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#300885 - 02/03/08 01:02 PM Piano upgrading question
WillisWill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 125
Loc: Charlottesville, VA
Hi all,

I've lurked here for a while, and learned alot about pianos, I've had a situation come up in which I thought I would try to tap the collective wisdom...

A few months ago I bought a 1984 Mason Hamlin A "as is" from a well regarded dealer. I have nothing but good things to say about the store (Richmond Piano) which paid for my own, independent technician to come and spend about 3 hours fine tuning the regulation and a couple of other little things. Anyway, the piano has developed a pretty significant crack in the soundboard. Fortunately, the tone seems to be completely unaffected, but when I stood up one day and looked inside, I saw the light from the floor shining through the crack! (My humidity never dropped below ~30%, as detected by digital hygrometer, I subsequently installed a DC))

The store offered to let me trade in the piano for another of equal or greater value (It's not my personality to demand a refund, as I bought it used and as is.) I think the trade-in deal is probably good for 2 years or so...

My original plan was to have the piano for 5-15 years and then upgrade to something better. When the soundboard cracked, I imagined I immediately lost about 35-70% of my resale or trade-in value for the piano. If I trade in at the store, I imagine my negotiating powers are extremely diminished. While the piano does not seem to be affected now, I'm worried that over time, the crack will start to impact the performance of the instrument. (it's not keeping me up at night...yet).

So my question for the board is as follows - do I bite the bullet and trade in the piano, accepting the few thousand dollar hit I will probably take because of my weakened negotiating/trade in position, but be able to rest comfortably that the new piano is not in danger of losing its performance? Or do I hang onto the piano for several years past the expiration of the trade in offer, risking that it completely falls apart and has no significant trade in value relative to what I paid for it? I should mention I am really happy with the performance/tone of the piano right now.

Obviously if it goes to pot in the next 6-12 months I would exercise my trade in option

Thanks

Will
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#300886 - 02/03/08 01:07 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
Will,

In your position I'd trade it ASAP and hope that the goodwill that the store seems to be displaying extends to giving you a reasonable deal on something else that takes your fancy. Despite your saying that it doesn't keep you awake at night, the issue is obviously bugging you a lot (as it would anyone having discovered a cracked soundboard), so I'd remedy the situation sooner rather than later, for both your mental and musical health. Good luck in whatever you decide \:\)

Michael B.
_________________________
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#300887 - 02/03/08 01:12 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
Harling Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/07
Posts: 92
Loc: Victoria BC
Williswill - I am not sure I understand the trade-in offer. Will it be a straight across trade at the price you paid? If so, do you feel you will lose out because the price you paid was negotiated down quite far, and you don't think you will be able to get as deep a discount for the new piano in these circumstances?

I am not sure what to suggest as it could well depend on the pianos that are available over the next little while. You might find a perfect piano that you would have been willing to pay more for a few months ago. In a situation like that, you might feel pretty good about the trade.

In balance though, I would very likely take the offer, and a bit of a financial hit, in order to get a piano that is going to last and not take some of the pleasure away everytime you sit down at it, or think about it in the middle of the night.

