Piano Restoration: A Sound Investment

When you own something as melodiously beautiful and expensive as a Steinway piano there are factors to be aware of in the event of water damage. From a pipe leak to hurricane Sandy, OTE appraisers have found that water and moisture are among the most common and harmful types of damage to pianos.  Piano cases are made of wood and are particularly susceptible but then so are most of the parts:  the felts, keys, soundboard, pin-block, tuning pins and strings, etc. Prolonged exposure to water can even lead to corrosion and rust in the metal components.

There is, however, a solution. When Alanna Butera, an OTE specialist appraiser, visited the original Steinway factory in Queens, she saw firsthand how Steinway pianos are built and restored.   

 Steinway Grand Piano,   Photo: © Copyright Steinway & Sons via Wikimedia Commons

Steinway Grand Piano,   Photo: © Copyright Steinway & Sons via Wikimedia Commons

Steinway & Sons, one of America’s leading piano manufactures, was founded in 1853 by German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway who began as a master cabinet maker.  By 1900 the factory had moved to Long Island City in Queens which is still in operation today and where pianos are built and repairs take place.

A Steinway Grand Piano can take over a year to build through handcrafting. Not only does a Steinway piano produce beautiful music, it is an excellent investment.   According to Reuters: “A 10 year old Steinway in good condition, usually sells for about 75 percent of the current retail price, which goes up about 4 percent each year;” that’s a lot better than your car. Steinway even issues a five year warranty on their repaired pianos, the same warranty they give to new pianos.

From an appraisal standpoint, a damaged Steinway piano repaired by Steinway can be valued at 85% of the current retail price of a new one. But restoration isn’t cheap. In our experience the cost for a restoration caused by water damage is approximately $30,000 to $40,000 for a single grand piano.

Close up of a piano in progress at the Steinway factory

A peak into Steinway's factory in Queens

On the positive side, what our appraiser observed at the Steinway factory is that you can be certain time and care is taken in restoration efforts.  When Steinway restores pianos they keep the cast iron block and original case, barring any extensive damage to either. They then refinish, re-guild and replace all the hardware with Steinway parts, entirely by hand. Steinway still continues to provide hand rubbed finishes. To maintain the value of a Steinway piano, restoration and replacements should be done solely by Steinway, using only their authentic parts. Steinway restorations come with a certificate, so if you are thinking of selling make sure to hold onto it. 

Steinway calls their pianos a “sound investment” and we happen to agree.