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#1934799 - 07/30/12 03:57 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Rod Verhnjak]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2380
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: Rod Verhnjak
I've seen many pianos thrown away that could be used with a days technical work.
I also have thrown away many that were far past their expiration date.
I have also restored some that were beyond their expiration date that would blow away most of the new uprights today in appearance, performance and tone.

There is no shortage of good old uprights and one day those that have them restored
properly will have something special.



This is a man who knows. ^^^
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#1934824 - 07/30/12 04:40 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: BoseEric]
Annitenth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 458
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: BoseEric
...Kids get discouraged playing on pieces of junk and never continue, reinforcing the parents defective thought process "we'll get something cheap and if they stick with it, we'll get something better". Well, guess what, Johnny didn't stick with it because he got no satisfaction out of it.


I keep reading similar comments in this forum, not just this one from BoseEric, and I just can't agree. What are the average middle-class parents expecting from Johnny's piano lessons? A concert pianist? A piano teacher? Some kind of music professional? I think most want their kids to learn a little and are more than satisfied if the piano becomes in any sense a lifelong interest.

My parents certainly never regretted the cost of my piano lessons. I took only five years but have played all my life, for Sunday school classes, in high school productions, "graduating" to small churches as a temporary pianist/organist and entertaining at social gatherings. Just this week I'm scheduled to play for a small wedding. When I return from vacation, the first thing I do is hit the piano.

I got plenty of satisfaction from my mother's old Bradbury. And, although I love playing a really good instrument, I won't pass by ANY piano...or keyboard. (I've written here about the old upright with broken hammers that we duct-taped together for a great Christmas party.)

I was justing rereading the "My First Piano" posts from several weeks ago, and it's surprising how many of our members, many of whom are music professionals, started on pretty low quality pianos. That didn't keep them from continuing with their interest.

I think the important thing is to HAVE a piano, almost any [working] piano, for our kids, not to provide them with tier one instruments. IMHO, if it's going to take, it'll take regardless of the quality of the piano.
_________________________
Anne
Bösendorfer 225
Technics PCM Digital Ensemble PR307

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#1934834 - 07/30/12 05:05 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549


Most of those shown in the video did not look like "artful gems" cabinet wise(like some of Rod's restorations) but I do agree if the ivory was salvagable,and wasn't that's too bad..












Edited by Bob Newbie (07/30/12 05:06 PM)

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#1934858 - 07/30/12 05:47 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Gadget Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 7
Loc: Michigan
I would agree that some pianos are just beyond repair, and I understand that the current dealers do did their bread and butter, but anyone who has invested in a used vintage American made piano knows that they sing unlike any modern made mass produced imported pianos..Although economics is in the end the deciding factor, there has to be a happy medium somewhere where some of these high end American made classics can be salvaged and marketed..I suspect that with many American's losing their homes due to the crashing of the Housing market a great many pianos have just been removed by Bank's, Realtors who dispatch Piano moving outfits to remove a Piano from a home that was foreclosed on that, for what ever reason the owners have left their Pianos..I am sure that the Movers in the video don't just simply load up a 1905 6 " Chickering Grand or a 1890 Steinway upright and than toss into a scarp pile like a cardboard box, but the common vintage Pedestrian piano models that some of us own ourselves probably suffer that fate..My point is, these pianos are piling up faster than investors can get a lead on them, consequently they are disposed of, and it just seems to me that there should be some sort of net working regarding these homeless pianos so that there is at least some sort of good measure of these great icons of Americana around for posterity..There is of course up tick to the wholesale slaughter of these vintage pianos, those who now own one of these precious objects will see the value of their piano go up...

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#1934860 - 07/30/12 05:54 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Sauter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/12
Posts: 21
Loc: Mexico City
Most people will never ever in a million years be able to buy a "new" piano, so junk is all they'll ever be able to get

That´s a big true. I know about that.

