Buying a New Steinway

With completion of the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center within sight, several community members are busy focusing on the final details, and one committee in particular is focused on funding a grand piano.
The Fairfield Arts and Convention Center Grand Piano Committee has set out to raise $68,000 to purchase a used nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano for the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. A new Steinway costs $110,000.
"Steinway is the piano most favored by most concert artists," committee member Robert Glocke said. "It's an outstanding piano. It's the best we can buy." More

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Steinway Piano Bench

As far back as the piano industry goes, the piano factories never
built the piano bench. Many customers ask this question. The reason
is so that a piano manufacturer could concentrate on building a fine
instrument, I guess. Actually, in the beginning all manufacturers
including Steinway always had someone else build the bench. One of
the most famous manufacturers were the Tonk Piano Bench Company.

As the piano manufacturing companies would produce the piano they then
would send their information on to companies like Tonk to manufacture
a matching bench. At the turn of the 20th Century, in 1900, when a
customer purchased a piano, they also had to purchase the bench

Piano benches come in all shapes and sizes with as many as 25 different
leg designs and a multitude of finishes and colors. There are oblong,
Squire and many round and roll top types available now. There are new
ones, used ones and antique ones available. You can buy them from as
little as $20.00 and as much as $1,000.00.

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History of Steinway and Sons


Almost from the first arrival in New York of the Steinway family, in 1850, the name has been famous in the history of the American piano. The single aim of the founder was to produce an ideal instrument, and with what grand and satisfactory results, the career of the house which he founded attests. The Steinway piano is distinctly and indisputably artistic in its sphere. Its development is a fascinating story and lends honor and credit to its makers as well as to the art of piano-making. "Steinway" pianos are made in all styles and for all climes and all lands; uprights, grand's and concert grand's. There is no need to season a piano for destination.

The first Steinway piano was made by Henry Engelhard Steinway, with his own hands. Its construction occupied a whole year. When Theodore Steinway, for whom this famous piano was built, was fourteen years old, the business of manufacture was so well perfected that the Steinway piano took the premium at the Brunswick Fair.

The Steinway over strung pianos were next exhibited at the American Institute, held in the New York Crystal Palace, in 1855, and took all prizes. The London Exposition followed in 1862, and the Paris Exposition in 1867, at which the Steinway pianos received the first prize medal and the grand gold medal, respectively. The piano received at least thirty-five premiums at the principal fairs in the United States between the years 1855 and 1862, since which time the house has been an exhibitor at international expositions only. The "Steinway" has been used by the most eminent artists of both hemispheres and is as well known in art circles of the Old World as it is in the New.

There has been no change in the Steinway goal. Perfection is still the aim and the result, skilled craftsmanship is still the means loyalty and pride have simply been spilled over from family worker to factory worker. Where mass production logically stresses speed, economy, and replaceable parts, the Steinways still stress beauty, quality, and durability.

The Steinway piano is too well known to require any great endorsement here. In every consumer publication, in every era for over one hundred and fifty years, Steinway is the standard of comparison the world over. Any statement contrary to that fact is simply competitors defeat and is not worthy of comment here.

The Steinway Artists
Today, more than 90 percent of the world's active concert pianists — over 1,300 artists — bear the title "Steinway Artist". Each owns a Steinway. All choose to perform on Steinway pianos exclusively. Importantly, none are paid to do so; their only inducement is the unrivaled sound and responsiveness of their Steinway pianos.

Choice of Music Educators

Many of these artist received their essential musical training on Steinway pianos, for Steinway pianos are also the instrument of choice at the world's most prestigious music schools — a large number of Steinways are currently in use, for example, at Juilliard, Oberlin College, Yale University, The Curtis Institute of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, Hochschule fur Musik und darstellende Kunst Stuttgart/Germany, Hochschule fur Musik Cologne/Germany, Conservatorio S. Pietro a Majella, Napoli/Italy, Conservatoire de Lausanne, Lausanne/Switzerland, Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris/France, Conservatoire National de Region, Toulouse/France, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester/U.K., Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow/U.K., Tokyo University of Music & Fine Arts, Geidai/Japan, and Toho Music University, Tokyo/Japan.

