profile doesn't say where you are). We can help by directing you to dealers with strong reputations because lots of the best are regulars here. And read up on Pianobuyer.com (link on left side near top of page) while you're at it to get to know the market better.


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Originally Posted by echo44
I have played lots of pianos at different stores.

Sorry, my mistake.


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I am from Chicago, I have tried many different pianos including New Kawai, New schimmel and Used Estonia. looking more for the 6ft range. Liked The Kawai Shigeru but a little to expensive. If anyone has any recommendations in my area let me know

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Originally Posted by echo44
I am from Chicago, I have tried many different pianos including New Kawai, New schimmel and Used Estonia. looking more for the 6ft range. Liked The Kawai Shigeru but a little to expensive. If anyone has any recommendations in my area let me know


Since you've looked at used pianos, and have mentioned resale value, something like this could be a nice fit (IMO):

https://chicago.craigslist.org/nch/msg/d/highland-park-grand-piano-by-baldwin/7407644900.html

If it lives up to it's description (have your tech check it out, of course), it could be a nice piano, and only cost 1/6 of the Steinway you looked at above (so even if you gave it away, you'd likely "lose" less). Assuming it's in good condition, the Baldwin R is a nice piano. In my area (metro DC), I think people would be asking more like 8k for an R in good shape.


Also, here's a Baldwin L. At 6'3", it's at the size you said was "a little big but doable":

https://milwaukee.craigslist.org/msg/d/neenah-grand-piano-for-sale/7398063799.html

Same as above: if it interests you, be sure to have it inspected, and in my area asking price would be a little higher.


Anyway, I'm not saying run out and buy one of those, but promulgating the idea of looking some private sales. And if you find "the one," be sure to have it inspected.

I love Baldwin, and think their "Artist" models (M,R,L,SF, SD) tend to have a lot of musical potential relative to their market value, so I'm admittedly biased, but there are other brands available in the private market as well.


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