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Buying A Used Piano - The Complete Guide

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

What's the difference between used and new?

Purchasing a used piano can have a purpose other than simply maximizing the value of your money.

It's important to remember that a piano is a machine, unlike a guitar, violin, or cello, which have a comparatively few moving components.

Piano has a high proportion of natural materials that mature and cure over time.

The critical point to remember is that pianos never improve with age.

The only exception may be the first few years when the instrument is opening up and the actions are breaking in. You could argue that a piano four or five years after purchase is a better playing instrument than one on the day you bought it, but 50 or 100 years down the road, that instrument will never be as good as the day it left the factory.

There are approximately 6000 pieces in a piano, and many of those parts are subjected to severe loads and forces that degrade those natural materials over time, and they never truly improve; they simply erode, disintegrate, and cease to work as intended.

Bear in mind that old pianos will never perform better than their new equivalents.

When it comes to buying anything second-hand piano, it may be a difficult process, but we hope to provide you with the knowledge you require to make an informed decision when selecting your piano.

Shop vs. Private Seller: Which is better?

There are several benefits and drawbacks to purchasing a piano from physical store as opposed to a private seller discovered online.

The primary advantage of purchasing a piano from a store is that any piano they sell will almost always come with a guarantee.

The conditions of these warranties will vary from store to shop, so always double-check the specifics of what is covered by the guarantee before you make a payment for your piano.

A lower sale price is expected if you buy from a private seller rather than a real estate agent. If you know what you're searching for, there are also some hidden jewels to be discovered.

When making a purchase from a store, inquire about the following:

  • What types of warranties do you offer? How long do they last?

  • What steps do you take to prepare the piano for sale, such as tuning, regulating, and voicing it?

  • Do you give after-sale services such as post-delivery tunings for your products?

If they respond with a "no" to any of the questions above or are unwilling to offer specifics, try shopping somewhere else.

When buying a used piano, a reputable store will take its reputation into consideration.

When purchasing from a private seller, make sure to ask the following questions:

  • How long has the piano been in their possession?

  • Was it a brand-new purchase for them?

  • When was the last time it was tuned?

  • Do you know whether there have been any significant repairs?

  • Would they be OK with a piano technician coming to look at the piano?

If you have little or no expertise with used piano quality or piano construction, shopping for a used piano might be a scary affair.

When looking for a second hand piano, it's critical to examine the following five factors:

1. Brand


Consider the brand of the piano you want to buy. Look for high-quality brands such as Yamaha used pianos, Bösendorfer used pianos, Steinway & Sons, Kawai.

A higher-quality piano will have higher-quality components that will not decay as rapidly as a lower-quality piano.

Another point to consider piano with more well-known brand is easier to sell out in future.

2. Piano’s Age

Piano's Age

The reasonable life of a piano, defined as the span of time during which it will generate high-quality touch and tone, can range from 20 years to 100 years.

Only the greatest handcrafted pianos may be anticipated to continue to operate well beyond 70 years, although most mass-produced pianos have a life expectancy that ranges between 50 and 65 years, depending on how well the piano was cared for during its lifetime.

Check out the serial number and you’ll get the information of the number of years.

3. Strings


Are string rusted or corroded?

Are any strings missing?

Too many new-looking strings among the older ones indicates a breakage problem; too many splices, as well.

In spite of the fact that strings are constructed of steel and copper, they do deteriorate with time and are not expected to endure much longer than 50 years in the best of circumstances.

Strains that are more than a decade old sometimes have difficulty maintaining tuning, are more prone to breaking, and begin to emit stray harmonics and disagreeable tones.

This appears to be a set of dark or greenish bass strings, with pot-marked steel strings on the top, as shown in the photo.

This is a costly problem that will have a significant impact on the piano's overall musical performance in the long run.

The cost of changing a string range from SGD$100-150

4. Condition of hammers

Condition of hammers

It is usual to notice some degree of grooving; for example, if you have a hammer striking three strings, it is completely acceptable to see three lines on the hammer and a tiny amount of indentation. That is natural.

If you look at the hammers, they're exceedingly hard to the touch, to the point where you can't tell it's a felt anymore, and you see what nearly looks like slashes into the hammer, potentially several millimeters long.

This is a symptom of a poorly worn hammer or a hammer that has reached the end of its useful life.

This indicates that the felt has been significantly damaged, resulting in an extremely loud and metallic tinny sound.

5. Keys


Consider aesthetics part; are the keys damaged, discolored or have yellowed with time?

One of the simplest ways to determine whether the instrument is in good mechanical condition is to push the key softly to the left or right until they come into contact with the key next to them without leaving a gap.

If this is the case, the key bushings are worn and should be replaced if the piano is to be utilized for 'serious' performance.

It doesn't necessarily imply that the instrument isn't a good one; rather, it indicates that it has been neglected or overused, and that some care should be paid to this area depending on your requirements.

In a piano's action, key bushings are little felt or simulated felt pieces that provide cushioning and space between the different moving sections of the instrument's action.

The front rail or balancing rail bushings on a piano are two of the most frequent bushings to become worn out, which results in the keys feeling unusually loose and unpredictably responsive.

Even the greatest pianos fresh from the factory are expected to have some space, somewhere between one and two millimeters, which allows you to press the key back and forth.

That is the proper amount of space for that bushing.

Lastly, a professional pianist can typically feel the piano's touch.

Is it a very heavy touch? Are the keys sloppy? Are the keys swaying from side to side?

We hope this article can give you some important advice when you're buying a used piano.

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