Which piano should I never buy?

Buying a piano is always a very personal matter that depends on many factors. For this reason, we cannot present you with the absolute truth about buying a piano, but we can give you general advice on what to think about when buying a piano and what you should definitely pay attention to when you decide to buy a used piano.

We want to contribute to your safety with our specialist knowledge so that you are not taken advantage of when buying a piano. Of course, we want to measure ourselves and our instruments against these criteria so that you, the buyer, have the good feeling of being with Piano palm to be in the right hands.

Before buying a piano

Basic questions like:

While buying a piano

After buying a piano

 

Before buying a piano

Piano or grand piano?

The decision essentially depends on two factors, namely how much space you have available for setting it up and what amount you want to spend. The prices of the grand pianos usually start where those of the pianos end.
Even if a grand piano takes up more floor space than a piano, it can often be accommodated better because it stands free in the room and does not have to rely on the usually limited floor space on the walls. The sound quality requirements are also a decisive factor. See also "Isn't the size decisive?"
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New or used?

This question will come up whenever money is involved.
Do you buy a very good, but used, upper-class instrument for a certain amount, or a brand-new mid-range instrument? That is almost a question of faith, which is decided by every buyer to a certain extent "from the gut". Anyone who has ever spent so much money on a used car that they could have bought a smaller but new car for the same price knows this dilemma.
Since pianos and grand pianos are usually more durable than cars, the decision is not an easier one. On the contrary. Our used instruments are so carefully overhauled and restored in our own workshop that you can hardly tell them apart from a new one. Maybe this will help you make the right decision.
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What does a piano or a grand piano cost?

The cheapest pianos are available nowadays for just under € 1,500.
You can spend up to ten times this sum on a concert piano.
German brands are available from around € 6,000.
The price range for grand pianos is even greater. The cheapest grand pianos cost a little more than € 5,000, the concert grand pianos from well-known manufacturers can cost more than € 75,000.
These prices refer to new instruments.
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What is the difference between an expensive instrument and a cheap one?

The sometimes enormous price differences are justified.
There are stark differences in the quality of the materials and the care taken in processing, which is reflected in the sound, the playing style and the durability of the instruments. A good instrument lasts for generations, an instrument of the lowest category is unusable after ten years at the latest.
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Is the size of the instrument important?

Even if the masters of creation always like to claim that size does not matter, it is different with the piano. It can be clearly stated that a larger instrument not only sounds better, it is also easier to play and lasts longer, provided that equivalent materials have been used and the same care has been taken in construction. This is because the designers have to work with many more "tricks" to get the same notes out of a smaller piano as a large one.
These constructive "tricks" have their limits somewhere. A large piano can sound and be playable better than a very small grand piano. For pianos, the height is therefore an important measure, for grand pianos the length. With instruments that are too small, losses in acoustic quality are to be expected.
But the yardstick is not the measure of all things.
Despite the foregoing, a smaller but better quality piano can sound better and be easier to play than a larger one. Of course, this also applies to grand pianos. If you want to find out more, we will be happy to explain it to you in our workshop or shop using a practical example.
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Does the country of origin play a role? Are German instruments better than foreign ones?

Pianos are built almost all over the world. We cannot offer an overview of the entire world market for piano manufacturers, which is why we limit ourselves to the most important key statements on this topic.
German piano manufacturers still have a very good reputation around the world and build pianos and grand pianos that meet the highest standards. Japanese instruments have long been considered to be solid and inexpensive and are definitely recommended. It is similar with products from Korea.
However, the price advantage when buying an Asian instrument has been decreasing for several years.
This is due to the fact that the Asian manufacturers are now offering better qualities that always require higher quality material.
The share of wage costs in the purchase price is lower than is generally assumed. The material costs are almost the same, because good material has its price, even in Asia. It is important in this context that the quality difference between cheap and expensive instruments from the same manufacturer is far greater for Asian pianos than for instruments made in Germany.
Finally, it should be pointed out that behind some German-sounding names there are now foreign manufacturers from all over the world. If you need more detailed information, please do not hesitate to call us or send us an email.
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How old can a piano be? How long does a piano last?