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#1934870 - 07/30/12 06:25 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Gadget]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: Gadget
I would agree that some pianos are just beyond repair, and I understand that the current dealers do did their bread and butter, but anyone who has invested in a used vintage American made piano knows that they sing unlike any modern made mass produced imported pianos..Although economics is in the end the deciding factor, there has to be a happy medium somewhere where some of these high end American made classics can be salvaged and marketed..I suspect that with many American's losing their homes due to the crashing of the Housing market a great many pianos have just been removed by Bank's, Realtors who dispatch Piano moving outfits to remove a Piano from a home that was foreclosed on that, for what ever reason the owners have left their Pianos..I am sure that the Movers in the video don't just simply load up a 1905 6 " Chickering Grand or a 1890 Steinway upright and than toss into a scarp pile like a cardboard box, but the common vintage Pedestrian piano models that some of us own ourselves probably suffer that fate..My point is, these pianos are piling up faster than investors can get a lead on them, consequently they are disposed of, and it just seems to me that there should be some sort of net working regarding these homeless pianos so that there is at least some sort of good measure of these great icons of Americana around for posterity..There is of course up tick to the wholesale slaughter of these vintage pianos, those who now own one of these precious objects will see the value of their piano go up...



And vintage Canadian instruments.
Well at least 10 companies come to mind that were makers of outstanding pianos.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
Verhnjak Pianos Facebook


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#1934871 - 07/30/12 06:28 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Gadget]
Ed Foote Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1125
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: Gadget
I .My point is, these pianos are piling up faster than investors can get a lead on them, consequently they are disposed of, and it just seems to me that there should be some sort of net working regarding these homeless pianos so that there is at least some sort of good measure of these great icons of Americana around for posterity..There is of course up tick to the wholesale slaughter of these vintage pianos, those who now own one of these precious objects will see the value of their piano go up...


Greetings,
I don't think the problem is that "investors" can't find the old uprights to invest in. Anyone that wants to invest in old uprights and smaller brand grands has unlimited choices. I see these at every garage and estate sale I go to.

The problem is that there are few credible technicians that can invest the time in them without having to take a loss on the sale. If less than a complete restoration is done, most of these pianos will have continuing problems in use, and it is hard to sell a restoration on an upright.

I have restored two Steinway uprights over the years. Both were sold to internationally known artists, and they love them. My time was worth $ 17 an hour on them. It is worth approx. 9 times as much when I restore a Steinway grand. My time on Chickering upright was worth $8 per hour, so I have little urge to purse that, again. All of these uprights were great pianos, but there is no market that makes it worthwhile.
Regards,

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#1934877 - 07/30/12 06:39 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Annitenth]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2700
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: Annitenth
I think the important thing is to HAVE a piano, almost any [working] piano, for our kids, not to provide them with tier one instruments. IMHO, if it's going to take, it'll take regardless of the quality of the piano.
I worry you've built your argument on some mistaken assumptions. What I run into on a weekly basis is parents who leave their children on a 61 key light-up keyboard for 4 years of lessons. I see others who spend $1000 to haul a worthless spinet halfway across the country. And I see devoted, passionate teachers thinking like devoted passionate pianists that will rub 2 sticks together to make fire rather than seeing the majority of average students who need more just to maintain focus. Our looking glass is colored by experiences

Learning to play on a bad piano is like trying to learn to type on an old wordprocessor with letters missing. Or like trying to play tennis with an old wooden racquet that is missing 4 strings.

A) These are skills that anyone can learn for a lifetime.
B) Someone who is destined to be the best will not be discouraged.
C) Someone who is going to be average or only develop it as a life skill will be discouraged

You end up looking at the old racquet and you quickly see that it isn't just missing 4 strings, but the others could really be changed out. And the grip is worn and frayed. And after all, it wasn't a top-of-the-line racquet even in its day...we go get a new one.

A piano suitable to learn on will hold a tuning, have consistent feel, have no missing parts. I've honestly never seen a piano like that disposed of, though I can certainly imagine it happens. If 90% of the lingering, ancient uprights, forgotten in basements or formal dining rooms, covered in dust and picture frames disappeared, no one would miss them. If 90% of all of the hoop grands, broken pneumatic player pianos and other novelties vanished, the world wouldn't lose one great pianist. If all spinets vanished, how many parents would reconsider what "good enough" actually costs. None of this applies to people who value better instruments or those who are sentimental but know that, unrestored, grandma's piano isn't an instrument.

