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   The Full Octave, 152 Market Street,
Dalton-In-Furness, Cumbria, LA15 8RQ

   01229 467109

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Advice on Buying a Piano

Buying a supposedly restored/reconditioned piano can be a hazardous affair and maybe compared to buying a used car, a quick polish up replace one or two very obvious items and you can be forgiven for thinking the piano is all that it appears to be.

The problem with pianos is that many can be quite easily made to play well enough to dupe the novice pianist; it's only when they become more experienced/or the piano begins to malfunction that they realise their mistake.

From wherever you may be considering buying a piano, it is well worth bearing the following in mind:

Consider only buying an overstrung underdampered piano

Consider only buying an overstrung underdampered piano. The pictures below show a straight strung overdampered piano and an overstrung underdampered piano.

  • Straight Strung Overdampered Piano
    Straight Strung Overdampered Piano
  • Overstrung Underdampered Piano
    Overstrung Underdampered Piano

All you need to do to find out what kind of piano your looking at is lift the very top lid (first removing all the photos and plant pots!) and look inside. If you see a piece of wood obscuring the hammerheads, just walk away. One exception. if it has the name Bluthner on it, it just may be worth considering, please contact us for further advice. Some pianos like this may actually be overstrung but in today's climate you can always do much better.

Has it undergone any restoration?

Has it undergone any restoration? If so, precisely which items have been replaced. A guide would be to ask about the following:

  • Tapes replaced?
  • Hammers replaced or refaced?
  • Damper springs replaced?
  • Butt springs replaced?
  • Jack springs replaced?
  • Check leather replaced?
  • Notch leather replaced?
  • Levers burnished?
  • Keys re-bushed?
  • Action regulated?
If the seller has very little information...

If the seller has genuinely very little information, proceed to the following. Take the top panel off the piano (clips either side).

Have a general good examination of the condition. If the hammers look badly worn or the action looks like it is falling apart with old and deteriorated fabric the general rule is to move on. If you know that the piano has a really good pedigree and it is going for nothing or very cheaply it maybe well worth restoring but firstly do please contact us.

Play all the notes from top to bottom:

  • Do any of the notes not repeat easily?
  • Do any hammers stay forward and not drop back to rest?
  • Do the keys themselves stay down?
  • Are any strings missing or been replaced (especially in the bass section)?
  • Check the pitch. The easiest way to do this is to use an electronic tuner or a child’s descant recorder (this will play a ‘C’ with all holes covered)
  • Do any notes sound grossly out of tune compared to the rest? It is very serious if there are any sections where every other note sounds out of tune. These pianos are destined for landfill!
  • Listen for any buzzing bass strings. This can indicate a loose bridge
  • Try playing octaves i.e. C-C, D-D etc.. if it sounds better C-C#, D-D# it can indicate a very serious problem such as a cracked cast iron frame.
  • Woodworm!!!. Check everywhere for small holes, especially under the keys, behind the bottom door and rear panel.
  • Check the condition of the key coverings.

With the exception of those things indicated in bold, any piano can be made to play virtually as new. We hope you can find one where all the above problems don’t apply, but if you really like the sound and style it may not be anywhere near as expensive to make right as you may imagine. Do please give us a call and will be happy to give you quote.

We can help...

If you wish for us to move the piano and you would like some extra reassurance, we are happy to pay for the piano on your behalf after first examining the piano for defects. If there are major problems we will ring you before payment and uploading to give you the option of not continuing the purchase. All you would be liable for, would be two thirds of the moving fee.