bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

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diabelli
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bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by diabelli »

Hi all-
So I've realized for quite some time that, given my too-agreeable and passive personality, I should avoid salespeople at all costs. Here's a fine example.

My wife and I have been thinking for quite some time about buying a new vs lightly used Steinway. We both play and have a ~2-year old daughter who may (or may not) some day decide to get into it as well. We decided that it would be nice, on one of my rare weekends off from work, to make an appointment at a showroom -- the idea being merely to get some more precise idea as to cost, lightly used options vs new, and to then move forward more definitively in a few months.

While at the showroom this morning the salesman described a 2016 model which has never been owned, kept in Steinway inventory and "used at the Tanglewood annual music festival" (unclear whether once or multiple times). He said we'd save nearly $5000 compared with brand new ($27900 vs $32500) and, furthermore, this one was available in the finish we'd like (satin ebony) right now -- vs the need likely to wait about 1 year to have the brand new option manufactured and shipped to us in that same finish. I was swayed toward the 2016 Festival option and told him so, that we'd think about it and get back to him -- but he proposed I sign a purchase agreement and put down some small amount ($500) to "hold" it. So, perhaps foolishly, I did exactly that, on a sight unseen piano, there being no pictures and the piano itself being at another facility ("they won't ship it here just for someone to look at").

I'm half excited at having saved ~5k on a never-owned instrument and half disappointed in myself for not insisting on more time to think on it, and at least to demand some pictures. I'm sure one of these emotions will prove to be the lasting one once I've finally seen the thing to which we've committed.

Anyone have experience with one of these inventory / lightly used /Festival pianos?
Flyer24
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

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Misenplace
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by Misenplace »

I wouldn't commit until playing it. You have no idea what it sounds like, or whether it has been exposed to extreme conditions. Last time I was at Tanglewood, it was pouring rain.
Also, read the Piano Book by Larry Fine. It has a guide for how to buy a piano, and describes the typical scams. He is very leery of such festival or school pianos. He also publishes a yearly price supplement so you know whether you are getting a good deal or not.
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=larry+fine+p ... nb_sb_noss
Jags4186
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by Jags4186 »

You could cancel the sale and buy yourself a Yamaha U1, an equal if not better piano, for well under half the price.

$30k for an upright is insane to me.
Arabesque
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by Arabesque »

Second hand pianos are in great supply. Have you looked at this forum?
http://forum.pianoworld.com/
epictetus
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by epictetus »

if you don't pay anymore than $500 before you have seen it, played it, decided you like it, etc. then at the worst (if they won't refund that amount) that is all the amount you can lose
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BarbBrooklyn
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

Before I spent that kind of money on an acoustic piano, I'd buy a good electric model at Costco, especially with a 2 year old at home.

See if you all get back into playing before letting go of that kind of money.
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."
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CAsage
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by CAsage »

If you were going to buy a car (or anything else in that price range), how would you have approached it? Research going new vs gently used prices, decide how well it holds up (I would think Steinways last for years, no?), maybe do some shopping online or browse around. Then go talk to some dealers but WITH a good understanding of market prices. You went in a starry eyed innocent, and the salesperson is a hardened pro. Suggest anyone with a gentle, kind personality should never set foot in a showroom with any ID, credit cards, or checks; leave it all locked in your car at least a block away. Or home. At this point, how binding is that contract? How far away was that Piano if you wanted to go see it? Odd that it's a 4 year old model... nobody else made them an offer? And yes, as other posters have suggested, look around hard to see what prices are, and what your budget was going in.
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.
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CyclingDuo
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by CyclingDuo »

diabelli wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:02 pm Hi all-
So I've realized for quite some time that, given my too-agreeable and passive personality, I should avoid salespeople at all costs. Here's a fine example.

My wife and I have been thinking for quite some time about buying a new vs lightly used Steinway. We both play and have a ~2-year old daughter who may (or may not) some day decide to get into it as well. We decided that it would be nice, on one of my rare weekends off from work, to make an appointment at a showroom -- the idea being merely to get some more precise idea as to cost, lightly used options vs new, and to then move forward more definitively in a few months.

