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I am considering purchasing a late 70s all-original Steinway Model M from the original owner's family. From what I can tell, it's in very good condition--it's certainly a beautiful piano--and was evaluated as 'excellent' by a technician about 6 years ago. I like the action and the piano to my ears has a nice clear tone, but there are two issues I noticed and which I'm hoping are not major items to address:

1. After releasing a note, it sustains a bit longer than it should as if the damper is slow to go back onto the string -- this is my main concern
2. The pedals are somewhat stiff such that you have to apply a bit more pressure, but the pedals otherwise seem to function


I'm going to ask their regular tuner for his opinion on the above issues, but thought I post something here to get any advice.

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I would have another tech independent from the owners evaluate the piano in addition to calling the piano tech the owner uses. It's a small investment to make when buying a 40+ year old piano. It's possible the owner's tuner may have a vested interest in helping them sell the piano.

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What PLU said re independent tech.

But, in my experience, problems like you described with the pedals and dampers are generally easy fixes. If it sounds good right now, and feels good right now, that's a very good sign, because tone and action are often harder to "repair" or improve.

Definitely keep us posted!

Last edited by ShiroKuro; 05/24/21 10:38 AM.

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It is possible it just needs playing to loosen up the moving parts a bit. Also, a competent tech can apply some special lubricant made for piano actions that can smooth things out and reduce friction.

I second the recommendation for an independent tech inspection.

Good luck!

Rick


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Thank you for the helpful responses. I do see the wisdom of getting the independent tech inspection, and I'm trying to line that up. The tuner is not answering his phone and the call's not even going to voicemail. Anyway, based on your inputs, I do feel optimistic the two issues are perhaps both readily addressable and might self-correct to some extent with resumed usage of the piano -- I believe it hasn't been played much in the last several years. I'll keep you all posted.

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A Steinway from this period would have been made using Teflon bushings, which can cause sticking problems in actions. Repairing them can be expensive, especially for dampers.


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Those should be easy to correct. I would not let these issues sway your decision if you really like the instrument. BDB makes a good point on the Steinway, teflon era. That you should brush up on!

I was lucky enough to play a 1926 M everyday for about two weeks. Thoroughly enjoyed.

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Originally Posted by Xam
Those should be easy to correct. I would not let these issues sway your decision if you really like the instrument. BDB makes a good point on the Steinway, teflon era. That you should brush up on!
If BDB makes a good point, the damper problem could be caused by the teflon, and the repair could be expensive, why should that not sway the OP(unless cost is not an issue)?

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Hmm, I am wondering about the connection between bushings and dampers...

Anyway, all the more reason to get an inspection from an independent piano tech.

And to the OP, if you do get an inspection, tell the piano tech about your concerns beforehand, that way they can more easily tell you what the cause might be and the cost of addressing it.


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Thanks for alterting me to Teflon as a potential issue. From my initial googling, I can only find clicking noise (due to gaps between the Teflon and its surrounding wood) as a complaint. I didn’t hear any of that when I tried out the piano, though I wasn’t listening for it. But issues with the use of Teflon can cause dampers to be laggy? I’m still trying to line up a technician to evaluate the piano, but will certainly want to find one with some experience with the Teflon era Steinways.

Last edited by Mechadogzilla; 05/24/21 02:30 PM.
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Mechadogzilla, you might ask about that on the Piano Tuners/Tech Forum:
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/forums/3/1.html

I was thinking the bushing would not impact the feel of the dampers. But I don't fix pianos, I just play 'em (read that with a cowboy accent! whome

BTW, you have a great username! grin


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Thanks, ShiroKuro. I posted my question in the tuners-technicians forum. My username was inspired by a Mechagodzilla action figure my brother had brought from Japan for me in the 90s. My son was playing with it while I was creating my PW account, and I thought to go with 'mecha-dog-zilla' as we have a dog who somehow always gets into the middle of things. :-)

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Originally Posted by Mechadogzilla
I am considering purchasing a late 70s all-original Steinway Model M from the original owner's family. From what I can tell, it's in very good condition--it's certainly a beautiful piano--and was evaluated as 'excellent' by a technician about 6 years ago. I like the action and the piano to my ears has a nice clear tone, but there are two issues I noticed and which I'm hoping are not major items to address:

1. After releasing a note, it sustains a bit longer than it should as if the damper is slow to go back onto the string -- this is my main concern
2. The pedals are somewhat stiff such that you have to apply a bit more pressure, but the pedals otherwise seem to function


I'm going to ask their regular tuner for his opinion on the above issues, but thought I post something here to get any advice.

I agree with the others that said you should get your own independent technician’s evaluation. If your serious about the instrument it’s money well spent. No one o here can make that decision, you have to make it.

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 05/24/21 10:15 PM.

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This era of NY Steinway often has a too strong shift pedal, (left pedal) return spring and uses two coil springs in the damper pedal.

If there is no excess friction in the key-frame/key-bed fit, the shift spring can be weakened.

And if there is no excess friction in the damper lift tray and trapwork the coil spring in the trapwork can be removed or cut slightly shorter.

Also the pedal bushings are nylon which doesn't work as well as the original felted cloth bushings. The pedals can easily be set up like the original design. The original felted pedal bushing can be greatly improved by wrapping the pedal pin with teflon plumbers tape before placing the felt around it. Then it can be adjusted for zero slop, and will still move freely and stay tight for years. I have many with no slop after thirty years of use. Not even the original design works that well/


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Ed, Thanks for the tips re the typical problems with the pedals on these pianos and how to fix. Will share this too with a technician.

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Originally Posted by Mechadogzilla
Thanks, ShiroKuro. I posted my question in the tuners-technicians forum. My username was inspired by a Mechagodzilla action figure my brother had brought from Japan for me in the 90s. My son was playing with it while I was creating my PW account, and I thought to go with 'mecha-dog-zilla' as we have a dog who somehow always gets into the middle of things. :-)

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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
This era of NY Steinway often has a too strong shift pedal, (left pedal) return spring and uses two coil springs in the damper pedal.

If there is no excess friction in the key-frame/key-bed fit, the shift spring can be weakened.

And if there is no excess friction in the damper lift tray and trapwork the coil spring in the trapwork can be removed or cut slightly shorter.

Also the pedal bushings are nylon which doesn't work as well as the original felted cloth bushings. The pedals can easily be set up like the original design. The original felted pedal bushing can be greatly improved by wrapping the pedal pin with teflon plumbers tape before placing the felt around it. Then it can be adjusted for zero slop, and will still move freely and stay tight for years. I have many with no slop after thirty years of use. Not even the original design works that well/

I had a '63 M with this exact problem with the sustain pedal. I took the damper tray out, and found that the wood/metal pivot was tight (who ever thought that a wood/metal bearing was a good idea?). After freeing and lubricating the pivot, I was able to remove one of the springs just as Ed suggested, and the pedal felt much better. I also had to adjust how far down the tray went when the pedal was released (it was moving too far), and I put in a capstan to limit the downward travel of the pedal. I also had to modify the pedal bushings--the original design wasn't great and the parts were surprisingly crude. I did something different from what Ed suggested, but I'm not implying that my redesign was better. After doing all of this, the sustain pedal felt miles better.

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Thanks for that info, Roy. Will definitely keep it in mind.

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My update.

Failing to find a technician who would be able to evaluate the piano this week—though all I spoke with advised me best they could based on my descriptions of the piano—I decided to go with my second choice, a late 70s Yamaha G2. Not as beautiful and stately as that Steinway, but I do like this G2’s feel and mellow tone…and its lower price. Thanks all for your inputs.


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