1913 Bluthner 6ft 3 OR 1995 Schimmel 6ft 8?

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sirprize
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1913 Bluthner 6ft 3 OR 1995 Schimmel 6ft 8?

Post by sirprize » 30 Oct 2006, 14:53

I've been looking around for a grand piano for some time to replace my wonderful 1904 132cm tall Chappell upright which has been in the family since 1908 but is now in need of gentle retirement. I am a professional musician and piano teacher and although not a recitalist I need something to cope with some 30-40 hours a week of work year in year out. I've found 2 interesting pianos. What do people think?

1) 1995 Schimmel 6ft 8in grand in mahog poly, sus/sos/uni pedals, mint condition, lovely, bright, modern, flexible tone. (Can't divulge what I've been offered it for but it's WELL under £15,000 inc vat). Pros: it's 'new' and doesn't need any work. Its sound suits MOST styles/periods. 3 pedals. Cons: it doesn't have any particularly individual character

2) 1913 Bluthner 6ft 3in grand in French polished rosewood, playable condition and hasn't been 'mucked about with', top octave good (for a Bluthner), mid-range too bland at the moment. Bottom not bad. Case needs a little attention. Has a VERY good Bluthner patent action (my all-time favourite action!). Needs new hammer-felts and possibly new strings. £4000 inc ono. Pros: classic well-built piano from Bluthner's golden age with the potential to recapture that magical Bluthner sound. Cons: maybe an £8000 restoration would not make a huge difference?

Either piano will probably cost similar after any work completed. Which one would YOU go for?

PianoGuy
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Post by PianoGuy » 30 Oct 2006, 15:25

The Schimmel sounds the better bet to me, since the Blüthner's character could change if you have a a new set of strings and hammers fitted. It's got more life ahead of it, and you wouldn't be replacing one old piano with another old piano.

The Schimmel should have a good quality Renner action, a more modern design, better materials which would be more suitable for modern heating systems and would be a good reliable workhorse that will take all the punishment you can throw at it, but try and get it for 13k or less. The Blüthner may well be seductive, but it's a bit like running a classic sportscar (and I've had experience with a good few rusty MGs to be well qualified!) and you'll be constantly spending money and time on its upkeep.

A no-brainer!

sirprize
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Schimmel

Post by sirprize » 30 Oct 2006, 16:45

Thanks a LOT Piano Guy. Yes the Schimmel IS under £13K and the seller is bending over backwards to encourage me to make up my mind (ie by offering to store it free for as long as it takes to get its accomodation ready)

I've been trying to find out exactly what model this 1995 203cm Schimmel is: serial number 294.152. This size is no longer listed. The nearest one is 213cm

Any thoughts on Schimmel's reputation/depreciation? This 1995 one is now half the price of a new 213cm one. Schimmels seem relatively uncommon in the UK and I've never played one before. It's quite a revelation. It sounds/feels MUCH better than the Yamahas/Kawais I've tried. Any weaknesses or things I should watch out for?

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Re: Schimmel

Post by PianoGuy » 30 Oct 2006, 18:39

sirprize wrote: Any weaknesses or things I should watch out for?
Yeah!

The depreciation, but looks like someone else already took that! Seriously though, the price in 1995 would have been far less than the current list price, so they've probably not done too badly in real terms because they've kept it for a sensible amount of time. It's not easy to get a discount on a new Schimmel, which bolsters residual prices a bit. They don't have Hamburg Steinway investment potential though!

JohnEB
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Post by JohnEB » 30 Oct 2006, 20:59

Wow, for me there would be no contest. I've never knowingly played a Bluthner but have a fear of pianos that old. Plus I have played some Schimmels and they were great pianos. I understand Schimmel to have a very good reputation in Europe so if you're getting a good price for this one - and it sounds like you are - it seems an obvious choice to me.

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1913 Bluthner 6ft 3 OR 1995 Schimmel 6ft 8?

Post by drg2217 » 08 Dec 2006, 21:10

I have just seen these posts, and you will probably have made your decision by now. But just in case it is helpful, I'd like to suggest that you should give the Bluthner serious consideration.

