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#2156418 - 09/23/13 08:19 PM Steinway voicing and regulation cost?
TheLoneliestMonk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 49
I have a ten year old Steinway L that gets a lot of use. I'm sure it could use voicing and regulation. What would be a ballpark amount I should be charged for this.

Thanks for any advise.

Ed

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#2156420 - 09/23/13 08:27 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi Padre,

I'm sure you understand that without a location it is very difficult to estimate. Also, the experience and skill of the technician comes into play.

For a detailed service, without major repairs, have about $500 in your budget.

The best bet is to find out who the talented technicians are and give them a call.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2156444 - 09/23/13 09:05 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
NFexec Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/11
Posts: 106
Loc: NE Ohio
Hello Ed,

I do not disagree with the above response, but I have found that depending on how much work the action needs to get your expected results, you may pay up to twice that amount. This may include significant work such as new action bushings and/or pins, key bushings, back checks, etc. Of course it may not! Not knowing how old your piano is, or its maintenance history diminishes a good estimate on a forum like this - but I would say that assuming you hire a quality technician, you will get what you pay for.

By the way, does anyone know if the cost to regulate a Steinway action is any different from that of another well made piano in similar condition? If so - why? Is it in the parts needed, or labor expense or both?

Doug


Edited by NFexec (09/23/13 09:06 PM)
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#2156453 - 09/23/13 09:15 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Doug,

Answering your question is fraught with as much danger as is Ed's.

It does not cost any more to voice and regulate a Steinway.

But, ...
Of course, ...
Then you must consider, ...
Sometimes, ...
Keep in mind, ...

I tried to give a very general ballpark figure for what was asked by Ed.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2156472 - 09/23/13 09:32 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3834
It's difficult to suggest specific numbers without evaluating the piano. I would suggest that you call a technician experienced in Steinway pianos, as they are not the same as other brands. A good rebuilder, or the technician for an All Steinway School would be a good choice.
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#2156482 - 09/23/13 09:40 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
AJF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1601
Loc: Toronto
Any top notch tech can voice and regulate any make of piano. I wouldn't focus on finding a 'Steinway tech' but on finding the best tech in your area.
If the piano in question is only ten years old I can't imagine it would need anything beyond voicing and regulating.

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#2156508 - 09/23/13 10:34 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: AJF]
NFexec Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/11
Posts: 106
Loc: NE Ohio
Originally Posted By: AJF
Any top notch tech can voice and regulate any make of piano. I wouldn't focus on finding a 'Steinway tech' but on finding the best tech in your area.
If the piano in question is only ten years old I can't imagine it would need anything beyond voicing and regulating.

Ah - I missed that the piano is 10 years old... my bad. In that case, I would agree that a quality regulation, tuning and voicing should do wonders for your piano. It still may likely cost north of $500, though.

Doug
_________________________
Anyone know about the 1920's "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organs? Click here: www.wrtos.org or here: www.atos.org

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#2156527 - 09/23/13 11:24 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1884
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
If you hire a technician who is highly skilled and experienced in setting performance level results-it could reach the $2.5K range. This would be a very deep and detailed fitting and spacing of the action and strings together. Any individual piano may have a less than an ideal strike point across the compass. Reducing the weight of he top 30 or so hammers will improve the tone if the hammer felt has not been over-hardened. Touch response issues can be improved. Dampers may benefit from attention to uniformity. The capo bar could have a less than ideal profile. And many other points should be checked for the finest results.

The benefit of hiring a technician to do an extremely thorough tone-regulation including the elements disclosed above is the tone and touch will be more stable over time and action parts will wear out slower. So an investment of $2.5K now saves you from the need to rebuild the action in 10 to 20 years. In fact with the above work properly done you will probably think the piano sounds and plays better than when it was new.

So by that measure it is a bargain.
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#2156546 - 09/23/13 11:57 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
If you hire a technician who is highly skilled and experienced in setting performance level results-it could reach the $2.5K range. This would be a very deep and detailed fitting and spacing of the action and strings together. Any individual piano may have a less than an ideal strike point across the compass. Reducing the weight of he top 30 or so hammers will improve the tone if the hammer felt has not been over-hardened. Touch response issues can be improved. Dampers may benefit from attention to uniformity. The capo bar could have a less than ideal profile. And many other points should be checked for the finest results.

The benefit of hiring a technician to do an extremely thorough tone-regulation including the elements disclosed above is the tone and touch will be more stable over time and action parts will wear out slower. So an investment of $2.5K now saves you from the need to rebuild the action in 10 to 20 years. In fact with the above work properly done you will probably think the piano sounds and plays better than when it was new.

