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#1250570 - 08/17/09 12:54 AM 1920's Steinway A
lakersgo82 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/09
Posts: 6
Hi there...
This is my first post. Thx all for your contributions...I've learned a lot about pianos from your threads...Here goes:

I am evaluating a 1920's Steinway A. From what I was told by the current owner, the piano was restored abt 20 years ago in Highland Park, IL. The piano is currently on the west coast. The owner has had it tuned but hasn't done anything major since the restoration. He acquired the piano after it had been restored in Highland Park. I asked if he had any of the paperwork re: the restoration and he said he doesn't have anything.

I also called today the place that he purchased the piano from (Highland Park Library - they commissioned the restoration and then sold it to the current owner). They owe me a response to see if they have any records that can identify who did the work on the piano.

I'd like to find out what was done to the piano in terms of restoration. Would Steinway keep a record of any work done on this piano if the business that restored it ordered parts from Steinway?

I appreciate any guidance that you can offer w this to help me track down how I can learn more about what work was done to the piano. I do have the serial number and I've confirmed on the Steinway site that the piano is from the 1920's.

I do plan to have an RPT evaluate the piano and provide an assessment but I'd like to collect as much info as I can re: work done to the piano before I call an RPT.

Hope this gives you enough info to provide feedback...

Thx in advance for your input...


Edited by lakersgo82 (08/17/09 12:56 AM)

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#1250577 - 08/17/09 01:14 AM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: lakersgo82]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21907
Loc: Oakland
Quote:
I'd like to find out what was done to the piano in terms of restoration. Would Steinway keep a record of any work done on this piano if the business that restored it ordered parts from Steinway?

No.

The only reliable way to determine what was done to the piano is to get someone knowledgeable to look at it. The difficulty is finding someone knowledgeable.

Besides, that is only part the evaluation. The other part is seeing how well the work was done, and how well it is standing up.
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#1250703 - 08/17/09 10:18 AM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: BDB]
vandyboy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/03/09
Posts: 94
A good RPT who is a Steinway expert is the key to a successful purchase in this scenario. They can tell you if Steinway parts or other brands were used in the restoration if you are unable to get info from the Library. Sounds like you are doing good investigative work and I hope the piano turns out to be gem!


Edited by vandyboy (08/17/09 10:18 AM)
_________________________
1902 Steinway A, Ebony Art Case

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#1250804 - 08/17/09 01:32 PM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: vandyboy]
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
I agree with the previous posters 100% but don't expect much as for a prior restoration of 20+ years back. What I mean is that I wouldn't pay an extra premium $ wise over the "core" value of the piano.If the piano is need of an extensive amount of work,chances are what has been previously done is not savageable. ex if one changed the hammers but not the action parts,one would not salvge the hammers when rebuilding the action stack at present. Another example might be if they changed the bass strings but now the tuning pins are loose,one would not salvage the bass strings upon restringing it. Hopefully it was a comprehensive rebuild with low milage where everything is up to snuff and done at a high level.There was competent work being done 20+ years ago in the stoneage though,it's pretty rare in that I see them now.
Good luck! smile


Edited by pianobroker (08/17/09 05:07 PM)
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#1250842 - 08/17/09 02:38 PM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: pianobroker]
lakersgo82 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/09
Posts: 6
Thx all for your input. I was at my local library this past weekend to check out range for used Steinways from Larry Fine's book (2006-07 edition). I recall the book saying that a Steinway from the 1920's when purchased from a private party should sell for between $10-15K. Again I'm working off memory here so I can't recall if this range is accurate.

Pianobroker or others - does the price range I list seem accurate from Fine's book? Appreciate your thoughts on the selling price range for this piano...

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#1250876 - 08/17/09 04:13 PM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: lakersgo82]
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
There is a broad $ range as for assessing "fair market value" of a re? Steinway grand in that the term "rebuilt"is a totally ambiguous term especially one of 20+ years later. In that the piano is of the 20's, it is or should be the longer(6'4 1/2") A-III which is more valuble than a normal case A1 or AII. Even if the AIII is a wreck,totally unplayable,it is still worth at least 10-15K. If you have no intention of rebuilding it,it has no value to you as a pianist.
Hire a tech and hope for best. It may be a real gem having very low milage on a full comprehensive 20 year old high end rebuild. wink


Edited by pianobroker (08/17/09 05:15 PM)
_________________________
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100+Steinway and M&H grands
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#1251012 - 08/17/09 07:59 PM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: pianobroker]
lakersgo82 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/09
Posts: 6
Thx for the fb re: how to think about FMV. I gained a better understanding for how to think about this piano or any other used piano that I might consider if this Steinway doesn't work out...

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#1251735 - 08/19/09 12:38 AM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: lakersgo82]
lakersgo82 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/09
Posts: 6
I went back to the owner and asked for some addl info re: playing time on the piano. Since they've owned it, the piano hasn't been played much at all. The owner acquired the piano for their son when he was very young. He's now an adult and as it turns out that he never had much interest in the piano but instead found the guitar to be his instrument of choice.

So my question is the following: what happens to a piano when it isn't played much? Other than tuning, voicing out of synch, is there anything negative that might happen to the piano structurally or some other negative effect when it isn't played very much at all?

Appreciate your thoughts on this...

