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#2049233 - 03/16/13 05:07 PM 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand
Steve Peterson Online   content

Bronze Level Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 03/15/13
Posts: 160
Loc: Texas
Hello,

I've been looking for a piano for a while, and I came across a 9' Baldwin concert grand built in 1917.

I played it, and I thought it had a nice sound. Very powerful but still capable of subtlety.

The soundboard has a crack in it, of which I have a picture here.



It appears to be about 4-5 inches long, and runs with the grain of the soundboard. What impact will a crack like this have on the sound of a piano? Is this something that will get progressively worse over time? If I decide I'm serious about it, I will definitely hire a tech to give the piano a full once-over.

They are asking $13,600 for the piano. I would probably offer something around $10k to start.Does this seem in line for this piano?

Thanks for your help.

Steve
_________________________
Cello, Piano, Electic Bass

1967 Baldwin SD-10 - My Baby!

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#2049237 - 03/16/13 05:15 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Steve - Welcome to Piano World!

Some cracks are of no concern and others can be a major problem. With the age of the piano, the bigger concern is if the soundboard has retained its crown and if the ribs are solid. You might want to use the search function in the forum as there have been many discussions about this.

Any piano from that era will need a very thorough inspection by a qualified and experienced technician. The piano could be a great deal, with only minor work needed, or a money pit. The inspection is the first step in finding out which one it is.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2049315 - 03/16/13 07:53 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
manofsong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/16/09
Posts: 143
Loc: Earth
I bought a 1917 Baldwin L with a similar crack in the soundboard. The soundboard still had its crown and the crack has never been a problem. I paid $500 for my L and sent it directly to a refinishing shop. My Baldwin now sits in my LR in showroom condition, with the original soundboard still intact. It plays and sounds wonderful.

C
_________________________
I often wonder what could have been.

1917 Baldwin L, Satin Mahogany, #30220

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#2049373 - 03/16/13 10:10 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: manofsong]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
It's weird how soundboard cracks are the main focus of attention. Take a look underneath: there are ribs glued across the grain, holding the whole unit together. The biggest fatal flaw in most pianos is if the tuning pins don't have enough grip left to tune to pitch.

Concert instruments tend to get played more heavily than others, and any century-old piano will have substantial wear. The hammers are probably rock-hard and substantially worn, and much of the felt in the action may need to be replaced.

I just spent three full days regulating a 1950's Baldwin concert grand, and it's much more controllable now than before.

All that said, you begin a piano evaluation by looking at what it was like when it was new, because it's hard to improve much beyond that. Concert grands are the top of the line.

Find out what repairs have been made over the years, and get a technician to check out the pinblock and action. It could be a great piano again. $10K seems high for its age.

--Cy--
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#2049383 - 03/16/13 10:29 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3350
An original condition 9' Baldwin from 1917? $13,600 is a non-starter. IMO, half that is even a non-starter. If the price were $2,000 then I might take the seller seriously.
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#2049402 - 03/16/13 11:00 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Original condition? Where was that stated? Have you examined the instrument?
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2049413 - 03/16/13 11:25 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2209
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
If the piano has a very nice case, ivory on the keys, sounds good and is not worn much because for whatever reason it didn't get used much-and its pinblock/strings/soundboard/overall structure and case parts check out well-I don't know why $10K wouldn't be a fair price. If it fits my description you could use it vigorously for at least 20 more years with normal maintenance. Hard to find that much piano for $10K. Have a tech who is a skilled tone-regulater inspect it.

$2K is getting into the core rebuild value for an old Baldwin concert grand. I don't know where Beethoven is getting his pricing info from.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2049414 - 03/16/13 11:25 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Minnesota Marty]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3350
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Original condition? Where was that stated? Have you examined the instrument?


This is such an obnoxious and patronizing line of questioning. I don't know if it's in original condition or not, which is why I asked. See that down there? It's a QUESTION! Hypothetically, even if this was a 1950s 9' Baldwin, $13,600 would be too high, unless the piano had been rebuilt.


Originally Posted By: beethoven986
An original condition 9' Baldwin from 1917?


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#2049419 - 03/16/13 11:31 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3350
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT


$2K is getting into the core rebuild value for an old Baldwin concert grand. I don't know where Beethoven is getting his pricing info from.


If it's in original condition, at that age, it's a core. Since the OP hasn't specified, I'm assuming it is unless more info is given.
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#2049420 - 03/16/13 11:38 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
A question mark has other uses, as you have illustrated. In this case, it indicated that you were either scoffing or taken aback. "If it is in ..." would have worked

If it were a question, you would have started with; "Is it in ...."

Mr. McMorrow gave a very good answer - IMO.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2049422 - 03/16/13 11:49 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Minnesota Marty]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3350
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
A question mark has other uses, as you have illustrated. In this case, it indicated that you were either scoffing or taken aback. "If it is in ..." would have worked. If it were a question, you would have started with; "Is it in ...."


