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How to Find the Perfect Piano

Updated on March 17, 2020
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Marshall is a piano technician and musician. He has been tuning pianos since 2006 and playing piano since 1974. Pianos are his passion.

So You Found The Perfect Piano

Let's say you've decided you decide it's time for your child or children to take piano lessons. You want an inexpensive piano. After all, what if your child looses interest? So, you hop online and visit the available marketplaces. You find the perfect piano, and best of all, it's free. Yes, free. The piano and the rest of your family meet, and he is placed in his designated spot. Next you call a piano technician and schedule your piano tuning. He arrives, opens the piano and frowns. What just happened?


Beauty Is Only Cabinet Deep

The piano technician reports the bad news, hopefully with grace and dignity. He states that the piano will need x amount of repairs before it's playable and/or tunable. He might take this one step further, and assess the piano as condemned or in other words, beyond its limit, and should be replaced.

You breath a sigh of relief. It had been a free piano, but what if you paid for the piano, and paid a hefty price too, and then discover you had purchased a worthless piece of junk. In other words, whether you find a free piano or pay someone for it, the piano technician's assessment is the final word.

The unfortunate happened. You didn't look passed the cabinet, but don't despair. This mistake occurs more times than one might think. A piano's beauty lies inside the cabinet, It's functionality, tone, and overall condition holds more weight and significance than the outside. What will the well trained piano technician discover beyond the cabinets intrinsic beauty? What will he see, hear and yes, smell. Smell, you ask? Will the piano demonstrate evidence of past or present mouse infestation? Did the piano once live in a smoke ridden environment like a house where a smoker lives or a bar. Will he hear certain buzzes, clicks and squeaks? Through his keen senses and observations, the piano technician will gather this information and make the necessary conclusions.

He or she will recognize, identify and explain necessary repairs such as rusty strings, broken or missing hammers, dried and crusty action felt and leathers, dead bass strings, broken pedals, and trap work. The list goes on. Worst-case scenario, it could have a cracked bridge, cracked iron plate, or cracked pinblock. OK, lesson learned, but how does the potential piano owner avoid this trap, and at the same time land a great piano at a price he or she will love?

The Piano Technician's Piano Checkup

Once you've located your next dream piano assuming the first one failed the test, hire a well-trained piano technician to perform a "full piano evaluation prior to purchase if you're purchasing one from an individual. In other words, switch things around. Have the pianos condition evaluated and then if all checks out and only then, purchase the piano.

If you purchase through a retail store, make certain they include a warranty, and deliver the piano. You'll often pay more through a dealer, but the peace of mind of a warranty might justify the higher price.

A Pianist's Expertise

If you're a pianist, you are the piano technician's friend. While he or she can inspect the mechanics of the piano, you, the pianist can inspect the touch, tone, personality and charm a piano can offer. The piano technician who also plays the piano will often notice a piano's nuances, but it's critical that you the pianist and future piano owner play, feel and listen to the instrument. Is the touch heavy, light, or perfect? Is the tone too bright, too mellow, or just right?

If you do not play the piano, if possible have the future pianist accompany and have a voice in the buying process, but often times, people purchase pianos for their children whom they hope will continue playing.

It's Your Call

Once you've been educated and armed with the necessary information, you can decide. You love the piano. The piano technician gave it an excellent bill of health, and now it's time to move forward. If the piano checks out, but you're not happy with its tone or touch, then move onto the next piano. This can rack up piano evaluation bills. So visiting a retail store in this regard has the benefit of the buyer having multiple pianos to try. If however you choose to purchase from an individual, make certain you like the piano before hiring a piano tech to perform an evaluation. This will help you save money in evaluation costs.

Beyond The Purchase

Upon delivery, allow the piano a few weeks to acclimate. Contact the piano technician and schedule your tuning, or the retail store will call and schedule a piano tuning included in the purchase. Keep in mind, that although you might have purchased your piano from a retail store, this doesn't obligate you to continue using them for future tunings. Always hire a piano technician you feel comfortable with, like one chooses a family doctor. Trust his advice and recommendations, and service the piano on a regular basis. Enjoy your piano ownership journey.


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