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Used Steinway - should I get one?

Posted By: lbuizza

Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 01:49 PM

Hi,

Firstly I am new to PianoWorld (what a great place!) so apologies if I have put this in the wrong forum etc - I will learn!

I am what I would call a 'very keen' amateur (ie diploma level and up - sorry for blowing my own trumpet but I think it's important info), and I am looking to finally upgrade my lovely Yamaha upright that has been with me since I started playing. In my apartment I have space for a ~190cm piano without making any major furniture rearrangements which I would want to avoid, and I have a budget of about £40k (around 50k dollars in American). I know these questions are entirely subjective but I wanted to see what the pianist community out there thinks about this.

I very much enjoy playing Steinways, even if the ones that I have played have all tended to be less than 10 years old, so it is probably the brand I would want to go for. What is stopping me is the price - I would only be able to afford a used/restored one and this is what the majority of my questions are about.

1. Should I be looking at Steinway at all? I am viewing this as a once in a lifetime purchase, and although my judgement might be clouded by the brand whenever I play a good one to my ears they are unbeatable. However I could save myself a lot of trouble and buy something like a Shigeru/Yamaha, pay less and probably be very happy with my purchase especially given I will never be a professional musician (even if I have ambitions to go to music school in later life). I am viewing this as a purchase made with my heart over my head but both are giving me conflicting opinions - any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Need to try a Bosendorfer, tried the Academy Bechsteins and I didn't like the touch, and then right after I tried some C. Bechsteins and the leap in quality was huge and made me not like the Academy ones even more. Then I went to Steinway Hall and left wishing I could double my budget...

2. Restored/used pianos. Realistically given I will keep this piano for at least 10-20 years if not much longer, will a restored ~100 year old piano last in terms of producing a nice sound, keeping in tune etc.? At the moment I have been trying to look at just modern ones although these are very hard to come by.

3. Model A vs O - especially in the bass, do the 8 extra cm make such a large difference? I am 90% sure I would be very happy with an O, however I do not want that doubt to remain in my head. I know this is extremely subjective however I have only played about two of each model in my life. I went to Steinway Hall and I loved the O, although I cannot remember the difference between the A and O in terms of sound - all I remember is that both of the A's had too light a touch for me.

4. With my budget can I expect to find something good? I don't want to buy a used piano only to be wanting to do all of this again in a couple of years time. What is a realistic price for a Model O/A which is less than 20 years old? I have found one O which has apparently barely been played from 2008 for around £45k, although I have not yet been able to try that particular one.

5. Does anyone know of any good places in the UK where I can find either a piano matching this description or someone who can help me find exactly what I would like/does anyone here know of any private sellers who have something like the above?

Many thanks for your help in advance, I am looking to buy this by around September (although the sooner the better!) so I have time to have fun and find exactly what I want.
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 02:01 PM

Oh and another thing - not that I would ever want to but if I did have to one day sell it could I expect to get back near what I paid for it (I know it will be less but how much)? Bearing in mind it will be very well kept...
Posted By: sandalholme

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 02:33 PM

I would advise you to contact Jeffery Shackell in Witney. Email jeffrey.shackell@gmail.com He specialises in restoring Steinways.

My only connections with Jeffrey are: many years' ago, looking at his stock of (mainly) Steinways (didn't buy one) and, remembering how he treated me, approaching him a few years back to sell my Kawai RX2. He did the latter job splendidly.

He's fair and honest.
Posted By: oivavoi

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 02:51 PM

Pianos are a personal thing! Taste vary both when it comes to tone/timbre, and when it comes to action. Furthermore, each and every piano is a living thing and a unique individual... Two pianos of the same type from the same manufacturer will not be totally alike. So my best advice is to see what your budget is, try out lots of different grands, and buy the piano you like the most within that budget.

That said, I think it could be a mistake to limit yourself to one specific brand, unless you are very very committed to that brand. Personally I have not been floored by Steinway grands... as I said it's personal. Speaking of grand pianos in the same price range I have become more convinced by Steingraeber and Fazioli, for example.

But I have played grands from many different manufacturers that all had their unique strengths. Rebuilt antique German grands, Bösendorfer's, Grotrian, some Bluthner's, even some cheap Chinese grands that were voiced and regulated to perfection by the dealer... I've come across pianos which I really liked from all of these. And I've tried grands from the same manufacturers that I didn't like at all. Assuming a set budget, it may very well be that a Steinway grand is what will make you most happy. But it can also be that your perfect grand is actually an old rebuilt Ibach piano which is waiting for you at a show room you have yet to visit.

Good luck!
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 03:04 PM

Originally Posted by sandalholme
I would advise you to contact Jeffery Shackell in Witney. Email jeffrey.shackell@gmail.com He specialises in restoring Steinways.


Great advice! It's people like these who I would like to try and meet...
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 03:14 PM

Originally Posted by oivavoi
Two pianos of the same type from the same manufacturer will not be totally alike. So my best advice is to see what your budget is, try out lots of different grands, and buy the piano you like the most within that budget.



Totally agree with this, I will be ramping up the rate at which I try them to try and better understand exactly what I want. Even if I do end up going for a Steinway, it is still very good to know that I got the best piano for me and not just the best Steinway/other brand...

