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Thread: vintage piano value ???

  1. #1

    Default vintage piano value ???

    Sorry to ask a piano question here, I have no other place to go for this.
    My neighbor wants to sell his vintage piano as no one in his home plays.
    It does look like an antique piano with nice carving at the front. Cosmetic condition is great, except the vanish fade in some place. The original varnish shows wood grains, not the kind of shiny lacquer that hide everything underneath.
    Felts are in good shape, sounds very warm and loud as a grand piano. This is the tallest upright piano I ever seen.

    brand::

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    the front:
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    ll it needs is a tuning job and it will sing beautifully. No other repair is needed.

    How much this piano is worth at present time ?

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Here's a fairly interesting discussion of the value of a Schiller "upright grand" piano. Conclusion seems to be that, if you put a ton of money ($6K) into restoring it, you may get a ton of money ($15K) out of it.

    Schiller pianos, apparently a nameplate of the Cable Piano Co., seem to have a good rep. I'd have a piano tuner come and take a good look at the condition of the pin block, soundboard, tuning pins, and key actions. You say "all it needs is a tuning job," but it would take a piano "pro" to verify that statement.

    Do a bit of Google research; you'll find some dealers who seem to handle quite a few Schiller pianos.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Also if it has ivory keys getting any chipped ones repaired can be an issue.

  4. #4

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Not an expert on pianos, but my take is that you are walking a fine line between "an old used piano" and a collector's item. Of course, we all know old Steinway grands can go for $35K or more, for example. However, MOST old pianos fall into the category of "having to pay somebody to haul it away", IMHO. The exception being the brand and what condition it is in. Also, you can't put it in a box and ship it, so you are limited to a local sale, from the start. Unless you have a local store that specializes in the used/vintage piano market your prospects will be limited. The exception being baby grands, which non-players seem to buy for "decor items" in house restorations -- and only if the price is cheap. Locally, I saw a baby grand sell for $1250, as a decor item. I'm thinking an upright would be harder to sell, although they do have excellent sound. I always say if somebody "gives" me a piano, they really haven't given me anything except a bill for about $400, which would be the moving of it and tuning of it, provided it doesn't need any other repair. And, assuming it looks nice and somebody wants it in the first place. Just my opinion, your local market might be quite different.

  5. #5
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I always say if somebody "gives" me a piano, they really haven't given me anything except a bill for about $400, which would be the moving of it and tuning of it, provided it doesn't need any other repair.
    Right on - and free pianos are easy to find. I wanted one, so last year I got one. First considered a "grand upright" Washburn, but when I called a good tuner/technician, he advised against getting a 100-year-old large upright. He said no way could one not be worn and in need of rebuilding. He advised finding a smaller console-type that is less than 50 years old; he also offered to go and inspect any piano in town for me. Within a month, found a free one, closer to home, and snagged it. That call to the piano tech was good move.
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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Okay, I have to ask, what's a Steinway?
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  8. #7

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Quote Originally Posted by jim simpson View Post
    Okay, I have to ask, what's a Steinway?
    About 700 lbs........

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Not an expert on pianos, but my take is that you are walking a fine line between "an old used piano" and a collector's item. Of course, we all know old Steinway grands can go for $35K or more, for example. However, MOST old pianos fall into the category of "having to pay somebody to haul it away", IMHO. The exception being the brand and what condition it is in. Also, you can't put it in a box and ship it, so you are limited to a local sale, from the start. Unless you have a local store that specializes in the used/vintage piano market your prospects will be limited. The exception being baby grands, which non-players seem to buy for "decor items" in house restorations -- and only if the price is cheap. Locally, I saw a baby grand sell for $1250, as a decor item. I'm thinking an upright would be harder to sell, although they do have excellent sound. I always say if somebody "gives" me a piano, they really haven't given me anything except a bill for about $400, which would be the moving of it and tuning of it, provided it doesn't need any other repair. And, assuming it looks nice and somebody wants it in the first place. Just my opinion, your local market might be quite different.
    I think you pretty much nailed it. There was a time, about 100 years ago, where sociable households were expected to have a piano for gathering 'round and singing at parties. Children took piano lessons and much of the evening entertainment was centered around it. But today, virtually no one plays the piano, and all those old ones still out there have become decorator pieces at best. Their value is virtually zero.

