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  • piano folks, inheriting a Steinway

    Any piano folks on here? I'm seeking practical advice, perhaps along with some financial curiosity. My aunt is looking to keep her Steinway grand piano in the family and I'm the only one who plays at all. She's probably also looking at the fact that my six-year-old son, and perhaps eventually my younger kids, takes piano lessons so she's hoping they'll continue to keep this though of course no promises from me on that. I'm really conflicted on what to do. This used to belong to my grandmother, who was a piano teacher. My aunt said it's over 100 years old and was completely refurbished in the 60s. I've seen it and played it a couple of times and it plays well, but I don't really have an emotional attachment to it.

    If you are a piano person you know that Steinway's are top-notch. So one question I have is exactly what top-notch in the piano business is? Doing some very basic research online it looks like this piano if it's slightly used is worth $50-$75k. I would not sell this but I was curious about the price anyway-do pianos really hold their value, or is this piano that is 100+ years old really worth less than $1k? It looks like it would cost $2-3k to move and my aunt at this point hasn't offered to pay for the moving and I could be swayed but I'm struggling to make a decision.

    We also have a full upright piano already in our main living room. We don't use this room other than for the piano and perhaps with company and for the Christmas tree. I'm pretty sure that we can fit this new piano in the room that is otherwise only lightly used, but is it a bit ridiculous to have two pianos? The room might feel a little crowded with it in there. At the same time I envision in the future perhaps doing duets with my kids with each of us on one piano but who knows what the future holds.

  • #2
    We always had uprights for the kids (Yamaha) and never had a showroom house for a grand or baby grand, but I still think you should jump on this deal. As you know very well, Steinways are top of the line, and very likely to increase in value over time. I’ve read used are ~75% the value of new, but both appreciate. If you are not emotionally attached to this one, get an appraisal (you need one for the insurance anyway) and think of it as an alternative/collectible investment. Regardless, if the kids play you are accepting a beautiful gift and will get a decade or so enjoyment from it. The downsides are precisely the moving cost, and only fair you pay that, and the need to keep a big enough house for it to make sense. Well, you will do what makes sense for your family, but I would accept the gift.

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    • #3
      I would certainly take the piano. You have the space. You have a child who is learning piano. You play. A 100 year old Steinway is not slightly used it is antique. You have a focal point piece of furniture and a heirloom. I go to a lot of antique auctions and "name brand" quality items command a premium.

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      • #4
        Ditto , 5 times. The move always requires special movers, you need a room/space dedicated to the piano. My concern is you are using the main living room. If this is the traditional living room/dining room setup that also has a family room, that works. If you are committed to keeping it until the aunt passes, you would be foolish to pass on it.
        When the time comes, it will be passed to family or sold at a nifty gain. It is not a money drain by any means. Used Steinways average 48% of MSRP
        and inflate about 4% per year.
        Drawback: Kids of guests. As with any valuable, kids don’t understand the difference of a high value item. You will become protective when you hear a child start banging on it. With care, just tune it.
        Money wise it is a winner. My daughter will take “custody” of her baby grand at some point. Too many moves and space shortages.
        Take it.

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        • #5
          Hire piano movers even if it costs more. How far does it need to be transported? All well kept instruments (except for the harp) should appreciate. Once the piano has arrived hire a tuner who can do an appraisal, shouldn't cost more than $250 or so for both. If you're worried about value you can have it appraised before its shipped but if if it's stayed in a temperature controlled room it's probably fine. Put the piano on your home insurance or go with a reputable musician specific insurer like Clarion. Once all of that is in place, if you itemize you can depreciate the instrument on your taxes for up to 7 years I believe. If I were you I'd put the upright in another room so music can be played when it's not the most convenient to be coming from the living room. Great gift, keep it in the family!

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          • #6
            If you have the room, make it happen.

            -get the family stories behind the piano. --think Story Corps with NPR
            -hire dedicated piano movers
            -sell the upright
            -let it sit for 6 weeks after arrival and then get it tuned and retuned 6 months later for voicing.