While at the showroom this morning the salesman described a 2016 model which has never been owned, kept in Steinway inventory and "used at the Tanglewood annual music festival" (unclear whether once or multiple times). He said we'd save nearly $5000 compared with brand new ($27900 vs $32500) and, furthermore, this one was available in the finish we'd like (satin ebony) right now -- vs the need likely to wait about 1 year to have the brand new option manufactured and shipped to us in that same finish. I was swayed toward the 2016 Festival option and told him so, that we'd think about it and get back to him -- but he proposed I sign a purchase agreement and put down some small amount ($500) to "hold" it. So, perhaps foolishly, I did exactly that, on a sight unseen piano, there being no pictures and the piano itself being at another facility ("they won't ship it here just for someone to look at").

I'm half excited at having saved ~5k on a never-owned instrument and half disappointed in myself for not insisting on more time to think on it, and at least to demand some pictures. I'm sure one of these emotions will prove to be the lasting one once I've finally seen the thing to which we've committed.

Anyone have experience with one of these inventory / lightly used /Festival pianos?
It's always a risk, but we are talking about high quality instruments here. I would imagine Tanglewood employs a piano technician/tuner or two to keep their instruments in good shape for their festival. The unknown would be the climatic conditions it was stored and used in over the past few years. Is there any sort of guarantee that if this instrument is not exactly as described and not in the condition you desired to not have to purchase it upon arrival?

We went through a piano broker who looks for things you are interested in and in our case, we wanted a Yamaha C6 grand piano for our living room (same instrument I use in my office where I teach). After a "hunt", the broker found the exact model we wanted (late 80's model) in a house in Kansas where the couple was going through a divorce and distress-selling most of their household furniture and items as part of the divorce. The condition was described in detail, model year, etc... and we bought it sight unseen, although our contract had the right of refusal if the instrument arrived and was not in the condition as described.

It was shipped directly to our house and the broker was there to help set it up and tune it. It's been a stellar purchase and we got it for a "song" compared to what a new one would have cost us at the time. 17 years of use thus far and still plays and sounds like a million bucks.

There are a lot of brokers throughout the US who specialize in certified pre-owned pianos and you can work with them to find the ideal instrument and have it shipped to you.

CyclingDuo
"Save like a pessimist, invest like an optimist." - Morgan Housel
rjbraun
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by rjbraun »

CyclingDuo wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 5:15 pm It's always a risk, but we are talking about high quality instruments here. I would imagine Tanglewood employs a piano technician/tuner or two to keep their instruments in good shape for their festival. The unknown would be the climatic conditions it was stored and used in over the past few years. Is there any sort of guarantee that if this instrument is not exactly as described and not in the condition you desired to not have to purchase it upon arrival?

We went through a piano broker who looks for things you are interested in and in our case, we wanted a Yamaha C6 grand piano for our living room (same instrument I use in my office where I teach). After a "hunt", the broker found the exact model we wanted (late 80's model) in a house in Kansas where the couple was going through a divorce and distress-selling most of their household furniture and items as part of the divorce. The condition was described in detail, model year, etc... and we bought it sight unseen, although our contract had the right of refusal if the instrument arrived and was not in the condition as described.

It was shipped directly to our house and the broker was there to help set it up and tune it. It's been a stellar purchase and we got it for a "song" compared to what a new one would have cost us at the time. 17 years of use thus far and still plays and sounds like a million bucks.

There are a lot of brokers throughout the US who specialize in certified pre-owned pianos and you can work with them to find the ideal instrument and have it shipped to you.

CyclingDuo
Interesting to hear your take as you obviously have a professional connection to pianos. In addition to OP being unable to *see* the piano prior to taking delivery, I would think that other aspects of the piano would also be important, such as sound quality and the touch of the keyboard, to name two. These qualities would seem to pretty much require OP to listen and touch, in person.

My understanding is that Yamaha is known for consistency in their pianos. If that assessment is correct, I am wondering the extent, if any, that may have helped you to purchase your C6 under the circumstances you described. Not sure whether consistency, etc. are also attributes of current production Steinway uprights. If so, perhaps that could make OP's possible purchase less of a risk than appears the case to me, fwiw.

I own a fully rebuilt Steinway A, which a friend helped me to select. I doubt I would have felt comfortable making the purchase on my own.
rjbraun
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by rjbraun »

Misenplace wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:21 pm I wouldn't commit until playing it. You have no idea what it sounds like, or whether it has been exposed to extreme conditions. Last time I was at Tanglewood, it was pouring rain.
Also, read the Piano Book by Larry Fine. It has a guide for how to buy a piano, and describes the typical scams. He is very leery of such festival or school pianos. He also publishes a yearly price supplement so you know whether you are getting a good deal or not.
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=larry+fine+p ... nb_sb_noss
+1. Ideally, OP plays piano in person and also takes along someone knowledgeable about pianos to assess and advise on sound, tone, action, etc.