I have an 1881 Bluthner which I had restored a few years ago, and it is now a magnificent instrument. It has a wonderful tone and touch, and notes seem to last forever. There are interesting differences of timbre between the registers which I enjoy - I would imagine that a 1913 instrument would be more "advanced" in design and therefore more uniform in tone.

The restoration (by a prominent restorer) included restringing, new tuning pins, general cleaning / lubrication / adjustment etc, new felts, repairing soundboard cracks - the cost was about 3000 pounds which seemed relatively modest.

Before undertaking the restoration I asked the same sort of question you are asking - was it worth spending this sort of money on a 120-year old piano? Some people advised me to get a new instrument instead, others (more sympathetic to older instruments) positively advised restoration. I have not regretted it.

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Re: 1913 Bluthner 6ft 3 OR 1995 Schimmel 6ft 8?

Post by PianoGuy » 08 Dec 2006, 23:50

drg2217 wrote: The restoration (by a prominent restorer) included restringing, new tuning pins, general cleaning / lubrication / adjustment etc, new felts, repairing soundboard cracks - the cost was about 3000 pounds which seemed relatively modest.
"Relatively Modest"???

Unless it was done twenty years ago, I'd say that was "Ridiculously Cheap".

Can't imagine many prominent restorers working for that kind of money. Let's work it out shall we? (all prices in Great British Nicker, seeing as this forum won't recognise the pound sign)

New wrestpins £100
New strings £500
New hammer felts £400
New damper felts £100
Sundries (centrepins, various felts, cloths, etc) £150
Cost of transport, say £150.

That leaves £1600 for labour.

Divide that by the 4 weeks it probably took to do the work, so your prominent restorer works for 400 quid a week?
He'd make that on minicabs.

Very cheap indeed. Can't think of many workshops who'll charge that little. Most make enough to charge VAT.

drg2217
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1913 Bluthner 6ft 3 OR 1995 Schimmel 6ft 8?

Post by drg2217 » 09 Dec 2006, 00:39

The 3000 pounds was exclusive of VAT.

Jerome
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Post by Jerome » 09 Dec 2006, 16:13

New hammer felts 400
Slightly off topic but sometimes the hammers seem to be replaced rather than trying to recover the old ones. Not sure of the relative merits/cost of doing this?

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Re: 1913 Bluthner 6ft 3 OR 1995 Schimmel 6ft 8?

Post by Barrie Heaton » 09 Dec 2006, 19:15

PianoGuy wrote:
(all prices in Great British Nicker, seeing as this forum won't recognise the pound sign)

Just use £ not P o u n d ; or & # 1 6 3 ; no spaces
Barrie Heaton
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PianoGuy
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Post by PianoGuy » 10 Dec 2006, 20:35

Jerome wrote:
New hammer felts 400
Slightly off topic but sometimes the hammers seem to be replaced rather than trying to recover the old ones. Not sure of the relative merits/cost of doing this?
There are advantages and disadvantages in both treatments.

Recovering should retain the maker's original strike line (although often the heat required to recover melts the glue used to affix the hammer heads) but the pressure that the shaping-cauls can apply is not as great as on new felts. Consistency can vary, but the high quality hammer makers such as Abel now do good recovers. It's only advisable to recover hammers if the original set is all present and the shanks are in top notch order. Ripe old shanks will break either in the recovering process or soon after when the piano is pressed back into use.

New hammers are a more consistent product, but care in setting up the strike line is needed when fitting, and the process is more involved for the restorer. On older pianos such as Blüthners, the original felts were pared away in the bass to enable clearance between hammers in the overstrung section, and failing to take account of this when fitting replacements can result in hammers fouling one another in the bass. The sound created by new hammers is occasionally not in character with older pianos. It's also a good idea to fit new hammer shanks at the same time.

Cost of hammers is comparable, but the replacement route involves more labour, and of course more parts cost if new shanks are fitted.

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Post by Jerome » 11 Dec 2006, 22:46

PG - many thanks, that's very informative.

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