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jefinho Offline OP
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A few days ago I tried a Steinway piano from 1914. The piano was restored in 2004. Partly in Poland (SAP) - soundboard, strings, keys and case - and partly in the Netherlands - Damper felt, mechanism, hammer heads.

What struck me was that the arms (or cheeks) of the piano were shaped like a New York Steinway, while the owner told me based on the serial number (checked with Steinway) that the piano was built in Hamburg. Is this possible? How is this possible?

The piano used to be a player piano and was later renovated.

Last edited by jefinho; 05/12/22 02:08 AM.

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It's not uncommon to buy old US Steinway in a horrible condition in bulk for cheap, ship them to Europe in a container and have them "restored" by the usual bulk rebuilders. Serial numbers are arbitrarily chosen to somehow match the approximate production year. Marking them as Hamburg Steinways usually gets a higher price.

Usually the rebuilders try to hide the NY origin by rounding off the cheeks and replace the hinged fallboard with a one piece rounded one to match the cheeks. When you know what to look for, then one sees that the cheeks don't really match the Hamburg ones, because sanding away the right angle of NY ones can't hide the slight difference in form factor.

You end up with a piano whose serial number turns out to be fake and actually belongs to a different model and finish.

Nota Bene: It's not necessarily a bad piano, it's just false advertising about its origin, but many buyers are simply looking at the fallboard and happy to buy a Steinway at a sensationally low price, not realizing that its resale value isn't even close to what they paid for.

In your case, however, a rebuilt ex-player piano is really not worth thinking about. It's basically impossible to rebuild the action parts to match the model because of the difference in construction of the whole body and dimensions of the keybed and distance to the strings.

I had a max cringe experience with a dealer who went overboard in enthusiasm about a D that he said was one of the instruments at Wigmore Hall. He was adamant about its origin and pedigree and was in complete denial when I pointed out those slight differences between a NY Steinway and a Hamburg one that you cannot simply change sanding off the serial number in the action and trying to match the round cheeks. The serial number turned out to belong to a NY model O in Palisander finish shipped to Uruguay, but even today this dealer will proudly tell you all about his Wigmore Hall Steinway.

Not a bad piano, really, but it's neither a NY nor a Hamburg Steinway, just a cheap effort of putting lipstick on a pig and trying to sell it as a race horse.

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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
In your case, however, a rebuilt ex-player piano is really not worth thinking about. It's basically impossible to rebuild the action parts to match the model because of the difference in construction of the whole body and dimensions of the keybed and distance to the strings.

Thank you for your valuable input, OE1FEU. I'm not a technician, more a musician, which makes it sometimes hard to determine what's technically speaking a good piano. Or at least the kind of piano someone claims it to be.
When selecting a piano, I usually go with my guts. The first few notes typically tell me whether a piano is great or not. However, I start to doubt when I dive into the technical aspects.


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If NY S&S is as good as Hamburg, why did they have to fake/hide such things?
Even today's brandnew NY S&S pianos look like Hamburg, LOL

Last edited by trandinhnamanh; 05/12/22 03:38 AM.

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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
even today this dealer will proudly tell you all about his Wigmore Hall Steinway.

TBH, it's not been proven to *not* have been at Wigmore Hall laugh

Only that it now has a serial number corresponding to an O in Uraguay!

So maybe the dealer has a thread to hang on to.


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There have been joint ventures between the two factories in the past. The most famous of those in our living memory was that the models B and D made in the late 80s to the early 90s in New York, had Hamburg actions and keyboards as Steinway transitioned to the new keyboard dimensions and moved away from teflon. Then there was the Model A built for the 300 year anniversary of the piano, which was either a New York body with Hamburg parts or a Hamburg body with New York parts, I forget which way around it was but it doesn't really matter, the point is the same.

This is a former player piano converted? The player pianos all have New York style arms and I'm pretty sure that's because the cases were made in New York, as was the player system, and those destined for Europe were finished in Germany (Soundboard, Strings, Plank, Action, Keyboard).

Or it could simply be the piano is a New York Steinway and the dealer is mixed up. Either way it's the quality of restoration that matters, and the surgery required to make a former player piano from that era into a standard one just isn't worth it in my opinion.


