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#1381601 - 02/23/10 11:41 PM Best Steinway model and year to look for
James Scott Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Hi all,

I've recently became very interested in getting a Steinway, but I don't really know too much about them. I've spent some time playing on a few and I've been impressed by their tone and touch. Obviously a B is out of the question, but what would be your opinions of the smaller size models, and what would be the best year range to get? I've seen many for sale in the pre-depression years, but do they typically need too much work to make it worthwhile. When did the action finally evolve into what we'd call the "modern action"? And were there any important changes in design along the way that I'd need to look out for, either bad or good?

All of the above being said, I haven't ruled out an M&H or anything similar so I'm still considering something like an AA.

Thanks,
James

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#1381645 - 02/24/10 01:19 AM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: James Scott]
AJF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1601
Loc: Toronto
The best Steinway to look for is the one that most excites you when you play it. If two sound the same to you, go for the cheaper one.

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#1381853 - 02/24/10 10:52 AM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: AJF]
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3447
Loc: US
If you are looking for vintage S&S, if you can find a "long A' (6'4") that is in great shape or well-restored (have it inspected) they can be really wonderful!

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#1381860 - 02/24/10 11:08 AM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: sophial]
PianoWorksATL Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2691
Loc: Atlanta, GA
+1 sophial,

If you are falling short of a B, that AIII "long scale" is the one to be patient for and find restored properly.

The Steinway AIII, Grotrian 192, and Schimmel 189 NWS are my three favorite pianos in that size range probably in that order.
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#1381863 - 02/24/10 11:10 AM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: PianoWorksATL]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1523
Loc: Danville, California
Maybe look for a 1927.

That was a pretty good year for New York as I recall. smile

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#1381870 - 02/24/10 11:22 AM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Furtwangler]
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
I think a pre WW1 short A, 6'2" would be my vintage preference. I think the overall design is a bit more balanced and musical then the long A. I also feel the overall excellence in execution was at an all-time high during this era.

I would love to hear a long A done by piano works in Atlanta though. I played a 1918 M&H model A they had rebuilt that was simply magnificent.
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#1381874 - 02/24/10 11:35 AM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Alex Hernandez]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6224
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
James -

As far as Steinways go - avoid anything built between 1962 and 1981 when they were using the teflon bushings.

Avoid Mason and Hamlins built between 1930 and 1995.

In general, newer is better.

Carey
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#1381895 - 02/24/10 12:15 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: carey]
Tweedpipe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/08
Posts: 423
Originally Posted By: carey
James -

As far as Steinways go - avoid anything built between 1962 and 1981 when they were using the teflon bushings.

Avoid Mason and Hamlins built between 1930 and 1995.

In general, newer is better.

Carey


I'm not in the market for a Steinway, but the above comment (in bold) interested me. Does this apply to both US and Hamburg Steinways ?
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#1381906 - 02/24/10 12:23 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: carey]
PianoWorksATL Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2691
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Thank you Alex,

We're about to start on a pre-WWI short A for a customer and we have high expectations for that piano.

The short A is more balanced, but then the other two pianos on my list have a lot of personality, perhaps more than balance. I think those pianos may be more fun for the pianist than for the audience, but this is pure opinion.

With a serious interest in Steinway, you really should test drive some nice Mason & Hamlin pianos. They are different, but my experience is that they appeal to so many of the same desires of customers smitten with Steinway. There are other wonderful brands, but this thread will quickly get away from you if you go there.

Late model used & high level restorations from Steinway will generally be competitively priced in the same neighborhood. If it is not late model used, restored or new, you may want to re-examine why you choose to focus on Steinway.
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#1381920 - 02/24/10 12:36 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Tweedpipe]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6224
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Tweedpipe
Originally Posted By: carey
James -

As far as Steinways go - avoid anything built between 1962 and 1981 when they were using the teflon bushings.

Avoid Mason and Hamlins built between 1930 and 1995.

In general, newer is better.

Carey


I'm not in the market for a Steinway, but the above comment (in bold) interested me. Does this apply to both US and Hamburg Steinways ?


I honestly don't know. However in the 2001 edition of The Piano Book Larry Fine states "If you are buying a used Steinway made between 1962 and 1981, you may not need to be as concerned with the presence of the Teflon bushings"..... "especially if your piano will be receiving only average use in the home. According to the technicians with extensive experience serving these pianos, there are usually few problems with these bushings after those that give trouble during the first few seasons are replaced."

Personally, if given a choice, I would simply avoid buying a Steinway from that era.
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#1381924 - 02/24/10 12:42 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: carey]
BDB Online   content
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If you buy any piano more than 25 years old, condition becomes more of a factor than build quality. If you buy a rebuilt piano, or a piano for rebuilding, the quality of the rebuilder is more of a factor than the original build quality.
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#1381928 - 02/24/10 12:53 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: BDB]
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
BDB hits the nail on the head.

