If I have the chance to buy a 1991 Steinway 1098 (upright) from a trusted source, and an independent piano tech verifies that it’s in a good condition, is that as much of a no-brainer as I think?
Doesn’t it depend on the price and how much you want a piano?
Not really, no. If I’m considering a Steinway I think it’s safe to assume that I really want a piano, and the price is nobody’s business but mine. I’m not asking whether a particular piano is a good deal, just whether there is anything about 1098s that shouldn’t make me jump at the chance.
Best of luck with your decision. Isn’t Piano World the big piano message board? Have you checked there for POV’s? I read about that as “the” message board in a book I’ve mentioned in this forum, A Grand Obsession about this one woman’s quest to get her piano to sound the way it did when she first played it.
Sorry, I should have clarified in the OP: I’m not making any decisions based solely on the input I get here.
Yeah, I’ve checked out Piano World and opinions on the 1098 vary. Some say a used 1098 isn’t that much better than, say, a new Yamaha U1, while others are of the “it’s still a Steinway, and a decent investment if nothing else” school. I’m also getting input from at least two piano techs, plus a few professional pianist friends. This place is but one source.
Have you played the piano? Do you like the sound and the action? Have you played a number of other makes for comparison? New and used? Never buy a piano based on a make and model number without auditioning the exact piano you are buying.
Don’t feel like you “should” love this piano because of the Steinway name. While Steinway does make very fine pianos, they are not the de facto “best” piano (they do have superior and very long-running marketing programs). There are many pianists who prefer one of the other top brands. I personally prefer the sound of my Mason & Hamlin BB over any Steinway B that I have played.
Not sure what other brands are available in your area to try out (and I’m not very familiar with uprights beyond Yamaha and Kawai), but the only way to know if the piano is right for you is to try it.
Is this piano in a private home or an institutional setting? A 1991 practice piano in a music department likely has been played heavily for a very long time and might be close to needing a rebuild (which is almost never cost effective for an upright piano). From a private home you should have decades before rebuilding becomes an issue.
Thanks, Marvin the Martian!
If you’ve played it and like the tone and touch, AND a reliable piano technician has said it’s in good condition, AND the price is reasonable, AND you can afford it, then go ahead. Assuming you’re buying it to play, that’s all that matters. If any one of those conditions doesn’t obtain, you should be more cautious, at the very least.
If you’re buying it for other reasons (to enhance the decor, to impress friends, as an investment, etc.), there may very well be better, or cheaper, ways to accomplish any of those goals. In particular, I would never advise buying a piano and expecting it to increase in value. Some people seem to think that old pianos, and Steinways in particular, are treasures that will appreciate in value, but that is rarely if ever true, and far less likely with an upright than a grand. The advances in digital keyboards over the past few decades have significantly reduced the market for acoustic pianos.
Although I am not a real musician, just a dilletante, I have always thought that U.S. Steinways are overrated, and have found them to be wildly inconsistent in tone and touch. (I have never played a Hamburg Steinway, so I can’t comment on them.) Personally, I have always liked Yamahas, and bought a new Disklavier DC3A grand in 2000, after trying out a number of 6-foot grands. (I would have preferred the Bosendorfer, but it was over $100,000, almost four times what I paid for the Yamaha.)
If you’ve looked at other similar uprights and prefer the Steinway, go for it. But if you haven’t, you might very well find a comparable Yamaha for a lot less, and I’d expect it to age better and require less maintenance than the Steinway, as long as it’s not a gray market unit (see box at the bottom of the page). You might also find a Disklavier model that will record and play back your performances and allow you to play in silent mode with headphones. Of course, that will be more expensive than a non-Disklavier Yamaha.
AFAIK, Steinway does not offer a digital player option like Yamaha, althought there are aftermarket systems.
Good luck, and let us know what you end up doing.
I thought all of those things were implied, which is why I didn’t answer Marvin the Martian’s questions…but, I forgot that this is the Dope.
Yes, I would play any piano/keyboard before buying one. As I mentioned in the OP, a tech I trust would check it out. “Reasonable” and “affordable” are both in the eye of the beholder. And I don’t think I could be friends with anyone who would buy a Steinway just as decor/to impress people.