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Actually, in that era most of the Hamburg pianos were made from NY parts. Hamburg did not produce its own complete piano until 1907 (source, The Official Guide to Steinway Pianos) and many models had NY rims and plates and even say New York on the casting, but have 2 pedals, different keys and hammers. The model O falls into this category as does the model M. It is a NY but assembled in Hamburg and officially considered a Hamburg Steinway. So, NY rim, NY plate, Hamburg soundboard, bridges and action and lyre.

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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
It's not uncommon to buy old US Steinway in a horrible condition in bulk for cheap, ship them to Europe in a container and have them "restored" by the usual bulk rebuilders. Serial numbers are arbitrarily chosen to somehow match the approximate production year. Marking them as Hamburg Steinways usually gets a higher price.

Usually the rebuilders try to hide the NY origin by rounding off the cheeks and replace the hinged fallboard with a one piece rounded one to match the cheeks. When you know what to look for, then one sees that the cheeks don't really match the Hamburg ones, because sanding away the right angle of NY ones can't hide the slight difference in form factor.

You end up with a piano whose serial number turns out to be fake and actually belongs to a different model and finish.

Nota Bene: It's not necessarily a bad piano, it's just false advertising about its origin, but many buyers are simply looking at the fallboard and happy to buy a Steinway at a sensationally low price, not realizing that its resale value isn't even close to what they paid for.

In your case, however, a rebuilt ex-player piano is really not worth thinking about. It's basically impossible to rebuild the action parts to match the model because of the difference in construction of the whole body and dimensions of the keybed and distance to the strings.

I had a max cringe experience with a dealer who went overboard in enthusiasm about a D that he said was one of the instruments at Wigmore Hall. He was adamant about its origin and pedigree and was in complete denial when I pointed out those slight differences between a NY Steinway and a Hamburg one that you cannot simply change sanding off the serial number in the action and trying to match the round cheeks. The serial number turned out to belong to a NY model O in Palisander finish shipped to Uruguay, but even today this dealer will proudly tell you all about his Wigmore Hall Steinway.

Not a bad piano, really, but it's neither a NY nor a Hamburg Steinway, just a cheap effort of putting lipstick on a pig and trying to sell it as a race horse.

Do you have any source for this? Is this fact or your opinion?

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
Actually, in that era most of the Hamburg pianos were made from NY parts. Hamburg did not produce its own complete piano until 1907 (source, The Official Guide to Steinway Pianos) and many models had NY rims and plates and even say New York on the casting, but have 2 pedals, different keys and hammers. The model O falls into this category as does the model M. It is a NY but assembled in Hamburg and officially considered a Hamburg Steinway. So, NY rim, NY plate, Hamburg soundboard, bridges and action and lyre.

If I'm not mistaken, the plates are and have always been American. I remember reading that in 1880, Hamburg opened as an assembly plant and it was to do with avoiding high tariffs on importing the pianos to Europe. So it was as late as 1907 that Hamburg got a rim press. I didn't know that before. I did know that the Hamburg and New York Steinways were virtually identical until about 1910.


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jefinho Offline OP
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Here is a picture of the former player piano, from 1914. As you may see, they even replaced the old Steinway logo with the new one. The keyboard has been replaced as well.Core question: Can we call this a Hamburg Steinway, Model O?
[Linked Image]

Last edited by jefinho; 05/12/22 12:20 PM.

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You csn call it a Steinwas


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Sometimes the rebuilders in Poland have to re-engineer the whole front end of the piano to convert it into a standard model. This involves a lot of cutting and woodwork, which I've seen done before. I think what has happened here is that they've cut down the front end where the player system was, and they've re-cut new arms onto the keyboard from the original case. It could be the angle of the photo, or the new polyester, or it could be the engineering but there's something about those arms that doesn't match up with the original NY Steinway design. The shape doesn't seem quite right. NY Style arms are probably easier to cut than Hamburg style, but Hamburg style are easier to polyester.


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If it was a player, the case may have been cut down when it was rebuilt. In that case, anything goes.


