Robert Estrin - piano expert

Should You Rebuild a Steinway Piano with Steinway Parts?

If you own a Steinway piano, you might be interested in this video

In this video, Robert talks about a very specific aspect of owning a Steinway piano.

Released on June 11, 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, and welcome to livingpianos.com. We have a viewer question today. Is it always best to use Steinway parts when rebuilding Steinway pianos? There's a lot about this, and you've probably heard information relating to this subject. So, I'm glad to try to shed some light on this for you.

Well, there are a lot of people who you hear through the grapevine that, if a piano's rebuilt, if a Steinway specifically is rebuilt and Steinway parts aren't used, it's not even a Steinway. Well, where does this information come from? And is this true?

Well, there is some truth to this. For example, the soundboard of a piano, when it's replaced, you really have fundamentally a new piano because a soundboard is intrinsic to the sound of the instrument, just like the top of a Stradivarius violin makes it a Strad. And, if you are missing the top, it's no longer a Stradivarius. Well, the soundboard of a piano is intrinsic that way.

But what about the rest of the parts? If you replace hammers? If you replace strings? Well, this is a good question. Well, the reason why there's a lot of information trying to discourage people from getting pianos that are rebuilt Steinways without Steinway parts is twofold.

First of all, people who are well-intentioned want to make sure people don't end up with an instrument that is not worthy. Or, for example, there are some unscrupulous rebuilders who might put substandard parts in a rebuilt piano, Steinway and otherwise. And, of course, these are to be avoided.

The other thing is that...do you know what the biggest competition there is out there for Steinway pianos? Used Steinway pianos. That's right. Because if somebody is set on getting a Steinway, a lot of people feel very, very strongly that's the only piano they'll even consider. Now, Steinway only produces a little over 1,000 pianos a year. Therefore, it's very important that they sell as many of these as they can and that they don't compete with the used instruments out there. So part of it comes from that, from Steinway itself.

Well, what is the truth behind it? Well, obviously using Steinway parts can be wonderful, if they're the right match. Here's...it's a big if though. The fact of the matter is Steinway is not a parts manufacturer. They're a piano manufacturer. In fact, the only parts they have on hand are the pianos they're currently building.

So, the question is, let's say you had a 1932 Steinway Model M. Let's say an inexperienced rebuilder wants to put new hammers, shanks, knuckles, and other action parts. So, they call up Steinway. Steinway's only happy enough to sell them hammers and shanks and other action parts for a Steinway M.

Well, after everything is installed, they may discover that the specification for that particular vintage may not match what they're building currently. The action weight might be way off. They could end up with a piano where the geometry is wrong.

So, Steinway parts are not always the appropriate fit for a specific Steinway piano. That's right. Sometimes an Abel Hammer or a Renner. In fact, Renner makes all the actions in the Hamburg Steinways. They're not built by Steinway. They're built by Renner. So, is there something wrong with using Renner in a Steinway? It'd be hard to argue that, isn't it?

Well, the same holds true for other high-quality manufacturers of parts. The important thing is using high-quality components that are the right match for that specific piano. And, for that, you need an experienced technician who's worked on many Steinway and other pianos to make sure that you have the right rebuild going on.

Thanks so much for the great question, and join me next time. I'm Robert Estrin here at livingpianos.com.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

JUAN MANUEL GONZALEZ DE COSIO * VSM MEMBER * on July 15, 2014 @9:23 am PST
Dear Robert,

I have been enjoying very much your valuable lessons and one of the things that I like most from you is that being myself one whose native language is not English, yours is so clear that I used to understand 100% of it. However, since sometime ago it seems to me that you have been increasing substantially the speed of your speech to the point that I cannot always understand you a 100% anymore. If you realize that probably there are thousands of piano students from different parts of the world whose native language is not English, then you might reconsider your talking speed and slow it a little bit just as you used to do it in the past.

Thanks in advance for your attention.

Best Regards,

Juan Manuel Gonzalez de Cosio
reply
Robert Estrin on July 15, 2014 @11:53 am PST
Thank you for your suggestion.
George * VSM MEMBER * on June 13, 2014 @6:57 am PST
Yes, thanks. That was interesting. While not relevant to me at present I shall tuck the key points away in my mind in case I shall consider buying (any) rebuilt piano in the future. Many thanks..
Ernest on June 12, 2014 @1:14 am PST
it was great,thanks a lot
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