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#300888 - 02/03/08 02:00 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Interesting dilemna which is not really a dilemna in my book. Complicated for most to assess this true situation.
 Quote:
My original plan was to have the piano for 5-15 years and then upgrade to something better. When the soundboard cracked, I imagined I immediately lost about 35-70% of my resale or trade-in value for the piano.
The piano after 15 years will be 39 years old which will definitely be due for the top end to be addressed. (new strings,pins,possible pinblock,agraffes etc. At that time one would refinish and shim any cracks in the board along with reguilding the harp. If you keep the piano for 15 years the crack will not be a negative factor as for it's "fair market value" later on.
Now if you planned on trade up in the next 5 years or less in it's original condition ,I would say do it now as for having some leverage with the dealer. Hopefully the original dealer will sympathise with your situation.
 Quote:
So my question for the board is as follows - do I bite the bullet and trade in the piano, accepting the few thousand dollar hit I will probably take because of my weakened negotiating/trade in position, but be able to rest comfortably that the new piano is not in danger of losing its performance? Or do I hang onto the piano for several years past the expiration of the trade in offer, risking that it completely falls apart and has no significant trade in value relative to what I paid for it? I should mention I am really happy with the performance/tone of the piano right now.
A crack in the board is strictly cosmetic and does not affect the sound of the piano. In this day and age where much better glues are available (Titebond) compared to the glues(animal) of yesteryear. It's not gonna fall apart.
If you like the performance of the piano at present,play it for the extent of your trade up offer and assess the cond. than. It also depends on how much of a hit you will take on the M&H trade in value from the dealer. It can be complicated with out the entire picture.
_________________________
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#300889 - 02/03/08 02:18 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10343
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Why not keep the piano for 5-15 years and simply fix the crack before selling? it isn't that hard or that expensive.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#300890 - 02/03/08 02:34 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
Craigen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/05
Posts: 1815
Loc: West Coast
Enjoy your M&H and play it every day! Put the crack out of your mind. You own a world class piano. The crack is cosmetic at this point and will likely never become problematic. Most single layer boards crack at sometime in their life. Many owners never even notice.

Deal with trade in or resale issues when and if you need to down the road. You have a world class intrumnent and would be hard pressed to trade up unless you bought a much larger piano.
_________________________
Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.

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#300891 - 02/03/08 04:07 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
Hmm. Perhaps George shouldn't worry about the cosmetic crack in his Bohemia's soundboard either, and just get it fixed it before he trades it in sometime in the future?

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/20933.html

Michael B.
_________________________
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#300892 - 02/03/08 04:41 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3257
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
I don't see why the store would not still offer you the full trade in, if that is what you want. I would not assume otherwise.

I agree with Craigen that I wouldn't be so concerned about the crack. If there is no buzz from a rib separating from the sound board, the crack is not that big a deal ( although upsetting).

If you are happy with this piano in every performance respect, it should not decline to dramatically over the next few years. I agree with PB that within the next 15 years it will very likely be a candidate for a top end restoration, especially in Washington DC ( climate is murder on pianos )

Just to satisfy your curiosity, you might go back to Richmond Piano and see what options you have.
_________________________
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PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
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#300893 - 02/03/08 05:09 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10343
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Great post. Craigen.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#300894 - 02/03/08 08:35 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
Craigen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/05
Posts: 1815
Loc: West Coast
Post.....,
The crack in the one year old Bohemia is a different thing. That piano is under a manufacturers/distributors warranty and can easily be exchanged for another new piano of the same model. 1984 M&H A's are a little rarer and under no warranty.
_________________________
Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.

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#300895 - 02/03/08 08:51 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
asd123321 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/05
Posts: 688
It seems to me you ought to look at the alternatives they present to swap for and if you are not getting a bad deal, do it if you are finding something you want.

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#300896 - 02/03/08 10:15 PM Re: Piano upgrading question
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13975
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Are you absolutely sure the crack developed *after* you purchased the piano?

If yes, it's a little peculiar to me and certainly appears very "untimely".

If the crack was there before you puchased the piano it would be little hard fro me to believe the store did not reveal it at time of purchase.

Such things definitely affect value, especially re-sale value.

Wether or not it affects tone ot not - is an entirely different matter IMHO.

At this time I could not make any other recommendation than talking to the store people and checking your own records.

There seem few more missing pieces that need looking at - but good will and honesty on the part of everyone involved will normally resolve such matter in an amicable way in the end.

Good luck!

Norbert \:\)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#300897 - 02/04/08 09:33 AM Re: Piano upgrading question
WillisWill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 125
Loc: Charlottesville, VA
Thanks to everyone for the replies...it definitely has helped put my mind at ease. I think my plan will be to see how the board responds to a full year of climate cycle, I imagine if the crack is going to get worse or start a buzz/rattle then it will happen over that time.

@ Norbert - I don't believe the crack was there when I purchased the piano, of course I didn't take pictures of the soundboard at the store. In my more paranoid moments I imagine that it always was there, and I looked right past it whilst shopping. Rationally though, I don't belive that to be the case.
_________________________
The posts are coming from inside the house! Repeat, the posts are coming from inside the house!