I am not a subscriber to all the "golden era" nonsense about "good years" for Steinways. The best Steinway is the one that just rolled off the line today! If you can't afford the budget or space for a B look at the A or the M. Yes, there is a lot of talk about the lack of final preparation on new S&S. Yes, there is a lot of talk about consistancy issues. That has always been there. Steinway, like most progressive manufacturers, has continued to evolve their products.

IMHO, the only reason to consider a used rebuilt Steinway is price.
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#1381935 - 02/24/10 01:07 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: carey]
crogersrx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 712
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Originally Posted By: carey
James -

As far as Steinways go - avoid anything built between 1962 and 1981 when they were using the teflon bushings.

Avoid Mason and Hamlins built between 1930 and 1995.

In general, newer is better.

Carey



I think that my favorite piano that I have EVER played was actually an NY S&S model B from 1966. It had been rebuilt, by Steinway, so essentially it was brand new, and the Teflon was not reintegrated into the rebuild. I lost a lot of sleep over whether to pool several resources to buy it, and in the end, I didn’t have to think about it anymore because someone else bought it before me. I loved everything about it, even compared to the really new ones sitting right beside it.

All that to say, if one of the Teflon Steinways is rebuilt, the Teflon is probably gone. Just have a tech check it out.
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#1381945 - 02/24/10 01:25 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: BDB]
James Scott Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Thank you all, these are great suggestions. I can't really quantify why I have an interest in them, I just do. My friend and former teacher has a 1915 A that is absolutely beautiful. Maybe that's why I like them. I grew up playing mostly his Steinway and a bunch of Yamahas in the shop that I worked in in high school (in the '80s). I've heard a lot of great things about the M&H, though, but haven't actually seen one in person. Phoenix seems to have a shortage of dealers (new or used).

I've seen several reputable rebuilders, some of which post here occasionally, and I'd be inclined to only deal with someone like that.

Bill Bremmer gave a great discertation on the whole "teflon" deal in a thread in the technicians forum last week and it explained a lot of things (I don't know how or I'd link it here). As I understand it can have problems in low RH, and since Phoenix is mostly dry dry dry dry dry, I think that it would be more of a problem here than in other places.

Ok, so I like the A, but what is the difference between that and the AII or the AIII, and would they be that much better than an M or O/L? What's the difference between the O and L? They both have the same size spec from what I can tell.

Thanks again for all of your replies,
James

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#1382019 - 02/24/10 03:08 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: James Scott]
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Though I have had or have many many M,O or L(s) that are great, the AII at 6'1" /6'2" or the AIII at 6'4 1/2" is a physically bigger and longer piano so.... therefore has the potential to be a better piano.

In New York, the mdl. AII was first manufactured in 1897 and was discontinued in 1913, succeeded by the AIII in 1913. The AIII was manufactured till the late 30's and special order to the mid forties. In that the AII was discontinued in 1913 technically there is nothing one can salvage other than the case,harp and discretionary,the keyset. In other words in the end, a vintage AII (1897-1913) if remanufactured at a high level is only as good as the restoration or rebuild. One can't usually save the soundboard,bridges,ribs,damper action.pinblock etc.in a vintage AII.

Now in an AIII, it is possible to save some of the components(discretionary) such as the soundboard,bridges and ribs etc. n that,they were manufactured till 1945ish. Though the older ones (early teens)are in same condition as the AII.
Hamburg factory never manufactured the AIII. They always manufactured the AII even up till present whereas the NY factory now manufactures the 6'2" AII.

In that there were 3 different Steinway O's since their initiation they varied in size and scale since 1900. The earliest one had a straight bass bridge with no duplex bars. The later scale in the early 1900's had a curved bass bridge with no duplex bars. The present scale as of today has the curved bass bridge with duplex bars.
The O is round tailed. The L is square tailed like the newer AII,AIII,B,C and D.

You should do a search in the Piano-Tech forum of the Steinway O and L in that Larry B. did an accurate assessment on the sound variable difference between the two which I agreed with grin
The bass string scale is the same as for the L and latest O scale.

I could rattle on pages on end though the real difference is the finished end product. Finding that extrodinary rebuilding operation and the piano itself is the task at hand.
Steinway is a hand made piano so... every one can be different. wink
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#1382022 - 02/24/10 03:10 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: James Scott]
Les Koltvedt Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 3195
Loc: Canton, MI
Quote:
Bill Bremmer gave a great discertation on the whole "teflon" deal in a thread in the technicians forum last week and it explained a lot of things (I don't know how or I'd link it here). As I understand it can have problems in low RH, and since Phoenix is mostly dry dry dry dry dry, I think that it would be more of a problem here than in other places.