So by that measure it is a bargain.


I agree with this. Also, possibly new key bushings, which will add a few hundred dollars.
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#2156572 - 09/24/13 12:46 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
TheLoneliestMonk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 49
Thanks to all of you for your quick and detailed responses. It sounds like it is an worthwhile investment to have this work done. I love my piano and hope to be playing with it for many more years.

Again, Thanks for all the input.

Ed

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#2156573 - 09/24/13 12:49 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
TheLoneliestMonk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 49
Also, does anyone have any recommendations for technician who would do this work in the San Francisco Bay Area?

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#2156580 - 09/24/13 01:03 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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It is absolutely worth doing, for the sake of improving your enjoyment of the piano. As for improving the longevity of the action, if you end up playing it more because of it, you will wear it out faster. On the other hand, what is the point of having a piano if you are not going to enjoy playing it?
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#2156584 - 09/24/13 01:10 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3320
Originally Posted By: TheLoneliestMonk
Also, does anyone have any recommendations for technician who would do this work in the San Francisco Bay Area?


David Love
_________________________
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2156770 - 09/24/13 10:45 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: BDB]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1884
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
When you reduce the mass of a hammer that reduces the inertia which has the effect of reducing hammer contact time with the string. Less wear. Lighter hammers compact the action felt less with time and use. Finely fit key-bushings will wear longer because once side play grows significantly-they wear faster. Perfectly pinned action centers will not get loose as fast either.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2156775 - 09/24/13 10:54 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1884
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
To add to my earlier post that outlined work and range of cost.

Ed, Make a list of the things you notice about the piano that you want the work to address. Use your own terms and notation, just explain them to any technician you audition for the job.

Ask them to add any items to the list they feel detract from the musical utility of your Steinway.

Then ask them to "prescribe" a job order that will solve the problems and list the cost. Beware of any technicians who equivocate widely about results and resort to name dropping.

Then ask to audition some of their prior work of a similar vein.

In other words make them diagnose specific solutions for specific problems and guarantee results. Good luck!
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2156779 - 09/24/13 11:03 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
How often does an owner of a S&S-L invite the San Francisco Symphony into his home for a performance of the Rach-3? It is not a concert instrument, and the owner may not be a concert pianist.

Let's get real. Most owners don't need, or even want, a full concert prep on a home instrument. It's a lovely concept, but not at all necessary on a ten year old Steinway.

After 10 years, a good regulation and voicing is in order, but ...
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2156784 - 09/24/13 11:21 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1884
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
That attitude is the same one the company makes regarding preparation of new Steinways.

A less skilled pianist actually needs a better performing instrument if they are interested in wide dynamics and tone color than a virtuoso who has such ample technique and performing experience to produce great musical expression from mediocre pianos.

A sort of "status" separation between mere mortal pianist wannabe's and the giants of the stage exists at Steinway. The realities of running the company force them into a two tier system of quality. C&A pianos get serious preparation, complainers also get significant attention, your run-of-the-mill Attorney/Doctor/etc just get the charisma.

I think the founders intent was to make the finest piano possible for a pianist to experience. I provide that same standard to all who are willing to engage me. It is a choice a Steinway owner should have the option to employ if they value it. That is called "Professionalism"!
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2156795 - 09/24/13 11:38 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Ed, (LoneliestMonk)

I'm going to change my ballpark figure.

Budget at least $5,000 for overkill on an action regulation and voicing.

For about $40,000 you could also unnecessarily totally rebuild and refinish your piano.

Better yet, buy a new D and send it off to have it rebuilt before you even play it!

Just as long as you bite the bait, sign the check.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2156809 - 09/24/13 12:05 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1922
Loc: Suffolk, England
I don't have a Steinway but my pianos have 88 keys too.

Simple arithmetic says $880 will buy $10 worth of regulation per key.

Let's say the going rate is $120 per hour (just a figure for easy calculation) then $10 represents 5 minutes work per key. Add $120 for everything else and you're at $1,000.

The back of my envelope says $500 may well be more than enough for a piano in good nick but $1,000 won't go far on one that isn't.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2156825 - 09/24/13 12:38 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21286
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
When you reduce the mass of a hammer that reduces the inertia which has the effect of reducing hammer contact time with the string. Less wear. Lighter hammers compact the action felt less with time and use. Finely fit key-bushings will wear longer because once side play grows significantly-they wear faster. Perfectly pinned action centers will not get loose as fast either.


The amount of volume that you get from a piano depends on the amount of force that the hammers put on the strings.* Force is mass times acceleration. If you reduce the mass, the acceleration will be increased to compensate, so the force remains the same. Same force, same wear!