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#300898 - 02/04/08 09:36 AM Re: Piano upgrading question
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10343
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Norbert:
Wether or not it affects tone ot not - is an entirely different matter IMHO.[/b]
I agree.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#300899 - 02/04/08 11:01 AM Re: Piano upgrading question
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13975
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
 Quote:
In my more paranoid moments I imagine that it always was there, and I looked right past it whilst shopping. Rationally though, I don't belive that to be the case.
In this case, I would join the other writers recommending not to worry too much about it.

There's nothing you can do - to begin with.

"Significant" soundboard cracks rarely have no effect on tone - at least in the long run.

Perhaps it is not "significant" enough to make a difference, in this case, simply "carry on"....

wishing you the best!

Norbert \:\)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#300900 - 02/04/08 11:35 AM Re: Piano upgrading question
VGrantano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/21/04
Posts: 771
Loc: New Jersey
Craigen,Steve, and Keith are right. It's no big deal for now. Plus with a piano of this ilk forget about upgrading. It's a classy piano that should be rebuilt some time in the distant future
and kept forever.It will out last you.(Let your kids worry about upgrading.)

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#300901 - 02/05/08 12:03 AM Re: Piano upgrading question
JonBrom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/07
Posts: 123
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Craigen's and Norbert's posts gives rise to a converse question:

If a minor soundboard crack doesn't affect the piano's musical qualities, yet it causes a dramatic drop in the monetary value, it is smart to take advantage of this when buying?

For instance, I played a Yamaha C3, about ten years old, with a small crack, that a dealer was having a tough time selling, even discounted heavily. It sounded and played great. Since my next piano will probably be my last (so I don't care about re-sell), should I have made a REALLY low offer, knowing the crack wouldn't matter or could be inexpensively repaired?

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#300902 - 02/05/08 12:25 AM Re: Piano upgrading question
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13975
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
JonBrom:

Good question!

Please don't forget the crack was described by a tech here as "significant" - in this case nobody could exactly predict what will happen with the piano in future.

From my experience, any used grand or piano that shows this fault will certainly have less market appeal - how much and to which extent will very much depend on each case.

Your question however, raises a good point, others please....

Norbert \:\)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#300903 - 02/05/08 02:32 AM Re: Piano upgrading question
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Jonbrom
No retail dealer is gonna discount a piano to the point of losing big $. Depending on what make piano and its age is the deciding factor on one's options. If it is for example an older 25-30 year old C3,a dealer can make a positive out of a negative. Yamaha uses .69 opt tuning pins so therefore a dealer could choose to restring the piano without changing the pinblock and while dismantled shim the crack ,refinish the board,reguild the harp, polish the agraffes and now that crusty piano looks brand new at least as for the top end and worth more $ than before. Now if it is an unrestored vintage American piano ,you sell it as is. Now if it is a near new quality piano than you could rebuild the top end very easily leaving the harp original,shimming the crack,replace the decal and refinishing the board only.

I'm curious,if one is not in the piano industry ,how does one fix a crack as being considered an inexpensive repair?.

One does not tear down the top end to solely address a crack. When one rebuilds an engine,while dismantled you install all new parts. Same concept as for grand pianos
_________________________
www.pastperfectpiano.com
Largest selection in the USA
100+Steinway and M&H grands
Warehouse showroom Onsite Restoration
Preowned & Restored
Hailun dlr.818-255-3145
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z8RvhXGKzY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voo0zumHGgE

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#300904 - 02/05/08 07:44 AM Re: Piano upgrading question
WillisWill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 125
Loc: Charlottesville, VA
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobroker:

I'm curious,if one is not in the piano industry ,how does one fix a crack as being considered an inexpensive repair?.

One does not tear down the top end to solely address a crack. When one rebuilds an engine,while dismantled you install all new parts. Same concept as for grand pianos
That was my impression from my tech, that repairing the crack would be an expensive endeavor. The crack begins at the edge of the soundboard approximately under the hammer for bass C, and runs with the grain all the way to the edge of the board. I haven't gone in a measured with calipers, but I imagine the width is ~0.3 - 0.5 mm
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