In some institutions, Steinway is the only piano used in concert halls and practice rooms.

For good reasons. The unsurpassed sound and response, which so enchant concert pianists, also permit longer practice with less fatigue and allow students unbridled freedom of musical expression. The Steinway pianos are both superb musical instruments and durable enough to sustain years of intensive use with grace.

For almost 150 years Steinway has set the world standard for piano quality. And, Steinway & Sons is as dedicated as ever to bringing that standard to life through a careful combination of steady innovation and skilled craftsmen working with the finest materials.

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Restringing a Steinway Grand

Loose tuning pins are usually the first sign that restringing should be considered for a Steinway, although in some cases the tone may seriously degenerate before loose pins occur. Strings begin to lose their elasticity and best tone quality after about twenty five years or so, although the deterioration can be so gradual that the tone is acceptable for several more years. Only when the piano is restrung is one made aware of the difference between the new and the old strings.

Only on rare occasions will one re pin with oversized pins without restringing work, since under normal conditions pins stay tight for longer than twenty years. It may be possible and advisable to delay restringing a few years by driving the pins slightly further into the pin block, but generally when the pins are loose it is time to restring. The PTG (Piano Technicians Guild) now is making recommendations to the tuners in the field to apply cyanoacrylate glue (Krazy Glue) to the pin block to help tighten the loose Pins.


When restringing there is always the decision as to whether to use the old pin block or install a new one. There are five tuning pin sizes ranging from #2 to #6, OTT that the old block can be used with over-sized pins if it can be determined that it is sound. If a chemical pin tightened has been used, or if there is any doubt about the condition of the present block, it is advisable to install a new one. However, the successful installation of a new pin block requires much skill and experience on the part of the re-builder. The fit must be exact, and the holes drilled evenly at just the right angle 7 degrees to insure an even, tight pin throughout.

The use of a chemical to tighten loose pins by swelling the wood in the pin block is often successful, but somewhat controversial. Its use may be acceptable on an inexpensive piano to give it a few more years of life when the quality of the instrument hardly justifies the cost of restringing, but to use it on a quality piano is questionable. Chemicals can so destroy the wood fibers around the tuning pins that it is necessary to replace the pin block. Since the strings have lost much of their life by the time the tuning pins become loose, it hardly seems advisable to risk ruining the pin block just to use the dead strings for a few more years. New strings will improve the tone of the piano immensely nearly by 85%

Some may feel that frequent tunings may lead to premature loosening of the pins. This could be true if a poor tuning technique is used which bends the pins or involves several large up and down motions for tuning each pin. But it is not a significant factor when a correct tuning hammer technique is used that involves one or two tiny movements for tuning each pin. A piano used in concert work may be tuned more times in one year than the ordinary piano tuned regularly would be tuned in fifty years, yet without showing significant change in the tightness of the pins. In addition to poor tuning hammer technique the other factor that leads to premature loose tuning pins is repeated drastic humidity changes from season to season.

Full Action Rebuild and Restringing.
New hammers
Or new hammers and shanks with reconditioned butts (Possibly on new hammer flanges)
Or new hammers, shanks and butts
If brass butt flanges are present remove the rail and anneal the rail and replace all brass butt
Replace hammer springs plates
Replace hammer rail felt
Replace hammer springs rail felt

Rework Whippen's

There are various variations on this theme
Clean and graphite jacks
Replace jack springs
Re pin all whippen and sticker flanges
Perhaps replace flanges
Reactivate glue on jack saddles or re glue saddles


Replace damper lever felt
Remove and re felt damper lever felt
Replace damper springs
Re pin damper flanges or replace flanges
Rework bridges
Perchance replace bass bridge
Change key pins or buff
Detail of spacing and timing.

