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#3161622 10/03/21 11:13 AM
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New to the forum, but have read it in the past while piano shopping. My wife is actually the piano player, I'm just the mover muscle/ inspector.

She's a player and teacher, we've had a older kimball upright for 20 plus years in the house. She teaches at a local church on a kawai (I think) grand. We're empty nesters, and I took her to a local piano store a week or two ago, and told her to keep it under $10,000. So we're shopping.. She didn't find anything in the 20 or so pianos they have that she was definitely in love with.

There's a used baldwin grand/ baby grand for sale somewhat local. Seller says 6' 6" long. Was "rebuilt" in the early 2000's before current owner. It has a "new" keyboard, and I'm guessing action. All new plastic keys for sure, and the felts look like they were new at that point.

Some of the wood underneath has a much older color stain on it, what I'm assuming is the original color. Old style flat head hand cut screws in the lower construction. The only number I can find on it is in the lower portion in the wood.

So I'm trying to get a date on the piano, and some advice. She really likes the action and sound of this older baldwin. There is a distinct "click" in the action when releasing many of the keys, like there is something not quite in adjustment.

It has not been tuned or worked on since the current owner moved it from ohio to nw arkansas (we are in sw missouri). Was supposedly valued at $18,000 in 2018, and I can buy it for $4,500

She's going to schedule a local tuner to go look at it, and give us a evaluation, just looking for any advice and estimates on age/ value. model? 15578 is the distinct # under the piano.

There's no serial or model letter on the upper steel frame that holds the strings, but it looks repainted. I think I have this attached to pictures of the piano. Thanks in advance for any advice.

[img]http://forum.pianoworld.com//ubbthreads.php/galleries/3161620.html#Post3161620[/img]

Last edited by craneoperator; 10/03/21 11:14 AM.
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I would use extreme caution here. Can see a soundboard crack, what looks possibly like a separation in the rim (last picture), and you indicated action noises that aren't normal. If you decide to proceed, I'd strongly recommend hiring a technician experienced with rebuilding (and has no relationship with the seller) to evaluate what the piano needs, prior to purchase.

Valued at $18k by whom? When I read those kinds of things from sellers, it always alerts my BS meter to some extent...

$10k will buy a used grand that's either high quality but old/worn, medium quality but middle-aged, or newer but entry-level quality/really short. It will buy a heck of a nice 48-52" used upright (less than 20 years old), or a good solid new one.


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If the number on the last photo is the serial number, that piano would date from 1908. At this point, its value would depend on its condition, so you should have it evaluated by an independent technician.


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You are on the right track with having a tuner come out to look at the piano, but be aware not all piano tuners are as versed in evaluating the condition of a rebuilt piano as others. I have a Baldwin built about a decade after yours, and the number stamped on the frame underneath is indeed the serial number, which dates it to 1908, as BDB said above. Baldwins of this age can be rebuilt into very nice instruments, but it all depends on the quality and extent of the work done.

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What strikes me is that your wife was indifferent to the 20 pianos that she tried, but she likes both the sound and action of the Baldwin - so that just leaves the outstanding issue about the clicks.

My take is if you don't mind a fixer upper, this could be a good deal. But if you can't be bothered with repairs, keep looking.


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Yes, the independent technician inspection is a must.
If it was rebuilt as you wrote, then what and when was replaced, and the rebuilder workmanship are more important than the original piano age. If it has new soundboard, strings, action, bridges, etc., then its original age is pretty much irrelevant.

But based on price I would assume that most parts are still original.

Only independent technician can tell you how good or bad they are (crown, cracks, action, pins, capo, agraffe, etc), and how much it may cost to fix the issues.

Last edited by VladK; 10/03/21 01:21 PM.

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I didn't see any cracks in the soundboard when I crawled around underneath it, not that I didn't miss it. The cabinet has a couple dings in it, but I didn't think it was bad, considering its age.

Its owned currently by a guy in his mid 20's, who has it sandwiched in a small apartment, he was given the piano a few years ago (sounded like a family member gave it to him), and he moved it from ohio to arkansas. He hasn't had anyone look at it since it was moved.

I have no idea who gave out the high evaluation, or what it was based on, maybe the guy that charged a outrageous amount to restore it. The only thing that looked new to me was the keyboard and hammers.

