Helpful tips when looking for a piano:
Buying an acoustic piano.
There are many things to look for when buying a piano and we always advise that you take an expert with you if you are not sure that the instrument is 100%. Remember that, just because the piano looks attractive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good instrument. Here are a few features that might help you to understand just a little about the workings of a piano.
General things to look out for:
Ask how often the piano has been tuned and when was the last time. Does it look clean inside and are there any signs of damp. Do all the notes play and do they return quickly. Look at the hammers for wear. Check to see that notes don't hold on without the pedal being pressed. Is it a recognised manufacturer?
Overstrung or straight strung?
Looking at the strings can identify an Overstrung piano. If they are set at an angle and they cross over (rather than all being all set vertically) then this is an overstrung piano. Steinway patented the very first overstrung grand piano in 1859 and it is now the accepted way of stringing modern pianos. Using this method the bass strings can be made longer, producing a broader more powerful sound. Straight strung pianos can often be found to be made at the turn of the century.
Underdamper or Overdamper?
The old fashioned way was to put the dampers above the hammers, nowadays they are placed underneath the hammers. A simple test may be made by pressing the right hand pedal in order to move the dampers, you will then see if they are above or below the hammers.
Ivory or plastic keys?
Ivory keys have not been used for many years since the banning of the trade of ivory.If the keys are ivory you will notice a grain on them. (Rather like a wood grain)
A piano can last for many years if it is properly maintained. A good piano tuner will not only keep the piano in tune but he will rectify any minor problems before they become a major fault. Regulation is also an important part of a piano technicians job in order that the piano has an even touch across the keyboard and that the volume response of each note is correct. Look after your piano and it will be a valuable asset to you.
New pianos are tuned to concert pitch, which means that the notes that you play on the piano will be produced in the correct key. Many older pianos have dropped in pitch over the years and are probably best left under pitch. It is not advisable to bring these instruments straight up to concert pitch as the piano might not be able to cope with the tension. (An upright piano has a string tension of 20 tons and a Concert grand has 30 tons)
A good piano will last many years, with careful maintenance, and it can be a wise investment but take advice if you are not sure or are buying without a warranty.
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