A piano is a wonderful addition to any household. They make beautiful music (if you can play!) and they add atmosphere and elegance wherever they’re placed.

Buying one, though, is no small matter. You’re going to spend a significant amount of money and you want that piano to be functional, not just pretty. Here are a few things to look out for when buying a second hand piano.


Just because it’s shiny and attractive on the outside doesn’t mean it’s perfect on the inside. Don’t be deceived buy a piano’s looks. On the other hand, it’s worth checking the finish thoroughly. Cracking and cloudiness can be caused by humidity and are sometimes a sign that weather damage has seriously affected the interior of the piano.

Age and History

Ask the seller how old the piano is. If he doesn’t know, you can use the instrument’s make and serial number on certain websites to find out when the piano was made.

Ask, too, about the piano’s history – who the previous owners were, how the piano was used. If the piano has been owned by serious music lovers or performers, chances are that it has been well cared for.

If the piano has been stored during its lifetime, ask where. If it’s been kept out in the shed you might want to look elsewhere.


Strike all the keys. Listen carefully for any buzzing, unnaturally shortened notes, dead keys, the sound of two notes playing at once, notes which are off-pitch.

Depress the right pedal and play all the keys again. All notes should respond instantly.

Play by feel as well as sound. Is there a feeling of evenness across the whole keyboard? Do any keys stick or feel overly soft?

Is the overall tone of the instrument pleasing to your ear?

Strings and Hammers

Check all strings around their tuning pins. Look out for rusting. If rusting is heavy the strings may break when they are tuned.

Ensure that there are no missing strings. It might not be a deal-breaker, but the added expense of having to replace missing strings should be factored into the cost of the piano.

Check that the hammer felts are not deeply grooved or, worse, split or worn down to wood. Damaged hammer felt will often require replacement of the entire hammer to fix.

The Pinblock

The pinblock holds the tuning pins. If the wood here is damaged the pins may become loose, resulting in bad pitch. The sound of two notes sounding when one key is struck can be caused by pinblock damage if one of the strings, out of the two or three each hammer strikes, has gone out of tune.

The Soundboard

Cracks in the piano’s soundboard will negatively impact the instrument’s timbre. If the soundboard’s reinforcing ribs have worked loose you’ll probably hear buzzing as they vibrate.

While you’re checking the soundboard, check the bridge too. Is it securely fixed to the soundboard? Is it free from cracks?

Professional Advice

A piano has around eight thousand parts. Given this complexity and the serious ramifications damage to some of these parts can have, one of the best things you can do when you are contemplating buying a particular piano is to have it checked over by a qualified piano technician or tuner.

Piano technicians know what to look for and the cost of hiring one could save you thousands in the long run. Professional advice is the best guarantee that you and your piano will be making beautiful music for years to come.

Find out more about buying a second hand piano in this video.

How to Buy a Used Piano – Choosing the Right Instrument, 3.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Tags: ,

Post a Comment