Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly?

Posted by: webber5606

Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 10/31/09 12:13 PM

I have the opportunity to purchase a 1917 Steinway Grand Player Piano (with player mechanism missing). Price is $4500. I believe it is a Model AR (rather than OR or XR) as it is approximately 6'8" long.

Condition: The red mahogany case is in good wood condition but badly needs refinishing. Keys are great- not a single chip, sound board has no cracks from my amateur eye. Missing one string (I think its age of string rather than warped soundboard as its only 1 string and is a bass string)

My questions-
I wouldnt be interested in the player mechanism unless there was a financial return to fix it (find one). Are these players generally worth more or less in comarison to their non-player counterparts?

Would the soundboard in this piano be the same as a 7' or a smaller piano? (I would like the larger soundboard)

At $4500 and needing a full refurbishment am I money ahead or should I look for a Model B that has already been refurbished?

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ THIS! YOUR HELP IS GREATLY APPRECIATED!

William
Posted by: BDB

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 10/31/09 12:20 PM

The ex-players are worth a lot less than the straight pianos. If these questions are important to you, you probably should avoid this piano.
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 10/31/09 12:42 PM

When we rebuild these old player Steinways for clients who are not interested in the player part, we convert the case to its equivalent non player shape and size.
This requires a completely new key set and key frame. This is a very expensive rebuilding project, and it requires a rebuilder that has a tremendous expertise in action design and work as well as in the cabinet modification.
The interesting thing about these old player Steinways is that they have much more substantial belly rails than the non player Steinways and the back post design is also superior to the normal Steinway back post design. So, when they are rebuilt properly, you can end up with a better than normal Steinway that works better in the "killer" octave area.
Expect to pay big bucks for the rebuilding of this piano, but you are buying it at a great price. The extra expense in the rebuilding will probably eat up your savings, but you might end up with a really wonderful instrument.
Posted by: Bart Kinlein

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 10/31/09 12:50 PM

Pay attention to whatever Keith says - a real pro (not to single him out - among many others on the forum)
Posted by: Marty Flinn

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 10/31/09 01:13 PM

If the piano does in fact measure 6'8" it is an AR model and would have the same soundboard as in an A III 6'4" piano without the player. These instruments play like a truck when played manually. I would pass. For $4500 you are looking at a core only that must be rebuilt to use as a musical instrument.
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 10/31/09 04:16 PM

Marty's reasoning is exactly why I think this piano is very worthwhile. smile

$4500 for an A3 core is an absolute steal. However, Marty's reasoning is also sound. This piano will play like crap if you keep the original keyset. So, if you have the right rebuilder ( pretty rare), and you are willing to spend the money, you have a winner. If you have the wrong rebuilder, and/or are not willing to spend the money, you should pass.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 10/31/09 05:23 PM

If you are looking for a piano to rebuild, you probably should start by finding the rebuilder first.
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 10/31/09 06:33 PM

For the qualified commisioned rebuilder,it is a great gig. For the client end user,I'm not sure!. It depends on, as Keith mentioned, whether or not one was planning on a complete remanufacture in replacing the keyset,soundboard,bridges and ribs along with the remaining restoration. If you do decide to go this route,you have no choice as for not replacing the keyset.It's a domino effect.If one changes the keyset,most likely one would address most EVERYTHING else.
So ...it's all or nothing in my book!
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 02:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
When we rebuild these old player Steinways for clients who are not interested in the player part, we convert the case to its equivalent non player shape and size.


How does one re-size the case?
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 09:34 AM

It is the front of the case that gets modified and reshaped to match its non player equivalent. Lots of carpentry. A new stretcher, keybed, keyslip, and fall board get made along with other parts getting modified or remade. Everything gets shaped according to jigs and templates we have made from equivalent non player models from the same period. Everything gets new veneer as well. It is a big job.
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 09:37 AM

With a sawsall or a chain saw. grin You actually cut the case down eliminating the area where the player(Duo-art) used to be.You have to reconfigure the new positioning of the stretcher bar,pinblock,arms,cheekblocks,fallboard,keyslip,new keyset and ? . If it is a wood finish piano,one has to reveneer wherever necessary. It can get fairly complicated for a piano guy in that it is a woodworking skillset beyond the capabilities of many and most piano rebuilders.You have to also cut down or make a new flylid in that the original will be too long and also totally reconfigure the trapwork,sostenuto uh...and on and on and on...Is it worth it for the client? Depends on the aquisition price of the explayer in that the conversion of the case is much more $$ in this restoration project.
Posted by: Ed A. Hall

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 10:59 AM

Don't these pianos also have keys that are reduced in length from the fallboard to the keyslip? Can that be lengthened as well?
Posted by: turandot

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 11:01 AM

If you chop four inches from the keybed end of the case and gut the internals while most likely replacing the board, is it still a Steinway? Is its potential resale value anywhere near the cost to the buyer?
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 12:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Ed A. Hall
Don't these pianos also have keys that are reduced in length from the fallboard to the keyslip? Can that be lengthened as well?