I'm impressed that you know what I would have done. Regardless, it was intended to be an actual question. I apologize if that was somehow unclear. I stand behind my reasoning... if it is in original condition, or has not seen major rebuilding within the last 50 years, it is a core, and worth maybe $2,000. If this is not the case, then there is not enough info to determine value.
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#2049423 - 03/16/13 11:54 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Clarity of usage is important to be understood. 'What I meant to say' is an after-the-fact fall back.

Please take you price dispute to Mr. McMorrow, not to me.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2049431 - 03/17/13 12:09 AM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Minnesota Marty]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3350
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Clarity of usage is important to be understood. 'What I meant to say' is an after-the-fact fall back.


I asked a question and your impression of me likely influenced your interpretation. This is an inherent problem with communicating via text.

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Please take you price dispute to Mr. McMorrow, not to me.


There is no dispute. If it's a core, we agree that $2,000 is reasonable for that condition. If the condition is as he laid out, $10,000 may not be unreasonable. The difference is that Ed may be more optimistic than I am. Indeed, it wouldn't take much for that to be the case.
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#2049468 - 03/17/13 03:03 AM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2413
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
I have a Baldwin (Hamilton) upright that's four years younger than OP's piano, and it's hardly a "core." It has all of the original action parts except for bridle straps, the hammers have been resurfaced once in 92 years, the pins are tight like new, and the strings are clean; it plays really well, sounds great, and it's a gem to tune.

What Ed McMorrow said is spot on.



Edited by OperaTenor (03/17/13 03:04 AM)
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#2049748 - 03/17/13 03:41 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
manofsong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/16/09
Posts: 143
Loc: Earth
Hi Steve-
Any chance you can post pictures of the entire piano? I'd love to see what it looks like from different angles.

C
_________________________
I often wonder what could have been.

1917 Baldwin L, Satin Mahogany, #30220

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#2049932 - 03/17/13 09:13 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Steve Peterson Online   content

Bronze Level Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 03/15/13
Posts: 160
Loc: Texas
All,

Thanks those who posted helpful comments. It's given me a lot to think about. As for its level of restoration, I hope to find out more soon. I've asked the store's tech to respond to questions about the crown on the soundboard, rib condition, a list of known work done to it, as well as more history about its history.

They indicated the piano has been used for a piano competition a couple of years ago. The tech made a few adjustments there to resolve some issues I saw. The action is still a bit heavy to my taste, but I imagine that can be adjusted. The piano still sounds strong, with a nice treble. The keys are original ivory, with the expected yellowing and small cracks, but no chips. From my non-expert feel, the piano plays and sounds better than a core. IT is out of tune, but not horribly so. I checked the pitch, and it was just over standard A440, so It hasn't slipped. The bass strings were recently replaced, but the treble strings haven't, and look a bit ratty.

When I have the tech look at it, these are the things I would want him to look at:

- Soundboard crown and ribs
- Tuning pins - ensure it can be tuned
- Treble strings - Do they need to be replaced?
- hammer condition
- Soundboard crack
- action

Is it correct to assume that a good tech would know to check these items, or should I specify? Also, what other things should I have the tech look at?

Steve
_________________________
Cello, Piano, Electic Bass

1967 Baldwin SD-10 - My Baby!

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#2049939 - 03/17/13 09:25 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
musicpassion Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 1047
Loc: California, USA
Welcome to the forum!

To answer your question about the soundboard crack, it might not have any impact on the sound of the piano. I've played pianos with soundboard cracks where the sound didn't suffer at all.

However, it could be a visual indication of overall degredation. It requires a complete analysis by a good tech to determine it's real condition.

My concerns with a concert grand is that they are usually worked very hard. They live a hard life.

About price - unfortunately price is completely dependant on condition, and I'm not a tech so I'd need a good tech's evaluation before I knew anything for sure even if I was looking at the piano first hand.
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#2049941 - 03/17/13 09:27 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
musicpassion Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 1047
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: Steve Peterson


Is it correct to assume that a good tech would know to check these items, or should I specify? Also, what other things should I have the tech look at?

Steve


Bridges - they are real important. Also bridge pins.
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#2049944 - 03/17/13 09:38 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
musicpassion Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 1047
Loc: California, USA
Also, no I wouldn't get just any tech.

For this I would want one with extensive experience in bellywork. No you can't just expect they'll know. Lots of techs out there basically just tune. Nothing wrong with that as long as they're clear about what they can't do.
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#2050025 - 03/18/13 02:47 AM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
ahhsmurf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/13
Posts: 48
Loc: Banned
The soundboard still had its crown and the crack has never been a problem.

