In this section of our website you will hopefully find some useful information on buying your new, second hand, upright or grand piano. We will also cover tuning, maintenance and taking care of your instrument for many years to come.
Choosing the right piano for you:
There are several factors to consider when buying a piano: condition, tone, touch, colour, and of course budget.
In terms of the condition of the piano you can have a good look at the case making sure it is in good order, it’s also important to look in behind the bottom door of the piano taking a look at the strings, frame and pedal arms making sure there are no signs of rust and that the pedal arms are in good working order. You should also look behind the top door (above the key’s) of the piano and check again that there are no signs of corrosion around the strings and the pins that hold the strings. Have a good look at the action of the piano which is the main moving/mechanical section. All these parts should be clean and presentable, if you are not that impressed with the way things look then this is possibly an indication that the piano has not been very well looked after.
Obviously these are pointers that you can check for yourself and can be very ‘tell tale’ BUT the major structural aspects of the piano really need to check by a tuner/technician. I offer this service (around Northern Ireland) Please contact us regarding cost of inspection.
The tone of a piano is very important but is also a personal thing. What you like and what someone else might like varies greatly. If you’re looking for a piano for your child or children then it goes without saying that they should come along and try the piano, children will hear the difference in the pianos and will have a good idea what they like. It is also a very good idea to bring along your piano teacher or someone who plays piano so they can provide an opinion on the piano.
Again the touch of the piano it is a very important element of choosing the correct instrument. If the piano is of good quality and has been regulated properly then it should be possible to play it softly and loudly, providing the player with confidence and also ensuring that there are no extra sounds coming from the piano. Depth and weight of touch varies depending on the make and model of piano and it is worth pointing out that the touch of a piano should be better in a taller upright piano than in a smaller sized instrument.
The colour of a piano is really down to personal choice. It is fair to say that black is very popular mainly due to the fact that it is a classic look and will work with most decor. Mahogany pianos come in many different shades but if this is the type of look you want then it can also make a lovely piece of furniture. It is worth checking what shades of mahogany are available on the market.
Down to the budget aspect of buying a piano! A piano is a major purchase but if bought wisely will last a life time and can give enormous benefit and pleasure to the budding pianist. They can also be a wonderful piece of furniture and over the year’s become part of the family.
Buying a piano that seems ‘a bargain’ will nine times out of ten turn out to be anything but cheap. It happens frequently when I am tuning a piano for the first time and the instrument has been purchased cheaply. I check the piano out as a matter of course to find one of the above problems and then must advise that the piano cannot be played properly and will need an extensive amount of work. The client then realizes they have bought the piano, paid to have it moved and in actual fact the piano is not worth anything.
Very often people only want to spend a few hundred pounds on a piano, possibly buying from an auction, friend, the paper etc. Pianos from auctions are usually there for a reason, usually because they have many structural problems, woodworm (which cannot be treated successfully unless the instrument is completely taken apart and fumigated and this would be extremely expensive!), loose tuning pins (due to being dried out by central heating and dryness of the modern home) which hold the string tension and also the tune of the piano or cracked sound boards (affects the sound and tonal quality) amongst other things.
A piano being purchased from a friend, auction or newspaper, need to be checked by a good tuner/technician.
Pianos that are working and playing well and that have a presentable case can start from around £500 – £600 and go up in price from there. However! Pianos at this starting price are older pianos and have seen their best day’s but they can (if check out by a professional) make for a cost effective introduction to piano playing. Given that I attend many call-outs were clients have bought the older pianos that are done. I have decided to introduce a ‘Budget Piano Sales’ section to my website. The reasoning in providing these pianos is to offer folk looking for a low cost option, pianos that I have checked over myself, bought the piano, cleaned the keys (by buff wheel) washed inside, polished case, tuned and some regulation. The idea being not doing too much work on them so as to keep the price down. Prices shown on these pianos on my website will include delivery.
If a good, sound piano has been purchased there will be a much greater opportunity for the pupil of any age to achieve their goals, whether it be progressing through the grades or learning to play a specific genre of music.
Buying a Grand Piano whether new or ‘as new’ the above factors are also very important and maybe even more so as a mistake buying one of these can be very costly.
A grand piano should be a fantastic instrument to play due to the way the action is made, giving the player more dynamic to express their music. Grand’s can be played softer than an upright and because of the length of the strings sizes can range from just over 4 foot for a baby grand to 9 foot for a concert grand. They have more depth of tone and volume and it is important to have the correct position and space for a grand.
Taking care of your piano – There are recommended ways to clean and care for your piano. If you want your piano to last for a long time, you must know how to properly care for and maintain your instrument’s good condition. Here are some tips:
- Cleaning the Keys – If you’re piano has ivory keys that are grubby then they really need to be cleaned or even buffed by a professional as they can be damaged very easily. If your piano has a material other than ivory then you can gently wipe the keys with a damp thin cloth that is well rung using luke warm water and a little cleaning solution. You should only wipe the key tops and avoid moisture from reaching the sides of the keys. Wipe it dry immediately. In some cases, the dye used on the black keys might come off, so it is advisable to use different cloths for the white and black keys.
- Cleaning the Cabinet – The cabinet is the body of the piano and can be made from different types of wood, grains and finishes. These cases are either French polished, sprayed or a polyester finish. We have the correct polish and cloths that should be used in order to bring out the best in the finish again. For the modern high gloss finish the product’s that we use are the best as some common furniture polishes contain silicone and can cause the lacquer to ‘bloom’ which is irreparable. Even using the wrong type of cloth can cause fine scores in the finish of your piano that are difficult to remove. Please see the stools, lamps (accessories) section of the website for cleaning products.
- Cleaning the Soundboard of a Grand Piano – The soundboard is perhaps the toughest part of the piano to clean. Dust and debris are drawn to this part of the piano. Paper clips, buttons, pencils and other small objects can make their way onto the soundboard and can cause unwanted vibration. Over the year’s dust will build up and will need to be professionally cleaned. Again this is a service that I carry out.
- Ideal Humidity and Temperature – There are some factors that affect the performance of a piano. High humidity causes keys to stick or become sluggish and can cause strings, tuning pins and other metal parts of the piano to rust. This is a common problem in some churches but we can fit a ‘damp chaser’ that reduces the moisture content in the piano. Generally this is not a problem in the modern home but it is important to have a small amount of heat on in a room to reduce the amount of moisture.Low humidity affects the sound of the keys and can cause keys to loosen and soundboards to crack. A humidity range of 35-55% is good for the piano. Low humidity can destroy an older piano which was not made to withstand drier modern home conditions. An older piano needs to be in a room with a low amount of heat.Modern pianos are made to withstand heating and dryness provided they are not directly in front of a heat source.
- Piano Tuning – We recommend that you have your piano tuned once a year.
Sometimes if the piano is played several hours per day then it may need to be tuned twice per year. If your piano hasn’t been serviced or tuned for several year’s then it may require a rough tuning and a fine tuning. If your piano requires pitch tuning then again a rough tuning followed by a fine tuning within a number of weeks (or less depending on how quickly the pitch needs to be set).