Key bushings fit depends on the geometry of the keys. Well-designed keys do not have a lot of side play. What might be a factor is that key cloth has not always been good, but if the keys need rebushing, better cloth is available now. But there is not much that can be done in the regulation process that will prevent wear of bushing cloth, whether in keys or elsewhere. In general, it wears until everything is smooth, and then it goes until it wear out, which could be in 100 years or more in a well-designed piano with no more than home use. I know, I have two good quality pianos in my living room that are nonagenarians, with mostly original bushings that still work fine.

I agree with Marty. Spending gobs of money on "regulation" hoping for savings is false economy. Chances are good you will spend many times the amount for parts replacement on that sort of regulation before you begin to accrue any of those supposed savings.

*There are some other factors in how much volume you get from a piano string, but they have more to do with how the hammer and the string interact, rather than force.
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#2156829 - 09/24/13 12:42 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Steve Cohen Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
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If one has "invested" in a Steinway, and as we all seem to agree the return on investment is not financial but in its high quality performance, then investing a couple of $1000 to bring it to its peak performance is a good idea. Especially when it is played a lot.
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#2156855 - 09/24/13 01:37 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: Withindale]
jim ialeggio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 599
Loc: shirley, MA
Originally Posted By: Withindale
The back of my envelope says $500 may well be more than enough for a piano in good nick but $1,000 won't go far on one that isn't.


thumb ...and from someone in the field, precious few pianos are in good nick...

Taming a fine (or often not-so-fine) piano is all about process and relationship. My serious customers, and customers who are wanting more from their piano, speak about their piano in terms that are used to describe relationships, not products.

For these clients, if I were to approach them and their instruments as one would in a turn-key selling exercise...as an exercise in accounting...my good clients would dissappear fast. They want and need something else than one size fits all, products...and they want to talk to you about it and have you share their experience, frustration, and pleasure when the instrument is improved. THey also want and need to know that there is someone there who has the personality and chops to match the machine to the player when things inevitably need fixing.

Clients who have first purchased the piano as if it were a commodity, and then look for a cut-and-dry service product to purchase and be done with it, will have at their finger-tips a machine that functions, for its entire life, at maybe 60% potential.

For some pianists, this 60% realized potential is acceptable. For others, the piano's shortcomings or unrealized potential are a source of continual, and quite stressful musical frustration. A tech's job is matching the instrument and the service to the player. His job is also having the psychological savvy to know when the client,through words or emotions is looking for more or be happy with less.

In my own service, I have clients for whom I provide a $650 one-shot "regulation". Mostly those pianos are quite tired, completely ignored instruments, and the goal is simply to have the piano be somewhat improved and to not scream so bad.
At this price, I don't even try to address the entire instrument, because there is simply too much to do, and not enough time budgeted...and this assumes the rather optimistic scenario that one doesn't run into any parts that actually need repair or replacement, rather than regulation.

For clients where I have already worked on the piano, knows its strong and weak points, and know what parts of the instrument we decided to address a little later, a yearly $600 tune-up keeps things running smoothly and addresses potential problem before they become an issue. For these clients they often ask me "what are we going to work on next"...mainly because the work always has a tangible result.

For clients who are new to me, or who just purchased a new-to-them instrument, for an serious initial tone regulation, assuming tone regulation only and not repairs, 2.5K is an entirely reasonable number given the time and expertise involved. This service is sometimes appropriate to a new instrument which is simply not performing as desired.

Even with these levels of service though, I often feel frustrated that there is still so much I will never be "allowed" to do for the instrument and client, because the economies and realities mostly never totally match.

Jim Ialeggio
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Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
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#2156974 - 09/24/13 05:26 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Swarth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 366
Loc: SF Bay Area Ca.
Originally Posted By: TheLoneliestMonk
Also, does anyone have any recommendations for technician who would do this work in the San Francisco Bay Area?


Frank Acosta is the man Steinway sends out here in the East Bay. Excellent musician as well as technician 925 212 9131
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#2157058 - 09/24/13 07:43 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: BDB]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1884
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
BDB,
F equals M X A does not include the effects of inertia upon the periodic string we are trying to impart momentum to. Thus a hammer heavy enough to stay in contact with the string beyond one period of vibration begins to act as a damper.

It also does not include the spring rate difference between compressed and rebounding felt. Thus the extra F a heavier hammer brings to the string, is expensed as stretched, worn hammer felt. Volume must thus include noise as well as tone. Pianists regularly pay to have noise removed from tone.

