Pianos are to be cherished and enjoyed. Pianos give a family home a musical focus and a source of great pleasure. What can possibly go wrong?
When a tuner or technician, reporting on a much loved family heirloom gets to 'bottom line' as it were, sadly, too often there is not a lot of good news.
Piano owners hope that an old piano can be made good for as little as £50. If only this were possible! Frequently asked questions about the potential of a given piano, will quite understandably, raise the issue of cost.
One piano was described as having been attacked by moth! "How much to fix this?"
Another has a number of notes that stick - making the piano virtually unplayable! "How much to fix this?"
"My piano has a number of broken strings! How much to fix these?"
The grim reality with all these problems is that none of them are properly sorted without spending a considerable amount of money. It is not easy to communicate that a piano is beyond viable hope.
Spending large amounts of money is advisable only on what is already a good quality, named piano. Even then, the money spent will be more than the eventual value of the refurbished piano. If the piano has a particular family history - precious memories of loved ones no longer present - then the cost becomes irrelevant and the project becomes one of preserving a cherished item of a family's history. This is priceless!
The development of the piano was largely complete by 1900. Since then, focus of further development has been more on materials and methods of construction.
The use of plastic in the action and keys became quite widespread in the UK during the 1970s. These pianos cannot be described as being old but have serious problems. It is very difficult for the owners of these very poor pianos to understand why their beautiful little 'modern' piano should be written off so glibly, or given a value so low that they have to give it away. Alas, these pianos are simply beyond sensible repair.
Thankfully, the better quality pianos of this period stuck to more traditional materials and consequently they still offer the piano owner great service and very good value for money. Repairs if they are needed, might seem expensive but should rejuvenate all the fine pianistic ideals of the piano maker's original creative flair.
The piano world is a confusing and unforgiving place. Buyer, beware! Before being persuaded to part with lots of money for a purchase or a repair, try to get quality, informed and impartial help.
The Piano World
© Steve Burden