Originally Posted by oivavoi
P
But I have played grands from many different manufacturers that all had their unique strengths. Rebuilt antique German grands, Bösendorfer's, Grotrian, some Bluthner's,
Good luck!


I don't have too much experience playing restored pianos, so it would be good to find a dealer that specialises in these and try them out...
Posted By: KL NY

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 03:25 PM

Originally Posted by lbuizza


4. With my budget can I expect to find something good? I don't want to buy a used piano only to be wanting to do all of this again in a couple of years time. What is a realistic price for a Model O/A which is less than 20 years old? I have found one O which has apparently barely been played from 2008 for around £45k, although I have not yet been able to try that particular one.


Out of curiosity, i checked some used Steinway grand in local area, Find a 2002 L model for 32K USD and a 1995 Model B for 44K USD. I know this will not be the same in London. But is this price close to people paying for these model? considering they play well and no need major repair.
Posted By: Skjalg

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 04:17 PM

Hi Ibuzzia

I agree very much with oivavoi in that it could be a mistake to limit yourself to one specific brand. With regards to Bechstein, I also find that there is a significant step up from C. Bechstein (Academy) and the W Hoffman lines to C.Bechstein Concert, but so is the price. (W Hoffmann line, by the way, traces back to the Bohemia brand, which started making pianos in the Czech Republic back in 1871. After the revolution in 1989, the Bohemia factory was bought out from state ownership and then established as a private company. In 2007 the factory was bought by C. Bechstein Pianofortefabrik AG Berlin. Today, the factory produces pianos and grand pianos under the trade name W Hoffmann.)

My personal experience with restored grand pianos is that while the sound for some of them may be nice, I find they are much less pleasing to play than a new or quite new piano. Generally, from around 20 restored I played, they appear in a nice shape, but if you inspect closely you can almost always find something, use of a plastic part instead of brass, too short legs, too small wheels, a part that is not adjusted properly... Enough so, that I personally would not go down that road. Others have been pleased though, so maybe I have just been too picky.

In the 35k-45k £ range and sizes you are looking at, you have quite a selection of pianos to choose between. I do not remember the exact prices, but you could look at:
August Förster 190 (194cm) is around 40k £
Sauter Delta (185cm) is around 40k £
Grotrian-Steinweg 192 is around 45k £.
Phoenix 170 is around 45k £

Since you live in London it would be a shame not to visit Phoenix at Hurstwood Farm. I played a Phoenix 170 in London back in February 2018 and was quite impressed. Next time I plan a trip to the Farm.

My personal preference in the price and size range is the August Förster 190, but it will depend on the individual piano of course. In London they are sold by Peregrines-Pianos I believe.

Best of luck!

_Skjalg
Posted By: Seeker

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 04:22 PM

Over the years I've played some really wonderful piano that were NOT Steinways. My favorites among those were a Shigeru-Kawai SK-7 in a concert hall in Shanghai and two Fazioli - one a F-278 concert grand at a piano shop in Raleigh, NC, and the other a F-228 at a piano shop in Munster in Germany.

I've also played some great Steinways - A, A-III (no longer available but absolutely stellar when you find a good one, B, C and D.

There are differences (still) between NY and Hamburg. I choose not to engage in the religious war over which is better in this comment. I've played great instruments from both factories, some "meh" ones, and the occasional clunker.

Regarding your "A" vs., "O" question - I have yet to play a good O as good as a good A. I suspect, though I cannot prove this, that the A, B, C and D instruments were designed for professional use, the L, O, and M for what is called the "prosumer" market these days. So, if you can swing the money for an A, and you can find a good one, go for it! At your price point, if you're very lucky, you might even stumble on a "B".
Posted By: BDB

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 04:52 PM

I think that you should start by going to piano dealers and trying a bunch of pianos, new and used. You need to develop your taste, and see what is available. That will answer a lot of your questions much better than we can answer them.
Posted By: oivavoi

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 05:06 PM

Originally Posted by Skjalg
Hi Ibuzzia

I agree very much with oivavoi in that it could be a mistake to limit yourself to one specific brand.
(...)

My personal experience with restored grand pianos is that while the sound for some of them may be nice, I find they are much less pleasing to play than a new or quite new piano. Generally, from around 20 restored I played, they appear in a nice shape, but if you inspect closely you can almost always find something, use of a plastic part instead of brass, too short legs, too small wheels, a part that is not adjusted properly... Enough so, that I personally would not go down that road. Others have been pleased though, so maybe I have just been too picky.


Apologies for de-routing the thread, but shortly: I see we're from the same country, Skjalg. If you are based in Oslo, you could take a trip to Aspheim and check out their Ibach grand, which was completely rebuilt at the Schimmel factory in Poland (I played it some days ago and was mightily impressed, that's why it was Ibach which fell into my head). Probably not the same razor-sharp precision as in the newer grands, but I personally preferred the feel I got from playing that piano to the feel I got from playing most of the newer grands they had there, including the Shigerus etc. As I said, pianos are a personal thing!
Posted By: Skjalg

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 05:26 PM

Originally Posted by oivavoi

Apologies for de-routing the thread, but shortly: I see we're from the same country, Skjalg. If you are based in Oslo, you could take a trip to Aspheim and check out their Ibach grand, which was completely rebuilt at the Schimmel factory in Poland (I played it some days ago and was mightily impressed, that's why it was Ibach which fell into my head). Probably not the same razor-sharp precision as in the newer grands, but I personally preferred the feel I got from playing that piano to the feel I got from playing most of the newer grands they had there, including the Shigerus etc. As I said, pianos are a personal thing!