That depends essentially on two factors, namely how high it was when it was new and how was it treated in the course of its life. Very well-preserved instruments that have been on the case for 100 years are not uncommon. But even the best grand piano suffers if it is treated badly.
Locations in rooms that are too humid, extreme temperature fluctuations, improper transport, etc. turn even the best instrument into a musical ruin in a relatively short time. On the other hand, the lifespan of an extremely cheap instrument is limited to approx. 10 years, even with proper handling and normal playing frequency.
The on-site specialist can tell you amazing things about the actual condition of a piano.
You will be amazed.
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What criteria do you use to choose an instrument?

After the decision has been made upright or grand piano, the amount to be expended has been roughly determined and the size of the new "piece of furniture" has been narrowed down, only one thing matters. The music. What is decisive now is the subjective feeling when playing and the sound. A comment about the sound later.
Now is the time to play. Don't just let the seller play something for you, play it yourself. You are not buying the piano for the seller. Even if your game is nowhere near as perfect as you would like it to be, shame is out of place here. If the seller does not come up with it by himself, ask him to leave you alone with the instrument for a while so that you can "approach" the instrument in peace without a large audience.
After all, it should be the beginning of a long friendship. Most businesses understand this. Your piano must suit you in terms of its playing style, otherwise you will not be happy in the long run.
This is exactly what you should find out now during the "test drive". Try out different instruments and pay attention to your feelings.
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One more word about the sound.

Apart from the fact that everyone hears something different subjectively, it may well happen that the instrument actually sounds different in your own four walls than it does in a shop.
The acoustic properties of the different rooms, such as different sizes, different furnishings, different room heights, etc. are now noticeable. But that is not a problem, because the so-called "intonation" allows the timbre of the piano to be adapted to a certain extent to the spatial conditions and to your taste.
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Should you get yourself a cheap instrument to start with?

Well. You don't have to start with a 3-meter concert grand right away once you've made up your mind to learn to play the piano. Nevertheless, even beginners are not advised to buy an absolutely cheap product, because a piano that is too cheap is harder to play due to the poor quality of the mechanical components. That can lead to frustration, especially in the beginning, and that would be a shame, wouldn't it?
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Buying privately or from a dealer?

A piano dealer can give you reliable information about the real age and quality of an instrument. Apart from that, if a used piano changes hands, it should be overhauled, or at least looked over. In any case, it has to be transported and tuned after it has been set up. The funds required for this almost nullify the possible price advantage when buying from private customers.
In addition, similar to when buying a car, if hidden defects subsequently appear, you have less legal control vis-à-vis the private seller than vis-à-vis a dealer.
It remains to be said that, as a buyer, you can always choose from several instruments from a well-stocked dealer and that the chance of finding the right piano for you is much greater.
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While buying a piano

What do I have to look out for when buying a used piano?

Pianos don't last forever, but if they are well looked after, they do last a long time.

Pianos as we know them today have been built this way for around 100 years. The heyday of piano manufacturing in Western Europe was between the turn of the century and the First World War. Never again have so many pianos been built as at that time.

It is therefore not surprising that there are so many instruments on the market for used pianos that are 50-100 years old. The condition of these instruments varies greatly.

Pianos are sold because the seller either wants to buy a better instrument or because it is simply no longer needed. The second case is clearly the cheaper one for the buyer. The chance that the piano is okay is greater than in the first case, because damage to the instrument can be the reason why the seller wants to buy another piano.
One of the most common causes is poor voice posture. This means that the piano is repeatedly out of tune at too short intervals. This is not only annoying, it also turns into a lot of money over time. Before we go into further defects that you should look out for when buying a used piano, and above all how you can determine them, it should be said that although the design (upper / lower mute), almost every defect in the instrument dated Piano maker repairs.

There are essentially three things that deteriorate the quality of the piano over time, namely wear, Aging and harmful influences from the outside.

