Why Should I Buy A Pre-Owned Piano?
There is incredible value in many pre-owned pianos. During the late 19th and 20th centuries, American built pianos were crafted using the finest woods, no longer available today and by craftsmen who immigrated from Europe who knew how to build only the finest instruments. A rebuilt vintage piano offers more value than most of today’s new pianos.
What type of piano should I buy?
That depends on a number of factors. A piano suitable for a home is not for a church or concert use. All pianos are not equal.
A home may be fine for a console or studio while a church or an auditorium may require a grand. All pianos are not created equal. A musician that plays daily for say 2 hours a day can wear out a cheaply built piano, in a short time while a quality built piano can last for decades. One’s level of musical ability is of great importance.
Many pianos may be fine for some people to “bang on” however the more refined the player the higher quality the piano needs to be. Some pianos that were “furniture” pianos (in other words, they were pretty on the outside but not so good on the inside) cannot keep pace with the precision needs of more advanced musicians. The manufacturer focused more on the aesthetics and very little on the musical performance.
Liberace was one of the world’s greatest pianists ever. But there are some pianos, no matter how hard he tried could not perform on. Don’t ever buy a piano from a home, garage sale, classified list or dealer without the guidance of a qualified technician. Don’t forget, we have our hands in all brands of pianos daily. We know which ones will give the best performance for your money and best suit your needs.
Some tips when looking at a used piano
Don’t buy a piano without the assistance of a piano tuner-technician. Without paying a technician to see 3-4 pianos, the following tips can help you narrow down the pianos to one that is of great potential for you prior to calling a piano technician. I always suggest to my callers to take pictures of the inside and outside, then email them to me.
I’ll help you isolate a good prospective piano (no cost for phone consultations). Once we find a good fit, then I can examine the piano for $65.00. Again, we eliminate the lemons and only look at what is a good piano.
Here are some tips to begin the piano search process
I would like to buy a piano but I cannot afford to have a piano technician go look at every piano I see.
How can you help me?
It is always best to have a piano technician examine the piano you are seriously considering. So, here’s a good way to approach your purchase of a used piano. First, play each note, from top to bottom.
Do the keys return rapidly?
They should not be sluggish, period. Do the notes cut off immediately when you release each key? If not the damper felt may be worn and need to be replaced.
Do the keys move side to side (when running your fingers side to side at the front part of the that is just above the front rail?)
Do you hear any notes that are way out of tune?
Open the lid: Look at the hammers. They are the felt parts that move to hit the strings when you press the keys. Do they have deep grooves from hitting the strings, are they flat on the striking surface? Do the hammers bounce side to side when you play the notes.
If so this can mean repairs of the hammers assembly. Is there any side to side movement of the hammers when playing? When the hammers are not filed and conditioned the string cuts on the hammers will cause them to wander side to side trying to mate with the strings. This causes the hammer assembly to wear prematurely, thus cause multiple problems and cost.
Do you hear any metallic buzzes when playing notes loudly?
This can be caused by several problems. Is there rust on any of the strings or tuning pins? Rust will affect tone and also can cause string breakage at pressure points. Does the tone become extremely weak in certain areas in the piano?
This can be a result of the bridges (long strips of wood with multiple pins where the strings cross, ultimately attaching on a hitch pin at the bottoms of the cast iron plate) separating from the soundboard. When this happens the tone can be weak where the separation occurs.
Are the hammers separating?
Are the felts of each hammers peeling away from the wood molding? If so a new set of hammers may be required. While the piano lid is open, when playing notes, do the hammers return quickly? If any are sluggish this can be a result of the key being sluggish due to worn bushing, or swollen from moisture. It may need treating by a technician or even repairs.
When pushing the right pedal (the sustain pedal) do the hammers rise upward? If so this can be the result of the action (the complex mechanism that puts the hammer in motion when the keys are depressed) have a separation in the action rail, or it may be simply that it’s not securely fastened. A separation can be a costly repair.
Ask the owner if the piano has been tuned regularly. If not the piano may be below pitch ( should be at A440). Pianos should be tuned at least yearly so if it has not been tuned for quite some time the piano may require pitch raising so it performs at A440. This is critical especially for those learning to play as ear training is part of the learning process.
Also if the piano is to play with other musical instruments you need to know that the piano can be tuned to standard A440 pitch.
How to locate the serial number
Serial numbers are usually located inside the piano, however occasionally a piano’s serial number may be located on the back of the piano.
