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#2102221 - 06/13/13 11:13 PM 1938 Steinway Model S
key05 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/12/13
Posts: 1
Hi all, I'm fairly new to purchasing pianos, we're thinking of buying one to have in our new home. We're not looking for anything professional, and I know baby grands aren't what most musicians recommend. All that aside, someone is offering a 1938 Steinway Model S for $8500. From what I know about Steinways, that price is completely absurd! That being said, I want it! Haha Is there anything I should look for and ask specifically when I take a look at this piano? It seems a little too good to be true! Thanks!

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#2102226 - 06/13/13 11:22 PM Re: 1938 Steinway Model S [Re: key05]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014

Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi Key05 - Welcome to Piano World!

When you look at it, make sure that all of the keys and pedals work. Check it's general appearance to see if it has been cared for. Ask what work has been done on it in the intervening years. New hammers, new strings, action work, etc. ...

Yes, it's a Steinway, but it is an old Steinway. The price is too high if it hasn't been maintained through the years.

If you like it, and can negotiate a better price, then it is essential to have a full inspection done by a qualified piano technician. That will give you the best information on the condition of the piano.

Have fun and keep us posted.
Marty in Minnesota

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

#2102229 - 06/13/13 11:34 PM Re: 1938 Steinway Model S [Re: key05]
Thrill Science Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 571
Loc: California

Originally Posted By: key05

[...]I know baby grands aren't what most musicians recommend.

From what I know about Steinways, that price is completely absurd! ... It seems a little too good to be true! Thanks!

You should also know that a Steinway S or any piano that short generally are generally "compromise" instruments for people who are short on space. If you have more room and budget try to get something at least 6'. That's still a "baby" grand, but it will be much more pleasurable, all things being equal.

Edited by Thrill Science (06/13/13 11:35 PM)
Robert Swirsky
Thrill Science, Inc.

#2102236 - 06/13/13 11:42 PM Re: 1938 Steinway Model S [Re: key05]
Anne'sson Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 11/25/12
Posts: 178
Loc: El Paso, TX
I recently had my 1939 Steinway S--a family heirloom--renovated. The soundboard was fine but I think I was very lucky there. (Although a small soundboard may be inherently longer lived.). I did not replace the ivory keytops although aesthetically they were/are pretty badly stained. I did have the hammers, shanks, and flanges replaced as well as a completely new set of strings. Also had a complete regulation of the action. Total cost including installation of a piano saver system to reg
ulate humidity) was ca. $ 11,500.

I would highly recommend that you ask a well-qualified piano technician about the condition of the Steinway S you are interested in. You may be looking at a price of $ 20 K plus (and quite a bit more if the soundboard is dead, and if you opt for new keytops and renovation of the case) for a piano that would compete with a new model.

And while I love my Steinway S, it does have an anemic lower base and doesn't develop the volume to fill a large room--inherent limitations of the size of the instrument.
El Paso, TX

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#2102271 - 06/14/13 02:24 AM Re: 1938 Steinway Model S [Re: key05]
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1121
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Pay particular attention to the working condition of the action. Many, if not most, of the Steinway grands from the 1930's that I've seen had serious action issues, most of them "verdigris" related.
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician

#2102325 - 06/14/13 07:53 AM Re: 1938 Steinway Model S [Re: key05]
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9881
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Good advice so far.

Keep in mind that this is a mechanical instrument with a limited life. Have an independent technician examine it and expect to have to invest money into this piano for it to perform for you. The $8500.00 is not a steal for an S this age.

Keep us posted.
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834


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