I have played the Ibach they have there several times, and I assumed that was what you had in your mind when you mentioned Ibach. It is the best sounding of the restored grand pianos they had in stock (C. Bechstein, Blüthner) by a good margin. It had a signature sound that I also enjoyed, but I prefer the total experience of the SK-3 or the Schimmel C 189 (in the same shop) more. It was, in fact, the first Ibach that I had played, and it is sad that they no longer make pianos. Yes, the taste is personal, and that is why everyone buying a piano ought to try as many as possible. I have certainly tried my share, and would not mind the one of each approach ;-)
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 06:01 PM

Thanks all for your insights! Very interesting stuff. Just wanted to clarify about rigidity of brand. I have played a range of brands and enjoyed for totally different reasons Kawai (both Shigeru and not) (the academy I play at has plenty of SK-5s which are great however I find them less special than other brands), Bechstein, Yamaha and Steinway - not any others since I started looking for a piano and concentrating on how much I liked the piano whilst playing (so I won’t compare to others I have played).

Until now I enjoyed the 3/4 Steinways that I tried the most, however I am very aware that this was probably luck and given they were showroom models at Steinway hall in London they were well prepped, and I am also aware that I need to play more pianos, old, new and antique to ensure I know what I want.

I think the more important questions for me are from 2 onwards - ie. is a restored piano likely to last me without needing major work, do 8/10cm make that much difference considering the piano will be voiced to my (carpeted) room and that I like a mellow tone and where to look?
Posted By: Learux

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 06:18 PM

You have a very nice Budget, There is many nice piano's available in that price range. Go play as many as you can and try not to put to much emphasis on the brand.

Maybe try a Schimmel?
Posted By: Skjalg

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 07:00 PM

Originally Posted by lbuizza

3. Model A vs O - especially in the bass, do the 8 extra cm make such a large difference? I am 90% sure I would be very happy with an O, however I do not want that doubt to remain in my head. I know this is extremely subjective however I have only played about two of each model in my life. I went to Steinway Hall and I loved the O, although I cannot remember the difference between the A and O in terms of sound - all I remember is that both of the A's had too light a touch for me.

The difference between an A and an O is 8 cm as you point out (188cm for the A versus the O is 180cm). To me, that makes a huge difference in the sound. I much prefer the A over the O. Generally the bigger the better if you have space and the money. Having said that, pianos do tend to sound different once you get them home. If I had to choose between 2 pianos (A and O for example), the touch would be even more important than the sound (size). The best is to make a complete table of criteria that are important to you. For each category or subcategory, you could assign a range. It can include anything from specific things like pedal shape, pedal height from floor, pedal release noise, logo, price, max age, sound, touch, service history, where the piano is made, size of the manufacture... Each will have a minimum and maximum acceptable value to you. This way you can measure how well you like one model over the other, and why. If you have decided on Steinway, be sure to note down what you like and do not like with each you play, and note down the serial number for reference. Play the same instrument several times, because sometimes they alter the voicing between visits or move pianos around. I have experienced this several times.
Posted By: Steve Chandler

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 07:17 PM

You asked about rebuilt pianos. There are many high quality rebuilders in the USA, but I'm not sure about the UK. As I understand it European rebuilders seem less inclined to replace the sound board. Thus your inquiry about how long a rebuilt piano will last depends on swings of humidity (very common in northern USA, don't know about the UK) and quality of the rebuilder. In the USA I wouldn't be interested in a rebuilt older piano that didn't have a new sound board, but swings in humidity between summer and winter are extreme where I live. These swings in humidity tend have an impact on the fibers of the wood and over time will cause the wood to lose its internal structure and cause the crown of the sound board to collapse. As I understand it the difference in humidity in the UK is not as significant between winter and summer, but there is still some. Search this forum and you'll find lots of information about replacing sound boards. If you can find a ten year old instrument that you like you'll get the lower price due to depreciation, but will still get a relatively young instrument that can last 30 - 50 years without sound board replacement.
Posted By: gevans10

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 08:08 PM

I would reccommend going to Robert's Pianos in Oxford. I went there for fun once to drool over the pianos.

They have a frequently changing varied stock of fully rebuilt pianos often with effectively the same Renner action you'll get in a new Steinway. You may fall in love with a Schiedmayer or a Lipp instead!
Posted By: AaronSF

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 09:23 PM

At your budget you have a wealth of pianos and piano stores in London to choose from. Here's a list of London piano stores that I found in 2 minutes on the internet:

London Piano Stores

Since I own and love my August Förster, I would encourage you to try them out before making your final decision. They are available in London at Peregrin's Pianos. Given your budget, you should be able to purchase a new August Förster 190. Försters are really a great deal for the money. You could also check out the Schimmels at the same shop.

As I'm sure you realize, Steinways come at a premium for the name alone. Even among rebuilt pianos, Steinway can demand another $10,000 over other brands. Even so, you probably will be able to find a rebuilt or refurbished A or O in your budget.