    I inherited my great-grandmother's Wurlitzer baby grand that she purchased in the 1920s. I took piano lessons on it as a child, though I rarely play it today. But I've already had to move it twice. The cost and effort of getting it moved is a huge albatross, to be honest. I love having it, but there will come a day when I'll have to get rid of it and I just know I'll be highly disappointed in its value. Even when I had it appraised as part of the estate, it was a shocker to hear how little it was worth. Pianos just seem like they ought to be worth more, due to their size and weight. But virtually any mandolin from that era will be worth more than a piano... go figure.
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  12. #9

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    I do notice that old pianos are given away for just the moving cost+any repair expenses. Free mandolin: have not seen one except one I gave to a sister of mine.

    If I get this piano, re tuning it would be the only thing I would do. I look very closely inside, all the hardware seems to be in good shape. Of course, I would try to tune a few keys to check out the tuning pins. All keys are in good condition, no chip at all.
    The owner would not mind as he want to get rid of it.
    So the concensus is this one should be FREE . I love this part as much as I lo e it sounds.

  13. #10

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    I once bought a cheap old German piano (over 100 y.o) for $100.00, it looked nice, but it was only good for playing honky tonk, as it was going out of tune very quickly. I got myself a tuning key and hammered the pins and it sort of helped, it was fun, but... I let it go and got a decent modern piano instead. I also had a talk to a friend of a friend, a piano tuner and restorer. He said that very few people would consider buying even a perfectly restored antique piano, unless it is a Steinway or a Bluthner. Most people prefer buying a decent modern instrument, so all restoration work was coming from people who wanted to have their old family instrument restored.

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  15. #11

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    But today, virtually no one plays the piano
    That's strange, I play for a few choirs and each choir has a few pianists in it.
    My two boys also took 7 years of classical piano lessons as well as many young kids in my friend circle.
    Most found that's strange that I take time to learn playing mandolin.
    I guess this is the "culture" of the circle I am in. Most of them only think of: piano or violin.

  16. #12

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Okay, I have to ask, what's a Steinway?
    About 700 lbs........
    That is a HUGE stein there. In competitive beer stein holding contest they only weigh about 5 lbs and those are steins are plenty big.

  17. #13

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    About 170$ I would say, still you need to know that determining the value of a used piano on your own may be possible, but is not necessarily a simple task.
    1. Try searching online for pianos similar to yours - but it may be difficult to find comparisons with the exact brand
    name, model, age and condition.

    2. Consult with a local piano technician - although an on site inspection and $100-$200 appraisal fee
    is usually involved.

    3. Talk to local piano stores to get their opinion.

  18. #14
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    I used to work in sales at a piano store. Often, a customer would come in and want to "trade in" an old piano for a newer one. We would say yes, we are happy to take your trade in. We would give them a couple of hundred bucks off the new piano, send our truck over, and our moving/ delivery guys would pick up the "trade in". Once the old piano was back at the store, the tech would remove the ivory key veneers if they were real ivory, then once we had accumulated 3 or 4 of these things the delivery guys took them straight to the dump. The ivory veneers are the only thing on these that are worth anything at alll, otherwise more trouble and expense than they're worth. The kicker is, we would have given the customer the discount with or without the trade in. The salespeople had freedom to negotiate price. "We take trade ins" was just a sales tool, so the customer would feel like they were getting something. The truth is, walking towards the door would be just as effective at getting a discount as offering a trade in. More effective, in fact. We really didn't want to be saddled with these old clunkers, but the attitude was that it was just another tool in the box to close a sale.