I know you cannot buy your way into being a better musician just by buying a better instrument. You can easily short circuit an average player with a bad instrument just as easily as with discouraging words.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The problem is filming the destruction. No one wants to watch their burger being made either.
_________________________
Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bösendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Weber & Hailun
Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
Full Restoration Shop
www.PianoWorks.com
www.youtube.com/PianoWorksAtlanta

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#1934899 - 07/30/12 07:11 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
thetandyman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 443
Loc: Indiana
Heck, they take old organs and dump them in the ocean to make man-made barrier reefs. I even saw a picture of a submerged Rolls Royce! But don't forget, our current administration will probably never have a program called "Cash for Clunker Pianos". If I could get $4500 for an old Story and Clark upright, I'd be calling the movers!
_________________________
Marriage is like a card game, you start with two hearts and a diamond, later you wish you had a club and a spade!
Yamaha G7 Yamaha CVP75 digital, Allen 3500 theater organ

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#1934916 - 07/30/12 07:39 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Ed Foote]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted By: Ed Foote
Originally Posted By: Gadget
I .My point is, these pianos are piling up faster than investors can get a lead on them, consequently they are disposed of, and it just seems to me that there should be some sort of net working regarding these homeless pianos so that there is at least some sort of good measure of these great icons of Americana around for posterity..There is of course up tick to the wholesale slaughter of these vintage pianos, those who now own one of these precious objects will see the value of their piano go up...


Greetings,
I don't think the problem is that "investors" can't find the old uprights to invest in. Anyone that wants to invest in old uprights and smaller brand grands has unlimited choices. I see these at every garage and estate sale I go to.

The problem is that there are few credible technicians that can invest the time in them without having to take a loss on the sale. If less than a complete restoration is done, most of these pianos will have continuing problems in use, and it is hard to sell a restoration on an upright.

I have restored two Steinway uprights over the years. Both were sold to internationally known artists, and they love them. My time was worth $ 17 an hour on them. It is worth approx. 9 times as much when I restore a Steinway grand. My time on Chickering upright was worth $8 per hour, so I have little urge to purse that, again. All of these uprights were great pianos, but there is no market that makes it worthwhile.
Regards,


Investors is a stretch I rather invest in anything other than a piano.
I personally only restore uprights for owners or custom for someone that wants a vintage upright. Same for grands.
I charge the same for my time if its a Steinway Grand or a Heintzman upright.
I don't charge $153.00 an hour and I was unaware rebuilding in the U.S. was that lucrative.
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
Verhnjak Pianos Facebook


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#1934926 - 07/30/12 07:54 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: PianoWorksATL]
Annitenth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 458
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: PianoWorksATL
...Our looking glass is colored by experiences...


I certainly agree with you on this.
_________________________
Anne
Bösendorfer 225
Technics PCM Digital Ensemble PR307

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#1934948 - 07/30/12 08:41 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Colin Dunn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 482
Loc: Arvada, CO
What shocked me most in the video was seeing a large grand (the second one shoved off the back of the truck ... looked to be at least 6'6", maybe even 7') get sent to the crusher.

Surely the area has a rebuilder who would have taken that piano for free, fixed it up, and resold it? I don't think there are many irredeemably junky 6'6"+ grands.

As someone who's getting started collecting pianos - I've seen a lot of beat-up, unplayable junk. It's worse with uprights (which become junk after being treated as such for 20-30 years), but I've driven out to look at more than a few 4'7"-5' grands that were beat-up and barely playable. People who have kept their pianos in pristine condition can still sell them and fetch a decent price. Around Denver, playable small grands priced around $2K tend to disappear within a couple weeks. Full-size uprights that have been kept up sell in at least the upper three-figure range.

To wit: I went to an estate sale last Saturday hoping to snag a refurbished antique upright (56") being offered for $600. It was already sold by the time I got there. Somebody got a good deal, as it had been restrung within the last 5-10 years. I'd rather have that piano than the 42" plain box from China.

Sometimes, sellers of used pianos are delusional about asking price. In the last week, I saw an ad featuring pictures of a beat-up old upright player ... piano needed full refinish (and likely internal restoration), player out of order, asking price over $6,000. Knock TWO zeroes off that price and it STILL won't sell. I've had others call me back after a month and drop their price.

