Shopping For A Used Piano

Brand - Brand is very important when buying a new piano. But when buying used, concerns such as age, condition and size are generally of greater importance.

Size - I do not recommend buying spinets. They have poor tone due to short strings and poor feel due to short keys. They have an increased likelihood of mechanical problems, and are more difficult (and therefore more expensive) for your technician to repair. A spinet can generally be identified as a piano that is 40" and under, but it is not the height that defines it as a spinet. What makes it a spinet is a "drop action," meaning its mechanical parts have been lowered to beneath the keyboard instead of above. Whether buying a vertical or a grand, a larger piano is are more desirable.

From smallest to largest, here are the sizes of vertical pianos (what are commonly referred to as "uprights"):

If you are inspecting a piano yourself, here are some things to check:

Piano Cabinet - After assessing that it is a style/color that you approve of, look it over carefully for damage to the case. Check to see that the lid and music desk are properly fastened. Are all of the wheels present and functional? Does the bench match? If the bench has storage, does it open properly? Do the legs feel sturdy?

Strings - Are there any missing strings? A broken string is not very serious, but several broken strings suggest a trend that may likely continue. Check the strings for rust, as this is a common cause of broken strings. Lift the dampers on bass strings by hand and look underneath. The clean spot beneath the dampers will give you a good idea of how dirty the rest of the string is. When the coils of bass strings get dirt trapped between them – this dulls the tone.

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