            It's a Steinway
            It's a family heirloom
            You play
            Your kids play
            You have room
            It's a Steinway

            At the very least for you it's a conversational piece. The kids will have a great experience and memory on it and some palpable piece of their family history.

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            • #7
              I have never been a piano person. My wife played as a child and we recently got an upright for her and the kids in the future. But this sounds like a great gift. Sure there will be a little hassle getting it there and set up but you will have it for decades. As long as you have the room I would go for it!

              Also mentioning dueling piano dragged this out of my memory!
               

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Lordosis View Post
                I have never been a piano person. My wife played as a child and we recently got an upright for her and the kids in the future. But this sounds like a great gift. Sure there will be a little hassle getting it there and set up but you will have it for decades. As long as you have the room I would go for it!

                Also mentioning dueling piano dragged this out of my memory!
                Epic scene. Epic film. Bringing together two historic studios for this was for the ages.

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                • #9
                  man you all are making this tough! I was hoping people would say "well it's another big thing that eventually you'll have to deal with" but everyone makes solid points above and now my thinking has turned positively towards it even more....I'll just have to get my wife on board who was leaning more against it than me (just because it'll take up so much space).

                  1) It will have to move ~450-500 miles.

                  2) yeah we have a separate living room and a separate dining room and a separate family room sort of house...not open concept. So the living room (where the upright is) is really just a piano room. We actually bought the house with my vision that the formal living room would have a piano. So now we can just have two. I would either need to sell the upright or keep it in the same room...can't move the upright to another room as there isn't space for that.

                  3) Thanks for making it clear that I would need to pay. My aunt's eldest daughter is helping her get rid of stuff as she moves out of her house. I might just need to ask her (so my cousin) if she's able to find piano movers and I'd reimburse.

                  4) My asking about the piano price is really just to better understand if I have a depreciating or appreciating asset. Everyone here is clear it's appreciating. So even though I don't plan to sell anytime, I'm more inclined to take something that appreciates as the cost is "will take up space." I grew up with a baby grand (non-steinway) with ivory keys and my parents struggled mightily to sell it actually. In the end someone just bought it for parts and I think my parents got $500 or $1000 for it after a lot of non-interest. So that story certainly impacts me with regards to this, although I know we might be in a totally different scenario since it's a steinway.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JBME View Post
                    man you all are making this tough! I was hoping people would say "well it's another big thing that eventually you'll have to deal with" but everyone makes solid points above and now my thinking has turned positively towards it even more....I'll just have to get my wife on board who was leaning more against it than me (just because it'll take up so much space).

                    1) It will have to move ~450-500 miles.

                    2) yeah we have a separate living room and a separate dining room and a separate family room sort of house...not open concept. So the living room (where the upright is) is really just a piano room. We actually bought the house with my vision that the formal living room would have a piano. So now we can just have two. I would either need to sell the upright or keep it in the same room...can't move the upright to another room as there isn't space for that.

                    3) Thanks for making it clear that I would need to pay. My aunt's eldest daughter is helping her get rid of stuff as she moves out of her house. I might just need to ask her (so my cousin) if she's able to find piano movers and I'd reimburse.

                    4) My asking about the piano price is really just to better understand if I have a depreciating or appreciating asset. Everyone here is clear it's appreciating. So even though I don't plan to sell anytime, I'm more inclined to take something that appreciates as the cost is "will take up space." I grew up with a baby grand (non-steinway) with ivory keys and my parents struggled mightily to sell it actually. In the end someone just bought it for parts and I think my parents got $500 or $1000 for it after a lot of non-interest. So that story certainly impacts me with regards to this, although I know we might be in a totally different scenario since it's a steinway.
                    StarTrekDoc is right on. Watch "Note by Note" and you'll have a greater appreciation for the thing. In terms of value, I would suggest that a Steinway is an asset that takes a hit off the showroom floor but then keeps up with inflation. Perhaps similar to a steel Rolex (before the steel craze) or maybe a Toyota. Wow! Excited for you!

