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How to Test a Piano

Tone

1) To test sustain - play notes in three main sections of the keyboard and let it sound as long as possible. Check the sustain rate and notice any changes in the quality of sound as it decays. A piano is said to be "singing" if the sustain rate is long. In this test, comparing two or more pianos at the same time will help.

Bass section should be full and deep, not tubby and dead.

Tenor (mid) section will sound similar in most pianos, although some will project more while others will be more warm or quieter.

Treble section should be bell-like and clear, not tinny and weak. Usually in this section the sustain rate is obviously noticeable.

2) To test the performance of a soundboard - press the right pedal. Play a chord as loud as possible in the bass section, then the tenor (mid) section and finally, the upper treble section. Do the chords tend to merge over time? In this test, you want their tones to remain separate in it's section.

3) Listen for how the piano combine in harmony. Get someone who can play the piano (a friend or a teacher) and listen to the sound. Try as many pianos as possible including the most expensive piano. Notice the changes in the sound of each piano. Does it "sing" or notes seem to disappear or sound loud, as if two instruments were being played.

Touch

1) Press down the right pedal. Play the far left key as soft as possible. The softer (without misses) you can play the notes, the better the action.

2) Play a chord of three to four tones and see if you can achieve a good control over the volume. If you can't, the touch may be too light.

3) Repetition test - Try play the same note over and over at a steady rhythm. Notice how quickly the keys rises back. In general, you want one which plays quickly while the touch shouldn't be too light. Action that is light, provides poor feedback from the piano back to the player. In fact, most advanced musicians like to feel a touch that is heavy for better dynamic levels control.

Dynamic (Volume) Control

1) Can you play the entire scale with control, both soft and loud and many shades in between? This is because many pianos today can only play loud and louder, but not soft and softer. On the other hand, this is obvious the weakness on smaller pianos (< 114cm) when trying to play loud.

Have fun exploring and choose what you prefer.

 

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