But as others have encouraged, play a range of brands before deciding. Being in Europe you have good access to C. Bechstein, Bösendorfer, Blüthner, Ibach, Grotrian-Steinweg, Steingraeber, etc. Play them all, as well as the Shigeru Kawais and Yamaha S3X. I'd also suggest playing an Estonia, but I don't believe they have a distributor in England.
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 09:49 PM

I have actually seen/contacted Roberts pianos, they were extremely nice to me and their videos on YouTube are great for someone like me who is interested in the more technical aspects/is looking to buy a used piano - although I haven’t yet been able to pay them a visit - it is on my to do list.

As for the other advice - thanks to everyone again, it is extremely helpful to have multiple opinions. The general theme here is that I can’t try too many pianos, and I will make an effort to try as many as I can ‘strictly’ in the interests of market research.
Posted By: joe80

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 10:07 PM

For some people, it really does have to be a Steinway and nothing else will do. There are others who are more flexible about the brand. There are some who will only play a Kawai.

Sticking with Steinways for now, there are several options open to you, especially if you have £40k available to spend. You're in the price range of a younger piano that has been reconditioned, maybe a new tuning plank and top action, with the original soundboard and bridge work. The UK's climate is quite good at preserving pianos so there are often nice examples of Steinways from c.1970 to 1990 in good condition, and they can be a good choice for domestic work not being so strident as a new one.

The other thing you can do is shop for an older one and have it fully rebuilt - which may or may not include a new soundboard. Of course there's a risk there, you might not like the finished piano, so I'll throw in with here the option of buying a rebuilt one from 100 years ago. If the tuning plank is replaced, the frame is in good condition, and the soundboard is in good condition having been replaced or having simply lasted well over the years (the second scenario is so rare as to be virtually unheard of even in our climate, soundboards on 100 year old pianos often need replaced), and the action is in good condition then the piano should last you well.

The thing is with buying a Steinway, try to avoid one that has come out of an institution - a school, a music college, a university, unless it has had all the work that needs done on it carried out.

If you have the option of buying a new Steinway, maybe you should go down that route if you really want to. I'm of the opinion that Steinway Hamburg makes some of the finest pianos in the world, along with a handful of other makers, and the pianos in that league are all roughly the same price. I don't find them to be overpriced but I do find them to be incredibly expensive. The price is the price, on all of these brands now. Don't buy one as an investment though, buy it because you want the instrument.

As for other brands. Well, none of them are going to give you the sound of a Hamburg Steinway. That's only because they're not Hamburg Steinways. They might be equally beautiful pianos however!

In London you have available to you in the lower price range Yamaha, of course. I think the Yamaha C6X is incredible, and well worth consideration. So is the Shigeru Kawai, any model. Everyone else has made some great suggestions, so I don't have more to add except this:

The difference between the Model O and the Model A isn't so much a difference in *size* of tone, or that one has a better bass than the other, it's that they are two very different characters. The Model O has a kind of tighter sound, and the Model A has a more open sound. I can't explain it any other way than that, and someone else may even say the opposite but be hearing the same thing as I am, because we are talking about something very subjective. I *love* the Model A. Of the smaller Steinways it is my favourite. I prefer a good Model A to a Model B, and I think it is one of their most successful designs. The Model B gained so much traction because NY didn't make it for a long time, so in America it was the Model B that became the more serious studio piano for musicians and institutions, but over here the Model A was always very popular. Now America has the Model A, but the B is still more popular than the A there.

Honestly, if the piano is a good piano, A or O doesn't make a difference in anything more than preference of sound.
Posted By: redfish1901

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 10:44 PM

I haven’t played that many Steinways, but I haven’t yet met a smaller one that I liked. It’s B or larger for me.

Last year I saw a newish (2005 but hardly played) model B listed for under 60K USD at the San Francisco Steinway store that was very nice. It was comparable to about half a dozen brand new B’s on display. I would imagine with your budget you could find a very nice, newish Steinway B.

Best of luck!
Posted By: PianoWorksATL

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/21/19 10:45 PM

joe80, since you are a fan of the model A, I'd love your reaction to a properly restored AIII, the longscale A that was never produced by Hamburg. I've only met one fan of the former that wasn't even more impressed with the latter.
Posted By: Ken Iisaka

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/22/19 01:03 AM

Originally Posted by lbuizza
Hi,

I am what I would call a 'very keen' amateur (ie diploma level and up - sorry for blowing my own trumpet but I think it's important info), and I am looking to finally upgrade my lovely Yamaha upright that has been with me since I started playing. In my apartment I have space for a ~190cm piano without making any major furniture rearrangements which I would want to avoid, and I have a budget of about £40k (around 50k dollars in American). I know these questions are entirely subjective but I wanted to see what the pianist community out there thinks about this.


Hi, Ibuizza,

Pianos are very personal, and only you can decide how much to spend, and which brand to buy.

However, no two pianos are alike. Visit as many piano stores as your time allows, and find the one that draws you. If you have a teacher, bring him/her along, if you can. If you are looking at used or rebuilt instruments, be sure to bring a good technician. If you find "the one" even if it's a little too dear, and a little too big, I could safely say that no one regrets spending a little more. It's cheaper to buy "the one" than to keep on upgrading.