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Reconditiong a Steinway Grand Piano

There is no understanding among technicians as to what constitutes a reconditioning as opposed to a rebuilding. Reconditioning is a less thorough process using a minimum of new parts, and working largely with original parts, whereas rebuilding involves using whatever new parts are necessary to make the piano function at its maximum potential. However, the dividing line between these two procedures is not clearly defined. In some instances reconditioning can involve using several new parts; seldom does a rebuilding include using all new parts

A reconditioning is called for when a Steinway piano has been allowed to go for several years without regular piano service (tuning and annual maintenance.) There is still enough hammer left to file, and the piano is tunable. The piano is thoroughly cleaned; the action tightened, freed of lost motion, and regulated; the hammers reshaped, fitted to the strings and voiced; the pedals and dampers are adjusted; and whatever else is necessary is done to restore the piano to its best playing condition. The action centers may be so worn that they need to be re-pinned or even re-bushed. If the existing parts are not too worn, and if the work is done thoroughly the piano may give several years of satisfactory service before needing major attention again.

Rebuilding can refer to most any operation, ranging from just adding new hammers to replacing almost everything but the original piano shell. It can include restringing and new tuning pins, a new pinblock, a new soundboard or repairing the old one, new hammers, new hammer shanks, new whippen's, new white key coverings (IVORIANS), new black keys, new key buttons, keys re-bushed, new back checks, all action felt replaced, new damper felt, pedal assembly overhauled, plate, soundboard, the entire piano refinished, hardware re-plated, and whatever else may be necessary to make the piano look, sound, and perform like a new instrument.

Just how much should be replaced in a rebuilding is the difficult question. Should a minimum of replacements be made using as many of the original parts as possible, or should everything be replaced so that it is practically a new piano, or should it be something between these two extremes? The cost, the condition of the existing parts, and the quality of the new parts available will all be important factors in the decision. Generally, the more thorough the rebuilding the greater the cost, and the longer one can expect trouble-free performance. There will be parts that must be replaced, and other parts whose replacement will be optional. If the parts are in good condition and seem to have many years of wear left it would seem advisable not to replace them. It is important when comparing estimates to also compare the amount of work needed, including the number and quality of parts being replaced.

Pianos are precision engineered musical instruments consisting of as many as 9,000 parts. There are no shortcuts to rebuilding a Steinway piano properly. No matter how regularly and expertly a piano is serviced there will come a time when it can no longer function satisfactorily without major repairs. It is necessary to recondition or rebuild when there is no more felt left on the hammers to file and voice, or the tuning pins are so loose that the piano can no longer be tuned.

Probably more important than what is to be done in a rebuilding is who is to do the rebuilding. Just as in the other phase of piano technology there is a vast difference in the knowledge and workmanship of those who do rebuilding. It can not be assumed that a re-builder can execute each operation in a rebuilding process as skillfully as it was originally done in the factory where the worker does one operation over and over again day after day. It is generally considered that a good re-builder can at best restore the piano to 90% of its original quality, although one or two re-builders do have the reputation of doing work superior to that done in the factory.

Experience is an important factor in rebuilding. It is highly unlikely that a regular technician who only rebuilds one or two pianos a year will have the same expertise as one whose main work is rebuilding. It does not necessarily follow that one who is a fine tuner, very conscientious and highly trustworthy, is also a good re-builder. The results of a rebuilding are somewhat unpredictable, and often there is little recourse if it does not turn out satisfactory. Sometimes the only solution to a poor rebuilding is to do the complete job over again which can prove very costly. It is important to know your re-builder, and to know the quality of work he does. References are always and excellent way of checking out there work. also there reputation in the community Possibly by checking with The Better Business Burial

When a Steinway piano is completely rebuilt it may look, sound, and feel like a new piano, and can be expected to give many years of quality performance if properly serviced. A discussion of the various phases of rebuilding is designed to give help in coping with the many decisions necessary regarding rebuilding.

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Buying a Used Steinway Piano



AAA MINT - R&R (Rebuilt and Refinished) A used Steinway piano that has been disassembled, inspected, repaired as necessary with replacement of all worn or deteriorated parts, reassembled, tested and approved to at least the tolerances of a new piano of like manufacture is said to have been rebuilt and refinished. A grading of R&R is designated.

