Sunday, 6 May 2012

Buying a Used Piano

Buying a good used piano should not be difficult, so long as you do not get carried away with what a piano looks like or by the fact that it is cheap. It is very easy to pay a lot of money for a piano that is simply not worth buying. Pianos, when they are 80 years old or more will almost certainly need some repair work, so it is essential to consider the cost of any work before you agree to buy it. 

Piano repairs are extremely time-consuming and therefore expensive. You do not want to buy a piano and have it delivered only to find that it is beyond any viable repair. Pianos are for playing music - not for stressing you out! Keep the following points in mind when you are looking to buy a piano:
  • Never get sentimental over a piano.
  • Never buy a piano just because it looks nice.
  • Buy as young a piano as your budget allows.
  • If you can, get professional help.  
Any piano may be better than no piano but if you go to the trouble of looking for a useable piano, it helps if it actually works and is tuneable. These basics cannot be assumed if you are looking for the cheapest piano available. The pianist who has to play it, might play it once and never again if he feels it is too much of a challenge. 

Generally speaking, for most piano-owners, the average time between tunings is getting longer all the time: months turn into years and all that time the pitch will be gradually sinking. Claims that a piano for sale was tuned 6 months ago, though not meant to deceive, might be a little exaggerated. A vague "recently tuned" is probably more truthful, but could mean 2 or 3 years ago!

There can be any number of mechanical problems hidden from view, inside a pretty case. If notes do not repeat; play a couple of times and then stop working; if there are clicks and knocks every time you play a note; if the key sticks down when played... there are serious problems within! Walk away.

Of course, if you want to spend £50 and no more, then you will need a lot of luck. I hope you manage to find something, but you are very unlikely to get a reliable piano.

What makes should you look for? Don't even think of it! There were thousands of makers producing pianos that were nothing special when they were new. These are the sorts of piano that are now being sold very cheaply or even given away. To start looking for specific makers, you are at the very least, considering pianos a couple of price brackets up the scale.

You will save yourself much worry, pain and regret if you seek the advice of a trusted professional - at least to steer you away from a disastrous choice. Happy hunting!

The Piano World

© Steve Burden 

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