“I just bought a piano on Craig’s List and it needs a little tuning” or “I got a a piano for free and I think it needs tuning”. These are the calls that cause me concern. Often times these instruments are low quality and haven’t been serviced in decades. If your looking for a piano for “little Suzy” to take lessons on, then consider the following advise. Always call an experienced piano technician to have the piano checked out before you buy it. There are many moving parts and components that are subject to yearly humidity changes and wear. Over time they deteriorate. A good technician will charge a fee for their expertise in assessing the instrument. This is money well spent. When acquiring a piano from the previous mentioned situation, you need to plan on spending money for moving, tuning ,repair, and servicing.
Tuning involves adjusting the tension on the strings to a certain pitch. That’s all! Servicing encompasses the whole piano. Examples are; fixing a sluggish or non working key, regulating the action so the piano plays evenly, and tracking down and eliminating buzzes, rattles, and squeaks. Cleaning of the interior of the piano is often needed. This type of “reconditioning” work is what should be done to put the piano in good working order. Remember if you want “little Suzy” to WANT to practice and learn piano well, then she needs to have an instrument that is in tune and with keys that respond properly. Otherwise, she’ll get frustrated and quit. I’ve seen it happen many times.
Buying a used piano from a reputable piano technician, rebuilder, or dealer can save you from this headache. The “reconditioning” work will already be done and usually a warranty of some kind is given. You may have to pay a little more up front, but in the long run it will pay off with years of enjoyment.