If you want some good information on piano sales and what to look for when buying a piano, have a look at the Piano Tuners’ Association website.
For further discussion once you have absorbed all that, you are very welcome to ring me and ask anything more you may want to know. The questions are all with you, I will do my best to answer them.
Consider the following:
Sometimes a person will pass on a piano to a second-hand or charity shop. Please don’t be tempted to go shopping for your next instrument there, it is not a good thing to do as they’re not piano specialists.
Pianos in these places are usually somewhat past their sell-by date (having been donated so being considered of zero or low value by the donor) and are not going to help a beginner enjoy the initial stages of learning. Many will have been house clearance instruments, perhaps unplayed or un-tuned for some years or which have been in a damp or unheated house. They’re not at their best when sent to a charity shop so don’t be tempted by a bit of fancy inlay, nice figured veneer or candle-holders. A walnut cabinet mostly places a piano at between (pre)1900 and 1918 so you’re already looking at a piano over 100 years old. Even if you spent a lot of money on this it will still be a 100+ year old piano.
A piano is an intricate mechanical instrument which at the outset, should cost a fair bit of money.
If you are not wanting to pay for a new Yamaha, Steingraeber or similar, come and have a look at the pianos I have in stock – usually at least one of each modern and traditional design of case (see pictures).
A general rule of thumb when buying, is buy the most expensive you can afford. If you start your child on a piano from a second-hand junk shop, you can’t expect them to progress far if they have to fight the piano when it comes to practising. A reconditioned piano can be a less expensive alternative to new, or nearly new. The pianos mentioned above are very much in that bracket of ‘ideal purchase’ to give your child – or YOU if you’re the player, a good instrument to practise on and the rewards are many. I still regard pianos from the 1970s and 80s as ‘new’ as their design and construction is definitely modern and the piano is better suited to a centrally-heated house and shouldn’t suffer the kind of problems a really old piano might in the same conditions. Central heating dries the air and old pianos subjected to this can acquire major structural issues as they dry out, the wood being unaccustomed to the drier air. (Shrinking wrest-plank leading to loose tuning pins, soundboard splitting, action parts becoming loose..)
The thought “I only want a cheap one to start…” should be dispelled really. A cheap (or free) piano can end in frustration for the player as they can have to contend with sloppy actions, keys that don’t play, pitch below A440~ and other things going wrong. If you are considering buying a piano second-hand then please phone a piano tuner (NOT the piano teacher) and have a discussion and possibly check the piano out prior to parting with any money. The very least you should do is play through the piano, play every note twice to make sure the hammers and keys return and play a second time to exclude possibility of damp or tight key bushings or action parts. I will do this visit for you for only £20 and it could save a lot of money and heartache. I do have customers who wish to rehome pianos and I’d only recommend one that was going to benefit a player, so please ask if you’re wanting to find an instrument, I probably know where there are a couple.