If there is only one piece of advice we can give you, it is this:
Have a technician inspect a used piano before you decide to purchase it!
You wouldn't buy a used car without having a mechanic look under the hood, would you?
Pianos age the way houses or people do. When they are 80, 90 or 100 years old they always need a great
deal of work, the cost of which will exceed the price of many new or newer entry level pianos: if a piano is
going to be enjoyed inexpensively, then a newer instrument is a better candidate.
Most people buying old pianos focus primarily on the sound, forgetting all about the complex mechanical
system controlled by the eighty-eight keys. This mechanism wears out and replacement components are
expensive. The older the piano, the more probable it is that the machine is very worn, resulting in "touch"
that is noisy and very inconsistent.
Any piano buying decision is a blend of three components: a good long-term musical instrument, a piece of
furniture you like or can accept, and an amount of money you are comfortable with spending. You may give
up some of one component to get more of another, but remember a piano is something you must live with
for a long time; it is important to be comfortable with it musically, financially, and cosmetically.
Most people pay too much for old pianos; the as-is value of old pianos is actually quite low. Unfortunately
however, a naive buyer may see new pianos for $4,000 and think an old piano for $800 is a bargain. In
reality they will probably pay $600 too much, particularly if it requires thousands of dollars worth of work.
Do not think that pianos age like violins and guitars. Unlike violins and guitars, the strings in a piano create
literally tons of stress which takes its toll on soundboards, bridges, and pin-blocks, aging a piano far more
quickly than other strung instruments. Moreover, there is nothing between your fingers and the strings of a
violin or guitar, but when you play a piano, you express yourself through a very complicated machine which
like any machine wears out as it is used.
Many parents think any old piano will do for their children starting out. If these parents knew as much about
pianos as they do bicycles they would realize that their children were about to go on a bike with flat tires, a
bent frame, and twisted wheels.
If you find an older piano, which is in fact in good condition for its age, bear in mind that even if you have
been very lucky and found an instrument in excellent condition, it would cost at least $400-$700 to put it in a
similar condition to one you'll find at a reputable dealer or a piano technician's collection. Unfortunately
most older pianos require far more expensive repair.
If a piano passes a common sense test - i.e: the price is right and it does not seem to have been abused -
then you might leave a deposit subject to approval by a technician.
Many advertisements in the paper which appear to be private people selling pianos are really dealers, and
they are usually selling dubious pianos with inadequate work performed. Remember they've already
deceived you once with a misleading ad. Some ads are from technicians who independently rebuild or
refurbish pianos at their own private workshop. Since they don't have the pressures of operating costs and
overhead like a retail store does, their prices can be very competitive compared to dealers. The amount of
actual "rebuilding" and replacement with new parts, however, can vary considerably from one technician to
another, or one piano to another. Once again, if you like the piano's look, sound and feel, bring a technician
to inspect its structural and mechanical condition before you decide to buy it.
If you fall in love with the cabinet charm and craftsmanship of an older piano, then it is something like falling
in love with a beautiful turn-of-the-century home. The cost of restoration is certainly worthwhile, but it will
make the home (piano) far more expensive then most new or newer homes (pianos). It is true that many old
pianos were wonderfully made, and happily their technology has not evolved in a hundred years, so
components are still readily available, and in the hands of a rebuilder an old piano can be made new again.
|© 2000-2021 Concert Pitch Piano Services. All rights reserved.
|The Piano Book, by Larry Fine, is the standard consumer "bible"
in North America and the only book of its kind.
- Exceptionally candid brand-by-brand reviews of new and recently-manufactured pianos
- Sales gimmicks to watch out for--and the real differences in piano quality and features
- How to negotiate the best deal
- Tips on finding, inspecting, appraising, and buying a used piano
-Special section on buying an older Steinway or Mason & Hamlin
- Piano moving, storage, tuning, and servicing
- How pianos work ... more info/ buy this book
... Canadians click here
A piano is one of the largest consumer purchases most people will ever make. Yet when you shop for a
piano you're up against a vast variety of brands, models, styles, competing claims and strange terminology.
Finally, here is a book to guide you through the process with practical information on every aspect of buying
a new or used piano:
|CONCERT PITCH PIANO SERVICES