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#635079 - 10/18/02 09:15 AM Help - worth rebuilding??
susan1385 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/18/02
Posts: 4
Hi! I am new to piano world - and to pianos. We inherited my husband's grandmother's piano - apx. 1912 Sohmer - NY baby grand about 3 years ago. When I first saw it I thought of it as a piece of furniture; the case has darkened almost black from age and is crackled in some areas. However, underneath the top (?) it is a beautiful mahogany (I think it is mahogany). Still has all ivory keys. Have had it tuned several times, but all tuners said it probably will not hold a tune - should be rebuilt, but in good condition. Apx. cost of rebuild $7,000 - $10,000, but piano would probably be worth $16,000 - $18,000 after rebuild. Does this sound feasible? Rebuilder has shop where he sells the most beautiful antique pianos. I must also say that I have now taken a few piano lessons and that piano has brought me more joy than anything I have received in a long time. Who would have thought??! Appreciate any opinions from the experts...

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#635080 - 10/18/02 12:50 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
John51 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/02
Posts: 295
Loc: England
I can't help on the resale value but...

 Quote:
piano has brought me more joy than anything I have received in a long time
What would you spend the $10k on that beats that over the next 20+ years?
_________________________
Whaddya mean I shouldn't be swinging it? Beethoven wrote some great rags.

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#635081 - 10/18/02 05:08 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
What size is the grand? (Measure it from very back to very front). The cost of the rebuild is in the ballpark, assuming it also includes refinishing. Know what you are getting in your rebuild- we use the term "recondition" because "rebuild" implies that everything that can be replaced, will be. As far as the value when all this is done, that depends upon the piano size, the market for it where you live, and whether you would really sell grandma's piano. If it's gonna stay in the family another few generations, it's almost always worth it.....Sam
_________________________
Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

www.SamLewisPiano.com

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#635082 - 10/18/02 10:00 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
susan1385 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/18/02
Posts: 4
Thank you both for replying.

John: You are right but I guess I feel silly putting that much money (which I don't have right this moment) into a piano I really can't play. I have no natural talent - at best I will just plug along for my own enjoyment! I am up to the easy music books rated 3 to 4!

Sam: The piano is apx. 5 ft. long and came from Winnetka, IL. It is now with me in Atlanta, GA. Our grandmother actually gave this piano to my mother-in-law originally, then bought two new baby grands which sat together in her living room. When she was younger friends would come over on Sunday and they would play classical duets together. She died when she was 98 years old - and we have a video tape of her playing when she was about 94, very impressive! I believe she was on the board of the Chicago Symphony at one time.

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#635083 - 10/18/02 11:26 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
John51 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/02
Posts: 295
Loc: England
Hi Susan, my teacher started me on the John W Schaum adult piano course. I can recommend it, it stretches you, but not too much. I'm a dud, so only just over half way through after 5 weeks of lessons, but it is starting to make sense.
I'm beginning to realise not many have natural talent, progress is related to the quality and quantity of practice. (Quite sickening when that first dawns on you. \:\) )
I'm sure you'll enjoy many years with your piano.
_________________________
Whaddya mean I shouldn't be swinging it? Beethoven wrote some great rags.

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#635084 - 10/19/02 01:16 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
Susan- I dont know the Atlanta market values as I do Nashville, but $16000-$18000 after rebuild strikes me as optimistic for a 5' Sohmer..... If you do this expecting that kind of value, I would check the papers and stores for comparables first. Good Luck.....Sam
_________________________
Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

www.SamLewisPiano.com

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#635085 - 10/19/02 04:25 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
I *do* know the Atlanta market. There are quite a few "rebuilders" (I am using the term loosely) who would be apt to tell you something such as they did you when they told you a 5' Sohmer would be worth 16-18K after a rebuild. This just simply isn't the case. As a long time dealer in the area, I can tell you it would be hard for me to sell your piano even *after* being rebuilt for much over 6K - less than the cost of the rebuild. You are simply being told this in an attempt to justify the charge for rebuilding your piano.

Much of what goes on here in Atlanta is what good rebuilders call "cosmetic rebuilds", meaning a heavy emphasis on getting the finish to look nice, very little quality to the work on the inside of the piano. Please feel free to visit my website (link at the bottom) to learn more about this. If I can help you after that, just email me. But my personal view would be that your piano isn't worth the cost of a complete rebuild, though while I can't say for sure without seeing it, might be worth repairing and refinishing. Just don't spend 7K+ on it expecting it to be worth more, because it simply will not be.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#635086 - 10/19/02 04:32 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
susan1385 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/18/02
Posts: 4
Sam: Thanks for the advice. I'll will check market quotes, though I can't image ever selling the piano. Just makes you feel better to know you COULD get your money out of it (or make a little?). Thanks!

John: Thank you for the suggestion. I may try the John Schaum course. Could I do on my own? I took 8 piano lessons about 1 1/2 years ago, and have been plodding along every since. Just can't stand playing the beginners music - had to jump to easy Gershwin, Cole Porter, etc.. This music far before my time, you understand!, but love the melodies. I really like rock also, but don't like to try to play it - I am not good enough (fast enough) and sometimes there really isn't a good melody. Let me know how you do. Nice to talk with another beginner...

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#635087 - 10/19/02 04:42 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
Probably, you dont need to check the market too closely, based on Larry's comments about Atlanta. His observations are true here too. In cases like this, we tell the client that if the piano is going to stay in the family for the next 100 years, and it means that much to you, go ahead and do it. Just dont do it expecting to make money or break even. Unfortunately, I talk my way out of business sometimes doing that, but I sleep well at night knowing I told them the truth.....Sam
_________________________
Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

www.SamLewisPiano.com

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#635088 - 10/19/02 04:44 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
susan1385 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/18/02
Posts: 4
Larry: You have a nice website - very informative. I 'll keep in mind what you said and if I get in a position to rebuild my piano, give you a call.

Sam & Larry: I made a mistake, though I doubt it makes a difference. Piano measures more like 5'10" from beginning of keyboard to end of piano.

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#635089 - 10/19/02 07:07 PM Re: Help - worth rebuilding??
John51 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/02
Posts: 295
Loc: England
Susan, you might be able to do it on your own, but I know I can't. My teacher won't let me ignore the bits I don't like, and he makes me do it over when my timing is wrong.
If you go it alone, take notice of every single instruction. It's well thought out, right down to putting an easy piece in when you were expecting something harder, so you say "Hey, I can do this!".
_________________________
Whaddya mean I shouldn't be swinging it? Beethoven wrote some great rags.

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