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#163452 - 03/13/08 07:16 AM Do I want an older Steinway?
Bloomim Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Springfield, VA
Help Please!
I am looking at a turn-of-century upright Steinway for $1000 for sale by private owner. I have no idea whether it's worth it or not. All keys work but a few (8-10) have a funny tinny sound after they're struck. The felts look to be in good condition but what do I know? -not much which is why I'm hoping someone out there can help. The ivory is in perfect condition and the case is in pretty good shape considering the age. It does need some scrollwork on one removable panel.
I'm cautiously excited because it's a Steinway and the tone sounds excellent to me. -but once again, what do I know.
Thank you in advance for any insight.

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#163453 - 03/13/08 09:05 AM Re: Do I want an older Steinway?
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10726
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
What is your purpose in buying a piano? If you want it for regular use you need a piano that is fully functional. If 8-10 keys do not work properly this is a rather big problem. If the action is original it is likely to be very uneven feeling from key to key.

If you are seriously interested in this piano you should hire a technician to evaluate it. That will give you a better idea of its problems, hidden or otherwise, and of what you might expect to spend if you want to bring the piano back into decent working order.

#163454 - 03/13/08 09:45 AM Re: Do I want an older Steinway?
S. Phillips Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 439
Loc: Forte Farm, Lexington, KY
It will cost just as much to have it restored as a grand piano of approximately the same age.

I agree that you need to have a tech look at it. If all the parts are there the repairs can certainly be done. It depends on your use and how long you plan to keep it. The tinny sound that you describe could be dampers ringing, loose hammer heads, loose flange screws (clicking) or simply tuning. If the strings of the unisons are drastically different then it is probably very loose tuning pins or a cracked pinblock. Many of the old Steinways that I have seen do have pinblocks that would be usable for restringing but when you start rebuilding one of these you really have to do mostly everything or you will end up with a major dysfunction in some area. If you try to repair the action instead of replacing you will likely have constant failures as more and more things go wrong.

If you are just going to use it as a decorative object that is useful for the occasional Christmas carol then it might be OK but if you seriously want an instrument you will have to spend a lot more money to make it functionally reliable.

On the other hand if you are seriously interested in restoring it (aside from the economic aspect of spending that much money) it could be lovely when you get it done.
Sally Phillips
Piano Technician
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#163455 - 03/13/08 04:22 PM Re: Do I want an older Steinway?
Bloomim Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Springfield, VA
I played many years ago but have forgotten most. I would like to relearn what I have lost without investing a fortune. I would just be learning intermittently as my tiny bit of spare time allowed.

I was really looking for a name brand upright or baby grand with a beautiful burled wood case that also sounds great but that doesn't seem to be happening within my budget of $1500-$2000 including moving cost. This piano seems to have character and tone without the beautiful case. For under $1000 I mostly see cheap spinets or brands I can hardly find in a google search.

All the keys work and I could use the piano as-is with just tuning.

A year ago the owners had a technician look the Steinway over to see if it would be worth restoring. I spoke with that the technician this morning and he seemed to remember telling them that they should not restore it since that would be cost prohibitive. However, when I told him they wanted to sell it for $1000, he seemed to think that the piano was worth well over that amount. (He didn't do an official appraisal.)

I'm not considering restoring the Steinway, but I would want to get it tuned. I found a mover who quoted me $300 so I'll probably go for it. I just want to know if someone thinks that's an awful risk to take.

Any other comments would be appreciated before I take this plunge.

Thank you!

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#163456 - 03/13/08 06:37 PM Re: Do I want an older Steinway?
Innominato Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 802
Loc: London
Well you are risking a maximum of USD 1,300 all inclusive for something which certainly is a beautiful piece of furniture and might even be a more or less usable piano.

If you really should decide that you are very unsatisfied of how it sounds, you would be able to sell it again, due to the name at not much less what you paid, if the tech remembered well and is right probably at more.

We are talking of very little money for a piano, so I'd say that in my eyes the risk is worth taking, and if you have friends who do not understand anything of piano but know the brand "Steinway" the aha-effect for the money would be excellent ;\) .

Here in England for the price you can not even get a nice piece of furniture, let alone with "Steinway" written over it.

I'd say all in all it seems to me a sensible way to ckeck in the next months if you really find the time to regularly play piano and want to go on, at which point even a small loss would have been an excellent investment...
"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin

#163457 - 03/13/08 07:02 PM Re: Do I want an older Steinway?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23775
Loc: Oakland
There was a topic in the Technician's area about an old Steinway upright and the problems dealing with them. I think you should look that up and read it before you jump into this.

The tinny sound after the hammer has struck, if it is on the key release, is probably damaged damper felts. Steinway upright dampers are particular to Steinways and difficult to replace, so even something like that, which would be fairly easy to fix on most other old uprights, is a major problem with a Steinway.
Semipro Tech

#163458 - 03/14/08 07:00 AM Re: Do I want an older Steinway?
Bloomim Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Springfield, VA
Thank you so much to all that have inputted. I'll have to spend time on this sight over the weekend- what a great place.


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