In addition to Larry Fine's book, cited above, the online forum Piano World has lots of information on buying and playing pianos, among other related topics.

http://forum.pianoworld.com
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CyclingDuo
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by CyclingDuo »

rjbraun wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:16 pmInteresting to hear your take as you obviously have a professional connection to pianos. In addition to OP being unable to *see* the piano prior to taking delivery, I would think that other aspects of the piano would also be important, such as sound quality and the touch of the keyboard, to name two. These qualities would seem to pretty much require OP to listen and touch, in person.
Ideally, yes. In the OP's case, I was assuming the OP had listened to and touched similar models of Steinway pianos in the NY showroom. Enough, at least, to get a general sense of both sound and touch from the Steinway brand in their upright models.
rjbraun wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:16 pmMy understanding is that Yamaha is known for consistency in their pianos. If that assessment is correct, I am wondering the extent, if any, that may have helped you to purchase your C6 under the circumstances you described. Not sure whether consistency, etc. are also attributes of current production Steinway uprights. If so, perhaps that could make OP's possible purchase less of a risk than appears the case to me, fwiw.
At the time, the C6 was one of the predominant grand piano models in our studio offices, and practice rooms at work. It is by no means the only piano my wife and I had ever played over the prior four decades. The C6 the piano broker found was also the right size and sound to fill our particular cathedral ceiling living room. Larger would have been overkill, and smaller would have been underwhelming (we were purchasing with the idea of home recitals, concerts, performances, student evenings, etc...). It's not the only model or brand the broker was "hunting" for in our case, but the price and condition was right for us at the time we were interested in buying. The one we purchased was much older than what the OP is looking to buy. Our model was made in the 1980's and we bought it in 2004. It's been a champ for us and played by everyone in our household for the past 16 years, plus dozens and dozens of others over the years with our home recitals, concerts, student evenings, etc... .

As I said in my first post, when talking about a Steinway - we're talking about a high quality instrument. Tanglewood is a historic music festival for this country, so it doesn't surprise me they leased excellent quality instruments for their faculty and staff to utilize. I doubt on a piano that is only 4 years old there would be any wear and tear on the piano keyboard action. Ours is approaching 35 years old and no need for a rebuild of the action. In a worse case scenario of the OP's Steinway needing a keyboard action rebuild, I would imagine the company would stand by its products and take care of the OP with any repairs needed since it is being sold as a never owned, but leased instrument.
rjbraun wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:16 pmI own a fully rebuilt Steinway A, which a friend helped me to select. I doubt I would have felt comfortable making the purchase on my own.
Pretty safe with a fully rebuilt Steinway as the rebuild makes them play like new again. Glad you had a friend help and everything turned out well.

CyclingDuo
"Save like a pessimist, invest like an optimist." - Morgan Housel
02nz
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by 02nz »

$30K for an upright is nuts. You're paying a lot for the Steinway name.

Even the best upright is inferior (in sound and action) to a decent grand piano. I would look into a grand piano, if there's space to accommodate one. Check Fine's book for reviews - Yamaha and Schimmel are two good-value brands. Heck, you can have a top-tier grand piano for $35K second-hand, for example: https://www.pianomart.com/buy-a-piano/view?id=39842.
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diabelli
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Re: bought upright Steinway "festival piano" sight unseen

Post by diabelli »

OP here.
I appreciate the responses.

I've spoken with a couple of other dealers and it turns out to be standard that these Festival pianos are sort of a gamble -- they apparently don't ship them to be "tried", but rather only if there's a reliable intent to buy. Most with whom I've spoken are shocked that the dealer has agreed to have the thing shipped for just $500 down on my part.

I've also spoken with one guy who's been in the business for many years and has cautioned me that the leased 1098s are often "beaters" and have some obvious wear / damage to the case. If this is too true I may need to walk away from the sale after it arrives and I see it in person, although I'll accept a reasonable amount of wear on account of them apparently not producing these uprights anymore (all confirm for me that purchasing a New New in satin ebony is no longer an option).
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