James...here ya go

Link to Bill Bremmers' statement on Teflon Bushings
Another post within that thread.

This may be the post pianobroker is referencing Steinway Models


Edited by Monster M&H (02/24/10 03:19 PM)
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LK Piano
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#1382072 - 02/24/10 04:07 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Les Koltvedt]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6224
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
James -

I also live in Phoenix (dry, dry, dry). I have a 2003 Mason and Hamlin BB, and will send you a private message regarding who carries M&H's locally.

Carey
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#1382085 - 02/24/10 04:30 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: carey]
Roxy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Whittier, Calif
Is it simply not cost effective to replace the bushings? Or does it alter the piano's sound too much and is just not worth the trouble?

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#1382092 - 02/24/10 04:35 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Roxy]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6224
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Roxy - My understanding is that replacing the Teflon bushings requires replacing the entire action.
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#1382114 - 02/24/10 05:20 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: carey]
Brandon_W_T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1940
Loc: Omaha, Nebraska
1902 Steinway C anybody? laugh

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDrCAnihstc

Im slowing but surely falling in love with this...

or this... one of my (if not the) model and age of Steinway I dream of!

1877 Steinway D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHs4SdJXj7g&feature=related
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#1382115 - 02/24/10 05:21 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: carey]
Les Koltvedt Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 3195
Loc: Canton, MI
The teflon bushings are located between the hammer shank and the hammer flange. At the very least it would require the hammers, shanks and flanges to be replaced, followed by a complete regulation. That's if the whippens and other components are in good working order.
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#1382135 - 02/24/10 05:47 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Les Koltvedt]
BDB Online   content
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Registered: 06/07/03
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There are teflon bushings in the wippens and underlevers, too.
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#1382181 - 02/24/10 06:50 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: BDB]
Les Koltvedt Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 3195
Loc: Canton, MI
I learned something today...tks BDB
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LK Piano
Servicing the S. Eastern Michigan Area
PTG Associate

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#1382187 - 02/24/10 07:03 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Les Koltvedt]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6224
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Apparently there are approximately 1,000 bushings in a piano action......yikes !!
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#1382204 - 02/24/10 07:22 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: carey]
jtattoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 321
Loc: Austin TX
I do know that at some point CBS "bought" Steinway (they purchased Lyon and Healy at the same time, harp makers). Essentially through corporate decisions, they ruined both the American Steinway and Lyon and Healy Harps. When I was with Columbia Artists Management, I know during the 70-80s the pianists with that agency specified only Hamburg Steinway pianos were acceptable on stage. Then in the middle 80s, both companies changed hands and the result in both instruments is incredible. If I was truly interested in a Steinway piano (and I would LOVE to have one), I would like at pianos dated past mid 80s. Just my HO Jim
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#1382208 - 02/24/10 07:32 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: James Scott]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: James Scott
[...] Obviously a B is out of the question, [...]


Just curious...why is it 'obviously' out of the question?
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#1382247 - 02/24/10 08:42 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Horowitzian]
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
Some times this "stuff" is hard to read.

I guy plays a 1915 B that he falls in love with twenty years ago at a church. For the rest of his life he extolls the virtues of only 1915 vintage Steinways.

A piano student's teacher has a 1929 D that charms him through his formative years. That's the only "vintage" there is that is worth it.

A guy condems two decades of Steinways (during the CBS years) because he "heard" they were bad when he has little or no experience with a reasonable sample to make a judgement.

One cannot judge a line of pianos with experience with one or two. One cannot judge a year or decade of a line of pianos with experience with one or two. Any piano that is over 30-40 years old will need to be rebuilt for any higher level use. With a new board, block, pins, strings, action parts, etc. it bears little relationship to that which was new in 1929. Rebuilders frequently do not even use Steinway parts or Steinway methods in the rebuilding.

CBS owned Steinway & Sons from 1972 - 1985. Prior to that the family had allowed stocks of raw materials to run down and machinery to age. Under CBS ownership capital investment went from $100,000 per year under the family to $1-2 million a year. CBS saved S&S from certain destruction. During the period 1972-1985 the worlds great pianists toured the U.S. stages playing on NY built D's. Hamburg built instruments were extremely rare in this country and still are today.

Teflon bushings were in the hammer flanges, whippen flanges, and underlevers on Steinway grands from 1962 - 1982. They were in the pianos ten years prior to the CBS era. They were also in every C&A piano in the U.S. during that period. The worlds great pianists toured the country playing on Teflon flange equipped (permafree) actions for twenty years with little complaint. Hundreds of thousands of concert goers during that period thrilled to the sound of the Steinway pianos on stage during that period, just as they had for decades before and decades after.

