Buying a Second Hand Piano



Because of the complexity of a piano care should be taken when buying a second hand piano because what may on the surface seem to be a fine piano could have many hidden flaws, and even a piano that may sound fine on the ear could require substantial servicing in the near future. Given the meticulous manufacturing and care for a piano during its life time the age of a piano should not necessarily be detractor as even a 19th century piano can still be a fine piano and give you many years of excellent service. This having being said, even when considering a late recent model piano the determining factor would be the care that has been taken of it during its lifetime.

Indicators to look out for

There are some indicators to see if the piano has been taken good care of:

  • Bleached wood would suggest that it has been standing next to a window
  • Varnish or wood that seem to bubble or peel could indicate sun or heat
  • Water stains or the fine outline of object would indicate that the piano doubled as an ornament stand
  • Chips in the wood or finish would indicate rough handling
  • Small things like scratched, half loose sheet music holder would indicate disrespectful care
  • The opening mechanisms and smooth and secure working thereof when opening the piano lid is also a good indicator if care has been taken of the piano
  • Stained keys, dissymmetry in the key and unevenness of touch of the keys tells its own story
  • The amount of dust inside the piano, especially dust that has “crystalized” in the corners and almost appears like lime will confirm cursory care or that the piano may have been tuned but never serviced.

Closing Remarks

The above is only a few indicators and a second hand piano should at best only be purchased from a reputable dealer or someone with a proven track record in the piano tuning and repair business. If purchasing a piano from a private individual given the potential financial outlay you will be well advised to take a tuner/ expert with to evaluate the piano for you as the trained eye and ear of a piano tuner will immediately pick up possible flaws that even a trained musician may not pick up. Even if a small call out fee is applicable, it is well worth the reward of avoiding later unavoidable expenses because of flaws that even the seller may not have been aware of. These notes were carefully prepared for you by Raymond Cugnolio. We hope that you enjoy your beautiful instrument—may it continue bringing you years of pleasure! Should you have any questions or queries, feel free to contact us.

South African COVID-19 Portal

Open chat