A new Steinway A is more than 40K pounds sterling, but you may well encounter a used one for that price. www.klaviano.com has good coverage in Europe.

There are certainly good pianos in that size as well: Fazioli F183 is absolutely brilliant, but you may prefer Bösendorer 185VC. For a new instrument, Shigeru Kawai SK-3 is a good value, and a Yamaha S4/CF4 certainly have some following as well.

So, go ahead, and buy the biggest and the best piano you can afford without ruining you.
Posted By: joe80

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/22/19 07:23 AM

Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
joe80, since you are a fan of the model A, I'd love your reaction to a properly restored AIII, the longscale A that was never produced by Hamburg. I've only met one fan of the former that wasn't even more impressed with the latter.


This model intrigues me, and unfortunately I've never seen one in the flesh! But since I'm moving to the USA in a matter of weeks, I might come across it more often.
Posted By: joe80

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/22/19 07:24 AM

I'd be interested to hear what everyone thinks of the new Yamaha S-series line up, since they fall inside this price range too. I haven't heard or seen them in person, but I'm sure they're very good.
Posted By: trandinhnamanh

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/22/19 12:27 PM

1/ You have 40,000GBP to spend for a piano, it's great! Congratulations! You can find an excellent used Steinway with this budget.

2/ So many good brands of piano out there. But if f you like Steinway, just try and buy Steinway. You're in UK, so you can buy a Hamburg Steinway (much much better than american Steinways) more easily. Jeffrey Shackell is reputed for used Steinways in UK. Coaching House Pianos is excellent too.

3/ A, B, C, D are professional models. Difference between A & O is noticeable (to me). Low basses on model A is fantastic! (to me)

4/ Good luck to a future Hamburg Steinway owner!
Posted By: Michael P Walsh

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 05/22/19 12:48 PM

Roberts have a 183 cm Ibach in stock now. Unfortunately it's nowhere near £40K !!!
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/15/19 07:50 PM

Hi all - thanks for your replies and apologies for reviving the thread. After having played more pianos (Shigerus, Kawais, Steinways, etc to mention a few, I’m still yet to try a Bluthner but have that in my diary) I’ve realised I need to play more pianos to really realise what I want.

However one doubt has appeared in my head - should I be looking at these very top end pianos in the first place? For half my budget I could buy a brand new Kawai or Yamaha and I know I would be delighted with it in the long term given I will probably not become a professional musician and it will be a piano to enjoy. But on the other hand I would like this to be a ‘piano for life’, meaning that an initial outlay now could seem like money well spent in the long term, and it definitely needs to be special for me to spend any money on it. To me it seems a bit like buying a Ferrari to never push it to its limits - when a convertible Mazda would provide equal entertainment to me... or perhaps it’s more like buying a Rolls Royce, which is simply a pleasure to sit in and enjoy... any thoughts and comments appreciated - more on the topic of whether a beautiful, highest end piano is worth it rather than the topic of finding a piano that suits me if possible.

Thanks!
Posted By: tend to rush

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/15/19 07:58 PM

You're asking a bunch of people who spend their time hanging out on a piano forum. Naturally, most of us will say Go for it! My own instrument is much better than my playing warrants. I just love it. So - go ahead - take out that mortgage! Never look back!
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/15/19 08:09 PM

Ibuizza
I am not one that believes you need to qualify for the piano you buy based on skill or level! My goodness, I would probably own a miniature kids toy piano if there were a qualification process. As it is, I love to practice just to touch the keys and here the sounds.

Buy what you can afford, and what you will love to practice everyday. Don’t buy based on the fall board name, but the piano that speaks to you. All things being equal, you don’t want to be saying ‘ I wish I would’ve bought xxxx’ for many years 😊
Posted By: AaronSF

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/15/19 08:23 PM

Would driving an Aston Martin make me a better driver? Probably not...unless I could spend a lot of time driving on a race track. Which is why I drive a Mazda CX5.

Does playing a Tier 1 piano make me a better pianist? Yes. A great piano allows a pianist to play at any dynamic level and at any tempo, permitting full expression of the music. I can hear and feel everything on my piano, which makes a tangible difference in how I play. I am driven (pun intended) to improve my technique because my piano responds to very subtle changes how I strike the keys, and it does so consistently. It's like taking that Aston Martin on the race track every time I practice.

I'm never going to be a great pianist, but the possibility of improving endlessly is exciting. That's what a great piano gives me.
Posted By: Sanfrancisco

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/15/19 08:56 PM

For half my budget I could buy a brand new Kawai or Yamaha and I know I would be delighted with it in the long term given I will probably not become a professional musician and it will be a piano to enjoy. But on the other hand I would like this to be a ‘piano for life’, meaning that an initial outlay now could seem like money well spent in the long term, and it definitely needs to be special for me to spend any money on it. To me it seems a bit like buying a Ferrari to never push it to its limits - when a convertible Mazda would provide equal entertainment to me. Quote Ibuizza

From what I read of your posts in this thread your ear is very aware of the marked tonal difference between consumer and professional level pianos. Interesting conjecture the above metaphor, but in your case IMO not accurate.
Posted By: j&j

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/15/19 09:06 PM

Try more pianos. New and used. For instance try the different grades of Kawai’s and Yamahas. You might be shocked by the Shigerus and the Yamaha S series and CF series. Try the Consumer series of each. The more pianos you try the more you can decide what’s right and what exactly you want. Best of Luck! Piano shopping is really fun, especially if you have a generous budget.
Posted By: backto_study_piano

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/16/19 03:54 AM

As dogperson said - you don't need to qualify ... to buy the piano of your dreams.