Universitiy music departments with the most demanding piano faculties do not seek out "golden era" instruments. They buy new Steinways year after year. Concert venues across the U.S. do not seek out "rebuilt" Steinways of certain vintages. They buy new ones all the time.

By 1985 CBS had been pedaling S&S for several months and morale at the factory was at a low. Money had stopped flowing and workers felt uncertain and may not have been doing their best work. The Bermingham brothers rescued S&S again from uncertainty. The ten years under their ownership saw S&S come to the dealers with strong and inovative marketing plans. Production was back to pervious levels and the factory was feeling positive again. The pianos in that era were strong and consistant. The Crown Jewel Collection pianos were debuted during this period along with several specialty artcases. The Boston line was introduced as a lower cost line for Steinway dealers to embrace as an alternative to Brand Y or K.

In 1995 S&S was sold to Selmer. Steinway Music Properties became Steinway Musical Instruments. They wanted better quality control and consistancy so they bought Kluge keys in Europe. They wanted better consistancy and quality control so they bought O.S. Kelly the American foundry that casts their plates. They retired the model O. They revived the model A. They have striven to bring closer the differences between the NY and the German products.

Every used piano should be evaluated as a stand alone entity. They need to be survayed by competant technicians who know what to look for. This information along with buyer impressions on touch and tone. A survay of comparables in that market complete the package of performance value vs price. Folks commissioning rebuilds are at the mercy of the rebuilder's skill and craft. You can play examples and see examples of his work, but you can never know what the outcome will be until it is done. A rebuilt older Steinway, a young Steinway, or a new Steinway is what it is right now and can be evaluated, purchased, and enjoyed right now.
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#1382299 - 02/24/10 09:49 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Marty Flinn]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
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Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
They retired the model L NOT the O...also not sure about the "was sold to Selmer" bit...you may find it is owned by someone else....
Apart from these small details...a good summary Marty...thank you...sorry if I'm being picky...
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#1382308 - 02/24/10 10:04 PM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Marty Flinn]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5184
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Marty Flinn
Some times this "stuff" is hard to read....

CBS owned Steinway & Sons from 1972 - 1985. Prior to that the family had allowed stocks of raw materials to run down and machinery to age. Under CBS ownership capital investment went from $100,000 per year under the family to $1-2 million a year. CBS saved S&S from certain destruction. During the period 1972-1985 the worlds great pianists toured the U.S. stages playing on NY built D's. Hamburg built instruments were extremely rare in this country and still are today.

I spent a week at the Steinway factory not long after CBS purchased the company. From what I saw your assessment of the factory's condition is, if anything, conservative. The buildings were run down. The equipment was in very poor condition. Workers were making do with machines that were upwards of 50 to 80 years old and which had not received adequate maintenance in decades. The only machinery that was in good condition had either been recently purchased or rebuilt with CBS money. In my view it is an absolute certainty that had CBS not stepped in there would be no Steinway today. Or, if the name had survived it would no longer be built in the U.S. Or Germany either, for that....

Like many, I complained (both at the time and in later years) about the miserable build quality of the instruments coming out of NY but all of that notwithstanding given some dedicated prep work (some of which ventured into the realm of rebuilding) they ended up as excellent instruments both to play and to hear. And it has only been through the oversight (and investment) of CBS and the company's subsequent owners that the build quality and performance is what it is today.



Quote:
Teflon bushings were in the hammer flanges, whippen flanges, and underlevers on Steinway grands from 1962 - 1982. They were in the pianos ten years prior to the CBS era. They were also in every C&A piano in the U.S. during that period. The worlds great pianists toured the country playing on Teflon flange equipped (permafree) actions for twenty years with little complaint. Hundreds of thousands of concert goers during that period thrilled to the sound of the Steinway pianos on stage during that period, just as they had for decades before and decades after.

Again, like most technicians working on these instruments at the time, I initially had problems with Teflon bushings. These problems were exacerbated by the service techniques promoted by the factory. Once we discarded these and developed our own servicing tools and techniques they became quite predictable and reliable. They were the only pianos we could send anywhere and into any climate and have some reasonable assurance that they would work as intended.

Just a couple of weeks ago I serviced a Steinway built during that era and found the bushings still working quite nicely. None were abnormally tight or loose. To be sure there were numerous cosmetic problems—these were the rule of the day—but the fundamental piano is still sound and the action is still functioning quite nicely.

I too grow weary reading about how “CBS ruined Steinway.”

ddf
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Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1382401 - 02/25/10 01:34 AM Re: Best Steinway model and year to look for [Re: Del]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6224
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Marty and Del -

Thanks very much for taking the time and energy to respond to this issue. I personally have learned a tremendous amount from reading your posts. Your participation in these forums is greatly appreciated !!
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