Wear affects the very complex, moving parts of the mechanics. This is the name of the assembly that ensures that the strings are struck when the black and white keys are pressed, creating a sound. Wherever components in contact are in motion, there is friction and thus abrasion and wear.
The mechanism consists essentially of wood, felt, metal and leather. All components that come into direct contact with the strings, i.e. the hammer heads and the dampers, have a felt surface. The guides for the keys are also equipped with felt and leather.
The ravages of time gnaws at felt and leather, and the ravages of the moth also gnaw the felt. Many a piano has already been made musically unusable by moths, because the felt is made of wool, mottes Favorite food. Leather becomes hard and brittle over time, we all know that. The hammer head felts are only partially elastic, so that over time, through playing, the strings in the felt are pressed and grooves are created there. which at some point lead to the strings no longer being struck properly.

The Aging affects not only the felt and leather parts but also the wood. Wood lives and changes with temperature fluctuations and with fluctuations in humidity. In other words, it expands and contracts. Over the years, cracks appear in the wood.
Are the cracks in the sound post then the pegs no longer find a firm hold, and the piano keeps going out of tune. Are the cracks in the soundboard then the acoustic transmission of the vibrations is imperfect and the instrument loses its sound quality.

Harmful external influences
These include environmental influences such as extreme temperature fluctuations, too low or too high humidity, direct sunlight, damage from water or other liquids, as well as moth infestation or the destructive work of mice.

The case
You can often tell from the case what has happened to the piano. If the veneer is wavy or even peeled off, it can be assumed that the instrument has come into contact with water. Mold stains on light-colored parts of the case indicate at least temporary storage in damp rooms. The dust inside or on the back of the case is also meaningful.
If this dust shows traces of mold, then the piano was damp and has certainly suffered. At the latest when it is completely "dried out", there is a risk of cracking. A musty, musty smell inside the case is another indication of improper installation or storage.

A beer is often placed on a piano. Wherever there are beers, one of them tips over and then runs into the piano. Pay attention to the edges of liquid on the housing and the scorch marks from cigarette butts. If you discover such traces, there is a good chance that the piano was once in a pub. Such an instrument retains the sour smell for many years, and you should think carefully about whether you want to put this smell in your living room.
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Condition of the keyboard, condition of the felts and cloths

Various things can be seen on the keyboard that a buyer should pay attention to. With a look from the side you can see whether the keys are roughly in a straight line or whether the keyboard is more reminiscent of a roller coaster. If the keys are "criss-cross", then one can assume that the felts of the key bearings are worn out or have made acquaintance with moths.
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Functionality of the buttons, crooked buttons, background noises

Next, you should hit each key. Needless to say, every key should produce a tone. But when you're at it and you're touching every key, watch out for the side play. The buttons must not move too far to the side, and above all they must not touch each other. A comparison of the frequently played keys in the middle register with the keys in the bass or treble range is instructive here.
Also make sure that the keys can be played with approximately the same amount of force and that the keys cause background noises when you hit them. As long as you hold the button down, the tone must linger. When you release the button, the sound should stop immediately. If this is not the case, there is something wrong with the damper mechanism.
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Condition of the pedals

The pedals also provide information about the condition of an instrument. If the brass coating, especially on the right pedal, is worn so far that the iron pedal lever is visible, this indicates severe wear.
The pedals should also only have a small amount of lateral play and should not cause any background noise.
The right pedal cancels the damping, that is, when the right pedal is pressed, the struck note must also reverberate even though you have released the key again. If this is not the case, then there is a problem with the attenuation, but this can usually be remedied by a specialist.
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Damping, upper damper

The damping ensures that the string does not reverberate when the key is released. You can read how this is done here (technical terms). On old pianos you can sometimes still find what is known as the upper damper mechanism.You can recognize them by the fact that after opening the housing cover and looking inside, you cannot see the hammer heads, but look at the upper damper.
There are only a few manufacturers (e.g. Blüthner, Ibach or Steingraeber) who have achieved satisfactory results with this construction. In general, however, it can be said that buying a top mute piano is not advisable because the damping properties no longer meet today's requirements.
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Cracks in the sound post

Even if a piano has not been tuned for years, the pitch should not deviate by more than half a tone, which can be determined relatively easily with a tuning fork.
Particular care is required if individual tones are particularly badly out of tune. This indicates loose tuning pegs, which in turn is the result of cracks in the sound post can be.
This can be repaired, but it is quite a laborious affair.
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Cracks in the soundboard