So if you love classic pianos - keep an eye on your local classified ads and scoop up any good specimens that come along. You'll likely be able to haggle on price. Keep them maintained, and they may be valuable someday. After all, even the harpsichord came back from the brink...
_________________________
Colin Dunn

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#1934989 - 07/30/12 09:52 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
thetandyman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 443
Loc: Indiana
This video reminded me of the films of decent cars being destroyed by the "Cash for Clunkers" program. I saw late model Jaguars, Suburbans, Cadillacs being run until their engines were frozen , never to run again. I was so mad at the time, that I wanted to take a Colt 45 and settle the score. Fortnately I was inert. But I know there is often a time that pianos have no redeeming qualities. This helps keep manufacturers in business producing new units.
_________________________
Marriage is like a card game, you start with two hearts and a diamond, later you wish you had a club and a spade!
Yamaha G7 Yamaha CVP75 digital, Allen 3500 theater organ

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#1935016 - 07/30/12 10:53 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Singing Shortstop Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 37
Loc: Texas
Two thoughts on the topic, and it all depends on whether one is a buyer or a seller.

As a longtime Minister of Music in a local church, I get asked about lessons and a piano for little Jimmy or Suzy all the time. I always encourage people to purchase a quality acoustic used piano if at all possible. Something like a used Yamaha or Kawai console. I even volunteer to go with them to look at pianos, play it for them, and offer an opinion. I've never had anyone take me up on that. But I never cease to be amazed at the folks who will look for the cheapest piece of plywood and plastic for their child to learn on. I mean, if a pro can't make a rewarding sound on it, why would we expect little Junior to stay with the lessons?

On the other hand, I never cease to be amazed at the people who want to unload their junk on the church or some other charitable organization, and want a big tax write-off. We don't accept giveaway pianos--they usually turn out to be 75 year old termite farms that I call OPI's--"Object Posing as an Instrument." They couldn't sell it on CraigsList or Ebay, so their last ditch effort is to give it to the church. Can I be real honest here? If you want to give to God, how about giving your best instead of your left-overs that no one else wants?

OK, end of sermon. Pass the offering plate.
_________________________
Hugh Poland
1924 Knabe 6'4" Grand

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#1935044 - 07/30/12 11:49 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
"... If all spinets vanished, how many parents would reconsider what "good enough" actually costs..."

I am so on board with that sentiment!

I believe the minister of music is quite correct in his experience that many people wish to unload worthless termite colonies on the church which should go to the recycler (does that hurt a little less than saying "to the dump"?) for a large write-off. Their motive is venial from first to last. These 'gifts' received by unwary ministers populate many choir rooms, as a second-string instrument.

But to be fair, I have also known a number of very fine pianos which were donated to a church, out of love and a wish to leave a legacy of value. Back in the day, a lot of music education took place in churches, and it may still. I heard (and sang) my first Bach and Chopin, my first Vaughn Williams, my first Beethoven, Handel, Arthur Sullivan, Thomas Tallis, Mendelssohn, Martin Shaw, Robert Schumann, Mozart, Purcel, Gottschalk, Gounoud, and Roberta Flack.

I started to be able to play more than "Chopsticks" on the piano (remember that little horror?) My piano teacher was the choir's accompanist.

{I admit I had the help of a hymnbook's index of authors when compiling that list.) But when I heard Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway sing, "Come, Ye Disconsolate," it was right there in that same hymnbook.

Sure, we love pianos and hate to see them formally resign their commission on this planet--- at least if it involves garbage trucks. But like the last hymn says:

"Love has no heartache
That heaven cannot heal."

Not even the heartache of watching that piano crusher video... which is just a step on the way to a new beginning.

Sorry it sounds so flat on the page--- with the music, it knocks the ball out of the park


Edited by Jeff Clef (07/30/12 11:52 PM)
_________________________
Clef


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#1935055 - 07/31/12 12:05 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: BoseEric]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5294
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: BoseEric
Originally Posted By: James Scott


But the cold, hard facts are these: Most people will never ever in a million years be able to buy a "new" piano,


I'm not sure who you mean by "most people" but a high quality vertical piano can be bought new for $5000 and a high quality grand new for $15,000 (some will argue less and may on occasion be true). The piano industry is still a consumer business, selling to ordinary working people who value the things a piano represents.

