How to Avoid the Most Common Pitfalls when Buying A Used Grand Piano

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Shopping for a grand piano is daunting, and shopping for a used grand piano can be riddled with hidden complications. While our showroom is stocked with many beautiful and well cared for used grand pianos for sale, we realize not everyone has the opportunity to come in, and so we offer this list of common mistakes that get made in the used piano market. Truly, while expert knowledge is a boon while shopping for any piano, it is nearly a necessity when shopping for used grand pianos. While our customers can shop with confidence while looking through our stock on our show floor or while browsing our huge warehouse, we invite you to read the following:

The Most Common Mistakes and Pitfalls when buying a used piano and how we can help you avoid them.

1) Don’t under-commit with quality of lessons or quality of piano.

You or your progeny are excited to learn, that’s beautiful, the piano is truly an enriching pursuit. But getting your kid a month’s worth of lessons from the cheapest provider in town after buying a wonderful used piano is a recipe for disaster, or for an over expensive coffee table.Likewise, going with a passionate and thorough piano teacher and getting a non-weighted keyboard instrument, like an electric keyboard, will lead to an utter lack of practice and home use. If you’re serious about the passion that is the piano then consider setting yourself up for success with good lessons and a piano that you won’t rue playing.

2) Inspect the pedals.

Often overlooked because of their misleading simplicity, the piano pedals are wildly important to the proper sound of a piano. If the sustain pedal isn’t working properly there is no way you can play even the simplest of arrangements. While the existence of a sostenuto pedal is usually indicative of superior quality, frequently depressing the pedal does not activate a sostenuto within the piano. Gently press each of the pedals present to assess their functionality and how they affect the quality of the sound. Simple no? In machines as complex and nuanced as pianos it is often the simple things that go overlooked.

3) Not hiring professional movers.

We’ve discussed this a lot on our website – read more here – but it is honestly the biggest and most common mistake. You’ve found a beautiful used grand piano for sale, in perfect condition, just been voiced and tuned, and it fits your budget perfectly – but how to get it home? Oh, your brother-in-law has a truck, and the pair of you are going to load and unload it together, and take it up your steps. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this but improperly moving a piano can put huge torque on the soundboard or the rim and lead to warping or cracking, not to mention how large and unwieldily they are. What a great way to capitalize on your life enriching investment – by dropping it down the stairs, or scratching the veneer, or putting a hole in your wall. You get the idea, just hire professional movers, or you’ll be paying them to come grab and throw your piano away for you.

4) Not asking your spouse.

Just get permission before bringing a huge grand piano into the house. Trust us.

5) Don’t buy the first piano you come across.

Shop a little. While this is easy for those that come into our store room due to our huge selection of used grand pianos for sale, if you don’t have that opportunity, don’t let your impulses get the better of you. There are many grand pianos on the used market and most of them are, frankly, not worth the cost to throw away. Be it due to poor maintenance or storage, or broken vital parts, shopping with your heart has no place here. It may be beautiful, it may sound great now, but do your due diligence. A good piano should last you generations when cared for properly. Consult a qualified piano technician, get them to properly assess the innards on your behalf. A little expense now can save huge heartache later, and is well worth it. Every piano on our floor has had a thorough inspection and where necessary, rebuild, in order to bring it up to our standards of excellence, but we can not make the same claim for craigslist, or yard sales, or an estate sale. If you do have the opportunity to come to our showroom and visit our large selection, still don’t buy the first piano, shop with confidence and look for the piano that fits your needs exactly.

6) Mind the exterior – and not just the aesthetics.

Preform a thorough sweep of the exterior of the piano before you check out the innards. Are the hinges in place? There are too many horror stories of folk looking to buy a used grand piano and trying to open the piano to check out the sound board or the pin-block only to have one of the hinges break the rotting frame into which they are anchored. Now you’re responsible for a broken used grand piano. Not the smart purchase you were hoping for, is it? How is the finish on the piano? Are there any chips, cracks or streaks in the veneer? Does all the veneer match? A piano technician will assist here greatly, but a thorough once over can alert you to any huge red flags.

7) Play the piano, really play it.

Does it sound in tune? Is there a great deal of inharmonicity? Listen closely for rattles in the bass, tinny high-notes. While shopping our huge selection of used grand pianos for sale we invite you to put them through the paces – all of our pianos will be in tune and sing you wonderful songs, but if a seller is hesitate to let you strike the keys then that should be an enormous red flag.

8) Inspect the strings and the pin-block.

Are the strings rusty or tarnished? A little weathering is fine but strings that have been ill cared for will fall out of tune much more quickly. How about the pin-block? Are the tuning pins firmly in place? If you buy a piano that is lacking in these two areas then you’ve just bought yourself a $3000 expense due to the inevitable need to restring the piano, and fit larger tuning pins into the loose pin-block, or even more costly if you have to replace the pin-block all together. If strings look very weathered, then attempting to tune them will likely break them. This is another area where bringing a piano technician with you to inspect the piano is worthwhile. Or just come visit our showroom where we’ve done all the inspections for you. We’re confident our selection of used grand pianos for sale will delight even the most discerning of tastes.

9) Play Every Key.

This is different than testing the voice and sound of the piano, like above. This is more about inspecting the action on each individual key, feeling for sticky or unresponsive keys and the clarity of each note. Listen carefully for buzzes and/or unwelcome noises as that is largely indicative of a cracked soundboard or an improperly strung piano. A pluck test is a great litmus for soundboard health.

10) Thoroughly inspect the interior.

Is the bridge felt all present? Are the ribs cracked? If they are are they properly glued? Does the soundboard still have its crown, the slight curvature. Worst of all are there any stray pieces inside the piano, not connected to where the ought to be? Much like a screw left over from simple car engine work, parts left over from piano maintenance is a great sign of improperly done maintenance. This is probably the best reason to pay a piano technician to visit the piano with you, unless you have knowledge of all the intricate working parts of a piano then there are a million little things you could overlook. You can read more about what goes into the anatomy of a grand piano HERE.

There you have it. While shopping with us is something you can do with confidence if you are unable to visit our showroom we implore you to take these simple steps into account. If you have any questions or need any of the myriad services we provide, merely give us a call at (770) 717 8047 and one of our experts will be happy to guide you. If you want to take a stroll through our showroom and experience a wide variety of used grand pianos for sale the just give us a call and make an appointment, we couldn’t be more excited to give you a hand!

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