Pro’s and Con’s of Pre-Owned Pianos
First in a series of articles with helpful information on buying a piano
For most households the purchase of an acoustic piano represents one of the largest investments one will ever make for the home. Because of the variety of options available it is difficult and confusing to determine what is best for each individual buyer.
Some of the common questions are …
Should the piano be new or is a pre-owned piano okay?
Should I buy a digital or acoustic piano?
How much should I spend?
What are the best brands?
What brands hold their value the best?
What size piano?
What are the maintenance costs?
These are just a few examples of what needs to be considered prior to the purchase. The buyer first has to clarify the reason for the purchase.
Common reasons for purchasing …
A child has been taking lessons and has an ongoing interest in continuing to learn
It is a nice piece of furniture
Someone in the home plays wants to use it for their enjoyment or entertainment
It is a status symbol of success
This article is specifically about the benefits and considerations when buying a used, pre-owned or second-hand piano. We have prepared a number of articles to assist you in better understanding the world of available pianos and what to consider before purchasing. We hope this will help you in making your decision as you try to resolve the issues that are most on your mind in preparing to purchase your instrument.
COST IS THE BIGGEST BENEFIT
First and foremost, a pre-owned piano has already been subject to depreciation since it is no longer new. Saying that, some of the most prestigious piano makers – Steinway & Sons and Bosendorfer, for example – can actually appreciate over time … but these would be the most exclusive pianos with almost unlimited price tags. For the average buyer there is great value in well-maintained pre-owned pianos and pre-owned pianos are roughly half the cost of new pianos of the same make and model. This applies to top of the line and less expensive models from grand pianos to uprights.
CHECKIST OF CONSIDERATIONS
Each piano has a unique serial number. Locate the number and ask your dealer who can tell you when and where the piano was made as well as whether or not replacement parts are available.
Year of Manufacturing
It is rare to find a piano built before 1900 that is practical as a functioning instrument. Buyer beware! Pianos built during the war years may have suffered from cut corners in construction because of the short supply of quality parts.
Hammers and Strings
Each treble key should cause a hammer to hit three strings simultaneously. The bass should have two strings for each key and the low base just one string per key.
Check for rust on the tuning pins. This will affect how well the instrument holds its tuning.
Dampers and Keys
Play each key individually. On release, the damper should fall back on the strings and stop them from sounding. The keys should not stick.
Beware of pianos that are badly out of tune. Restoring them may be problematic.
Press down the right hand damper pedal. This should raise all the dampers at once. It should not stick. Press down the left hand soft pedal. It should not stick or rattle. On most grand pianos, this should move the keyboard sideways, so that each hammer strikes only two strings instead of three. On uprights, it will move the hammers closer to the strings so that the striking force is lessened.
Minor cracks in the soundboard will not affect tonal quality. A crack in the metal plate should be avoided unless meticulously repaired.
Grand Pianos vs. Uprights
Most grand pianos are often in better shape than uprights. They’re made better to start with and treated better in general.
Whose piano was it?
Was is a serious student? Church? School? Tavern? A little-used showpiece? Over-used teaching tool? You can tell a lot about a piano by knowing its history.
How does it sound and play?
Play it. Listen to it. In the end, nothing can compare to the connection you make with the instrument that responds best to your touch.
Every type of piano is represented in the pre-owned piano market. Take your time and look around for the one that best suits you. Most piano owners are piano lovers of one kind or another … whether the instrument was played or a piece of furniture. The benefit to buyers is that the pianos have been care for … and, in most cases, reputable dealers have trained staff who work to re-condition pianos that require new parts, tuning, refinishing, etc.
Please let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help.