- ESTABLISHED 1964
IRA MALEK PLAYER PIANOS
One question that is frequently asked is one of value. The piano business which includes player pianos is down approximately 99 % of what it once was. This means that for every sale presently, there were 100 in the 1970's and earlier. Back then, there were those who made a very good living with more work than they knew what to do with... just restringing pianos, grand action regulation, case refinishing or tuning. These days are no more.
While this sounds like the typical story of player piano and piano woes, it isn't. While the demand has dropped significantly, so has the supply of player pianos and the people who restore antique player pianos properly and even much more rare, those that have stocked the best ones from many years ago as we have.
If you are wondering where this leaves you with an investment.... If you have been told that I could only sell my "restored" player piano for 5000, 7000, etc. then you don't know the whole story.
THE FACT IS, THE SUPPLY AND DEMAND RATIO HASN'T CHANGED, JUST THE TOTAL SUPPLY AND TOTAL DEMAND. HENCEFORTH, ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO WISHES TO SELL A PLAYER PIANO MUST KNOW WHERE TO SELL IT IF THEY CHOOSE TO. WHEN YOU BUY FROM US, WE TELL YOU WHERE AND HOW TO SELL YOUR PLAYER PIANO. WE CAN EVEN SELL FOR YOU ON CONSIGNMENT IF YOU BOUGHT FROM US. WE RESTORE THE PLAYER PIANO UPON REQUEST IN LEVEL THREE SO THAT THE PLAYER PIANO BECOMES AN EXTREMELY RARE INSTRUMENT SINCE FEW HAVE EVER SEEN RESTORATION QUALITY OF OUR CALIBER, INSIDE AND OUT, FUNCTIONALLY AND COSMETICALLY. PICTURES ARE TAKEN OF THE RESTORATION PROCESS ( this is done with all player piano restorations ) AND PROVIDED TO YOU TO ASSURE RESTORATION QUALITY WITHOUT QUESTION BY CRAFTSMAN IN A FATHER AND SON BUSINESS OF 51 YEARS WITH TESTIMONIAL FROM THE PRESIDENT OF QRS.
WE ELECTRIFY THE PLAYER PIANO SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO PUMP IT IF YOU DONT WANT TO ( EXCEPTION IS WITH THE PLAYER PIANOS THAT WERE FULL ELECTRIC FROM THE FACTORY AND DONT HAVE PUMP PEDALS ). WE INSTALL A LIGHT IN THE SPOOLBOX SO YOU CAN READ THE WORDS ON THE ROLL MORE EASILY IF THE SPOOLBOX DIDNT HAVE A LIGHT ( WHICH WORKS WHETHER YOU ARE PUMPING THE PLAYER PIANO OR HAVE TURNED ON THE MOTOR ) AND WE ALSO INSTALL AUTOMATIC SHUT-OFF. WE CAN INSTALL THE SUCTION MOTOR IN A DIFFERENT ROOM OR BENEATH THE FLOOR SO THE PLAYER PIANO SOUND WILL NEVER BE COMPROMISED. WE ALSO INSTALL HONKY-TONK IF THE PLAYER PIANO DIDNT HAVE IT, SO UPON THE PULL OF A LEVER, THE PIANO HAS A GREAT OLD FASHIOINED RINKY TINK SOUND THAT IS FANTASTIC.
WE STOCK PLAYER PIANOS THAT ARE RARE ARTCASES OF WHICH ARE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO FIND. WHEN YOU COMBINE A RARE PLAYER PIANO WITH RARE RESTORATION QUALITY BY A COMPANY WITH HIGH REPUTATION, THE COMBINATION REPRESENTS A WISE INVESTMENT INTO A VALUABLE ANTIQUE INSTRUMENT. THE DAYS OF THE AVERAGE PLAYER PIANO AND THE AVERAGE RESTORATION BEING RESTORED BY AN AVERAGE COMPANY COMMANDING DOLLAR VALUE ARE OVER. NOW IS THE TIME WHEN WEALTHY DISCERNING BUYERS WANT SOMETHING SPECIAL AND RARE, INSIDE AND OUT. THIS SAID, WE DONT RECOMMEND BUYING PLAYER PIANOS FOR THE INTENTION OF RESELLING THEM. IT'S NOT WHAT THE POINT SHOULD BE. PEOPLE, WHEN IT COMES TO ANTIQUES OVERALL, OFTEN MAKE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING VALUE FOR RESALE OR BRAGGING RIGHTS RATHER THAN WHAT THE PURCHASE MEANS TO THEM PERSONALLY. WHEN YOU BUY SOMETHING NEW, YOU DONT THINK, "WHAT CAN I SELL IT FOR " ? YOU BUY IT BECAUSE YOU WANT IT FOR YOUR NEED, DESIRE OR PURPOSE. THE SAME SHOULD BE WHEN YOU ARE BUYING AN ANTIQUE. IN MY PERSONAL OPINION, I LOVE AN UPRIGHT PLAYER PIANO WITH THE HONKY TONK. I LOVE THE WAY IT LOOKS AND SOUNDS. I DONT CARE WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS MY PLAYER PIANO IS WORTH. IT BELONGS TO ME AND I HAVE NO INTENTION OF SELLING IT. IF YOU DON'T ENJOY A PLAYER PIANO OR THINK YOU WILL FOR WHAT IT LOOKS AND SOUNDS , THEN DON'T BUY ONE OR HAVE ONE RESTORED.