The labor-intensive work required to rebuild a pSteinway piano properly is not inexpensive. Therefore, a rebuilt piano should be purchased because of its merits, not purely as a money-saving measure compared to a new instrument.

AA LIKE NEW - REFURB (Refurbished) A Refurb instrument rating means that the instrument looks great, plays great is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should pass all inspections. Free of any blemishes, nicks or scratches; original condition throughout; very little sign of use.

A RECONDITIONED - RECON A used Steinway piano that has been put back in good condition by cleaning, repairing and adjusting for maximum performance with replacement parts where specifically indicated is said to have been reconditioned." A grading of Reconditioned is designated.

A- EXCELLENT - EXCEL A excellent instrument rating means that the instrument looks great, is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should pass all inspections. The string compartment should be clean. The finish is free of any wear or visible defects. There is no rust. Minute nicks or scratches; no dents or rust.

B+ VERY GOOD - VG A very good rating means that the Steinway piano is free of any major defects. Many pianos owned by consumers fall into this category. The finish will have only minor blemishes (if any), and there are no major mechanical problems. Few scratches; exceptionally clean; no dents or rust.

B GOOD A good Steinway piano may need some reconditioning to be sold at retail, but any major reconditioning should be deducted from the value. Scratches, small dents, dirty.

C FAIR A fair instrument rating means that the Steinway piano probably has some mechanical defects, but is still in operating condition. The finish and/or interior usually need professional repair to make the instrument salable. Well-scratched, chipped, dented, rusted or warped condition.

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Steinway and Sons Ivory Keys

Replacing ivory keys is easy! First of all if you need to have a source of obtaining original ivory tops and tails. Usually you get these from a piano rebuilder like us or someone who replaces keytops for piano dealers.

Ivory color varies in shades. I've noticed in the 28 years of matching Ivory's that there are around 9 different shades of white and 3 levels of quality. 1. AAA, 2. A1 and 3. Bone Ivory.

In choosing the number of keys you wish to replace, think in terms of quality opposed to number of replacements. If some of the ivory wafer's are still on the key's and badly yellowed or cracked, remove them. Be very careful in the removing process sometimes its good to have and steam Iron on hand and moist cloth. Take the moist cloth and place it on the key and wafer to be removed then put the iron on top of the cloth over the ivory and count to 20 (approximant 20 seconds) and lift the old ivory wafer at the front edge with a flat putty knife. It should come off relatively easy.

Now write down the keys being replaced for example: 2-C's, 2-D's, 2-E's, 4-F's, 1-G, 3-A's and 2-B's; the total number of keys to replace in this simulation is 16. Below is and example of the keyboard to help you discover what keytops are missing.

Keyboard Sample below with the notes in proper order

keyboard with notes

The reason that writing down which keys need to be replaced and how many to replace is so important is that most all ivories are beveled at the back of the ivory wafer. For example, all C keys are beveled on the back right side, all E keys are beveled on the back left side, and so on.

Once you have selected the correct keys for replacement, prepare the base of the key (the wood part) for gluing of the wafer. Scrape it with a single-edge razor blade or your putty knife, pulling towards you lightly until the top is level.

Then get the liquid paper Ivory color when it dries it is porous like ivory. The next step is to get some Krazy Glue. Draw an "S" on the base of the key on top that has the liquid paper and or cleaned gauze wafer It will stick, and then carefully slide the proper keytop wafer on until it reaches the ivory tail.

Quickly wipe off the excess glue and hold down the ivory wafer firmly for 20-30 seconds. If you wish to make it level with the tail you can sand the top with 320 grit tri-mite paper until both are level. Then using Brasso polish the key to your desired luster.

The one disadvantage of using hide glue (water-based) is that ivory is a porous material and will warp if you do not have a perfectly flat piece of metal or wood clamped to it during the long drying time, usually about 30 minuets.

The process I'm telling you about takes about one minute per key, if you have all the materials usually found in the office desk! It is clean and looks like it was done by a pro.

Thanks for now and happy keytopping!

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