I really don't want to beat a dead horse, because I think I whipped it pretty bad on another thread, but how can you expect people to pay upwards of 36% of their salary towards a new grand piano, when their rent/mortgage doesn't even cost that much?

Uprights are a decent option, but even then, a ton got trashed in that video that could have gone to families who couldn't afford a piano otherwise.

When I first started, it was on a player piano from 1860. Would I have liked a new Steinway? Absolutely. Could we afford it? Absolutely not.

So, I think a little perspective is in order. smile
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1935082 - 07/31/12 01:20 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Derulux]
Colin Dunn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 482
Loc: Arvada, CO
Agreed. While the ultra-expensive Steinway, Bosendorfer, etc. instruments are magnificent, the market for $100K+ pianos is very small. That price is out of reach of all but the most affluent or dedicated hobbyists. Most professional pianists don't have a $100K+ piano at home; I've had piano teachers who taught on a $2K digital keyboard.

As for the pianos in the video - it's hard to tell what the actual condition is of the instruments being destroyed. The video won't tell you if the pin block is shot or the plate is cracked. (Those can be repaired, but if you have a $10K+ budget to restore an old piano, why not find a good used grand?)

Untunable/unplayable pianos are useless, except to someone who is prepared to fund a complete restoration (not a family who would otherwise do without). Those families would be better served with a digital, or waiting until a usable upright hits their local market.

The crux of the problem: Pianos are cheaper to buy (existing) than to build. Current labor costs are such that pianos are prohibitively expensive for many people. The trick to getting a piano on a budget is to know which instruments require major repairs vs. which ones can be fixed up for a song.
_________________________
Colin Dunn

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#1935090 - 07/31/12 02:05 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
James Scott Offline
Full Member

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

I appreciate your response and I totally agree with you and others who brought it up. It's a matter of priorities and I think that with some people if they set their sites on achieving it they may be able to get it. Although in my case I know that I've been trying all of my adult life and every time that I think that I can get three dollars to scrape together something goes wrong that costs me five dollars. Ah, the joys of having kids. But of course I'd take them over the best piano without a thought.

And of course many people who could get one just don't want it and that's fine with them. We all have our choices in what to do with our earnings. Some choose to put crap into their bodies like you said, others (like me) do not.

I can appreciate the view point of those of you who are in the industry and see this day in and day out. It is a business afterall. Some build, some sell, some rebuild, and some service. You've learned over the years to take the emotion out of it and see it for what it really is.

It's like a 16 yr old who just got their driver's license and would do anything to have an old clunker to drive around in. They would just be grateful to have it even if they don't understand the liabilities involved, until it bites them in the bank account. The parent who's been around the block a few times in those same old clunkers already understands this and tries to guide them, but realizes that they'll never learn until they have the chance to make the error themselves.

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#1935092 - 07/31/12 02:09 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Dave B Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1946
Loc: Philadelphia area
Oddly for the NYT's, they use a Philly moving company.

Out with the old - In with the new!

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#1935110 - 07/31/12 03:20 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
even if every one of those pianos being destroyed and dumped was a worthless PSO, as far as music-making is concerned, still it had valuable recyclable materials in it that shouldn't end up in a landfill.

every year the quality of lumber on the market gets worse. the lumber those older pianos were made from is of a quality that you just cannot find anymore. the iron in the plates, the copper in the strings--that must have some sort of market value.

i hate the wastefulness of it, even if these pianos are no longer viable as musical instruments. use the wood for making furniture. soundboards can make excellent wall paneling. use the metals. don't just fill up the landfills.

i'm glad the article in the nyt pointed out the emotional connection we feel to pianos. that's a good message to put out there. i was glad to see so many letters expressing outrage in the comments section. that means acoustic pianos still have an important place in our culture.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#1935135 - 07/31/12 05:17 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Michael Taylor]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 347
Loc: UK
When I visited the Kimbriky (sp)dump near Sydney Australia it was a pleasant surprise to find that most items which could be salvaged were sorted and stored for sale; I noted two uprights in a container.
I can imagine a piano scrap ware-house: like a motorcar scrap yard where one could buy bit and pieces !!