Some people spend their money on a Mazda MX-5, when a Mazda 2 would actually be more practical - but, oh the fun of an MX-5, 6 sp Manual tranny, roof down on a winding mountain road!! (no, I drive a PRIUS - went the practical route.)

It's often said - buy the piano you can 1) enjoy; and 2) afford. Don't stretch the $$, but also don't get a piano you don't enjoy.

That said - something like an RX-7 (KAWAI) - is a great piano, and extremely enjoyable to play - same with equivalents.
Posted By: OE1FEU

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/16/19 09:19 PM

I believe it helps to get one's priorities straight.

I am in my mid 50s now and the pianos I owned ranged from a 200 EUR banged up upright to a Yamaha CFII concert grand. My current piano is a technically beautifully restored Steinway B from 1887, but then, my piano playing isn't that horrible, so on an amateur level I am doing fine practicing Prokofiev 8th sonata, Beethoven's Op. 110, Scriabin Op. 11. I am very much aware of really outstanding pianos, having played some of them myself, mostly before or after concerts of great pianists, including Horowitz' actual piano the day before one of his recitals.

How far are you willing to go? If you're really into it, just go for the best you can get - but make sure that at that point you actually have a fundamental knowledge of what the best is and why. Go shop for concert grands, talk to technicians - and work on your piano playing, really making sure that having that piano will force you to practice and enjoy the touch and sound of the piano itself.

Don't go for the "Grand Obsession" route, where you get obsessed about a mediocre piano on a pianistic level that can be reduced to "playing five classical pieces on an amateur level and not practicing enough to go beyond it".

Owning a grand piano of really high quality comes with a responsibility, that is, treasure it in itself. wake up in the morning and rush to the piano to enjoy its sound. Feel that you have to reward the piano with your playing as well, so practice and get better and enjoy the piano even more.

And get familiar with the piano itself. Talk to you your technician and make him explain to you what he's doing in terms of regulation and voicing. Get a decent tuning lever that really fits you pins and have a lesson with your technician to tune a single note, get a feeling for what a well tuned unison sounds like and what you can do to keep it in tune for a long time.

Decide who you want to be. You can buy an Aston Martin DB9, but that doesn't make you a good driver, let alone a mechanic. Spend a week in Europe, especially in Germany and have someone teach you to actually drive the Aston on an Autobahn without a speed limit. This won't magically transform you into Niki Lauda, but it will give you an opportunity of grasping what a DB9 actually is.

Just like a Fazioli 308, Steinway D, Bechstein D 282, Yamaha CFX, Bösendorfer 280VC.

I envy you for the opportunity of the greatest spending spree of your life :-)

Posted By: jeffscot

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/16/19 09:59 PM

Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Decide who you want to be. You can buy an Aston Martin DB9, but that doesn't make you a good driver, let alone a mechanic. Spend a week in Europe, especially in Germany and have someone teach you to actually drive the Aston on an Autobahn without a speed limit. This won't magically transform you into Niki Lauda, but it will give you an opportunity of grasping what a DB9 actually is.

Autobahn?
Need to take it to the Nurburgring! thumb
Posted By: OE1FEU

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/16/19 11:00 PM

Originally Posted by jeffscot
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Decide who you want to be. You can buy an Aston Martin DB9, but that doesn't make you a good driver, let alone a mechanic. Spend a week in Europe, especially in Germany and have someone teach you to actually drive the Aston on an Autobahn without a speed limit. This won't magically transform you into Niki Lauda, but it will give you an opportunity of grasping what a DB9 actually is.

Autobahn?
Need to take it to the Nurburgring! thumb




I disagree.

Taking it to the Nürburging is like being the lonely guy in his car with serious disregard for anything in his way.

If, on the other hand, you want to be a chamber musician of excellence and want to find an example in the car world, the Autobahn it is. You're part of an ensemble at every microsecond, need to anticipate evaluate and react on your other drivers on the Autobahn. Taking it back to the piano: It's a lot more fun on non-professional level to play as if you were part of a group than just rushing through your regular solo stuff.
Posted By: johnstaf

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/17/19 03:45 AM

But you need to use the Autobahn to get to the Nürburging. grin

OMG, that's deep! grin
Posted By: j&j

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/17/19 11:56 PM

If you buy an Aston Martin and don’t drive well and can’t shift seamlessly, you’re endangering yourself, your new car and everyone else on the AutoBahn. And you look like a rich idiot that can’t drive. If you buy a high end piano but don’t have the knowledge to play it well, you can take lessons, practice and improve. No lives are at stake!
**unless you drive your piano teacher to suicide. laugh
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/18/19 12:01 AM

Originally Posted by j&j
If you buy an Aston Martin and don’t drive well and can’t shift seamlessly, you’re endangering yourself, your new car and everyone else on the AutoBahn. And you look like a rich idiot that can’t drive. If you buy a high end piano but don’t have the knowledge to play it well, you can take lessons, practice and improve. No lives are at stake!
**unless you drive your piano teacher to suicide. laugh


thumb
Posted By: LarryK

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/18/19 01:47 AM

I lived and worked in Germany back in my twenties. The company rented me a nice Audi and I went to pick it up at the rental car place. A guy drove me to some back lot, pointed at the car, and drove off.