We put in a modern scale keyset. It is the same as would go into a brand new Hamburg Steinway of the same model.
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 12:55 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot
If you chop four inches from the keybed end of the case and gut the internals while most likely replacing the board, is it still a Steinway? Is its potential resale value anywhere near the cost to the buyer?


It is still a Steinway. Actually, IMO, it is more a Steinway than if you don't do this work.
Its potential resale value is as good as the work that was done. If the piano looks, plays and sounds great, resale should be similar to a rebuilt Steinway that was not originally a player piano. The inner rim, belly rail and back posts are more substantial than on non player Steinways, and these pianos can really sound great if the rebuild is done well.
Posted by: turandot

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 01:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
Originally Posted By: turandot
If you chop four inches from the keybed end of the case and gut the internals while most likely replacing the board, is it still a Steinway? Is its potential resale value anywhere near the cost to the buyer?


It is still a Steinway. Actually, IMO, it is more a Steinway than if you don't do this work.
Its potential resale value is as good as the work that was done. If the piano looks, plays and sounds great, resale should be similar to a rebuilt Steinway that was not originally a player piano. The inner rim, belly rail and back posts are more substantial than on non player Steinways, and these pianos can really sound great if the rebuild is done well.


No argument on the musical qualities. I'll defer to you on that. But I question the phrase "more a Steinway" since it no longer is any model that Steinway produced. Maybe "more than a Steinway" would be more correct.

On the value question, I think there's huge difference between the price potential of the fresh rebuild from the rebuilder providing the warranty and what the consumer owner can realize later, especially if the piano had been modified so drastically in the chop shop. grin
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 01:23 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot

No argument on the musical qualities. I'll defer to you on that. But I question the phrase "more a Steinway"


When we are done, they feel and respond like a perfect new Steinway. The player Steinways with the original actions and keysets don't feel or respond like Steinways. So, I feel this makes them "more a Steinway".

Originally Posted By: turandot
On the value question, I think there's huge difference between the price potential of the fresh rebuild from the rebuilder providing the warranty and what the consumer owner can realize later.


This is always the case, whether a piano is new, used or freshly rebuilt and being sold by professionals as opposed to private parties.
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 04:12 PM

All the "player" Steinway grand mdls. had their nonplayer versions which we all know.The XR is a M scale,the OR is the L scale,AR is the A-III scale. To say the player versions don't play like a Steinway and aren't "more a Steinway" than the normal may not be appropriate semantically. The player versions with the longer keys can be said to play inferior than that of a normal one.

The converted player is most definitely affected as for a value perspective. The unconverted explayer is most definitely worth less. The converted cut down is definitely worth more though one has to factor in the conversion cost. Though a converted is more valuble than a unconverted,A converted is worth less than a normal original one. Is a "salvage title car" which has been repaired back to normal worth the same as a "clean title" car ?. I don't think so.

These player mdls. were originally sold to Aeolian who in turn installed the players and sold them.There can be serial # discrepancies which affect it's resale value.

Many dealers have purchased these explayers and attempted to disguise the fact of it's original status and or sent the pianos to ? to do the conversion. You can bet after the fact,there is no disclosure to the end user.So...the term chopshop is somewhat appropriate.grin

Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 04:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
Originally Posted By: Ed A. Hall
Don't these pianos also have keys that are reduced in length from the fallboard to the keyslip? Can that be lengthened as well?


We put in a modern scale keyset. It is the same as would go into a brand new Hamburg Steinway of the same model.

Keith,I know you guys do a righteous job on the conversion.
As for the client's piano,no problem if it benefits all the parties cost $ wise.
As for me,spec piano wise ,thanx but no thanx! Been there did one,too much down time!I'd rather pay more for a regular "core" though believe me with my bellyman and rebuilder,we can do it more precise than an all original one. grin

Now this piano in question,it actually may be a bit tricky in that it is not a regular production mdl. anymore being that the A-III was discontinued in the 40(s). Actually in that it was never a Hamburg mdl.,one could not order a kluge keyset for an AIII. You are not actually duplicating the original key set so..it's not like you can send the old original keyframe and samples to whoever in the states.

Maybe an AII keyframe is the same I'll have to check. No reason to up till now. Actually since you are cutting the keybed to size,maybe you can cut it down to the A-II or B size keyframe.
I have no idea! If theres a will theres a way ,one can figure it out. wink
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/01/09 05:08 PM

PB,

A2 is the same.
Posted by: webber5606

Re: Steinway 1917 Grand Duo Art- buy or fly? - 11/02/09 09:36 PM

I cant thank you guys enough for the great information, I learned a lot from the posts.

I plan to pass on this piano. If anyone is intersted in the case, let me know and I will get you in touch with the owner.

Thanks a million!

William