BUYING A USED PIANO How old is the piano - How much is it - What condition is it in - When was it tuned last - How often was it tuned. . You should be aware the details that make up a good piano. By knowing what to look for, you will be able to determine the best value. Click on: Construction Introduction
Passing those initial tests:
- Find the serial number, we will tell you how old the piano is without charge. On a vertical piano, the serial number should be somewhere on the plate above the tuning pins, or in the back of the piano. On a grand, right on top near the tuning pins. Once you have found it simply look up the serial number under the name brand shown on the plate or the key cover. This number will give you the date the piano was manufactured
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- The first thing to do when looking at an old piano is to check the condition of the finish on the case. If the finish is to badly checked, the piano may have been standing near a window, and the mechanical parts may have been affected unfavorably. Pass on it!
- Open the lid on the piano and look at the condition of the hammers, see if they are worn or have been reshaped. Check to see that they are all there, and that they all work, look to see if there are deep creases in the hammers or show any signs of moth or mouse damage. Pass on it!
- If the piano has a "musty" smell - pass on it right away - this could be a sign of mold - which is not only unpleasant, but it can be a danger to your health. Pass on it!
- Open the piano completely, including the bottom board, it is usually just snapped into place by two metal clips. Examine the instrument for insects, mouse droppings, small piles of sawdust - if any of these things are present - pass on it, the piano may have termites. Pass on it!
- Check to see if hammers strike all of the strings of all notes. If not, Pass on it.
- Inspect the strings for even spacing (not touching another string) and proper alignment with the dampers. Bass strings may be “tired and tubby,” totally devoid of tone. [If so, Pass on it.]
- Remove bottom board, inspect the bottom for mouse droppings, nests, or termites. [If so, Pass on it.]
- While you are there look at the pedal mechanism to see if everything appears to be in order.
- Look at the inside of the back wall, the flat surface, that's the soundboard, inspect for large cracks, small ones are not desired but they are not serious. May be badly cracked, or worse yet, may have lost crown to become tonally deficient. [If so, Pass on it.]
- Look everywhere for signs of rust, or moisture this will show up on the strings or other metal parts. Tuning pins may be loose, may have been previously “doped,” may require oversized pins, may require new pin block. Avoid any piano with pins showing evidence of having been pounded.
- Play each note once again, listen for unwanted vibrations or rattles, listen to the tone, once again is it "tired and/or tubby" devoid of musical tone.
- Inspect the metal plate from top to bottom for any signs of cracks, could become serious. The ribs May be broken or pulled away from soundboard. [If so, Pass on it.]
- Inspect the design of the case, does it have a nicely designed case that by current standards will be called good looking or correct and does it possess a "timeless" appearance, and will it "fit" according to design in any small room.
- Is the tonal output powerful enough, at least impressive enough that you should expect from a "classic" piano, but capable, nevertheless, of filling a room no larger than 15 square feet or of a volume not more than say, 2500 cubic ft.
- Is the tonal output reasonably mellow (very bright indicates hardened hammers from age or dry climatic conditions), is the tone even and with a fair singing quality May be worn out or improperly filed so as to require replacement – another costly repair. [If so, Pass on it.]
- Is the action satisfactory, that is, does it give a fairly elastic response to your touch. May be literally worn out rendering the piano useless. If re bushing is required, this is very costly. A complete regulation requires much time of an expert and is expensive if properly done. [If so, Pass on it.]
- Beware of any signs of rust or mold - almost anything else can be repaired - but not rust or mold. cracked or broken plates cripple the piano musically and renders it useless. [If so, Pass on it.]
Within the production of any piano make and model, there are production variations in quality. Although the variations are not necessarily so great in one as in another, a meaningful comparison test among brands must take these variations into account in some standardized manner. Some manufactures signify the difference in 'price point' pianos with different model numbers Yamaha makes the same quality of musical instrument with different cabinetry while Baldwin uses different brand names example: Howard, Hamilton, Acrosonic, Ellington, Monarch and so on.
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