Advice to help you choose, buy or restore a Steinway piano
Steinway model A grand piano in rosewood 85 keys, 6ft 2in. This design with turned legs and a fretted desk dates mainly from 1877 to 1900. This one has been fully restored and French polished and sold in 2011.
German Steinway model O grand piano 88 note,1904, 5ft 11in. This style is mainly from 1900 to 1930.
German Steinway model V upright piano, 88 notes. Well restored, these fine uprights have a very rich tone and smooth touch. Similar pianos date from about 1880, the older ones having 85 note (to about 1900), to about 1925.
We buy, sell and restore all types of Steinway pianos and will be pleased to quote for work on modern and old Steinways. Please note that Steinway grand pianos have a powerful tone and are designed to be played in a sizeable room with high ceiling (the model “S” made around 1925 is the exception to this, being of quieter tone) . If your room is small it may be better to consider a quieter piano such as a Blüthner.
Before the second world war the qualiry of German and American Steinways is roughly the same. In the UK about 90% are from the Hamburg factory. The American Steinway can be recognised as it generally has a square shaped “fall board” or “lid” over the keys, whereas the German Steinway fall board is rounded as in most makes of grand piano found in the UK. Nowadays there are some European restorers importing American Steinways and remodelling the fall to look like the German one.
Post 1950 German and American Steinways drift apart in terms of style of manufacture and begin to sound different. German Steinway pianos are usually more mellow in tone and the American Steinway pianos are more strident. However, there are exceptions to these differences as hammers vary from piano to piano. Our advice is that well restored Steinways from either factory can be excellent, so choose the piano you like.
Restored Steinway pianos, from 1877 to about 1950
If you’re thinking of buying or restoring a Steinway piano they generally have a powerful rich tone and fine touch, with an aesthetically pleasing cabinet. The most common colours of Steinway pianos available in the UK are approximately the following: 1877 to 1920: 60% Rosewood 30% black (ebonised) 10% other 1920 to 1950: 40% Rosewood 30% black 20% mahogany 10% other.
MODERN STEINWAY GRAND PIANOS
From 1951 to present day, Steinway pianos are mainly found in black polyester. The ones made in the 1960s have a particularly rich warm tone and natural ivory key tops; the key tops after about 1980 are usually of a synthetic material.
We are experienced restorers of Steinway pianos; they usually require at the very least new hammers and often restringing. If the piano is well used the action becomes slack and the springs weak; this then needs regulating. We are also traditional French polishers and are able to recreate the original finish or change the colour if required.
Restored Steinway grand pianos
By far the most common restored Steinway grand pianos are models O’s, A’s and B’s in that order. They vary enormously in quality and in how much they have been used, but generally, older Steinway grand pianos have been used extensively and are therefore very worn. Reconditioning grands can also vary widely in quality so if you’re buying a restored Steinway grand we strongly recommend having a Steinway trained technician to check it first.