Things to consider before buying a used piano

21 Feb

I’ve always admired people who can play the piano.  It seems so difficult, but sounds so beautiful.  I can’t even remotely play the piano, and needless to say, I don’t know the first thing about buying one.

Lucky for you, I didn’t write this post.  Today’s sponsored post is written by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about did:

Buying a second-hand piano can be quite a task. Older pianos may have parts that can be problematic or may no longer be replaceable. Similarly, a bad pinblock could be the difference between a fine used pianoand a piece of junk. You might be willing to spend good money on a used Baldwin or Mason & Hamlin knowing a rebuild is still cheaper than buying a brand new one. Below are 10 things that you should consider when looking for a used or refurbished piano.

  1. History. If possible, learn as much as you can about the previous owners of the piano you are planning to buy. A piano is a long-lasting instrument. If it is well taken care of, it can last for decades. But buying a piano, or any musical instrument, is an investment that can be very personal for some. Keep this mind as you’re making your decision.
  1. Storage. Always check how the piano was handled. Was it kept in a basement, in a public storage facility, or in a back room? Pianos are very susceptible to climate changes and humidity, and those that have been exposed to fluctuating temperatures are prone to serious damage.
  1. Maintenance. How often was the piano serviced, and was it done in an authorized service center or by an experienced technician? Has the instrument been tuned at least twice every year to retain its sound quality? Will there be any out-of-pocket costs for special tuning or other maintenance? Repairs and tuning on any musical instrument should have been done only by trained professionals.
  1. Tuning. This could be considered part of maintenance, but in a lot of ways it’s completely different. An out-of-tune piano is a serious matter. Your piano needs to have been tuned regularly and properly. If the piano is constantly out of tune, it could be an internal issue or it may have outlived its life span. The only way to know for sure is to have a registered piano technician look at it before purchasing.
  1. Size. Larger pianos have better tone, as tone is directly related to the length of the strings and the size of the soundboard. The bigger they are, the better the tone. Keep this in mind if your space does not permit you to buy a large piano.
  1. Budget. Purchase the best piano your budget can buy! Pianos are long-term investments and their depreciation is minimal. If you’re buying it for a child, don’t assume it shouldn’t be high-quality. A well-maintained piano can last decades. Let your child learn and grow with an instrument that produce good sound, while teaching him or her proper care and maintenance.
  1. Stability. Has the piano been moved a lot? This lets you know how much stress the unit has experienced. Check for wobbly legs, which are a clear indicator. Also look for dents and scratches, which could mean the piano was squeezed through a tight space.
  1. Guarantees. Ideally, the piano will come with a warranty. If you’re lucky, there could be moving costs included, a complimentary tuning and other amenities. Don’t hesitate to ask, especially if you see problems with the instrument to begin with.
  1. Décor. It’s not just an instrument; it’s also a sophisticated piece of furniture. If you have an idea of where it will end up in the home, try to find a model that complements the surroundings. Cabinet and finish styles should be selected in that regard.
  1. Acoustic or digital This is, of course, a matter of personal choice. Purists will say only an acoustic is warranted for true musicianship. However, digital pianos not only produce excellent music, but they can also be fun to play and offer a lot of extra features.

Most importantly, only use a trusted vendor. A good way to do this is finding referrals from musicians, music teachers, and registered piano technician. While the majority of sellers are honest and wish to sell their customers a quality product, some may not be so honest or even knowledgeable.

Purchasing a used piano is a major investment. There are many brands from a dozen countries you can pick from, and thousands of styles and finishes. Companies that went out of business decades ago still have their products in the market, and that’s because a good piano is made to last! With a little preparation and research, you can find a great used piano for your budget.

Amanda Williams is a staff member and blogger for TakeLessons. Since 2006, TakeLessons has helped thousands of students discover their passion through music, by matching them with the top local music teachers across the nation.  These certified music instructors specialize in teaching guitar, piano, singing and more.

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5 Responses to “Things to consider before buying a used piano”

  1. Samantha@TimeForMom-Me February 22, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    I’d really always wanted to buy a piano.. I love music but I just really don’t know how to play it! But thanks anyway, you just shared a very useful information about pianos! Kudos to you!

  2. writermomangela February 22, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    I used to play piano as a kid and it’s one of my greatest regrets that I quit. I wish I could still play!

    • Mommy Adventures February 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      I used to play the flute, and I’ve always regretted giving that up :( I guess the music always stays with you.

      • writermomangela February 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

        I think it does. Too bad we didn’t appreciate it in our hasty youth!

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