C3 Piano Services Ltd the Experts in Keeping your Piano Healthy
Considerations on acquiring a piano
It makes sense to take care when acquiring your piano.
What to lookout for when acquiring an upright piano
Click on image above to enlarge it in a new window.
Below are some pointers to help in selecting your piano.It is worth mentioning that pianos do not improve with age and can often end up costing a lot of money in repairs Most parts can be repaired but if the pins cannot be tuned, see notes on 6ab, then the piano has to be scrapped.
Piano (a), (usually referred to as an under damper) is a design that has been around for a hundred years or so. With minor differences depending on manufacture and models and is usually the best type of piano to buy.
Piano (b), (usually referred to as an over damper) is no longer made, ceasing production in the middle of the last century. So all are very old, and were the cheaper end of the market. Two very good reasons not to buy them.
Spotting the differences
First, open the top, and then take the front door off so you can see what is there. The photos show the fall removed as well but this is not necessary and they can be difficult to remove.
1a. Shows the base strings are at an angle, and are crossing over the other strings (over strung), whereas 1b shows all the strings are going straight up and down (straight strung). Over strung is better because the strings are longer and thus give a better tone.
3a. Points to the cast iron frame this gives the piano strength and stability, so it stays in tune for longer.
3b On these pianos it is mostly only wood, often reinforced with iron or cast iron. If one taps near the tuning pins you can hear if it is metal or wood, as often it is painted gold or covered with brass plate. although these can function quite well, this type are more susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature, and will need tuning far more frequently .
2a. There is a clear view of all the hammers, and if you look behind them you can see the dampers. There may be a rail 5a. with felt on it above the dampers but you can move it out of the way to see, do remember to replace it afterwards.
On piano type (b) the dampers 4b. are above the hammers 2b. This is a cheap and easy construction but is very poor at damping as they are so near the end of the string.
You may see parts that look broken, or there could be some sticky keys etc., while these should be noted, they are probably not of great concern as they can usually be repaired.
HOWEVER ! It is not worth time, effort, and expense of committing to have and move a piano if it cannot be tuned. There is one more thing that NEEDS to be looked at on both types of pianos, and that is whether the piano will hold in tune. Before consulting a qualified piano tuner, there is one obvious sign to point to: (6ab) look carefully at the tuning pins they should be at right angles to the back or sometimes pointing slightly up. If they point downwards even slightly that is absolutely a no-no. If all appears to be in order then it is time to have a qualified tuner have a look at the piano, he can also give you an idea as to its possible value.
Note: 6ab shows details of the tuning pins and an example of a split wrest plank. The X area is veneer which covers the wrestplank, on the area Y the veneer has been removed and you can see cracks or splits which make the wrest pins loose. The Z shows the hole where the tuning pins were, which have been removed. Tuning pins are also called wrest pins, hence wrestplank in which the pins are inserted.
So to recap Piano type (a) is the one to go for if you can, for the above reasons.
Grand pianos have different concerns which would take us too far for this article. Hopefully I will do an article to cover Grand pianose soon, in the meantime pleas consult a qualified tuner.
For more information see our leaflet “caring for your piano” or contacted:
C3 Piano Services