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What do I need to know when buying a used piano?
Source: Singapore Piano Shop
If You Don't Know Used Pianos, Know Your Piano Dealer!
Buying a used piano can be a very good decision. or a very bad decision.
A good used piano will be less expensive than a new one of similar quality. If it is in good condition and properly maintained, used pianos can give years of service.
Unfortunately, most used instruments are many years old, and frequently have had little regular maintenance and tuning during their lifetime. Therefore, if buying from a private party out of a home, it is wise for your own protection to engage the services of a good tuner/technician to personally inspect and evaluate the piano's condition.
If the piano needs anything more than a tuning and minor adjustments, you probably should keep on looking. Major repairs and rebuilding are extremely expensive.
Another option is a completely rebuilt or reconditioned piano – which carries a warranty – from a reputable dealer’s piano shop. If you can find a piano you like in your price range, you can likely be assured of satisfaction. At Schmitt’s and Wells, our piano shops are modern, fully equipped, and staffed by master technicians and rebuilders, who regularly perform everything from reconditioning, rebuilding and restoration, to complete refinishing of pianos of all ages and types.
Buying a used piano privately can be a dangerous and costly decision. What appears to be a rare bargain may prove to be a real liability.
Here are just a few of the many danger areas encountered when a non-expert piano buyer buys a piano privately:
1. Plate – May be cracked or broken which cripples the piano musically and renders it useless.
2. Strings – Bass strings may be “tired and tubby,” totally devoid of tone.
3. Sound Board – May be badly cracked, or worse yet, may have lost crown to become tonally deficient.
4. Ribs – May be broken or pulled away from soundboard.
5. Bridges – May have lost proper bearing, be broken, split or cracked, necessitating a major expense.
6. 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.
7. Pin Block (wrest plank) – May be split and is very costly to repair. Since this is concealed, experienced judgement is required.
8. Actions – May be literally worn out rendering the piano useless. If rebushing is required, this is very costly. A complete regulation requires much time of an expert and is expensive if properly done.
9. Hammers – May be worn out or improperly filed so as to require replacement – another costly repair.
10. Trap Work – The internal leverage controls of the expression pedals may need complete overhauling.
11. Refinishing – Many people learn to their dismay that refinishing a piano is not a home do-it-yourself project; that it requires much hard work and know-how best left to a skilled craftsman. Good refinishing work is expensive.
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