“Something second hand and broken still can make a pretty sound.” – Bombshell
In a recent article, we looked at the advantages of purchasing a second-hand piano over a new one. If you’ve opted for a second-hand model, pay close attention to the following advice.
First thing’s first, be a realist.
Are you committed to learning the piano? Or do you just want to be Carole King? If you said yes to the latter (totally understandable), maybe you should consider renting a piano for a year to see how much you actually enjoy playing.
If you’re certain that piano is the instrument for you, it’s important to work out your budget.
A well-made used piano will probably cost you about $2000 minimum. However, there will of course be other expenses to factor in. Unless included in the price, you’ll have to pay for the piano to be delivered to your house, which could cost a few hundred dollars. You’ll also have to consider the cost of maintaining the piano, i.e. any repair work you’ll have to do on it and the price of regularly tuning it.
You also need to have an idea of where the piano will go in your house. Measure the space before you start looking so you can be certain that any piano you buy will actually fit in the space. An average upright piano is 60 inches long, 44 inches tall, and 24 to 30 inches deep. A baby grand is around 5 feet in width and depth. Remember to also leave extra room for your seat!
Not put off by the price? Then read on!
The next thing to consider is which brand of piano to choose. Steinway & Sons and Yamaha are the two main brands, but there are lots of others, such as Fazioli or Mason and Hamlin. Yamaha, Kawaii and Pearl River are considered the “budget options”, whereas Steinway & Sons is on the more expensive side.
You might want to consider finding a registered piano technician who can advise you when you go piano shopping. They’ll basically be your wingman. Or rather, your piano man.
The next step may well be the hardest as it involves you leaving the safety of your house and venturing…outside. The horror! Craigslist and eBay will have cheaper piano options, but you can’t guarantee the quality (or that you won’t be killed in the process) so head over to your local piano shop (ensure you’ve read their reviews first so you can guarantee a good service), with your technician in tow (look at you both bonding already!). On the way, ask him all sorts of questions about his job, his wife and his daughter (she’s studying at Dartmouth, you know!).
Ask your new best friend Mark (the piano technician) to inspect all the ones you’re interested in to make sure they’re up to scratch.
If Mark is unavailable to accompany you, you’ll have to inspect the pianos yourself. Check out our article on buying your first piano to see what red flags to look out for.
Players gonna’ play
Remember to play all the pianos you consider. “Piano chemistry” may sound like an absurd concept but it is a real thing. Is it love at first play? Or are you being played?
When you play a piece (for the love of god, not “Chopsticks” again), see if the piano is in tune. An out of tune piano suggests a lack of maintenance, which could be indicative of more major problems the seller has neglected to tell you about.
To get an idea of whether your piano is in tune, consider using the following smartphone apps:
We also recommend you ask the following questions:
How old is the piano? Pianos have a lifespan of about 50 years. If you suspect the owner may be lying, use this piano age calculator.
Has there been regular maintenance? If not, you’ll have to pay to restore it which could be quite expensive, even with Mark’s “mates rates.”
Who’s previously played it? If it’s a younger child, it may not have been treated with as much care as it should have been.
Taking her home
A very proud moment for all piano owners. However, pianos are quite delicate so we advise hiring a trained piano mover. The shop might include it in the price. If not, check the phone book or local online listings. The shop may even have some recommendations.
When she finally arrives, get started with your practice!
We wish you (and your completely platonic friend Mark) many happy nights spent singing around the piano.
Remember – pianos are for life, not just for Christmas…
Need sheet music to play on your “new” piano? Go to Jellynote.com to find music for piano, violin, voice and more. Also check out our lists of songs for weddings, easiest Disney tunes to play on the piano and our favorite movie soundtracks.
The Jellynote Team x