You may find the serial number actually engraved on the back, or for some newer pianos, there may be a paper sticker or metal tag with the serial number engraved on the tag. Numbers that are on the inside will require lifting the lid. Look on the plate (the metal plate where the tuning pins are located) for either ink-stamped numbers, or you may see a cut-out window on the plate with a piece of wood inside where the number has been engraved.
The serial number on grand pianos can usually be found on the plate, just under the music desk.
It’s either in a cut-out window or ink-stamped on the plate. Sometimes you’ll see the number stamped on the long plate struts. Email the serial number and brand and I’ll determine the year of manufacture. At times a piano may have been refinished with no name on the fallboard. Hopefully the manufacturer’s name will be engraved on the plate. If not the piano is not in the better grade of instruments.
How are Grand Pianos Measured?
The measurements for grand pianos are made from the very edge of the lid at the tail (opposite end from the keyboard) to the very front of the piano, just below the keys. Grand pianos range in length from approximately 4′ 7″ to almost 10′.
How Often Should a Piano Be Tuned?
That depends on varying factors. Manufacturers suggest twice per year.
The strings over time will stretch, the humidity will affect the soundboard, making it contract and expand. It’s best to tune the piano no less than once per year. Some need more frequent tuning, such as a teacher’s instruments, practice rooms or church setting.
Do I have to tune my piano after it’s moved?
That depends. The actual move itself is NOT what makes a piano go out of tune.
I have was tuning at a college recently and right in the middle of my tuning, hey said they meant to move it to the other side of the stage. They thought I would have to start over since they were going to move it. This is a case where it needs to be tuned after moving it. Pianos are made to withstand over 20 tons of string tension and the moving of a piano really does not affect it. What does affect the tuning is the change in climate.
So, if you move the piano from room to room where the temperature and humidity is equal then the piano will require to tuning. Moving from one humidity and/or temperature to another is the culprit.
Someone Said My Piano Needs to Be Regulated,
What Does That Mean?
The action, the mechanism between the keys and the strings is quite complex and has many tiny parts that require adjustment from time to time. These adjustments are quite precise and must be set to prescribed specifications.
When, over time the parts’ leather, felt and springs wear the action no longer performs properly affecting dynamic control and touch. Many people think the piano is in disrepair when in fact regulation is a normal part of owning a piano. When the piano is regulated it’s like new.
Do I Need to Keep My Piano From an Outside Wall?
Older homes had drafts coming through the walls, many of today’s homes are energy efficient and have no draft at all. As long as the wall does not allow heat and cold air drafts it’s not a concern. However, if the sun tends to beam in the finish will become bleached and the intense heat will cause the soundboard and strings to react, affecting tuning.
It is suggested that windows have a treatment to reduce the additional harmful rays that can bleach the finish and to eliminate the heat level. It’s also suggested that you don’t place the piano over or adjacent to an air return.
What Type of Touch and Tone Should I Look For?
That’s a personal preference. Some teachers try to influence students on touch and tone however the touch and tone of a quality piano is personal.
What is right for one is not necessarily right for another. As long as the piano is not unreasonable heavy or light to the touch and the tone is not harsh or too muddy it’s up to the individual who’ll be playing the instrument.
Can’t I or My Child Just Start On a Digital Keyboard.
Yes, however the touch and tone are not even close.
One can learn the notes and begin a few beginning technical studies however most experts will tell you that one should move to an acoustic piano within 6 months after beginning piano lessons. . Also over time an acoustic piano will maintain or even appreciate in value where the digital depreciates. In fact some manufacturers won’t supply replacement parts after 10years.
Why is Piano Study Beneficial to My Child?
The complexities of the human brain is fascinating.
The study of piano has proven to enhance a child’s self confidence, stimulate the part of the brain where math and science computation takes place and helps them to develop much better concentration and coordination skills. Students who study piano have proven to make better grades than those who don’t.
Is Playing the Piano Beneficial to Adults?
Yes! For adults is relaxing.
It helps to maintain a healthy brain and now neurologists say it’s beneficial to help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. Plus it’s fun and many have reported it is a huge outlet for them. They enjoy making music and are having the time of their life and it’s cheaper than pills!
Why Buy a Rebuilt Piano
Because thousands of pianos exist from the 1800’s and the 1900’s that were made with premium woods, many of which are not available today or would be extremely costly.
And like a fine violin the woods of these pianos improved with age supporting better tonal qualities in later years. A quality built American piano in most cases will, when rebuilt present a better piano than many new ones built today. Also European craftsmen came to America, bringing with them a craft that was perfect. They took great pride in their work.