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#1935139 - 07/31/12 05:33 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Numerian Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 1075
Pique,

I doubt very much is going to waste. If the ivories aren't warped and cracked, the restorers will strip them off and save them. The cast iron is definitely being recycled - scrap iron brings in very good money, as does copper. Pick-up trucks go up and down our alley every day looking for any old metal objects, and we no longer call the junk man if we want to get rid of a broken down washing machine or trash compactor - we just leave it in the alley and it is gone the next day. In fact, when we had a wash machine installed the delivery guy told us the reason they cart away the old machines for free is because they sell the scrap metal and double their profits on the sale. Most of this metal is going to China, and while the Chinese will not be the buyer of the world's scrap metal forever, at the moment you can make hundreds of dollars daily bringing scrap into any US metal processor.

I'll bet the problem with old pianos is in the wood. Old forest planks from the 1920s or earlier can definitely be recycled, and there is good business planing this wood down and creating wide floor planks for new home construction. Piano soundboards, however, are layered wood, and the rims are an odd shape, so I suspect it is not practical doing anything but sending this wood up in flames. The one exception would be veneers from art case pianos, but I doubt these wind up in a junk yard. Some of the mahogany, rosewood, walnut, and maple are simply irreplaceable these days and it pays to strip this off and resell it to woodworkers if the piano isn't going to be refurbished.

There are millions of derelict grands and uprights that are destined for destruction in the next few decades. Assuming the market functions properly, almost all of these are next to useless as musical instruments and not worth restoring. What is left should be the cream of the crop, meaning if you have a restored or well-maintained older piano, it is just going to get more valuable over time.

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#1935172 - 07/31/12 07:43 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3845
Actually, it doesn't hurt. Piano sales and tunings would dramatically increase if all the junker pianos out there were tossed and new pianos were purchased as replacements.

What bothers me is the clients who insist on having me hobble along a beaten old upright that should be dumped. I had one yesterday, and the client was a musician!


Edited by Bob (07/31/12 07:45 AM)
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#1935175 - 07/31/12 07:54 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
No one's going to cry over an upright(digitals took over) a grand is another matter..
that was hard to watch.. frown

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#1935208 - 07/31/12 09:57 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: thetandyman]
Tribbs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/12
Posts: 43
Loc: Madtown
Originally Posted By: thetandyman
This video reminded me of the films of decent cars being destroyed by the "Cash for Clunkers" program. I saw late model Jaguars, Suburbans, Cadillacs being run until their engines were frozen , never to run again. [...]


... which caused the price of remaining used vehicles to rise (supply/demand) which in turn makes the relative price of a "new" vehicle seem more attractive. Toss in new car incentives and it becomes a boon to manufacturers.

Unfortunately the demand for used pianos is nowhere near the demand for used personal transportation.
_________________________
The People's Cube


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#1935234 - 07/31/12 11:23 AM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
bajabill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/27/12
Posts: 86
Loc: mid USA
I can tell you from the perspective of a non-piano person, that buying a used piano is scary. Thats why I went the route of a digital. I know better what I am getting and the market is not flooded with what I would have bought for the same money in and accoustic.

In the future, if I stick with playing and become more knowledgable with regard to piano qualities and real values, I will probably buy an accoustic piano, but it will not be one of the garden variety $800 used uprights. I think the difference between an $800 old piano and a free old piano has more to do with the owner's "selling patience" than the actual value of the item. Most people inherited pianos and dont know a good one from a bad one and just look at craigslist to see the selling prices and jump right in the the rest. 3 months later, when it is still collecting dust, they offer it up for free just to get rid of the thing.

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#1935285 - 07/31/12 12:43 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Bob]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Not only that Bob, but then these same people often times expect perfection on something that is far from perfection. We can explain all we want that it is not worth fixing or that whatever we do for x amount of money, you will still have other issues because we are not rebuilding the piano and in many cases, we are not even re-conditioning the piano... Just keeping it going.

