Robert Estrin - piano expert

How Long Does a Piano Last?

Discover what the average life of a piano is

In this video, Robert talks about how long a piano can last.

Released on February 19, 2020

    
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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. This is livingpianos.com. The question today is, how long does a piano last? This is a really fascinating subject, and there's more to it than you might ever imagine.

Well, there are many considerations for how long a piano lasts. If I had to just throw out a number, I'd say 50 to 100 years. Really, that long? Well, it depends upon many factors. It depends on, certainly, the quality of the piano. You couldn't expect, for example, going out and buying a bottom tier Chinese or Indonesian piano and subjecting it to a harsh climate, having it played on hours a day, and for it to last anywhere close to 50 years without major work or actually being in the landfill if it's a cheap enough piano. Those are the things that really matter. The quality of the instrument, fundamentally, the environment where the instrument lives, how much the instrument is played, and the upkeep.

Right now, for example, here at Living Pianos, the oldest piano we have is a Steinway built in 1875. Can you believe it? The piano's been masterfully rebuilt, so it plays like it did when it was young. Now, the record for the oldest piano we ever had, that was all original, was a 1907, also Steinway, Model O. We had two of our technicians go through this piano inside and out, determining that absolutely everything was original, aside from the finish, we did refinish the case. And nothing was worn. And we were looking at it, obviously, it's a Steinway, if it needed new strings or new hammers or anything, we would do it, because it's a Steinway, it's worth putting the work into it. But, it was determined that it would just be ripping out perfectly good parts.

Now, how can that be? Well, if you have a piano here in Southern California and it's in a stable environment, kept closed, away from sunlight, stable temperature, stable humidity, barely ever played, and tuned on a regular basis, indeed, a piano could be a hundred years old and like new. Now, for every piano like that, there are tens of thousands that are long since gone. That's the long and short of it. It's not like there's a set amount of time that piano's last, so you have to really know the history.

And if you wonder, how do you find the history of a piano? They obviously don't have a paper trail like cars or houses do. Well, simple detective work. Just looking at the piano inside for signs of corrosion, rust around the strings and the pins. You look at the hammer, see how much felt is left on them. Even just wiggling the keys, you feel, if it's clicking sounds, means the felt bushings are worn. So pianos could be worn out, they can also get thrashed from the environment, and they can be neglected. A piano that's never tuned for five, 10, 15 years, it could take its toll when you try to tune it up and all that additional thousands of pounds of string tension.

There are many things to consider, but the year of manufacturer tells you very little about how long that piano's going to last. I've seen 10 year old pianos from the beach or from schools. From the beach, it could be rusted out. In the school, they might be worn out in as little as 10 or 20 years. And yet, as I said, there could be pianos, pre-World War II pianos, in immaculate condition. Certainly, rebuilt pianos, it doesn't matter how old they are, if the fundamental structure is good and the rebuilding work was top quality, a piano can last as long as a new piano. You get another 50 to 100 years. Your mileage may vary. And that is the message for today.

Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at livingpianos.com. If any of you has pianos that you're wondering about the condition, we can help you, we can tell you what pictures to take, send them to info@livingpianos.com.

Remember to subscribe to our channel. That's easy for me to say. Living pianos.com, your online piano store. Hit that bell, you'll find about all our latest videos. We'll see you next time. Thanks.
Find the original source of this video at this link: https://livingpianos.com/piano-history/how-long-does-a-piano-last-2/
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Steve Borcich * VSM MEMBER * on February 19, 2020 @10:47 am PST
One of the key components in the piano is the wooden soundboard. Since wood is a porous material it can dry out and crack. This can be a major problem with any piano. It is important to position your piano so that it's not near a heating vent. Hot furnace air can cause this.
reply
Robert - host, on February 20, 2020 @2:37 pm PST
You are absolutely right! Humidity of around 45-50% is ideal. Having a humidity gauge in the room with your piano can help you to provide the best environment for your piano.
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