Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/Steinway v Yahama


QUESTION: I have a choice between purchasing a 1968 Steinway, which according to my appraiser, is in good condition or a new Yahama still in the retail store for about the same price.  Other than personal preference is there a significant difference or something I should be looking for in the comparison?

The Yahama would need to be transported 400 miles by the store and the Steinway is local so I will need to find a mover. Since I am in a fairly remote area, I know that the Steinway is probably underpriced because of the lack of interested parties.  I hope to have the grand which is less than six feet for hopefully 20-25 years so I am not as concerned about resale as I am about durability and maintenance. This is a retirement gift to myself so I hate the thought of comparing apples to avocados.  Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Kristine:

First of all, was your appraiser a registered member of the piano technicians guild. You can check for me by going to http://www.ptg.org. There is a section for finding a technician. Put their name in and let me know if it comes up.

Second, there is no comparison between a Steinway design and a Yamaha. You are comparing Jaguars to Chevy's.

Further, the 1960's was not a good period for Steinway, or any other manufacturer for that matter. I wouldn't consider either before having a written, full report on the following:

1. Soundboard/rib structure integrity
2. Pin block torque along with pin size (tells us if it was re-strung.
3. Action: presence of teflon in the hammer shank and flange, whippen flange, and underlever assembly.
4. Condition of hammers (original?) and hammer barrels.

Just to say "is in good condition" does not get it for me.

So I'm at a bit of a loss without a real appraisal.

How much are they asking for each piano?

What are the serial numbers for each piano?

We still have homework to do!

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I am in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and there are no members of your appraiser association in the area.  I have attached the copy of the appraisal I received.  The Steinway is selling for $12,000 and the Yahama for $10,700 but it will cost $1,000 to ship it from Lansing.  

My goal for a piano is to hopefully use it personally for twenty-thirty years, but should it need repairs, the closest certified repair center would be in Lansing and would necessitate at least another $1,000 in shipping costs in addition to repairs. Hence I am concerned about the soundboard.  Thank you for any and all suggestions you have.

The Yahama Gb1KPM is J3049101
The Steinway appraisal is below:  Following are the findings and recommendations.

Beyond describing the cosmetic, functional, and tonal qualities an instrument possesses, much of what technicians consider significant is what they do not find in their evaluation. We have included both aspects in the observations that follow.

The piano is a Steinway grand less than 6', Serial Number 416727. The piano is most likely built about 1968. Steinway is a very well-known name in the piano building world and is known to have very high construction standards. The scale designs of Steinway pianos are also of the highest quality. That being said, one can expect a beautiful tone and a long-lasting instrument when provided with excellent care.

The appearance and condition of the case is very good and a bench is included with the piano. The key tops are high quality plastic and in excellent condition.

There are a couple of very minor cracks beginning in the soundboard, but there is no separation. The ribs underneath are solid. There are no noticeable buzzes from these very minor issues.

The pin block seems to be acceptable, the tuning pins appear to be original.  The pins that were tested appear to be of sufficient tightness to hold a tune.  As mentioned, the areas of concern are where there appear to have been spills. At this point, the tuning pins in these areas are tight enough to hold a tune. A humidification system is recommended to help stabilize this potential problem.

The strings, coils, and pins are in good condition. We believe all are original and none are missing or appear to be broken. The bridge does not have any cracks around the pins. Neither the bridge nor the pins are loose or wobbly. There also are no buzzing sounds when any key is played in any register.

The pedals function correctly, though there is a small amount of lost motion in the sustain pedal,which means the pedal moves before the corresponding dampers lift from the strings. The dampers function, both together and separately. The damper felts are in good condition and do a very good job of muting the strings. All dampers appear to be original. There is a noise in the sostenuto pedal, likely a minor repair that needs only a piece of felt to silence the clunk.

The keys function correctly and feel normal to the touch. The hammers are not worn, and are in excellent condition. The action parts all function normally. The regulation of all keys appears to be very good.

The overall tone of the piano is excellent as would be expected from a Steinway . The piano is very near concert pitch. A normal tuning is all that should be required to bring it back to concert pitch after moving.

