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Visiting Chopin in Valldemossa
Summer means vacation time and for many also traveling places. There are countless opportunities to enjoy wonderful music during summer festivals or embark on thrilling visits to historical venues that our esteemed composers and musicians once frequented. While on vacation in Mallorca, Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell took a quick visit to Frédéric Chopin’s Valldemossa. Read more >>

Topic: Old Steinway console uprights - “How good are they? Reliable?”  (Read 2538 times)

Offline classicalinquisition

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Who owns one of these? 1800’s or early 1900’s piano? Is it worth the purchase or better to buy a new piano.

I’ve heard just buy a new piano these days as they are much better than any old pianos even if it’s a Steinway.

What’s the average market value of these old Steinway’s assuming there is new felt and keys and the inside looks pretty new?

Offline dogperson

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The value of ANY pre-owned piano is not how it looks.  You really must have an evaluation by a private technician to evaluate  any work that has been done, and let you know the work that might be needed and when.  He can also help you determine, based on his evaluation, what would be a reasonable price to pay

In terms of new versus vintage:  They really will not be the same instrument. You will find those that will always recommend new. Personally, I am a vintage piano fan,  owning a 1900 upright and a 1903 grand. (Neither Steinways)

Offline indianajo

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I've played various pre-WWII uprights in churches, including a Steinway.  Some of them are very good.  They are louder than 40" consoles and the bass is real 54-110 hz, not interference (beat frequency).  The Steinways are not uniquely good, some old Sohmer and Kurzmann are excellent.  The fastest action I've ever played is a Kurzmann in a church, one that has a broken string and was pushed into a back room.  These pre WWII instruments will tune properly at 415 or 422 hz A, not 440 as after WWII. Note I haven't touched a real grand piano in good maintenance since 1966.  
Prices for the Steinways, because of the name, run $300 to $1200:  Here in the midwest.  The Kurzmann etc will be found free or $75 because nobody is pushing them.
I think these old pianos are tragic for being sent to the dump because of simple things like one broken string or one sticky pivot.  Or a couple of ivory keytops knocked off.  I can handle those maintenance problems myself without any special training.  
The people pushing new pianos have an easy time, because cars and appliances are such a wreck after 15-20 years.  Those are full of rubber parts that deteriorate from oxygen in the air, steel that rusts, planned obsolescence of the changes in motor fuel and emission regulations.  IMHO the new pianos are built of materials that have not been proven by time to last a century and a half.  1920's uprights were built of maple spruce and cherry, felt and glue. The top brands used good glue that didn't fall apart.  New pianos are built of mystery woods from Asia, and plastic. We'll see what held up about 2100.  
Pianos can be subjectated to leaky roofs or mouse damage, and Steinway uprights are prone to being beat to death by music schools that use them for practice.  Hours of use can wear out a piano, but not a century of neglect sitting in a parlor.  See the link for my guide of how to inspect and reject an old piano, before you drop $100 on having a tech inspect it. Most of the good 1900-1932 pianos won't cost $100 anyway, just the moving will be $400 up because it takes four men or very specialized equipment.  https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=58857.0
 Be aware most piano tunings are done by "Antique Music Service" in this area, which is actually a division of the Yamaha dealer.  They found $2000 worth of work would be necessary to restore a 1920 piano that I played and found merely undistinguished in tone.   So most tuners elsewhere may also have an ax to grind, their own inventory which is "So superior"  to whatevery you found.  Personally, I find three of the Yamaha consoles I've played sound pretty bad, IMHO.  Weak bass & treble, but who plays outside the middle two octaves anyway? Me, of course, I tested my 1982 Sohmer 39" on 7 octave Ernesto Lecuona before I bought it. Against a Steinway and an Everett 44"s BTW.  My 1941 Steinway 40 is the console all the post war consoles were copied from. Marvoulous interference bass, I love the sound. 
Happy shopping. 

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