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The late 19th and early 20th centuries represented the golden age of piano-making in America. Since the piano was among the primary sources of entertainment in the home, demand was strong and thousands of manufacturers were in business during these years. Many companies manufactured excellent pianos, and competition in the industry was fierce. Additionally, raw materials and highly-skilled craftsmen were far more abundant than they are today. Vintage American and European pianos are widely acknowledged as being among the finest ever made. Superior, aged, solid woods were used, with excellent veneer work on the cases and beautiful, durable finishes. Pianos were almost entirely hand-made, as opposed to today’s machine-made units. The depression, the gramophone, and World War II are all reasons cited for the drastic reduction in demand for pianos after 1930.

The current state of piano-making is a much less happy affair for the piano-buyer. Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Russian companies, among others, sell huge numbers of pianos not because of the quality of their work, but because they have mastered efficiency and speed in production and their labor wages are often much lower than in the U.S. and Europe. Unfortunately, the general quality of piano-making around the world has declined so severely, that the few piano-makers which still produce fine, largely hand-made instruments (Steinway in America, Bösendorfer in Austria, Fazioli in Italy) must sell their pianos for two to three times the price of most imports from Asia or Eastern Europe. Many pianos today are made with pressed particle board, laminated soundboards and polyester finishes. Clearly, no one will be rebuilding most of today’s pianos fifty years from now as they will have been a thing of the past.

While fine instruments were being produced in America, many European makers including Bösendorfer and Erard continued long traditions of piano craftsmanship. These outstanding 19th century European pianos differ in construction and sound from American pianos, but share one common theme--quality parts and craftsmanship. Many of the piano builders in America during the 19th century were European immigrants who learned a skilled trade from true craftsmen.

For example, During the 19th century, many European piano builders would make a soundboard from the wood of just one tree, grown slowly in a cool condition. This would produce a beautiful board that would last. Shaffer Pianos restores the finest European concert grands; instruments which are a joy to hear, play and see and can provide an interesting alternative for musicians and collectors interested in recreating the sound that composers and audiences heard in 19th century European concert halls.

Like the fine European pianos, vintage American pianos have stood the test of time, and can be restored to perfection. The fine woods on these pianos can be refinished like new, and the mechanisms rebuilt to function beautifully-with careful workmanship. This means that the piano-buyer can purchase an outstanding, handmade, vintage American instrument - which is far superior to most, if not all pianos being made today.

Below is a table providing prices of some new pianos held in high regard. This table can be used to provide a comparison to the restored, high quality, vintage pianos sold by Shaffer Pianos. One will find that they can purchase a beautifully restored antique piano for a much lower price than a new high quality instrument.

Average Prices of Some New High-Quality Pianos





Upright (Vertical) 52" (Rosewood)



Grand 6'7" (Walnut)



Grand 7'4" (Chopin)



Grand 9'6" (Vienna)



Upright (vertical) 52" (Crown Jewel)



Grand 6'2" (Model A, Cherry)



Grand 6'10" (Model B, Rosewood)



Grand 8'11" (Model D, Rosewood)


Mason & Hamlin

Grand 7' (Rosewood)



Grand 6'3" (Walnut)



Grand 9' (Ebony)



Grand 6'11" (Walnut, Gloss)



Grand 10'2" (Cherry, Gloss)



Grand 9' (Ebony, Gloss)


Note: Prices may vary by dealer

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