ALSO IMPORTANT IS WHAT TYPE OF RESORATION IS DONE ON WHAT PIANO. LET'S SAY YOU HAVE A PLAIN STRAIGHT LINED PLAYER PIANO WITH A GOOD BRAND NAME, "STANDARD" SYSTEM. THIS IS A TYPICAL PLAYER PIANO THAT MANY IN THE BUSINESS WILL SAY ISNT WORTH MUCH ANYMORE. HOWEVER, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO SUCH A PIANO IS INSTALL NEW KEY TOPS, PAINT IT WHITE OR TWO TONE AND INSTALL STAINED GLASS AND YOU HAVE JUST TRANSFORMED THE VALUE OF THE PIANO, CLOSE TO AS IF IT IS AN ARTCASE PLAYER PIANO. DON'T THINK SO ? CHECK THE RESTORATION PHOTOS OVER THE YEARS AND WATCH WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU PAINT A PLAIN PLAYER PIANO WHITE OR TWO TONE AND INSTALL STAINED GLASS AND YOU TELL ME.
ANOTHER PROBLEM THAT WE SEE WITH VALUE IS HOW OFTEN THE TERM "PROFESSIONALLY RESTORED" IS THROWN AROUND. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN ? YOU SEE IT EVEN SAID WITH PLAYER GRANDS WITH ORIGINAL STRINGS... HUH ?! WHAT ABOUT THE NICKEL AND BRASS WORK TOO THAT WASN'T DONE ? NOW, THE NEW PLAYER PIANO STARTS TO LOOK AND SOUND BETTER AND THE OLD ONE IS LOOKING AND PERFORMING OLD WITH REDUCED VALUE. OH, THE OLD PLAYER PIANO. IT ISNT WORTH MUCH ANYMORE. ITS THE PIANOS FAULT. IT ISN'T FAIR.
This said, with exception to antique player grands that have beautiful casework, or esteemed Steinways, Chickerings, etc., and to those favorable Duo-Art player grands that have the roll up top and the tube lines on the side rather than through the keybed which necessitates removal of all the lines if you have to remove the piano action...we do not recommend player grand restoration as an antique player piano. We recommend the new player piano system installed into it. However, it is up to you.
The beautiful mechanism is not seen as is the case with the uprights. You cant pump them or install the honky tonk. The player mechanism ability is antiquated in relation to a new player grand ( we can install the qrs pianomation system if the old system is removed . However, many four hand rolls were not transferred to to the new player piano system. This is where the old one remains better). Expression rolls are limited to the old songs. Pianists aren't interested since they don't want the mechanism covering the soundboard. A problem which does not exist with the upright player pianos. Yes its in front in the uprights. However, its smaller, not as close and does not cover or muffle the soundboard like the grand does. In my opinion , though, this muffling is exaggerated and insignificant. The real problem here is player grands had material covers with snaps on the sides to cover the bottom of the grand. This is what the problem is. Simply remove the material cover and you most likely wont hear a difference. Now, with the uprights, you have the bottom board covering the bellows. This can be removed with beauty in the level 3 restoration. In addition, since the bottom board has a sliding door for the pedals and the beautiful pedals are virtually never folded back inside, the front is sufficiently open for virtually all sound to resonate without hindrance.
Important of note is if the player mechanism is removed on ampico drawer style grands, the grand player piano still looks the same and we can install a QRS pianomation player piano system into it for far less than what it would cost to restore the player mechanism with better player results ( with exception to the many rolls though with the four hand accompaniment and slightly better piano sound for those that think a player mechanism in a grand player piano muffles the sound. )