Buying a Piano

Helpful Hints When Buying a Piano

 Buying a piano from a private household, an auction site or eBay is fraught with problems – here is why:

Age Matters!

You need to find out the age of a piano. Apart from a few rare exceptions, a piano is pretty much like a car – unless it has been refurbished, the older it is the worse it is. There are many serious problems which can arise with used pianos, especially the much older ones. Older pianos can have serious structural problems usually caused by central heating or just the age of the materials. Many have loose tuning pins or even cracked pinblocks, so they will not hold in tune. The bridge or soundboard can be split or worse still the iron frame may be cracked. Strings can sound dull or be rusty and on the verge of breaking. These sorts of problems are very expensive to repair. As well as structural faults, older pianos usually need a whole range of attention to the playing mechanism due to severe wear over the years, such as worn hammers or weak dampers. A lot of work is involved here which can be costly. This is all without considering the condition of the cabinet and the cost of making the piano presentable. Sometimes it is impossible to tell if a piano can be restored for a reasonable cost without it being taken apart by a technician. At Suffolk Pianos, we start by only buying good quality older pianos – with names like Broadwood, Welmar and Knight. Then we undertake often a huge amount of work to bring them up to a playing standard. Even we make mistakes though and end up having to scrap a piano because it requires too much work to make it a viable case for refurbishment.

Manufacturer matters!

Whether buying a secondhand or new piano, there  are so many different piano makers that for a beginner it is a mine field. Whilst the more recent used piano can be a better prospect, giving the option of a higher quality instrument at a reasonable price, it is still important to find the right piano and even recent ones can have significant problems according to their age. There are some really good secondhand British, German and Japanese pianos around as well as some reasonably priced good new imported pianos- you just have to know which manufacturers make the grade and which dont.
It is essential, then, that even a recent used piano is assessed carefully first, followed by the full range of checks and adjustments and then any necessary repairs carried out. When buying a piano, don’t go ahead without advice or the guarantee of a reputable company. Newer pianos do have the huge benefit of more modern materials designed to cope with central heating as well as using better glues and more advanced methods of wood drying in their construction. In particular, they have laminated tuning blocks which provide much better tuning stability. The mechanism will not be worn out and you will have an instrument that you can rely on for many more years.

Please ring us for more information including what kind of checks and work we undertake to bring our pianos up to  a good standard. When buying a piano, it is important that you don’t part with your cash before being 100% happy. Our helpful guide should give you the tips you need – or get in touch if you’d like to know more.