AND SELLING USED PIANOS
Have it looked at by a piano technician
As either a buyer or seller, if you use no other tip on this sheet,
remember this: have the piano inspected by a piano technician before the
money changes hands, it is not necessary for all the pianos you look at,
but the one or two you are most interested in. Through no fault of the
buyer or seller, many people each year throw away their hard earned
money on pianos that would be better used as fire wood. This is not an
attempt by the seller to defraud the buyer, but caused by the seller
being as unknowledgeable as the buyer. It would be better to pay the
small fee a piano technician will charge you to look at the piano than
to end up with a piano that is not worth the repair charges.
What should I look for ?
In your search for a piano, you are unlikely to come across instruments
made before 1880, if you do, walk away. There are two types of pianos
made before 1880 that you need to be warned about. One of them is the
square grand, a rectangular grand piano with four legs. The other is an
upright with an over damper system that has been nicknamed the bird cage
piano. Look inside by the hammers for wires running above the hammers to
the dampers (it will look like a bird cage). Walk away from these two
types of piano. Generally look for a piano made after 1900. Our company
and many other technicians and dealers can tell you when the piano was
manufactured from a book called the Pierce Piano Atlas using the make
and serial number. The serial number is stamped on the piano somewhere
and is at least four digits and could consist of many more. Call us or
email us at
CustomerService@APianoTuner.com and we will be glad to look up the
piano in our atlas for you.
You will need the serial number of the
piano to determine age
Is A Piano's Serial #?).
How to find a used piano ?
The best place to start your search is by investigating
ads in the local newspapers to get an idea of the going
price for pianos at the current time. Secondly visit new
and used piano dealers. The one thing that all piano
dealers have plenty of, and it's free, is information.
Their prices must be higher than an individual for
obvious reasons, but not always the worst value as most
dealers are knowledgeable of the condition of their
pianos. You may also get a feel for what you might get
when you trade-up a used piano for a new one at a later
time. Be sure that the technician you have look at a
piano at a dealer is not in any way connected with, and
owes no favors to , the dealer. Here are some other
options: Contact piano technicians and rebuilding shops,
Answer ads or notices offering pianos for sale, Hunting
up a piano by placing an ad yourself or by contacting
places that might have pianos they want to get rid of,
Check with piano movers, Buying a piano from a friend or
relative or accepting one as a gift. You can probably
think of other ways but this will get you started.
Checking out the piano.
Types of pianos:
Grands - 4 to 9 feet long.
from floor to the top:
36” or so – Probably a Spinet piano.
42”-44” – Console
44”-49” Studio Upright
over 49” – full
Note: The difference between a spinet and a
console is that the spinet has a “drop action”.
When you open
the top and look inside the piano,
if the hammers (felts that
strike the string when
you depress the key) are on the same
lower than the keys themselves, it is a spinet. If
the Hammers are 4 – 6 inches above the level of
the keys it is
probably a console.
Please be aware that "drop action"
pianos are generally more expensive to repair as the action is
much harder to remove for repairs requiring action removal.
Rule of thumb:
The taller the piano (or longer in the case
of grand pianos), the longer the strings, the larger the
soundboard, the bigger and better the sound.
Look at the outside of the piano. Imagine it in your home. Could
you live with it? If not, move on. If you continue, check for
loose veneer and other signs of water damage along the bottom edge
of verticals. Play the piano a bit to see if you like the way the
piano feels, and make a mental or written note about anything you
think needs looking into. Key sticking or keys that won't work, usually fall into the
inexpensive repair category (under $150). Rattles can be as little as a
child's toy inside the piano or as serious as a cracked plate. If the
piano does rattle, ask the owner to remove anything that's on the piano.
If the rattle stops, that was the problem. A piano that is grossly out
of tune could have slipping tuning pins or it may be some other problem
much more serious. If the key tops are not all level, the keys may need
regulated. Key regulation falls into the moderate repair category ($150
to $300). Inspecting the inside of the piano is beyond the scope of this
tip sheet. Yes there are items inside you could check and if you would
like to know more about this you can call us or other dealers and
technicians, however, if at this point you are impressed with the piano,
then it might be time to have a technician look at the piano for you. A word about
cracked soundboards, while unattractive, cracks are not
necessarily important if the tone seems good. Heavy
soundboard cracking might indicate that the piano has
been subjected to extreme climate and humidity changes.
Try this book for much more info.
A 70 page paperback that lets the buyer be aware of the pros and
cons in the used piano market. Well illustrated, this concise text
could prevent the piano buyer from potential disappointment.
$19.99 +$2.00 s&h
Selling your piano?
Most of the information about buying a
piano applies when selling one. Our "How Much Is It
Worth" sheet should accompany this tip sheet, if not
call us and we will be glad to send it to you, it will
give you a general idea what the value of your piano is.
For the seller there is one more piece of advice: tune
your piano before you advertise it. You are probably
thinking that you will save the money of tuning since the
buyer will need to have it tuned after moving it. But
most buyers know so little about pianos that when they
play them and find that the piano is out of tune or has
some keys that stick or don't work quite right, they have
no way of knowing if the problem is major or minor, or
how the piano might sound after tuning. Buyers frequently
reject perfectly good pianos because of relatively
insignificant problems. You will find that your piano
will sell faster and at a higher price by tuning and
making minor repairs prior to selling it, easily
recovering the cost.