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Piano Buying Tips

Finding that perfect piano for you is a worthy project.


This search should be approached with many considerations and information-gathering that will end in pleasurable results.
As with every worthwhile project, don't act hastily and always practice sound judgment, for there are opportunists, whether intentionally or not, trying to turn a fast dollar at your expense.
One excellent source or reading material that is written in layman terms that will give solid insight to this project is, "The Piano Book," by Larry Fine. You can locate this book at your public library or purchase one from a good bookstore for under $20, and it is a bargain at that price. Another excellent resource book to help in dating the age and manufacturing information of your consideration would be "Pierce Piano Atlas."
A tactic to the unsuspecting "would-be buyer" from individuals or store salespeople is the line, "all it needs is a good tuning." Many times a poor, out-of-tune piano will mask many defects and costly needed repairs because you can't really hear anything due to the glaring intonation. A tuning is not a "fix-all" for all the other problems with an instrument. Always insist that prior to your purchasing the piano you want the instrument to be finely tuned to actually hear what that instrument at its current condition will sound like. Even two identical new pianos sitting side-by-side will have differences in tone, harmonics, dynamics, and touch. 
The picture that is located in the upper right corner is a 1941 Howard Studio, retired from a local bar and now plays the praises to God in a local Methodist Bell Choir Room. Besides having to learn a few new songs, this piano had its action reconditioned, new strings, and a few keytops repaired. A Dampp-Chaser Humidity Control unit has been installed and its pitch it as "solid as a rock!" The original purchase was $200.
When examining a used piano, a lot can be learned about the previous service or the lack thereof. Think about it in the terms you would a used car.
Open the lid, search the bench, and even look for signatures on the plate for dates and information recorded about the frequency and type of work that has previously been done on this piano. If the seller seems reluctant or dismissive about recent tunings and would rather talk about the exterior appearance of this instrument, that is generally not a good sign!
Unless the instrument has been owned by a renowned famous person and has documentation as such, the thought of its antiquity is only as good as it is as a useful instrument.
Take a flashlight and a couple of screwdrivers with you to open the easily accessible parts of the cabinet to take a look around. Shine the light up and down the soundboard, strings, pins and pinblock and just about anywhere in the action area you can see. You'll be surprised how really smart you are when it comes to actually viewing something you're not sure what it completely does but that "thing-a-ma-gig" looks like it's not right, or broke or missing!
Before you talk price, call one of "us"-type people who have nothing to do with the transaction to get our point of view and slant on what is a fair price. I've seen too many "FREE" pianos that cost the new owners $200 to have hauled away after they had paid to have it hauled home. Worse than that is the "Sorry Sam" who was talked into dumping several hundreds of dollars of repairs into this box that should have been given a proper burial.

Call Us Today At ♦ (816) 228-8805

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Arbeau Piano

P.O. Box 1053
Blue Springs, MO 64013
Phone: (816) 228-8805
Email: arbeaupiano@comcast.net

Gerald Arbeau, Piano Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Instructor
Terri Arbeau, Piano Instructor/Educator
Hours:
Monday-Friday
By Appointment Only