Thanks for the advice, my wife is going to call someone local to that area to check it out, and I'll post up what he's got to say.

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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
What strikes me is that your wife was indifferent to the 20 pianos that she tried, but she likes both the sound and action of the Baldwin - so that just leaves the outstanding issue about the clicks.

My take is if you don't mind a fixer upper, this could be a good deal. But if you can't be bothered with repairs, keep looking.

I don't mind a little tinkering with something. I've got a some woodworking experience, and we have kept the old kimball together. It hasn't had any serious issues, I'd just like to get her something better.

She had a lot of piano's at the store that she didn't like, and a couple that were OK. There was a different baldwin at the big store she liked the sound of, but not the action, she felt it too heavy.

She didn't care for the sound of Yamaha's they had- she says they sound just like the digital keyboards, so she doesn't like the way the real ones sound. And she didn't care that much for the Kawai's they had either.

I can't tell the difference, but what I think really doesn't matter.

We're having fun looking, and we have no immediate need to buy. I just told her to find one that she wants to play for the next 20 years.

Last edited by craneoperator; 10/03/21 01:40 PM.
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Hello, and welcome to Piano World!

I see the soundboard cracks terminaldegree is referring too, but you are right, the new keytops look nice and even. Couldn't really see the hammers too well.

If your wife really likes the piano, you could probably get it for a good bit less, (with the cracks in the soundboard) if you all really want it. A qualified tech's inspection is well advised.

Also, and this is just a thought, new hammers and new keytops do not make a new keyboard. A completely new action assembly is totally different than new keytops and hammers on an old action. But the tech inspection would reveal that too.

Again, if your wife really likes the piano, that is all that matters. At that price, it would almost be expendable at some point in the future. A new 6'6" grand piano, of decent quality, could easily cost you $30K or more.

Good luck, and keep us informed!

Rick


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I guess I wasn't totally truthful either on the piano store. There was one new/ almost new grand - I think it was a selier(?) that was $35,000 that she liked.

She didn't know how much it was, as she was trying it out. And while I could make that work, and if she loves it for the next 20 years, that's a little more than I was thinking of spending.

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Update.

Had a local tech look at the piano yesterday. He wasn't too enthusiastic when I told him the age of the piano and asked him to go look. "That's quite a old piano- and that's a pretty high asking price".

He was much more impressed when he called me back. He says its a "great instrument". He said to do justice to the piano- a new set of hammers would really make it exceptional.

He didn't say what the "klick" is caused by, but he said he isn't worried about that at all- and he's confident he can make it go away. Also the far left pedal doesn't work (which I didn't notice while we were there)- and he said he'd have to open it all up to see what was wrong with that.

Was really upbeat about it after looking at it. "Well, its not as good as a new conservatory yamaha- but its really a excellent piano, and its not $35,000 either".

He was happy with what he looked at, and said its really a fine piano. Soundboard and frame he said were all fine.

He gave me two separate estimates, one to fix the klick and tune, another to replace the hammers.

Just so I have a idea- and I know this can really vary- what's a acceptable range for installing new hammers and setting the piano up (regulation?) afterwards? $1,000- $3,500- $5,000?

My wife is pretty wound up about the whole thing, but is really leaning toward this older piano if its issues can be resolved, vs. something newer.

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If it ain't broke ...

New hammers will change the tone of the piano, and further work (voicing) would be required to break it in. If I were you I would forego the new hammers (which were replaced in the last rebuild anyway?) and if down the road you're curious how "exceptional" the instrument can be with new hammers, it gives you something to look forward to.


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I think the 35,000 Seiler could be the better bargain. You might negotiate it closer to the 30 grand you thought about. I love your enthusiasm, and I, too, like Baldwins. Still, though several people looked at it, I never heard their qualifications mentioned, nor did I hear anything that sounded like a technician's inspection for condition. This is a rather dry report, but at least you know what was looked at, what that part's condition was, and what it would cost to fix it (if that were necessary). The report would also give an estimate of a fair price in the local market, and it would be dated and signed. Some techs use a standard form not so different from the one you get back when you have your car serviced, with check-off boxes and space for comments, quantities, and ranges. Fast; thorough; easy to understand.

