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#2032943 - 02/14/13 10:40 AM Antique Steinway in Argentina - advice needed
Christop Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/13/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Northern NJ
I hope I'm posting this to the right place. A search didn't turn up anything, but I wasn't really sure what keywords to search for.

We have recently inherited a Steinway Hamburg Model 0, built 1912. The piano belonged to a concert pianist aunt and has sentimental value to the family. The problem and confusion is that the piano is in Buenos Aires, Argentina and all family are in the United States (Northern New Jersey specifically).

I had the local Steinway dealer send an appraiser to review the piano condition. It was in spanish, but an english summary is as follows:

Piano is in good condition in the action, frame and soundboard. Mechanism is loose with age and inattention, so it will need some degree of restoration. The suggested repairs to the mechanism were

  • Dissassemble, clean, change damper lever, change damper cloths, change springs as needed, full graphite
  • Correct/fix: Hammers, action, alignment, tuning
  • Change keyboard weights as needed, change washsers, grading, sizing (calibrado?)
  • Pedals: Change all internal cloths, regulation, calibration.


And I believe it could use some finish work due to aged finish, but not due to any damage.

My questions are as follows:
Does it make sense to ship to NJ and then get the work done or get the work done in Argentina before shipping? If done in Argentina, I believe the cost of labor would be massively cheaper, but how could I monitor/review the work? Are there independent people who could be hired as expert reviewers?

Does anyone on these forums have experience with such matters? I must admit ignorance. If it weren't for the sentimental value and unique/rareness of the instrument, I wouldn't think it was worth consideration.

Thansks for any opinions and advice.

ps - I have the CITES letter from Steinway documenting the keys as over 100 years old, so I don't anticipate issues importing due to the ivory.

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#2032964 - 02/14/13 11:08 AM Re: Antique Steinway in Argentina - advice needed [Re: Christop]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2067
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
If you can communicate accurately with the Argentine Technician AND you know their work would satisfy you; I wouldn't rule them out. I don't know anything about the technical competence of the Buenos Aires Technicians.

Many pianos of that age are at the state where they need new soundboard, pin-block, etc. I suspect though that the Buenos Aires climate is conducive to long lived bellies (slang for soundboard structure), much like the area I live in.

Have google translate the estimate, give us an exchange rate, and post that here so we techs can comment on pricing.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2033002 - 02/14/13 11:52 AM Re: Antique Steinway in Argentina - advice needed [Re: Christop]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Buenos Aires is essentially a metropolis built on top of tropical swampland. The temperatures can get very hot, with extremes of humidity (95%) lasting for weeks, if not months. It is a killer climate for pianos. More likely than having a long lived belly, I would expect the pianos to be in very compromised condition. There is a good chance that the soundboard, bridges and pin block have been negatively and ir-repairably damaged over time. There is a good chance all metal parts have corrosion or rust, and between the professional use and the ravages of climate, the piano action is probably shot. As well, wood beetle and termite infestation of houses, furniture and pianos is quite common in those parts.

Of course this is speculation on my part. But I have a few warnings about having any work done there: first of all, the level of knowledge and workmanship is an unknown. Generally the level is quite low in South America. For example, in all of Brazil, there is one Steinway trained technician, he is American. Import duties for any parts are very high, so people "make do" with what is available in parts and materials.

Remember also that you have absolutely zero recourse if and when there are problems with any work done there. I have seen restorations done by shops for the purpose of exporting the pianos far away. How easy and inviting is it to do a so-so job and send send the piano on its way, after collecting the full fee, of course. The owner is left holding the bag.

If you value this piano, you will want the work to be done only once, and properly. By having the work done abroad, you are giving up all control into the hands of people you do not know are even able to do the job properly.

Trying to hire a competent local technician to look after your interests may prove very difficult as well. Even if you could find someone, there are all kinds of complexities, and in the end it is just one more person you will be paying and blindly trusting to value the piano as much as you do.

And don't get sucked in by prices that seem low or even ridiculously low. The cheapest rebuild (or tool or whatever) often ends up being the most expensive in the end, because after the realization of its inadequacy sinks in, you have to pay the big bucks to get it re--done properly.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2033037 - 02/14/13 12:51 PM Re: Antique Steinway in Argentina - advice needed [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Christop Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/13/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT


Have google translate the estimate, give us an exchange rate, and post that here so we techs can comment on pricing.


Ed - Thank you. I will try to send that tonight.

Jurgen - Thank you, those are exactly my fears and suspicions. Keeping an open mind, but appreciate your insight.


Edited by Christop (02/14/13 12:53 PM)

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#2033043 - 02/14/13 01:07 PM Re: Antique Steinway in Argentina - advice needed [Re: Christop]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
It gets worse, actually: You can be absolutely assured that when a piano that has lived in a moist tropical climate, and soundboard repairs are undertaken in that climate, that these repairs will fail when subjected to New England winters. The proper thing to do would be to import the piano to the Northeast, and let it sit for one whole year, if not two, before even beginning any soundboard, bridge or structural repairs. I have personally imported pianos, and I know it can take two years for the piano to become entirely acclimatized.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2033465 - 02/15/13 12:20 AM Re: Antique Steinway in Argentina - advice needed [Re: Christop]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2067
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Thanks Jurgen for the climate update.

If the Argentine technician is good and can do any work required, I did not feel comfortable dismissing him outright even though Jurgen's advice is the odds on favorite correct advice. Who knows maybe there is some highly skilled, responsible technician there.

You do have many of choices for rebuilders in the North Eastern US.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2105748 - 06/21/13 01:09 PM Re: Antique Steinway in Argentina - advice needed [Re: Christop]
cotte Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/05/13
Posts: 21
How did this come out?. I live in Argentina in case you need a hand. Who is/was the technician?. If the work was done, were you satisfied?.

Cheers.
_________________________
English is not my first language, please be patient!.

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#2105774 - 06/21/13 01:39 PM Re: Antique Steinway in Argentina - advice needed [Re: Christop]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4190
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
I would not recommend shipping this instrument to the US. It would be the same as a grey market Yamaha coming from Taiwan to Canada. The instrument would have the potential to dry out and fall apart.

There is more to piano technology than some are aware in South America.

Dr. Roy Howard, PhD is down there trying to make a difference.

Spanish on the left English on the right. Maybe too far away from Argentina to be of any assistance but it wouldn’t hurt to contact these folks.

Patrocinio para el Curso.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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