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The legs, pedals and music desk suggest Hamburg but the arms are NY. Since the case parts can be swapped, but not the rim, I presume its NY. Both factories were still making the O in 1914, and those are very desirable NY years. Whether it was a ruse to inflate the perceived value, or as a second explanation, the swap to the Hamburg case parts are actually much, much easier to finish in gloss. I suspect this second explanation.

It would be interesting to see the plate casting in photos. On that era of Steinway, the serial number is in quite a few places. They could have all been swapped or replaced, but something that would be telling would be the key slip. If the NY serial number was ground down or is missing from the key slip/key frame or lock bars, then this was more willful deception than ease of refinishing.

The original legs and music desk of a NY Steinway O have case details that would add many, many labor hours to a high gloss finish. That's a big reason that when NY went to gloss as their standard in recent years, their case parts and cabinets were simplified again...more closely matching the Hamburg is a reasonable goal of unity (that matters more under the hood), but the cost drivers made it a necessity.


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Sam it could also be that since the piano was rebuilt in Europe, Hamburg parts were what was available to put on the case. SAP also make reproduction case parts, not sure if they include Hamburg parts or not.


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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
It's not uncommon to buy old US Steinway in a horrible condition in bulk for cheap, ship them to Europe in a container and have them "restored" by the usual bulk rebuilders. Serial numbers are arbitrarily chosen to somehow match the approximate production year. Marking them as Hamburg Steinways usually gets a higher price.

Usually the rebuilders try to hide the NY origin by rounding off the cheeks and replace the hinged fallboard with a one piece rounded one to match the cheeks. When you know what to look for, then one sees that the cheeks don't really match the Hamburg ones, because sanding away the right angle of NY ones can't hide the slight difference in form factor.

You end up with a piano whose serial number turns out to be fake and actually belongs to a different model and finish.

Nota Bene: It's not necessarily a bad piano, it's just false advertising about its origin, but many buyers are simply looking at the fallboard and happy to buy a Steinway at a sensationally low price, not realizing that its resale value isn't even close to what they paid for.

In your case, however, a rebuilt ex-player piano is really not worth thinking about. It's basically impossible to rebuild the action parts to match the model because of the difference in construction of the whole body and dimensions of the keybed and distance to the strings.

I had a max cringe experience with a dealer who went overboard in enthusiasm about a D that he said was one of the instruments at Wigmore Hall. He was adamant about its origin and pedigree and was in complete denial when I pointed out those slight differences between a NY Steinway and a Hamburg one that you cannot simply change sanding off the serial number in the action and trying to match the round cheeks. The serial number turned out to belong to a NY model O in Palisander finish shipped to Uruguay, but even today this dealer will proudly tell you all about his Wigmore Hall Steinway.

Not a bad piano, really, but it's neither a NY nor a Hamburg Steinway, just a cheap effort of putting lipstick on a pig and trying to sell it as a race horse.

Do you have any source for this? Is this fact or your opinion?


I'm curious about this too. If container loads of NY cores arriving in Europe is not uncommon, and if their usual treatment is to be doctored up to be resold has Hamburg's, then you'd think Steinway would be anxious to stop it (a la decals and "the letter").


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I'm with Joseph and BDB on this. I have cut down ex-players and everything on the front of the piano gets changed including the front lid, the cheeks, key slip and action. Even the legs are a part of the change. I matched up the original cheeks, but you could shape them any way you wished to.


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Originally Posted by Bill McKaig,RPT
I matched up the original cheeks, but you could shape them any way you wished to.

No, you can't.

Show me one example of a NY Steinway supposedly transformed into a Hamburg one with a 100% accuracy in transforming the 90° cut-off shape into the Hamburg rounded shape and matching it to a Hamburg Steinway fallboard.

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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by Bill McKaig,RPT
I matched up the original cheeks, but you could shape them any way you wished to.

No, you can't.

Show me one example of a NY Steinway supposedly transformed into a Hamburg one with a 100% accuracy in transforming the 90° cut-off shape into the Hamburg rounded shape and matching it to a Hamburg Steinway fallboard.


Show us a container load of former NY models transformed into counterfeit Hamburgs!


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It should be easy enough to shape piano cheeks to those of Hamburg Steinways. You have to show that nobody in the world can do it. After all, Steinway has done it for a long time!


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