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#2050034 - 03/18/13 03:03 AM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3350
Originally Posted By: Steve Peterson
I've asked the store's tech to respond to questions about the crown on the soundboard


This, unfortunately, doesn't tell the whole story with respect to soundboard condition. If you're going to bother checking crown, you need to do it in the 5th-6th octave, where lack of crown is really going to be an issue. But, you don't necessary need to check for crown; if the sustain is short and percussive, that indicates a problem.

Originally Posted By: Steve Peterson
The action is still a bit heavy to my taste, but I imagine that can be adjusted.


Not atypical of Baldwin. I did work on an SF-10 today (7') that had, I kid you not, five leads in all the bass keys, four in the tenor, and three in the rest. Totally ridiculous, and unacceptable. Yes, it can be changed, but be prepared to shell out over $1,000 to do so. If the action parts are original, total keyboard restoration (including touch correction) could be over $6,000.


Originally Posted By: Steve Peterson
The piano still sounds strong, with a nice treble. The keys are original ivory, with the expected yellowing and small cracks, but no chips. From my non-expert feel, the piano plays and sounds better than a core. IT is out of tune, but not horribly so. I checked the pitch, and it was just over standard A440, so It hasn't slipped. The bass strings were recently replaced, but the treble strings haven't, and look a bit ratty.



This description makes me wary. Be advised that it is possible to acquire a 1970s 9' Baldwin in decent shape for under $15,000 and I have seen fully restored (new soundboard and all) examples go for as low as $30,000.


Originally Posted By: Steve Peterson
When I have the tech look at it, these are the things I would want him to look at:

- Soundboard crown and ribs
- Tuning pins - ensure it can be tuned
- Treble strings - Do they need to be replaced?
- hammer condition
- Soundboard crack
- action

Is it correct to assume that a good tech would know to check these items, or should I specify? Also, what other things should I have the tech look at?


It would be preferable to have a tech who is familiar with piano restoration, if not an actual piano rebuilder. When I am hired to evaluate a piano, I bring along a 50+ point check list that I actually fill out, and that gets turned into a written report, with relevant photos. Whoever you hire should check out everything, especially on a piano of this age.
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#2050112 - 03/18/13 08:16 AM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Steve Peterson Online   content

Bronze Level Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 03/15/13
Posts: 160
Loc: Texas
Thanks again for your responses here. Do you have any suggestions for finding someone who can provide this kind of in-depth evaluation? Just going through the RPT lists probably won't help much. BTW, I'm in Dallas if someone wants to suggest someone local they know!
_________________________
Cello, Piano, Electic Bass

1967 Baldwin SD-10 - My Baby!

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#2050197 - 03/18/13 11:39 AM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3350
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2050243 - 03/18/13 01:17 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Swarth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 366
Loc: SF Bay Area Ca.
Robin Hufford is in Fort Worth and is an excellent rebuilder. You can find him here on PW and he is a member of PTG.
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#2050881 - 03/19/13 02:29 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Steve Peterson Online   content

Bronze Level Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 03/15/13
Posts: 160
Loc: Texas
Thanks again for your excellent advice. I got some additional information from the dealer about the piano.

- Based on the serial number, it's probably from around 1925.
- He states that after he purchased the piano, he had it refinished, the bass restring, the action regulated and the hammpers resurfaced.
- He says the bass and treble bridges have good down-barring, the ribs are well-attached, and there is no buzzing.
- He says he knows the treble strings have been replaced because it has blued tuning pins that weren't in use at the time of manufacture.
- He said the piano was used for two months last year at a festival and got rave reviews.

Other than the last item, I will have this verified by a tech on Friday.

So back to the pricing question. Assuming that what he says is verified by my tech, what is a fair price for this piano? He's asking about $13,500. I was thinking more like 9k - 10k.

For a piano this age and in the condition I've described (and subjectively, I think it sounds quite nice) what would you be willing to pay for this?

Thanks,

Steve
_________________________
Cello, Piano, Electic Bass

1967 Baldwin SD-10 - My Baby!

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#2050946 - 03/19/13 03:58 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
If it cuts muster, I would be delighted in the $12,500 range. That would be alot of piano for the money. Those Baldys are terrific sounding instruments. Start at $9-10K and see what happens - if, and only if, it checks out.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2050968 - 03/19/13 04:25 PM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3350
Originally Posted By: Steve Peterson
Thanks again for your excellent advice. I got some additional information from the dealer about the piano.

- Based on the serial number, it's probably from around 1925.
- He states that after he purchased the piano, he had it refinished, the bass restring, the action regulated and the hammpers resurfaced.
- He says the bass and treble bridges have good down-barring, the ribs are well-attached, and there is no buzzing.
- He says he knows the treble strings have been replaced because it has blued tuning pins that weren't in use at the time of manufacture.
- He said the piano was used for two months last year at a festival and got rave reviews.

