One of the most frequently asked questions about older pianos is about their value relative to new pianos. Most piano owners have preconceived notions about the appraisal value of their older pianos. At Lindeblad, we answer countless restoration inquiries from piano owners trying to determine whether or not it is worth their investment to restore a beloved family heirloom or antique piano they have acquired.
There are vast differences between a high-quality handmade piano and a factory-made piano. We have compiled a list of these top 7 differences to help you understand the value of the piano you have and whether restoration is a worthwhile investment.
ONE: New handmade pianos are expensive, and range in price anywhere between $41,000 and $100,000. There are fewer and fewer handmade piano brands still in existence like Steinway & Sons, Mason & Hamlin in the US as well as several European brands. Nearly all other new pianos are mass-produced and made in factories.
TWO: Most vintage or antique pianos are handmade. Pianos produced in the 20th century were made in smaller boutique piano shops and transitioned to being factory-made with the popularity of the assembly line during wartime and the Great Depression. Even in the early-American factory setting, these pianos were made with high-quality woods for the cabinet and most elements were still built by hand and only assembled on a line. Today, most new pianos are mass produced in factories with cheap components that are often made out of particle board instead of real wood.
THREE: Handmade pianos today are predominantly built in the US, while mass-produced pianos are often built in Asia and imported to the US. Many of the popular pianos brands that were handmade and built in the US in the mid-1900s were bought by larger brands that transitioned production to Asia for cheaper labor, materials and large factory output. This lessened the quality of previously hand-made brands, and newer versions of the same piano name were now drastically reduced in value.
FOUR: The method of casting the piano harp, which produces the tonal quality of a piano, is different in handmade pianos and mass-produced pianos. Wet sand casting is a lengthy process for creating high-quality harps both in new and vintage pianos. Vacuum casting is the low-cost, quick alternative for mass producing harps with inferior sound quality.
FIVE: The lifespan of a handmade piano is 50 to 70 years, and once restored, a piano will last once again for another 50-70 years before needing restoration again. However, the lifespan of a mass-produced piano is only about 30 years, and many times, the lower quality materials and harp in a mass-produced piano mean it often cannot be restored.
SIX: The action, strings, felts, pinblock and soundboard are always going to be higher quality on a handmade piano than on a mass-produced piano. The quality of materials that a handmade piano maker and restoration shop are going to acquire and install is always going to exceed the quality of factory-available parts.
SEVEN: Often customers think an older piano could never look or sound like a new piano, even if the new piano they can afford is a mass-produced brand. This is a misconception we help correct. Many older pianos can be restored to look like a new, glossy black piano with the superior sound quality inherited from its handmade origins.
At Lindeblad, we work with customers to assess the value of their piano and understand whether restoration is a smarter investment than a new piano purchase. In the case of owners of antique, handmade pianos, investing in a new piano will result in a demotion of material and sound quality. Restoring these pianos can achieve a near-equal result to the new, handmade pianos they could never afford. It is our joy to help piano owners see the wise investment in restoration and to enjoy their beloved original piano brought back to its former glory.
To begin your restoration process, contact us today!
A Restored 1922 Vintage Steinway
One of the more recent examples of an exceptional handmade, vintage piano is this 1922 Steinway Grand Piano that has been fully restored. Read more about the restoration project and features of this Steinway beauty!