Robert Estrin - piano expert

Why are California Pianos Better?

If you are looking to buy a used piano, this video is for you.

In this video, Robert tells you why used pianos from California are better than pianos from other areas. If you are looking for a used piano, you may want to watch this video.

Released on July 23, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin. Welcome to and The question today is why are California pianos better? Well, that's a great question! Are they really better? Well, we're going to cover this today and explore this whole subject.

Well, you know pianos are found in all kinds of places in the world and you can hear about companies, climatizing their pianos for certain areas and such. Well, what do pianos like? Pianos like moderate humidity and stable temperature. Well, here in California, you can't get much better than that, at least in the continental United States.

Now, of course I have to qualify that because where I am here, about 10 miles from the beach, yes it's very stable, moderate humidity. The temperature never goes very high or low. But people who live on the beach, their pianos can get thrashed in a very short amount of time. I've seen 10 year old piano ready for major restoration, or at least restringing fro the moisture and the salt air eating away at everything. Likewise, go 10 or 20 miles inland and you have the high desert. It's so dry, soundboards crack, all sorts of problems happen. So, California climate, you have to qualify. There's a lot of climates here in California, the mountain climate. But any place that you have moderate temperature and humidity - which could be anywhere. For example, maybe you live in a high rise in Chicago, but it's a moderate building and you've got, of course, air conditioning and heat, and you have a humidifier system built in to your unit, you might have a perfect environment in Chicago. It's possible. But it's much more prevalent here. More than that, when you have a piano like this - here's a 100 year old Steinway I'm in front of - the fact of the matter is this, before the advent of air conditioning, really would have had a tough time holding up in a temperate climate. Here in California, there's a lot more of those.

I remember when I first moved to California in the late 1990's and looking on the road and seeing 1970's and 60's cars in immaculate condition, and hadn't seen anything like that on the east coast or the Midwest where I'd lived before because of the snow and the salt and all of the rest of it.So, the benefits here are also for pianos. If you can find a piano that is from California, you might find yourself a little gem.

Thanks so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here at
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Amy Macdonald * VSM MEMBER * on July 24, 2014 @7:09 am PST
I bought an Ivers and Pond converted upright player in the early 1960s in Van Nuys and brought it to Calgary in 1966. It has a mellow tone and easy action - for my liking. It is now 100 years old. The problem is finding a good piano tuner - esp. one who can fine tune. The late Oscar Peterson (a long-time friend of mine), had the same problem in Toronto. My piano is always "a hair's breadth" flat after a tuning- no one ever seems to get it quite right. The first 2 tuners that I had in the early 60s were great, but they both passed on long ago. Now no one gets the top end in tune at all........I have played by ear since I was 5 years old......I'm glad you are in our lives! Thank you! Amy. BTW - age 90 + 6 months...)
Robert Estrin - host, on July 24, 2014 @3:43 pm PST
Finding a good piano technician can be a great challenge. Ask around to venues, schools with concert instruments, and any professional pianists you run into. Hopefully there is someone in your area who can do a nice job on your piano!
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