Like the sound post, the soundboard can crack due to age. Then the vibration transmission is no longer perfect and the instrument loses its sound quality.
Cracks in the soundboard can be repaired by so-called chipping. Narrow wooden wedges are inserted into the cracks and glued together. Then the surface of the soundboard is leveled again and repainted.
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Age information of the seller

One should actually be able to assume that one is not "ripped off" by friends and acquaintances. If you buy an instrument from a stranger, for example in response to an advertisement, it is noticeable that instruments, if they are in private hands, are either almost completely new or have historical value again.
The area in between is surprisingly thin, which of course is not true. Often private sellers themselves do not know exactly how old the instrument really is. Maybe you've bought it second-hand yourself. Sometimes people just cheat. You can find out how old the instrument really is at your dealer, because the age of most upright pianos can be determined fairly precisely using lists of serial numbers.
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After buying a piano

transport

 

Buying a piano or a grand piano is difficult enough. Bringing the "booty" home is a problem of a completely different quality. You shouldn't even try to do the transport yourself. Your back, the stairwells and, last but not least, the piano will thank you. There are specialists for this kind of thing PIANO PALMwho do this every day.
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Voices after the transport

Moving like this is an exciting thing. Also for a piano. It takes about 2-4 weeks until it has calmed down, that is, until it has adapted to the new surroundings and the room climate. After this time it should also be voted.
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Place of installation ... Where should it not be?

Of course you can place your piano wherever you want. However, you should follow a few rules so that you can enjoy your instrument as long as possible.
Direct sunlight is not good for the piano, because it not only bleaches the surface, but also contributes to the fact that the wood dries out extremely. Cracks in the wooden parts would be the result.
Do not place your instrument directly in front of the heater. Never set it up in damp or unheated rooms (e.g. basements). If you have underfloor heating, the bottom of the piano should have a Isofloor mat be protected from drying out. We are happy to help you with this.
In the past, the rule was that pianos should not be placed against outside walls. In modern houses, the insulation is such that this rule can be neglected. They should be heeded in old buildings.
To make it "perfect", you should ensure that the humidity in the "music room" is around 50 - 60% relative humidity. One can worry about the humidity also a so-called Hydroceel stick entrust. This is a special humidifier that is installed inside the piano and automatically ensures that the climate is right. We are happy to help you here too.
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How many times does it have to be voted?

You can say that the piano tuner should come once a year. New instruments may have to be tuned more often, because it takes a while for everything in an instrument to "settle" a little. Note that the pulling and pushing forces in the piano are 15-20 tons. If a piano is extremely out of tune, you may not be able to get it right with just one tuning. Then it is normal that the tuner has to come several times and it is not because the man or woman does not understand your craft.
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What else should I consider? Care, cleaning, etc.

How you care for the case and keep it clean depends on the surface of the instrument. Every piano can handle a wipe with a duster.
Polyester surfaces are best cleaned with a slightly damp chamois leather, with a little alcohol and washing-up liquid in the water. There is a special care product for shellac surfaces. Please never touch a shellac surface with water or conventional cleaning agents. You can wipe the keyboard with a well-wrung chamois leather.
Please make absolutely sure that no liquid runs between the keys. You can also use the furniture nozzle of the vacuum cleaner to carefully walk over the keyboard from time to time. However, you should by no means use the vacuum cleaner to ensure order and cleanliness in the mechanics. Expensive damage is quickly done here.

Otherwise you should avoid placing filled flower vases or other potential "water bombs" on your upright or grand piano. Picture frames, old clocks or whatever else looks good on the piano can rattle and vibrate while playing, which is definitely detrimental to the enjoyment of music.
The piano should be declared a "taboo zone" for four-legged housemates. One last tip. Lined with lavender or moth paper (both available in the drugstore) inside the case, you will keep the worst enemy off your instrument.
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Now you should make sure that you have adequate seating while playing the piano. A height-adjustable piano bench, which ensures a correct sitting position, is strongly recommended.

Now all we have to do is to wish you a lot of fun while making music.

Your team from PIANO PALM

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