The piano is a very popular instrument and many new musicians are unable to afford brand new pianos. In order to learn, practice is required so it’s essential to have a piano in the home. Many announcements can be found both on the Internet and in local newspapers, so how do you know which piano to buy and whether it’s any good?
There are many tips that will help you understand better the history of that particular piano and how well cared for it was. For example, finding out about how often it has been tuned helps. Some pianos hold their tune well, but anyone who cares about their piano will have it tuned on a twice yearly basis. Another good tip is to find out why it’s for sale. The owner will tell you a little more about the history of the piano. If no one plays it and it is merely being sold to give the seller more space, then the likelihood is that there has been no upkeep or tuning done. However, this may not always be the case. An owner who is proud of the investment they made for a child who has now grown up will often keen the piano in tune for when the child visits. Talking allows you to find out more and all of this helps you to strike a bargain.
Find out how old the piano is by finding the serial number. This is often inside the tool casing and this is a great clue. If you know the serial number and the maker’s name, then you can send this information to experts who will date it for you. If it’s really old and neglected and smells musty, avoid it like the plague because it has been exposed to damp conditions which will have invariably damaged the piano.
When a piano is placed in a damp home or in a bad placement, often the wood of the case is damaged in some way. Veneers may be damaged which is a sign of dampness. The color of the wood may be patchy and that usually means the piano was placed in an area which had too much sunlight.
One of the obvious things to look for is dead keys. Open up the keyboard and look for worn out keys or keys that make no sound. When you are learning piano, there is nothing more discouraging than having keys that don’t make the sound they are expected to.
The Blue Book of pianos gives a lot of technical information on the workings of the piano which are worthwhile reading but if you are not technically astute, try to take someone with you who is.
Having owned three pianos, one of the most vital things to look for is the tone of the piano because if that’s not pleasing to the ear, it would be better to look for alternatives. In a shop environment, if you test new pianos, each has a different tone and perhaps there is a preference you have based on the kind of music you want to learn. There is a vast difference between honkytonk and classical tones.
Now for the bottom line: When trying to buy a used piano, you want the best value that you can get. You will have a budget as everyone does and getting a piano within that budget can be hard. If you are a smart spender, then you will look at all markets for second hand pianos.
Look at local newspapers for adverts. Ask local piano teachers if they know someone who may be moving on from an older instrument to a newer one. Shop around because within your district, there may just be opportunities waiting for you but be aware of the above criteria and make sure you have someone with you that plays the piano as they will know what to look out for and what to avoid.
If you are a savvy purchaser, you will look up the value of the piano before spending money. You can look to see whether similar pianos are for sale elsewhere and check on the price being asked. This puts you in a better bargaining situation as the owner of the piano will no doubt be aware of that value. Another thing that is interesting is that often people are looking to get rid of pianos because they need the space. If this is the case, then don’t be afraid to bargain with the owner since they will probably be happy to part with the piano at a drop down price rather than wait a long time for another potential buyer.