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Buying a recond/used piano

PIANOS DON'T LAST FOREVER AND PIANOS DON'T GET BETTER WITH AGE

It is very common that today you'll find many music shops selling recond pianos from Japan that are much lower priced as compared to new pianos. Majority of these old pianos imported into Malaysia are beyond the lifespan of a good piano and range between 30 to 60+ years old. In fact, these pianos are disposed by private owners, musicians, music institutions and universities in Japan in favour for a new instrument because of age, poor condition and usually, not worth rebuilding since there is little market for used pianos in Japan.

What is a recond piano? A piano that is used, regardless of age, that have gone through a process of reconditioning. It involves touching up the casing to look new, polishing metal parts and hinges, cleaning the inside of the piano and tunings with parts replacement only where necessary. Defective action parts are sometimes replaced with parts salvaged from an older piano because new genuine parts are expensive and may not be available from certain manufacturers. Basically, a 30+ years old recond piano that goes through this process can never sound and perform like or equal to a new piano.

In addition, used piano is subject to lots of wear and tear in the action that needs repair and replacement before fine regulation can be done. A piano that is out of regulation will cause  the keys not level, lack of forceful sound during hard blow, uneven volume or feel, "bobbling" hammers and keys seem to "sink" too far down when depressed. This will affect the touch of the piano which is important in piano playing. In the end, what appears to be a good deal may prove to be a real liability.

Unlike wine, piano deteriorates overtime as it ages, whether it is being played or not. Why? The extreme pressure exerted from the 20 tons of pressure from over 220 strings in a piano everyday and excessive humidity that crushes the fibers of the wood ultimately causes the soundboard to flatten and loses tension and making the tone dies off quickly.

Conversely, it is possible to make an old piano to perform like new. It is called rebuilding. This process involves replacing the major components of the piano such as the soundboard, strings, bridges, pinblock and most action parts. This practice is very expensive to repair when consider the cost of a new piano.

If you want your children to learn to play the piano, find the best possible piano within a comfortable price range. Don't assume your children is young and just started lesson you can find a cheap piano, because there is no such thing as a cheap 'start-off piano'. A piano that is poor condition offers discouragement to the child such as weak sustain qualities, poor dynamic range and will never develop good playing technique.

"Keep in mind" that outside appearance of a piano does not reflect the true condition of a piano, unless you're buying it as a decorative item, piano shaped object (PSO). As a general rule, the older the piano, the less "musical life" is left in the piano and the more repairs are probably needed.

Here are just a few of the major components inside a piano:-
New versus Used (Reconditioned)

Soundboard more...
May be cracked or worse, may have lost it's crown thus become tonally dead. It is one of the crucial part of the piano, which changes the strings vibrating energy into sound waves that we hear.

Soundboard Ribs
May be broken or come unglued. As a result the transfer of mechanical energy become weak around the soundboard area.

Iron Plate
May be cracked which distort the piano musically and makes the piano useless. It also provide the strength to support the 20 tons of string tension.

Strings

Bass strings may be dead or copper wound may have come loose with time, the bass notes become tubby and dull sound.

Treble and Bass Bridges
May have lost its downbearing, broken, split or cracked thus weaken piano tone and is very expensive to repair. It helps transmit the vibrations properly under the pressure of the strings to the soundboard.

Bridge Pins
May have lost its sidebearing, broken or misaligned thus cause a loss of energy. It holds the strings solidly on the bridge.

Pin block
May be split and is very costly to repair. It hold the tuning pins tightly so that all the strings are maintained at the right tension without unwinding, increase tuning stability.

Tuning Pins
May be loose, may have been doped, may require oversized pins, may require new pin block. A serious business as the piano will never be able to hold the strings at the correct tension.

Actions
There are thousands of moving parts in a piano action. May be literally worn out affecting the touch. If re-bushing and re-pinning are required, this will become very costly. A complete regulation will be needed and is expensive if properly done.

Hammers
May be worn out or improperly filed so as to require replacement as it affect the tone and sustaining qualities of a piano. Of all parts found in the action, hammers are the most important.

 

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