As I was walking towards the car I noticed another car, covered with a big tarp, behind a fence. I walked over to the car and realized that the front and rear bumpers were almost touching each other on the driver’s side. I can’t believe the driver survived the crash. It was a sober warning and a constant reminder to not go too fast on the Autobahn.

I’d pay a mint for a beautiful piano but I couldn’t give a dollar for a car. I survived my tour in Germany, slowed down in the rain and fog, and stayed out of the way of those crazy Mercedes and Porsche drivers with their left blinkers always on. Having no car means having no problems in New York.
Posted By: redfish1901

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/18/19 05:44 AM

Originally Posted by joe80
I'd be interested to hear what everyone thinks of the new Yamaha S-series line up, since they fall inside this price range too. I haven't heard or seen them in person, but I'm sure they're very good.


I played S3X, S5X, and S7X last year while I was shopping.

They were phenomenal. The touch was absolutely buttery. The tone was at an entirely different level from the CX's. The tonal color was so different If I was blindfolded, I would not have believed it was a Yamaha. For the money, the SX series were better than the CF4 at the same store--you just can't beat size.
Posted By: cmb13

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/19/19 08:32 PM

OMG get the 718 GT4 already!! Just stay in the R lane and allow others to pass, especially on the ‘ring.

Oh....sorry....I thought for a second we were on Rennlist.
Posted By: Retsacnal

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/19/19 08:53 PM

Originally Posted by Sanfrancisco
For half my budget I could buy a brand new Kawai or Yamaha and I know I would be delighted with it in the long term ...

And for half of that you could probably buy a gently used one that would make you just as happy! Be mindful of the law of diminishing returns. No matter how much you're willing to spend, someone out there is willing to take it from you. What you get in return for your increased expenditure diminishes quickly.
Posted By: joe80

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 06/19/19 08:57 PM

Originally Posted by redfish1901
Originally Posted by joe80
I'd be interested to hear what everyone thinks of the new Yamaha S-series line up, since they fall inside this price range too. I haven't heard or seen them in person, but I'm sure they're very good.


I played S3X, S5X, and S7X last year while I was shopping.

They were phenomenal. The touch was absolutely buttery. The tone was at an entirely different level from the CX's. The tonal color was so different If I was blindfolded, I would not have believed it was a Yamaha. For the money, the SX series were better than the CF4 at the same store--you just can't beat size.




I want to try the SX range really badly now.
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 07/06/19 06:54 PM

A quick update (for anyone interested):

I spent the day visiting various shops in London: Bluthner, Steinway, Yamaha and Marksons's - I will try and go to Jaques Samuels tomorrow. Some of the pianos I tried: Bluthner model 6, 7 and style 6 (1913), 3xnew Steinway A, Steinway O new, Steinway O from 2006, Yamaha CX3, C4F and S3X (all new) Bosendorfer 185VC new, 200 new, 170 (from 1994), and finally a Sauter 185 Delta. I tried to take notes on all, but some I missed - I will try and give a small overview below.

The Bluthners I tried were both very mellow and warm sounding pianos, which I liked, however I thought they lacked a bit of power when it came to playing ff or fff. Both the model 6 and 7 had what I would call an unnoticeable touch - ie it wasn't either good or bad, it was pretty normal. Overall I liked them but liked the pianos further on in the day more.

Then the Steinways: at first when I sat down to play all of the Model As I thought the touch was too light, however after a bit of time with them realised that maybe this was not so bad, and playing anything from ppp to fff was pretty easy. The bass was predictably superior to the model Os. The Model Os had a slightly heavier touch (especially the older one which also had a very heavy pedal), and I found all of them were warmer and mellower in terms of sound. Ideally I would want the warmth of an O with a bit more bass. Annoyingly Steinway Hall has terrible echoey acoustics.

Then the Yamahas: the CX3 was all right, especially given the price - however I think I still prefer a similarly priced Kawai. I liked the S3X a lot - the touch maybe a tiny bit better on the C4F but the tone miles better on the S3X, and given the fact that the SXs are half the price of a CF this made it even more attractive. I did not think, after playing for the past year at academies with mainly Yamahas and not being too impressed with them that I would enjoy them so much.

The new Bosendorfers were beautiful - only complaint is the heavy touch. In terms of mellowness and warmth the tone was perfect and I really enjoyed playing them. Finding a used one with that tone, however, might be a bit difficult. The 170 I played was a bit underwhelming if I am honest - the extra ~15cm on the other pianos really does help.

If I had to pick my favourites from the day it would probably be:
1. Bosendorfer 185VC (not including the 200 as it is probably too big)
1.1 (1.1 and not 2 because the Bosie was only just better, I loved both) Steinway As (any of them)
2. Steinway O (new)
3. Yamaha SX
4. Yamaha CX
5. The rest

I am a tiny bit conscious that I don't want the piano to sound too 'concerty' and it cannot be too loud (both for the sake of sounding nice in a home and for the sake of my neighbours) - ie I want a warm tone, with a decent amount of power. How much can a good voicing achieve this?