I have found over the years that IF, we do some work on the piano trying to help them along, they will sometimes call back complaining about this and that which we never worked in in the first place and already explained that we did not and of course, if we did, it would be additional money like rebushing keys that are wobbling and noisy for example. They are trying to save money but yet, expect more than what they are spending.

It is for that reason, that I choose most of the time to not do the work. It is not that I did not explain exactly what I was doing and wrote it down because, I always do. For me, it is hardly worth for that one reason alone. Plus, often times, once you begin working on an old frail piano, other things break or go wrong creating a lot more work than was originally planned on.

Early on in my career, my dad told me, "if YOU do not think the piano is worth fixing, walk away. Your reputation is worth more than anything else. Be honest, tell them the truth but, if you don't think the piano is going to come out to YOUR expectations, then reject the work. So, that is what I usually do.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1935338 - 07/31/12 01:53 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Colin Dunn]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5294
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Colin Dunn
The crux of the problem: Pianos are cheaper to buy (existing) than to build. Current labor costs are such that pianos are prohibitively expensive for many people. The trick to getting a piano on a budget is to know which instruments require major repairs vs. which ones can be fixed up for a song.


I think that’s part of it, but we also have to remember the often egregious salaries that executives pay themselves. From what I could find, there are approximately 1,680 employees at Steinway. The average salary for a mechanical engineer at Steinway is $53,669. The average computer/software engineer makes approximately $85-90k. I could not find reliable salary information for a technician. But let’s say the average employee of Steinway makes $57,734 (Salarylist.com’s listed average). I think it’s a little high, but I’ll use it for the sake of argument.

The average executive makes $694,548. Total executive compensation: $4,167,288.
So, 4.3% of the salaries go to 0.35% of the employees. Or, put another way, the combined executive salaries could fund an additional 72 jobs. The CEO makes 21x what the average employee makes. (Now, this sounds ridiculous, but I believe the national average is approx 385x what the average employee makes.. so in this respect, Steinway is doing a somewhat decent job of keeping executive salary down and average employee salary up.)

One more statistic: Between 2009 and 2010, the CEO’s salary increased 42.71%. Total executive compensation increased 20.2%. In the same time period, they laid off 115 workers. At least 15 of those workers could have remained if the executives had not given themselves a pay raise during one of the worst years in Steinway’s history.

So, I don’t want to take the thread in a new/different direction than what it was intended to be, but I just have a hard time swallowing these facts: executives are paid egregious salaries, fire people to increase their own compensation, charge an arm and a leg for their products, and then everyone blames it on the middle and lower classes for not buying those products… but it’s the middle and lower classes that the executives have fired in the first place.
_________________________
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#1935421 - 07/31/12 05:14 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Colin Dunn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 482
Loc: Arvada, CO
Derulux -

I agree with what you say completely. I'm not trying to blame the lower / middle classes for sitting out buying expensive products when the crummy job market has pushed a lot of people into poverty. Even Henry Ford recognized that he had to pay his employees well in order to keep them, and so that they could afford to buy new cars. If the 1% continue to kill off the middle class in the USA, they won't have anyone to sell to anymore.

Bob -

I happen to like old pianos because today's "new" pianos don't match the old ones, particularly for uprights. No one makes a 56" upright anymore, so if you want a really big and full-sounding upright with nice woodworking, the only choice is to buy an old one and fix it up. The "new" option today is a plain 42"-48" box, imported from southeast Asia. I seldom see newer 52" uprights on the used market around here. (I unfortunately passed up a chance to buy one last fall. Won't make that mistake again...)

It makes no sense from a resale perspective, but I'd rather buy an American-made upright and employ an American to restore it, rather than buy an uninspiring, imported box with lesser tone quality.

The equation is different with grands. With those it makes more sense to buy new as the case styles don't vary much between old and new. With those, getting all-new parts is a definite advantage.
_________________________
Colin Dunn

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#1935422 - 07/31/12 05:18 PM Re: Death of a Piano - Landfill Pianos [Re: Piano World]
Furtwangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 1528
Loc: Danville, California
"If the 1% continue to kill off the middle class in the USA, they won't have anyone to sell to anymore."

Yeah, I just got back from running some errands and one of the 1% took a shot at me!

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