Other than the last item, I will have this verified by a tech on Friday.

So back to the pricing question. Assuming that what he says is verified by my tech, what is a fair price for this piano? He's asking about $13,500. I was thinking more like 9k - 10k.

For a piano this age and in the condition I've described (and subjectively, I think it sounds quite nice) what would you be willing to pay for this?

Thanks,

Steve


FWIW, assuming a quality refinishing job, you would have to pay $9,000 or more to refinish a 9' piano.

However, you have to keep in mind that the concert grand market is a niche market because of the limited type of clientele that would be interested. Your average Joe, who might be ok with a less than perfect instrument, does not have enough house space for one, and an institution (i.e. concert hall, church, or conservatory) is going to most likely buy a used piano that is capable of performing at the highest caliber, if not buy new.

My concern with this piano is that your dealer says all this work was done (restringing, etc), and it is very clear in this picture that there is an un-repaired crack, and the original finish on the soundboard. IMO, this is just lack of attention to detail, and if that's present here, I wonder where else corners were cut. For example, when it was restrung, was the pin block replaced? Were the bridges reconditioned (i.e. new pins, re-cut notches, etc)? Did they bother to recondition or replace the agraffes? Did they level the strings? What condition are the action parts in? Are they original? Given this piano's age, you better hope this was all done, but I doubt it was! This stuff all adds up very quickly, and at the end of the day you have to ask yourself, "What's the point of having a 9' concert grand taking up all this space in my house if it's anything less than (almost) perfect?" I've seen "restored" 9' Baldwins in the past selling in this price range, and I had to ask myself the same question... my answer was, "there is no point."
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#2051171 - 03/20/13 04:05 AM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: beethoven986]
musicpassion Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 1047
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
This stuff all adds up very quickly, and at the end of the day you have to ask yourself, "What's the point of having a 9' concert grand taking up all this space in my house if it's anything less than (almost) perfect?" I've seen "restored" 9' Baldwins in the past selling in this price range, and I had to ask myself the same question... my answer was, "there is no point."


I agree. I've played too many 7' pianos that perform scarcely better than a spinet.

Furthermore the dealer's information isn't giving you what you need to make a decision (I'm not blaming the dealer. He's just telling you what he knows). You absolutely need the experience and unbiased evaluation from a rebuilder before you really know anything. Here's the problems with the statements you have so far:

-refinished? The numbers don't add up that he had a quality refinish job done and now is asking 13k.
-treble strings have been replaced because... is he Columbo? Even if they aren't original, they might have been replaced in 1935, and therefore desperately need replacing.
-I'm not a technician, but... isn't it strings that have down-bearing.? How does he know the ribs are well attached? Visual inspection, the business card test...
-the fact some nameless person liked it at some anonymous festival is meaningless.
-hammpers [sic] resurfaced. If they are original, they don't need resurfacing, they need replacing.

I'm not trying to rain on your parade. Just encouraging you to wait on the evaluation of the rebuilder/technician before getting attached to the piano.
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#2051175 - 03/20/13 04:16 AM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
musicpassion Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 1047
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: Steve Peterson
Other than the last item, I will have this verified by a tech on Friday.

So back to the pricing question. Assuming that what he says is verified by my tech, what is a fair price for this piano? He's asking about $13,500. I was thinking more like 9k - 10k.

For a piano this age and in the condition I've described (and subjectively, I think it sounds quite nice) what would you be willing to pay for this?


We still don't know anything yet because we don't know the evaluation from the tech (and I don't think it's a matter of him verifying... like was already stated some techs have a checklist of at least 50 items. He'll need to get a complete feel for the piano). A pianos value isn't really about age (once it's past a certain point at least) it's all about condition.

Here's the work needed list that is very possible (of course just a wild guess from a thousand miles away):
*New hammers and shanks
*New bridge caps and bridge pins
*New strings
*All new wear components in the action and complete regulation
*Refinish plate
*Repair soundboard with epoxy treatment and refinish
*New damper felt

If that is the list the rebuilder comes up with, and even if he believes the soundboard can stay, I wouldn't pay anywhere near $13K
If it doesn't need all that...
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#2051251 - 03/20/13 09:27 AM Re: 1917 Baldwin Concert Grand [Re: Steve Peterson]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
The focus on maintance/rebuliding in this thread is that every instrument must be brought to concert level. That is simply not necessary in order to have a very playable and enjoyable instrument for home use. I doubt that this piano will be used in a recording studio or fronting the Dallas Symphony.

Steve is planning on having the piano inspected by a competant technician. Perfect. Then it is time for him to make his own decision. If it is suitable for his use, then it may be a very fine instrument for him.

Steve - Good luck and let us know of your reactions after the inspection. Then you will have some solid answers and not just conjecture. As you see, it is very easy to spend other people's money.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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