Any thoughts and comments are, as usual, very much welcomed.
Posted By: etherline

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 07/08/19 04:58 PM

I was interested! Just the sort of perspective I like to read from another UK based piano hunter.

I've played a Bluthner that I felt had enough power, at least for my living room, but I would agree that it you were comparing to Steinways they do seem to be energetic and exciting to play.

I'm looking forward to following in your footsteps to London in the next week or two particularly to try the Yamahas and maybe have a wee go on a Bosendorfer.
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 07/09/19 10:47 PM

@etherline I would highly recommend going to Yamaha - they have both!

I have just returned from seeing a used (~15yo) Steinway A in perfect condition - the previous owner kept it immaculately and did not really use it and IMO it is as good as the new pianos I have been trying. Slightly heavier action than the As I tried on the weekend, which I liked. It did not immediately jump out at me when I played it but the more I sat and played the more I loved it... Now I have a decision to make, predictably it is slightly above budget! I will be going back to see the piano in the next few weeks a few times after I have played some of the other ones that I liked again.

Wanted to gauge some opinions here about my next steps - the piano is currently with and being sold through someone who from what I understand is known in the UK to be one of the best people for 2nd hand and basically new Steinways, and has a showroom with a few other pianos.

1. What is the etiquette re bringing my own technician? If I was buying it privately or at auction I would have 10000% brought one with me, however given the technician's reputation and the fact that the piano is in such a good condition (I struggled to find scratches on the casing, it was kept covered) is this something that would be frowned upon? I will ask him if he offers a guarantee, however I am not sure he will as it is a commission sale.

2. Should I bring a pro pianist/teacher to give me a second opinion? To my ear the piano sounds fantastic, however do we (the wider pianoworld community) think that bringing in a pro to see it with me next week is worth it? I think the answer to this is probably yes... (If so, how to find one a pianist?)
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 07/09/19 10:56 PM

If the dealer is as good as you say, he will not discourage you from bringing your own tech. Bit make sure your tech is not best friends with the dealer as that may make it difficult for him to be completely honest with you.

Since you appear to be an advanced pianist, I don't see much need to bring along another pianist to test the piano but it can't hurt either.
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 07/13/19 09:45 PM

Someone beat me to it frown after 6 months of it being in the showroom someone else today decided they wanted it.... Oh well, I will keep looking. Any thoughts on the Shigeru SK3? One of the only ones left on my list to try...
Posted By: etherline

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 07/15/19 08:41 PM

Originally Posted by lbuizza
Someone beat me to it frown after 6 months of it being in the showroom someone else today decided they wanted it.... Oh well, I will keep looking. ..


Sorry to hear you missed that A.

I went into London today and did the tour. It was really educational. The Bluthner I tried wasn't, to my ears, that well regulated or even completely in tune. I was disappointed that the Aliquot strings were only in the very top register (seemed a bit token to me; like a vestigial tail). I have played better rebuilds than that. The Yamahas (C3X, S6X and CF4) were quite nice pianos but that the CF4 didn't seem three times as good as the C3X was disappointing. It was on sale at around 58k which put it at the same price as a used Steinway 'O'. All the Steinways I tried (new 'A', new 'O' and the used 'O') were consistent, well regulated, tuned and had a lovely touch.

I am cured of Bosendorfers :-)
Posted By: AssociateX

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 07/19/19 01:47 AM

I own a Model 0 Steinway from 1912. I spent 6 months searching for it, and found it here in NY at a local used piano wholesale dealer (he also ships pianos all over the word, I can DM you with his contact info if that is an option you want to try). Price was a bargain (under $15K USD).;I just had it tuned earlier, and tomorrow the technician is coming over to pick it up so he can take it to his shop to have it regulated. if you click on my YouTube videos in my profile/signature line you can hear it (granted they were taken when the piano was going a bit out of tune, and the recordings were taken from my iPhone 6s).

I love my Model 0, I would buy it again in a heartbeat. But I think its always a good idea to spend time testing as many pianos as possible. I had a much smaller budget and was prepared to settle for a nice Yamaha baby grand, but I love the Steinway sound and tried playing on many and when the Model O showed up, I jumped on it.
Posted By: lbuizza

Re: Used Steinway - should I get one? - 07/20/19 06:08 PM

Further update for those interested: went and saw a whole range of pianos today with the specifications that I wanted, including Shigeru SK2 and 3, and three Steinway As and two Os. Of these, there was one A and one O that really impressed me, both made in the same year. Both were a bit warmer than others that I have tried before and had similar touch.

The most noticeable difference was in the base - the A was simply more powerful, however I thought the treble sang a lot more and was a bit clearer with the O, and maybe it was because of the room they were in but I felt that the O was just a bit more balanced...

I will try both, and others, again however I am undecided between these two because I live in an apartment and I sometimes worry about the amount of sound that would come out of this piano, so from that point of view having a slightly less powerful piano might be better. Do I like the better base more than I like the better (in my opinion, however this could change) balance and slightly softer piano? I need to think about it.

I would be keen to hear some thoughts from others about this and about whether the piano can be too loud - appreciate that this last bit is a bit of a nothing question...
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