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#1251768 - 08/19/09 02:59 AM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: lakersgo82]
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Depends on the climatic environment where it resided for the past 20+ years. Actually a piano could need restoration from the sheer exposure to the elements without nobody even touching it. They did wrap it in a hermatically sealed bag ,didn't they? grin
I recently assessed a 1963 Steinway B which was put into storage in 1965 till present.It needed a minor restoration.It didn't help it being on it's side for 44 years. wink

You need to play it but more importantly get an accurate assessment on the restoration and as BDB quoted how it has faired over the years. An original soundboard is dicretionary as for replacement at 80-90 years. My crystal ball is on the blink so ...Good luck.


Edited by pianobroker (08/19/09 02:59 AM)
_________________________
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100+Steinway and M&H grands
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Preowned & Restored
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#1254367 - 08/23/09 01:16 AM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: pianobroker]
lakersgo82 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/09
Posts: 6
A quick update: today I had a piano tech evaluate this piano. I wasn't sure what to expect given that the piano hadn't been played much. This is what I learned:

Overall the piano is in great shape. The piano was rebuilt using Steinway parts for the hammers and shanks. The hammers are in very good condition due to very limited playing time with this piano. Teflon bushing was used in the rebuild. The shanks were a bit noisy due to knuckle buck hardening. I was told this is easily repaired. The tech actually worked to correct the noise in the shank w one of the hammers and the piano responded well to the fix. (Hope I described this accurately...)

The soundboard, made of spruce, is the original sound board and in great condition. There is still plenty of crown left on the soundboard.

The tuning pins are size 4.0, up from the original 2.0 and the tuning pin torque was rated as very good.

He reported the bass strings to be very clear. The repetitions are original and fine. The back checks are original and in good condition.

Am interested in reading your observations to the above and there's other details I should go back to the piano tech and get clarity on. I tried my best to describe the evaluation so pls excuse my description if I wrote about something that may not be completely accurate. I welcome your fb on helping me understand this evaluation better.

Thx.

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#1254376 - 08/23/09 01:48 AM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: lakersgo82]
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
After reading the tech assessment I gotta say my crystal ball was pretty accurate as for the prior refurbishment. Refer to my first post. The prior refurbishment was probably a bit older than 20 years in that they probably would not have chosen to use teflon shanks/flanges in a rebuild 20 years ago.
I would say if you are content with it's present condition performance and sound wise etc.I would play it until you decide to restore the piano in it's entirety.. At that time you won't salvage anything as from the prior refurbishment and the remaining original parts.

If it doesn't float your boat in it's presnt cond.and you choose to purchase the piano with the intent of IMMEDIATE restoration than make sure you pay a fair price only for the rebuildable "core" value, in that you will most likely gut the entire piano anyway.

Maybe the tech can improve it in the mean time at a moderate expense Good Luck! wink
_________________________
www.pastperfectpiano.com
Largest selection in the USA
100+Steinway and M&H grands
Warehouse showroom Onsite Restoration
Preowned & Restored
Hailun dlr.818-255-3145
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voo0zumHGgE

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#1254510 - 08/23/09 11:06 AM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: lakersgo82]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2818
Loc: western Wisconsin
How much do they want for the instrument?
New action - good
teflon parts - bad
original board - meh
bridges + condition?
oversize tuning pins - not good when thinking about the long-term (save up some $), possibly fine for now
seems to have some original action parts in it - not good, "rebuild" may have cut corners

It sounds like some of the action was rebuilt, and the rest of the instrument is original, but in good playing condition. Hardly what I would call a "rebuilt" instrument. It could be a good choice for the right price, but if it's going to be played a lot I would budget for a proper rebuild some years down the road.

If you're looking for a nice piece of furniture or only casual play, it may be just the ticket. If you're a high-level player who will log lots of practice hours, I would be hesitant... just my gut feeling.
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#1254650 - 08/23/09 03:32 PM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: terminaldegree]
lakersgo82 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/09
Posts: 6
The seller is open to an offer. Based on the input I've read from this discussion and reviewing Fine's price range, I'm assuming the piano is somewhere in the $12-14K price range especially given the economic climate we're in right now. This coupled with the understanding that if I want a great instrument that I am likely to need to have it completely rebuit down the road.


I do not expect to make heavy use of the piano. Rather I am the casual player who is intersted in committing to a piano that has potential to be great. There's always the discussion of whether I should look for a newer piano or a different brand in a similar price range. I think about this a lot and ultimately will make the call if this is the right instrument for me to address my near term needs.

I welcome thoughts on the price range for this piano...

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#1254661 - 08/23/09 03:57 PM Re: 1920's Steinway A [Re: lakersgo82]
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
As a regular Steinway buyer,the main deciding factor as for determining it's PRESENT value would be the condition of the soundboard,bridges,ribs. The prior refurbishment really adds no monetary $ value to the piano and is considered a "perk" to the buyer.
If I was to restore such piano,you would find the teflon,hammer,shank.flanges in my dumpster.
So.....12-14K is a fair price if the original board is in great original cond.If not thousands less in that it is "new soundboard time" wink I've seen and had many many California pianos that the soundboards were fine crown,crack,downbearing wise.

How's the finish /cabinet condition. Everything attributes to it's value.


Edited by pianobroker (08/23/09 04:06 PM)
_________________________
www.pastperfectpiano.com
Largest selection in the USA
100+Steinway and M&H grands
Warehouse showroom Onsite Restoration
Preowned & Restored
Hailun dlr.818-255-3145
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z8RvhXGKzY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voo0zumHGgE

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