We have a 19th century Chickering, and like it very much, but we paid something like $20 for it. @anon81034786 is completely right, most of these are going to the dump.
Yup, but that says a bit about modern consumers, not much of it good. These older, larger uprights are frequently better-sounding than baby grands.
Yeah, I know what that’s like. My wife inherited her grandfather’s Steinway baby grand, which he’d bought new in the late 1930s as he became one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood. My mother-in-law and my wife both took their girlhood piano lessons on that piano, but nobody had played on it since 1986 or so, and by last year it still looked quite lovely as a piece of furniture but rather desperately needed about $12,000 of restoration to become playable again. Our house didn’t have room for a baby grand (though a century-old upright would have looked splendid in the 1909 Craftsman we owned until this year), so it just stayed at my in-laws’ house, taking up space until my wife and her mother could bring themselves to sell it. Dunno how much they got for it, but it probably went for under $5k, which is a shame.
The problem isn’t that people are buying modern pianos instead of older ones, but that they aren’t buying pianos at all. Used to was that everyone had a piano in their house for family entertainment, that’s pretty much passe.
For amusement I’ve compiled a plot of uprights sold in the US vs. year over the last 60 years, data from the piano bluebook:
the like was only for the “for amusement” part
I don’t care if he’s the Joint Chief of Staff, using wars to count time is disturbing, especially if you’re calculating the age of a noncombatant musical instrument.
I used to think that also, but as it turns out, pianos sort of wear out and go bad, or at least, that is my understanding. So the choice is really between butchering the piano, or throwing it in the garbage.
Most things about US Marines are disturbing. News at 11.
Your graph drops off at the time modern electric pianolas were introduced. I remember them being all the rage in the '80s, which makes sense. Another victory for miniaturisation.
My brother likes to buy old console radios from flea markets, remove the guts, and refit them with internet radios and flashy leds and sells them at a tiny profit. I’m wondering if that equally offends people’s sensibilities.
That’s what I learned from this short radio documentary–many of the old uprights are simply worn out and can’t be repaired at any reasonable price.
I’ve seen for myself in Vancouver that it’s hard to give them away.
That chart is insane. In 1980, more than one person in a thousand bought an upright piano that year. That seems unbelievable to me.
I’m not sure if the downward trajectory after 1980 is due to electronic keyboards or more due to changing customs. Kids’ piano lessons aren’t as much of a rite of passage as they used to be.
Oh, yes. Yes it does.
Some victory. They can’t do things a good upright grand can, like pressing the keys silently, thus lifting the dampers and letting those specific strings vibrate sympathetically. That’s a technique that goes back to Schumann.
For better or for worse. My wife (somewhat reluctantly) took her lessons from a rather terrifying Russian woman in the early 1980s, and enjoyed playing just barely enough to endure those lessons for a few years. A sizable number of my friends had similar experiences, or gave up sooner. I only know a handful of competent pianists today.
But man, nearly everyone I know owns at least one guitar. Sure, they’re a much, much more modest investment than any new acoustic piano, but guitar playing (with or without lessons) up to the point of joining a band was more popular than piano lessons even when I was in high school. I wonder what the actual data is. Kids are, as often as not, assigned music lessons by their parents, and now that kids today are frequently the grandchildren of rock music fans, I suspect the classical focus of kids’ music lessons has diminished severely.
I’d be OK with it if it was something he carried through those wars. Somehow, i don’t think he had the piano on a battlefield.
How much of that was based on who it belonged to, and how much for what it was?
In this instance, I don’t think the buyer cared who owned it first. It’s a hell of a space-filling white elephant for fans of blacklisted screenwriters.
In a similar vein, my mother-in-law still owns her first car, a 1965 Mustang convertible from when she was 19. It still has her father’s name on the pink slip. She’s been meaning to sell it for a few years now but thinks it needs restoration to be particularly valuable to a Mustang buyer. Otherwise it’s just in okay shape due to weather and mileage. And she doesn’t think any Mustang buyer will pay extra for the historic name on the pink.
Interesting. So at what point does it stop being recycling and repurposing, and start becoming a travesty?
Does it have anything to do with the rarity of the original item? Because these upright pianos and the console radios were both mass-produced. There was little craftsmanship involved in their creation. I mean, I can see the value of restoring an item to its original glory, but I can also appreciate refurbishing something to make use of newer technology while still maintaining some aspects of the antique.
I mean, it’s common to refurbish an old car but put in disk brakes instead of using the old drums because they’re safer. And it’s common to put a newer, more efficient and more powerful engine in them, while still retaining the character and charm of the antique’s exterior.
Where’s the line?