Thus heavier hammers may impart more force -but some of this force produces wear. So it is most definitely not "same force same wear". Also lower inertia actions function very well with friction levels that make a high inertia action unplayable. This friction keeps parts from rattling around and accelerating wear. Over thirty years of my experience has proven that lighter hammers produce more dynamic range in a piano and considerably longer wear.

Key bushings with slop get sloppy faster because the side vectors allow for more sideways acceleration of the key and these forces easily start to exceed the elastic limit of the bushing cloth. Same for cloth action centers.

Once a piano has been finely regulated in situ with the protocols I outlined above-the tone changes little with use. With tuning, dusting out, spot needle voicing, and teflon powder lube on key-pins and knuckles twice a year-the piano always gives a good musical experience whenever the pianist needs it-and will do so for at least a couple of decades of daily use without significant wear. That represents real value
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2157149 - 09/24/13 11:18 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3834
My suggestion is to do what ever you are comfortable with, but in the future, please don't wait 10 years before regulating and voicing a high use piano I do a reg and voice every year on the Steinway pianos at the university. You should set aside a 1/2 day service call on your piano every couple of years, to keep it in better shape.
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#2157180 - 09/25/13 12:16 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21286
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
BDB,
F equals M X A does not include the effects of inertia upon the periodic string we are trying to impart momentum to. Thus a hammer heavy enough to stay in contact with the string beyond one period of vibration begins to act as a damper.

It also does not include the spring rate difference between compressed and rebounding felt. Thus the extra F a heavier hammer brings to the string, is expensed as stretched, worn hammer felt. Volume must thus include noise as well as tone. Pianists regularly pay to have noise removed from tone.

Thus heavier hammers may impart more force -but some of this force produces wear. So it is most definitely not "same force same wear". Also lower inertia actions function very well with friction levels that make a high inertia action unplayable. This friction keeps parts from rattling around and accelerating wear. Over thirty years of my experience has proven that lighter hammers produce more dynamic range in a piano and considerably longer wear.

Key bushings with slop get sloppy faster because the side vectors allow for more sideways acceleration of the key and these forces easily start to exceed the elastic limit of the bushing cloth. Same for cloth action centers.

Once a piano has been finely regulated in situ with the protocols I outlined above-the tone changes little with use. With tuning, dusting out, spot needle voicing, and teflon powder lube on key-pins and knuckles twice a year-the piano always gives a good musical experience whenever the pianist needs it-and will do so for at least a couple of decades of daily use without significant wear. That represents real value


Well, actually, the M is inertia, so it is included.

Going beyond the questionable physics, even if there is some benefit in longevity, is it enough to warrant spending $2000 versus $800 for the initial regulation, and a commensurate rate for future regulations? If you only save a year's use after 20 or 30 years, that is insignificant. Most decent pianos will last a lifetime, even with little or no service.
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#2157375 - 09/25/13 10:50 AM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1884
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
BDB,
If you place a two new Steinway grands in practice rooms where pianist's play on them five hours a day for ten years. And one of them is prepared as I described above in my earlier post and the other is "original". The action of the original one will need rebuilding and the prepared one will just need key-bushings, hammer shaping and touch-up regulation.
You do know how to cost compare this don't you?
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2157423 - 09/25/13 12:13 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21286
Loc: Oakland
It is not up to me to prove your advertising claims.
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Semipro Tech

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#2157465 - 09/25/13 01:46 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
schwammerl Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/06
Posts: 2012
Loc: Belgium
Quote:
And one of them is prepared as I described above in my earlier post and the other is "original". The action of the original one will need rebuilding and the prepared one will just need key-bushings, hammer shaping and touch-up regulation.


Although a layman I tend to be in the camp of Ed here as I know of a famous concert pianist living here in Brussels - the name shall not be disclosed here - who owned a NY Steinway C that got just average service and that was ruined in merely 10 years of use, be it tough daily practicing.

schwammerl.


Edited by schwammerl (09/25/13 01:49 PM)

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#2157487 - 09/25/13 02:49 PM Re: Steinway voicing and regulation cost? [Re: TheLoneliestMonk]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21286
Loc: Oakland
That is not the point. Ed is making claims that he cannot substantiate. When called out on the physics, he changes the physics. When asked to prove his claims, he says I should do it.

The question is how much longer than 10 years would your example pianist's piano last before it needs the same amount of work, and would there be any money saved, given that the more expensive service could easily be several times what the ordinary service costs. (This ignores the fact that average service probably barely consists of tuning once a year.) One can easily spend more money on the difference in the cost of service than a new action would cost in 10 years.
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