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                    • #11
                      I would take it. I grew up playing on a Steinway. I don’t know that I could go between pianos and necessarily know that one is vastly superior to another. However, given that your kids play, it is a family heirloom, and that it’s a Steinway with potentially significant value and of high quality aid take it. And obviously pay for the move. Agree with the tuning suggestions.

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                      • #12
                        I would add that there is a big difference in sound quality between an upright and a Steinway grand. If your children become serious about playing piano, they will want to play on a Steinway. Agree about getting the piano tuned and appraised. We inherited a Steinway and had it shipped across several states. Used Clarion to insure the piano. Had to refurbish the piano, but was worth it, as my son is a serious piano player. Good luck with your decision!

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                        • #13
                          Don't do it!
                          You will regret the decision of taking the piano. Without going into the boring details, we ended up with an upright piano and a grand piano. We could not use the room at all because of the space that the grand piano occupied. It was very difficult to sell used because of the age and size. It takes special (and very expensive) movers.

                          You can't see it now, but your kids eventually grow up and leave home. Their interests also change. Your kids will not be taking the piano with them. Our one kid who played the piano for years purchased an expensive keyboard that could easily move with him from apartment to apartment in the back of his truck.

                          You have an upright piano that is fine and doesn't take up an entire room. Get over the guilt that this is a family heirloom. Stay strong! Your aunt just needs (wants) to get rid of it. You will be stuck with it forever...don't do it!!!!!!

                          Suggest your aunt donate the piano to a senior living facility, school, or church.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bev View Post
                            Don't do it!
                            You will regret the decision of taking the piano. Without going into the boring details, we ended up with an upright piano and a grand piano. We could not use the room at all because of the space that the grand piano occupied. It was very difficult to sell used because of the age and size. It takes special (and very expensive) movers.

                            You can't see it now, but your kids eventually grow up and leave home. Their interests also change. Your kids will not be taking the piano with them. Our one kid who played the piano for years purchased an expensive keyboard that could easily move with him from apartment to apartment in the back of his truck.

                            You have an upright piano that is fine and doesn't take up an entire room. Get over the guilt that this is a family heirloom. Stay strong! Your aunt just needs (wants) to get rid of it. You will be stuck with it forever...don't do it!!!!!!

                            Suggest your aunt donate the piano to a senior living facility, school, or church.
                            We just passed on taking my folks upright (a fancy K Kawai)... It couldn't be tuned quite right, and there are used ones for sale for 10% of what they are new.


                            ... I used to work for a classical music festival and have a dream to have a Steinway D in our house. ... I guess it'll be the next house, and it won't fit in this one! (Also, don't have a piano).

                            I would like to start playing again, and having a nice piano would help.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JBME View Post
                              man you all are making this tough! I was hoping people would say "well it's another big thing that eventually you'll have to deal with" but everyone makes solid points above and now my thinking has turned positively towards it even more....I'll just have to get my wife on board who was leaning more against it than me (just because it'll take up so much space).

                              1) It will have to move ~450-500 miles.

                              2) yeah we have a separate living room and a separate dining room and a separate family room sort of house...not open concept. So the living room (where the upright is) is really just a piano room. We actually bought the house with my vision that the formal living room would have a piano. So now we can just have two. I would either need to sell the upright or keep it in the same room...can't move the upright to another room as there isn't space for that.
                              At the height of family - mom had upright, organ, and baby grand in the living room. Since many years ago, the organ has gone away and the upright to my brother as he got dibs. Baby grand moved three times over with her and still in the condo. Unfortunately, my sister has dibs on that it and we had to get our own Yamaha because I simply can't plunk down the dollars for a Steinway.

                              Upright doesn't take up much room and it's a lot of fun to have two pianos to duet with a young family of players. Bev - is right though. electric pianos are a lot more mobile and we had our share of Korg and Yamaha electrics too. While nice and mobile, not the same. But something is better than playing a piano on the computer

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