Since the advent of the internet, the normal supply chain from manufacturer to wholesaler to distributor to end-user has been disrupted considerably by the advantages offered by direct internet buying.  At first it seemed to be mostly general commodity items, electronics, household goods, etc., but later expanded to shoes and textiles, and thousands of other items, to finally, items not thought of as purchasable, such as a used Steinway Piano.  I’ve decided to break from my articles about the parts inside a Steinway to write about an urgent issue for all buyers of pre-owned, restored or unrestored Steinway pianos:  why should one purchase a used Steinway piano online when there are so many stores offering beautiful second-hand Steinway pianos?  I will begin with a (short) list of the advantages of buying from a store, then, discuss the advantages of purchasing a Steinway online.

Truthfully, one goes to the store for only one reason: To get that “look-feel-sound” sense of a piano.  So what is that “look-feel-sound” sense?   For almost all buyers who may be performers, but not technicians, the “look” part of the word refers to the quality of the casing, the keys, the strings, and the general overall appearance.  The truth said, all of these things can be covered with very good pictures found of the Steinway Pianos on the web.   And what is ”feel”?  “Feel” refers mostly to the action of the piano.  One will say, “This piano feels better than another,” even though the two Steinway Pianos may be of the same era and have exactly the same parts.   This is due more to regulation of the action than to the actual piano itself.  In other words, if a piano is properly regulated, it will have a specific “feel” to it, but this is changeable according to the vagaries of the individual performer.   So just “playing” a piano is not solely indicative of the quality of the instrument.  So what about “sound” sense?  “Sound” sense refers to how we hear the Steinway it its present environment, not its actual sound.  To “test to play a piano for its sound” is limited, albeit not entirely useless, because a piano tested in a room that is acoustically adjusted for pianos is far different than one’s living room, filled with curtains, carpet and other items that dry up a piano; or a concert hall, that might pickup emphasize harmonics that otherwise couldn’t be heard.  So to listen to a piano in a room made for Steinways is really not completely necessary for most pianists except maybe the top 5% of artists in the world—many sound issues can be adjusted in the piano after it is in the correct room.  In summary, the store buyer gets to physically see, feel and hear the product firsthand that he or she is buying;  but, unfortunately, after this, there are very few advantages, and even this isn’t necessary an advantage, as I just discussed.

So what about internet purchases of a pre-owned Steinway Grand pianos?  I believe it is far less subjective than buying from a “show room.”  First, we recommend before purchase that every Steinway have an independent, qualified PTG member, very knowledgeable with Steinway pianos, evaluate the Steinway one is considering.  A good technician can discuss everything from the wear on the hammers to the quality of the seams and condition of the soundboard, to the depth of nicks in the casing.  The technician can objectively look at the action and see wear and tear, see the condition of the instrument, its repairs as well as its shortfalls, and then give an objective, independent report–far better than a non-qualified buyer just trying to get a “look-feel-sense” of the instrument.  Furthermore, most stores selling Steinway pianos are not interested in having an independent technician evaluate the piano at their store because it is considered an affront to the store owners; online, however,  this is just the opposite—we encourage our buyers to have an independent evaluation by a qualified technician.

Secondly, online buyers aren’t subject to the pressure of a salesperson.  Not only is the technician’s report independent, so is the comparison one can do between similar models from the same era.  No one is there to pressure you into a piano you are not absolutely convinced is in the best condition at the best value.

Third, the selection of Steinway Pianos is far much greater online than in a store.   With online purchase of your Steinway, you can view not just 5, 10 or 20 pianos, but literally hundreds of Steinway pianos, and some online stores, such as ours, will find or rebuild for you the piano you desire, using technicians, techniques and parts to your exact specifications.

Finally and certainly not least:  the price is often 20-50% lower than any retail outlet.  Without a doubt, this savings will make your purchase a far better investment because you didn’t give up 20-50% by simply walking into a store.  Why would one purchase a pre-owned Steinway from a store when online, one can buy more objectively, with less pressure, have such a greater selection and for so much less?  We invite you to review our store at www.American-Steinway.com and make that dream of owning a Steinway yours today.

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