Since I’m now answering questions:
It’s currently in a Jordan Kitt’s showroom, but that’s a good point: if I get serious about this piano, I’ll definitely ask about its history.
I certainly do not. When I mentioned folks on Piano World saying that it would be a decent investment, they/I just meant that a Steinway may retain more value than another piano. So if I buy one now and decide to sell it in 5 years, I might --might – be able to get more out of it than if I’d bought another piano. That’s all.
That’s who I would sell to.
I know about gray market units; I’ve had a copy of Piano Buyer for a couple of years.
Disklaviers don’t interest me, but the hybrid NU1 is a serious contender. And although price is not a deciding factor for me, it’s a few thousand cheaper than a new U1, which is currently at the top of my (traditional) acoustic list.
I also love the idea of a TransAcoustic, but it’s both way more complex than I need and way more expensive than I can justify (it costs more than the used Steinway).
I’ve been playing the piano for 37 years. While I’m only intermediate at best I still play at home regularly (I’m also a jazz singer), and I really miss having an acoustic piano. My trusty Kurzweil PC88 has served me well for the past 17 years, but I’m about to get a small inheritance and I am going to buy something. Price, while not completely irrelevant, is at the bottom of my criteria list. If I buy new, it will be a Yamaha.
My options are (a) a new acoustic (the U1), (b) a new hybrid (the NU1), or © the probably-once-in-my-lifetime chance to get a Steinway that isn’t older than me. I haven’t seen or played any of these instruments yet. I’m waiting until I receive the inheritance, at which time I will take a trip to the Jordan Kitt’s that has the Steinway – if I’m still seriously considering it I will bring a piano tech with me – and will spend some time playing whatever I can get my hands on. grin
Just based on research and thought, right now the used Steinway is fading as an option and the NU1 has a slight edge over the U1. I really like the idea of a hybrid that feels like an acoustic but never needs to be tuned (I’m very sensitive to the sound of a piano being out of tune, and it will quickly become unplayable; plus I once rented a new U1 for a year and I felt like it was constantly needing to be tuned or adjusted while it “settled in”). My final decision will almost definitely come down to what I think after I’ve played everything. I’ll keep the thread posted (heh).
Thanks for the full reply, and for letting me know about the TransAcoustics. I haven’t been keeping up with what Yamaha has been doing in this area. It looks amazing. I wish my Disklavier could be converted to a TransAcoustic model!
FYI, I got my Disklavier from the Jordan Kitts in Laurel, MD.
Don’t forget to negotiate hard on the price, especially with a used instrument. But even with the new units, you don’t have to pay list price. I did some dickering on the Disklavier, but thought later that I could have pushed harder. The tactic of getting up and starting to walk out, or actually walking out, can work.
I didn’t know about them until recently: about a year ago I saw on Facebook that a professional pianist friend got an NU1 but didn’t keep it for very long, so a few days ago I wrote to him and asked what he thought of it and why he didn’t keep it. He said he liked the NU1 a lot, but shortly after he got it the upright TransAcoustic model became available and that’s what he wound up with.
I’ll be going to the Jordan Kitt’s in Rockville.
Before I went to any showroom, I decided against the used Steinway. I just kept feeling like it would be wasted on me, not to mention costing a few thousand more than my other options. I narrowed it down to either the (fully acoustic) U1 or the (hybrid) NU1, and yesterday I went to Jordan Kitt’s feeling pretty sure that I’d be getting an NU1. After playing both of them, though, I was surprised to discover that I actually don’t care for the NU1’s action.
However, the guys who sell these things aren’t stupid and helpfully ( :dubious: ) they had an N1 AvantGrand right next to the NU1. I hadn’t even considered an N1, because I figured I’d either go acoustic or entry-level hybrid, but when I learned they were on sale I made the mistake of trying it. And, of course, it felt much better than the NU1. And it sounded awesome. And I was still drawn to the whole “never needs to be tuned” thing.
It gets delivered on Tuesday.
Mazel tov on your new addition. I hope you’ll enjoy your piano.
Thanks for letting us know. I’ll have to find a Yamaha showroom and see what the N1 sounds and feels like.