Buying a Used Grand Piano
Quality pre-owned pianos can vary widely in price and if you are not a professional musician it can be overwhelming to give every piano a sufficient once-over. In general, pianos, grand pianos, and baby grand pianos all have similar features to pay attention to when looking at a used piano for sale.
No matter where the piano is coming from or going to, there are common features which possible buyers should have in mind when looking at a used piano for sale.
Used Piano Shopping Tips
To begin with, look for a style of piano which will satisfy your aesthetic needs. Does it compliment the space which is designated to house the piano? Be sure to pick a spot next to an inner wall and away from vents, sunlight, and windows.
Don’t make the mistake of letting it dry out or fade in the light. If a piano moving service is doing the lifting for you, be sure to know where you want the piano to sit and if it is a good spot which will be an adequate home for the piano for years to come.
When looking at a used piano, you will want to determine whether the unit needs any substantial refurbishing. This has the possibility of costing a few thousand dollars, which might be close to—or over—what you would spend for the piano itself. This consideration is important in discerning the cost benefit of buying a used piano for sale versus a brand new piano. The cost might end up being similar.
Look at the piano’s cabinets to be sure there are not any broken parts or missing hardware. Moisture damage can cause swelling of the wood paneling. Do not buy a used piano without the matching piano bench. These always go together. Without a significant explanation and discount, do not buy a piano without its bench.
● Piano Tuning and Pin-Block
When looking for a used piano for sale, it is a good idea for you to carry a tuning fork. Unless you are getting a great discount on a piano—and I mean a fantastic discount—you will not want to buy a piano for sale which is not already tuned with that perfect piano sound.
The pitch of a piano should resonate around A440hz, hence the need for a tuning fork. Ask the used piano seller if the instrument has been kept in tune throughout its life.
If you are looking to invest a substantial sum of funds on a baby grand piano, mini grand, or full grand piano, bring a piano technician with you to check specific attributes of the unit. A technician will check how tight the tuning pins are and where the loose pin blocks are—if any.
Loose pin blocks are a major problem in a used grand piano and constitute a restringing of the instrument. This will cost around $2000 as a base price. To request a professional piano technician to assist you in your used piano shopping, consult an expert piano service in your area. Ask them about pin-block replacements and cost versus quality of the base unit.
Tuning pins should be uniform, which can vary in used pianos for sale, seeing as previous replacements may have already been made. The tuning coils and the pin-block should have ⅛ inch clearance on the top side of the plate.
Pins can be tightened by using a chemical on the pin-block, which should be avoided. The tuning pins will show residue of a dark brown, thick, sticky substance if this has been applied. Look at the underside of the fallboard, pin-block, and cabinets for signs of cracking or other damage.
● Piano Strings
Pianos should be tuned every year. If they are not tuned on a regular basis, piano strings have the tendency to degrade and rust. This is especially true if the piano has been kept in an insufficient environment. Strings with light rust are not the end of the world, however, heavy rust is unacceptable.
Strings with heavy rust will have a tendency to break easily no matter the care you put into them. A tuning fork or ETD (electronic tuning device) is useful when treating rusted strings. The pitch should always be at A440hz.
Play the bass keys of the used piano to be sure the instrument is producing clear, rich, and resonant lower octaves. A common pitfall in used pianos is to assume the lower register is as clear as the top register. Often, the lower register can produce twangy and bitter tones instead of warm smooth tones.
Other Important Info
Whatever your price range be sure to inquire as to the quality of the pre-owned piano’s previous history. Quality grand pianos and upright pianos will have maintenance records, which you can ask to see, along with the names and contact information regarding previous owners and technicians.
Ask about the pianos living environment for the bulk of its life, if it was outdoors for any amount of time, or in a moist environment. Also, pianos can suffer instrumental damage when moved. Ask about the history of its relocation and how many times it has been moved in the pianos life. When you are ready to purchase a used piano, contact a piano moving company who specializes in the care required to maintain the integrity of your instrument.
Despite all of the information given to you by the seller, be sure to get the piano’s serial number. The unique serial number will allow you to verify the information given to you regarding age, wear, and ownership. With the help of a professional piano technician, decide whether the information gained on the state of the used piano is cost effective regarding refurbishment and repairs.
Like wine, not all pianos are created equal. Some age better than others. Be sure to ask your piano technician to observe the bridges, soundboard, ribs, keys, hammers, dampers, regulators, pedals, and the overall structural integrity of the piano. Once the decision is made, enjoy it. If you are ready to play the piano, trust in the advice of your piano technician and begin your used piano shopping at a trusted piano vendor who does their own repair.