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Monday, 28 May 2012

A Strange Fondness for Old Pianos

There is a strange fondness for old pianos among many who set out to buy an inexpensive piano for that corner spot in the front room. The thinking seems to assume that if it is old, whatever the maker's name on the front, it has to be a good piano. 

Old pianos do have a charm about them, their looks, proportions, the ivory keys (if present and in good condition) will give out a sense of nostalgia - and you might even hear a whisper in your ear saying, "This is how pianos were made in the golden age!" 

But 80 years on, many of the original qualities have drained away - slipped like sand through the hourglass of time. What remains is something in need of massive investment or replacement.

Of course, there are exceptions. It is remarkable when you come across a piano 100 years old or more, which has been miraculously preserved - perhaps because it has only ever been played by the tuner who calls every now and then. Examples of pianos with no wear and tear are extremely rare and, when met with, have the air of sad neglect or at least, the vibe of a life not lived. Likely to be valued more as a treasured family heirloom than a musical instrument.

Major rebuilding work on a piano is hugely expensive. Unless the piano is one of the very top makes, the repairs will cost far more than the piano will ever be worth. 

If you need a reliable piano - able to function properly and stand in tune, do not buy an older piano, even if it is pretty! Buying cheap - only to find you have to spend serious money to bring it into reasonable playing order is just an embarrassing waste of money!

Some technicians love older pianos but as a rule, I always think old pianos can never perform as well as a piano half its age. 

When buying a piano, try to get some advice and buy the youngest, most up-together piano you can find. Please do not be hoodwinked by the 'strange fondness for old pianos!'


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