    It's a shame, really, in the piano's heyday there were hundreds of American companies making high quality products. But time catches up with every piano. Northern climates with cold winters and furnaces running all the time are especially hard on them. Soundboards crack, pinblocks shrink, all those thousands of pounds of string tension putting everything under tons of constant stress, and inevitably they won't hold tune anymore and just start sounding crappy. You can get it tuned and it might sound honky tonk after only a week. Refurbishing an old piano is expensive work, and it is difficult to find someone with the necessary skills. Honestly, the only brand that is really worth refurbishing is a Steinway. They have the name and the reputation, and folks are willing to buy them. Yes, there are people willing to buy other high quality names, but that market is so tiny that selling becomes a virtual impossibility. I made the decision years ago to go with a digital piano. It never needs a darn thing.
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  19. #15

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Wasn't there someone here that made a mandolin using wood from an old piano? Repurposing the wood for things like that seems to be a neat route to take for old pianos not worth the trouble of restoring.

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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Yes, I've heard of people using piano soundboard wood for instrument tops and I once tried making picks out of old key ivory.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    When my wife's uncle died, we inherited his piano, had it shipped up from PA. Our kids fooled around with it a bit, but when they grew up, since neither my wife nor I played, we tried selling it to a local piano store. I don't remember the brand, but it was pretty well-known; the piano store was actually interested, and came and bought it –– for less than we paid to ship it to Rochester, let alone what it was valued as part of the estate.

    The reason that trading in a piano for a nominal price, even to have it cannibalized and junked by the piano store (see Post #14), makes sense to both parties, is that it takes care of getting the old piano out of the house. When we sold my parents' house, we just left Mom's old upright piano in the living room, for the new owner to do with as he/she pleased. No one wanted it, and it would have cost quite a bit to dispose of it. Wonder if it's still there...?

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    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    A few years ago I sold my aunt's 40-year old Baldwin console after she died and left it to me. After the piano store picked it up and sold it on consignment, I netted $150.00. I was lucky to get that much.
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    This actually a little more interesting than the console-piano-for-firewood conversation. There is one store that seems to get high prices for Schillers, but they also seem to be the only ones.

    Antique Piano Store

    Then again, looking around and they seem to be an outlier, with most selling for well under that. It is supposed to have been an excellent piano, though. Looking around has lead me down a rabbit hole, as there were a few small piano manufacturers based close to us in Connecticut, and now I'm trying to find them. At one point, Mason and Hamlin were here, but moved back to Boston. In general, it's a lot more complicated a subject than mandolins...

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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    I love my friends but if they have a piano to move, I'm busy.

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    I've moved pianos four times. None of them mine, none of them valuable.
    The favorite move was six of us, with a pick up truck going about twelve blocks in beautiful weather, we lashed the upright down, and one of the guys started hammering out barrelhouse ragtime on it! Turned heads all the way down the street! I think that might have been the next to last piano move I did.
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  27. #22

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    When you are 18 and full of juice, you think you can do anything!
    I can remember feeling that way at 18 too... right up until the day I helped someone move a piano. Found out they're even heavier than they look!

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  29. #23

    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    This is the thread I was thinking of, would be nice if he'd post an update on the sound etc: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...p-From-a-Piano

    Would be interesting to see other examples as well. I suspect I may be expected to inherit my parents' George Steck piano, my grandfather bought it for my grandmother in the late 1950s and I think it's squarely in the category where you'd have to pay someone to get rid of it. I'd rather have it converted into smaller instruments/furniture for heirlooms than deal with a piano; my Yamaha keyboard does an adequate job of fulfilling my piano playing needs.

  30. #24
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    But today, virtually no one plays the piano, and all those old ones still out there have become decorator pieces at best. Their value is virtually zero..
    No and yes.

    I don't play piano but I have one. I have it for my music parties and jams, where there is almost guaranteed to be one or more piano players. And most of the jams I attend here and in surrounding areas include piano players, and if a piano is on site, piano playing.

    But yea most of them are not worth anything. Around here it is easy to get a piano as there is one for free (just the cost to move it) available four or five times a year.

    That Schiller may actually be worth something however.
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    Still Picking and Sawing Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage piano value ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    I've moved pianos four times. None of them mine, none of them valuable.
    The favorite move was six of us, with a pick up truck going about twelve blocks in beautiful weather, we lashed the upright down, and one of the guys started hammering out barrelhouse ragtime on it! Turned heads all the way down the street! I think that might have been the next to last piano move I did.
    When you are 18 and full of juice, you think you can do anything!
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