A tech's report isn't, "I didn't see it, but I don't like it," changing to, "Wow, what a fantastic instrument!" What did you say that opinion was based on? I didn't quite hear it.

I am sorry about the sticker shock. It seems that every piano buyer ends up paying about triple what they had in mind at first--- it's the old story of .....[embargoed text]..... I would tell you, it's the money's fault, not the piano's; it's still just as good... but you may have heard the old saying: "Never say anything bad about money--- it might hear you." And speaking of money, you are going to pay out plenty of it if you buy a piano that needs a rebuild.


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The guy I hired to go look at it, was a steinway trained, tech rep for 33 years at a steinway dealer store.

He's semi retired- 4-5 years ago, and would gladly rehammer it for me. He rated it as "very good condition" with "excellent tone - almost concert quality".

On the hammers "However- hammers are of cheap quality and are worn out". My only concern was if they used cheap hammers - did they cheap out on anything else.

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Originally Posted by craneoperator
The guy I hired to go look at it, was a steinway trained, tech rep for 33 years at a steinway dealer store.

He's semi retired- 4-5 years ago, and would gladly rehammer it for me. He rated it as "very good condition" with "excellent tone - almost concert quality".

On the hammers "However- hammers are of cheap quality and are worn out". My only concern was if they used cheap hammers - did they cheap out on anything else.

Well, there are a couple of ways to look at it, I suppose... with the tech being a former Steinway tech/rep for 33 years, any brand of hammers, other than Steinway hammers, is probably considered cheap to him.

As to whether or not the rebuilders "skimped" on other components, it's hard to say. I would think the highly experienced tech would have noticed that too, or at least mentioned it. You could always ask him directly.

But for the highly experienced tech to speak so highly of the older Baldwin grand, I doubt the rebuilders used elcheapo parts, but it's possible.

Otherwise, it sounds to me like the tech's inspection report couldn't have been better, except for the hammers.

If it were me, I'd get the piano that your wife likes best... smile

Good luck, and keep us informed!

Rick


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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
If it ain't broke ...

New hammers will change the tone of the piano, and further work (voicing) would be required to break it in. If I were you I would forego the new hammers (which were replaced in the last rebuild anyway?) and if down the road you're curious how "exceptional" the instrument can be with new hammers, it gives you something to look forward to.

Yes indeed, changing the hammers will change the piano tone (probably for the better) but that does not guarantee you will like that new tone. If you like the tone of the piano as it is now I wouldn't change them yet. Just take it as a warning that down the road they might be too worn to have their tone modified with standard 'voicing' work and at that point you might need new ones.

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Originally Posted by Rickster
If it were me, I'd get the piano that your wife likes best... smile

Good luck, and keep us informed!

Rick

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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
A tech's report isn't, "I didn't see it, but I don't like it," changing to, "Wow, what a fantastic instrument!" What did you say that opinion was based on? I didn't quite hear it..

The tech didn't sound very interested on the phone, when I called to hire him to inspect it. With the age and price, I can understand the tech feeling like he was wasting his time.

He had a whole different opinion when he called me back after going and inspecting the piano. It was evidently much nicer than he was expecting. Sorry I wasn't clear on that.

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It has not been tuned or worked on since the current owner moved it from ohio to nw arkansas (we are in sw missouri). Was supposedly valued at $18,000 in 2018, and I can buy it for $4,500
Value is what an able and willing buyer will pay for it. If you can buy it for $4500, it means the number of buyers able and willing to buy it at $18K are few-to-none.

$4500 is a good working estimate for an upper bound on the value if you are able to buy it at that price.

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Ask your technician about the soundboard cracks(?) and the condition of the bridges. If he thinks the soundboard has been repaired properly, and the bridges are not cracked, $4500 gets you into a piano which is pretty good as is and, if luck is on your side, some potential to be a REALLY NICE instrument. Baldwin made pianos that didn't quite have the same panache and appeal as Steinway back when your candidate piano was built, but they did build a quality instrument that could take years of wear.

I'm with the hive mind on waiting on new hammers. Get the clikety clicks fixed, get it tuned, do a little voicing. THEN, a year from now, or two, consider the new hammers.


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