This is a beautiful instrument in fine condition with the aforementioned observations. Values range somewhat based upon regional and market influences, but I would reasonably expect this piano to be valued at $15,000-20,000. I would recommend if you purchase this instrument, a Dampp Chaser Piano Life-Saver System be installed. This should help maintain and stabilize the instrument's inner workings as well as all subsequent tunings, and protect your investment.

Again,thank you for the opportunity to inspect this piano. I see no reason to believe this instrument would be less than satisfactory for your musical enjoyment for the
foreseeable future.  Best wishes in making your decision. I hope you will be happy with your  purchase.

ANSWER: Hi Kristine:

The piano was made in 1969.

Your technician says it's "less than 6"...is it an L at 5'10 1/2", or an M at 5'7", or an S at 5'.

That's kind of important.

I would have like to have seen the report address actual pin torque reading...the piano is 46 years old and adding your 30 years to that block "seems" in conceivable especially noting that the 60's was not the best period for piano manufacturers.

The price is not out of the question but the report "seems" less that a commitment to the piano's actual status.

The word "seems" is a great "back off" word for the future.

Remember, your own criteria is 25 years...and that is a long, long, long time. I wouldn't guarantee that will happen.

Can you tell me your zip code please. I would still like an opinion of a registered technician.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: 49855. Thanks

Charles H. White, RPT

Address:   Houghton, MI 49931
Chapter:   Appleton, WI
Chapter Role:   Treasurer
Phone:   906-483-0204
Email:   cw2345@hotmail.com
Web:   www.whitespiano.com
Services Offered:   College and/or University Technician
Historical Tunings
Humidity Control System Installation
New Piano Sales
Performance and Concert Service
Piano Moving

Peter J. Nehlsen, RPT

Address:   Washington Island, WI 54246
Chapter:   Appleton, WI
Phone:   920-847-2034

Keith P. Akins, RPT

Address:   Menominee, MI 49858
Chapter:   Appleton, WI
Phone:   906-863-7387
Email:   kpembrook@gmail.com
Services Offered:   College and/or University Technician
Complete Restoration, Including Soundboards
Fire Damage Repair
Performance and Concert Service
Touchweight Analysis and Correction
Water Damage Repair

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Ralph Onesti


I am a Registered/tested member of the Piano Technicians Guild (RPT) with 49 years of experience in all phases and levels of the acoustic piano. I will answer any questions regarding acoustic pianos only. All questions and answers are to remain public. Please to not include sensitive material! If they are marked private, I will change them to public. My answers may be of assistance to others. If privacy is an issue, please contact me through my web site: http://www.onestipiano.com Electronic keyboards, organs, and player/reproducing piano mechanisms are outside of my expertise. Anything to do with: Construction, Service, Tuning, Climate Control Systems, Piano Disc, Purchasing, Selling, Insurance Appraisal, Rebuilding, Repairs, Legal issues, Maintenance, Environmental issues, Finish issues with acoustic pianos. My full resume can be found at: http://onestipiano.com/pages/history.html You can like us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/onestipianoservice


In business since 1964, Extensive Rebuilding/Repair/Service facility. A certified, tested, member of the Piano Technicians Guild, Member of the Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. Have performed piano service on Concert Stage, Recording Studios, and in the home. Http://www.onestipiano.com. The shop's work comes from all over the world from private clients or other techncians.

The Piano Technicians Guild, Master Piano Technicians of America, Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. (TASA), IAPBT. The Piano Technicians Guild is the only organization in the US that offers a certification test to become Registered. There are no "factory authorized techncians".

The Piano Technicians Journal

Attented Temple University, Drexel University, Philadelphia Community college all in the areas of engineering and Music. I taught a two semester course in Piano Technology and the related acoustical physics at Temple University. I have taught extensively for the Piano Technicians Guild and the Master Piano Technicians of America.

Awards and Honors
Service Award for the Rose Tree Media School District in Pennsylvania. Chapter Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild.

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The list is rather extensive. I would suggest you go http://onestipiano.com/pages/testimonials.html where there is a comprehensive list of clients past and present.

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