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#125923 - 02/10/08 05:39 PM Vintage Playel grand needing work - worth it?
Ezeejim Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/06
Posts: 5
Loc: New Orleans
I've been looking for a new piano for a while now, and wanted something with character and one that looked nice as furniture, in addition to being a quality instrument. I live in a 120 year-old house in New Orleans, and the idea of a late 19th-century piano in my front parlor appeals to me.

I've read some posts here which state, essentially, that an old piano doesn't have a lot of antique value, and that an old piano is essentially just that - an old piano.

In any case, I found a very nice-looking Playel grand piano yesterday in a local antique/consignment shop. From the serial number it was made between 1875 and 1880. Cosmetically, it definitely has the look I'm after and has a nice sound, though a couple of keys don't work at all (and 2 are missing entirely), the original soundboard has some cracks and would need to be restored, and the strings and pins look their age. It's not really playable enough for me to assess the action. My piano skills are moderate and I enjoy playing Chopin's easier works, which is another reason the idea of owning a Playel seems fun.

The guy's asking $5200, which seems high to me given the defects above. I'm planning on having a local restorer I trust take a look and give me a professional opinion. Any of you folks have any thoughts on an old Playel and whether restoring a piano like this makes any sense?

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#125924 - 02/10/08 06:25 PM Re: Vintage Playel grand needing work - worth it?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24461
Loc: Oakland
I hope it is a Pleyel, and not a Playel.

A piano this old is a specialist job. If it is what you want, then you should evaluate it carefully with someone who can do the work it needs. This is not your everyday restorer, particularly as French manufacturers tended to be rather conservative, and would stay with their own parts long after they were obsolete.

It really would make much more sense to buy a new piano in the old style, although they can be quite pricy. There is a store in NYC specializing in art case pianos, Maximiliaans. You might see what they want for a piano like this. Keep in mind that you undoubtedly will not be able to get the sort of prices that they could get for the same piano, simply because they can wait for the right buyer.

$5200 seems expensive for something like this unrestored.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#125925 - 02/10/08 07:51 PM Re: Vintage Playel grand needing work - worth it?
BruceD Offline

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 20031
Loc: Victoria, BC
From what I have read here, complete restoration of a piano this old could - emphasis on the words "complete" and "could", depending on what it needs, and what condition you would want to restore it to - cost $10,000.00, $15,000.00, $20,000.00 or more. Are you prepared to add those costs to the $5200.00 asking price for this piano?

The other risk of purchasing a piano with the intent of restoring it is that you don't know what the piano is going to sound like when it is restored, even if the restoration is a "perfect" one.

As BDB suggests, buy a new piano in the style you like, or buy an old piano that has already been restored and which you decide you like for all the right reasons.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#125926 - 02/10/08 09:05 PM Re: Vintage Playel grand needing work - worth it?
Ezeejim Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/01/06
Posts: 5
Loc: New Orleans
Thanks, y'all - sounds like good advice.

And, yes, it's Pleyel not Playel (need to add a blushing emoticon for situations like this)

Jim

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