Tips on Buying a Piano – What You Need To Know


The first decision to make is whether you choose when buying a used piano in Malaysia is very often the cost and size are the factors to consider. A larger piano with much longer strings will definitely sound better than a smaller piano. At first, you might be overwhelmed with the market for used pianos in the country for looking them up online will lead you to tons of varieties of brands and styles.

Small pianos whether upright or grand piano will suffer from poor tone due to the smaller soundboard and shorter strings.

All modern upright and grand pianos are overstrung which can provide the longest possible string arrangement that is by running bass strings diagonally across the piano over the treble strings.

Very much older pianos are sometimes straight strung which means that the strings run parallel to each other and that limits the length of the strings.

It can be quite a risk to purchase a used piano for there is a chance of ending up with one that would need so much work due to ongoing problems. Of course, there are still a lot others that are working great and simply need a new home or someone willing to play them. Here is a comprehensive guide of the things you should know before closing a deal.

General Points When Purchasing a Piano in Malaysia

1. How will it look like in your house? (Size and Case design)

2. The age of the said instrument

3. Overall condition – including the inside

4. Keyboard condition – sticky and loose keys

5. The manufacturer or make of the piano

6. How is the pitch? (A very out of pitch or tuned piano will need the effort to bring it up to pitch again)  

Most used pianos sold in Malaysia are from two reputable brands, Yamaha and Kawai. They are the two trusted brands and usually priced reasonably. They are also suitable for the tropical climate of Malaysia.

When you find a piano you like, have a visual check, look carefully the external of the piano, play it and the open and look inside. You can also seek help from a knowledgeable person such as a piano technician or someone who knows how to play it. Make sure that it is in good working order. Play each key and check each sound if it has a consistent tone. Test the pedals as well.

Here are the points that can help you decide if the piano is worth considering.

1. Could you accept the casework and appearance of the piano in the current condition? Is it worth the money you and paying for and can you live with the shortcomings?

2. Are the keys level, evenly spaced and not sticky

3. Play each note in quick succession. To check for the key response.

By playing the notes twice in quick succession is to check if the piano has suffered from damp in the past. You have to play all the keys, white and black keys note for note.

A note will not be played twice if the keys are tight or the hammer won’t drop back to allow the key to playing again.

These are signs of dampness:

1. How was the sound, does it sound even across the whole keyboard?

2. Did you detect any notes that are louder or softer than their neighbor?

3. When you release the key, does the sound stop or does it ring on?

4. Were there any unusual noises like buzzes, squeaks or clicks when the keys are played?

5. Do you find the pedals working properly and silently?

By looking inside the piano:

1. Is the action clean?

2. Do the component parts aligned neatly

3. Do you see any signs of damage?

4. Can you see any missing parts or strings?

5. Are any parts broken or missing?

6. Are there any obvious signs of mice, woodworms or cockroaches (droppings)

The cast iron frame which can be seen easily in the bottom of an upright piano actually covers most of the area inside a piano. The steel strings are attached to the cast iron frame at the top, from the tuning pin to the bottom of the frame.

1. Check if there is there any sign of rust on the string or frame?

2. Check if the iron frame is cracked?

3. Can you see cracks in the wood between the tuning pins?

4. Check whether some of the tuning pins are leaning down more than the rest?

The piano soundboard is the varnished wooden panel which you can see underneath the strings.

The bridges are lengths of hard laminated wood, glued to the soundboard, into which metal pins are driven in to secure the strings.

The strings run firmly over the bridges and also between the pins in the bridges.

The vibration from the strings is transmitted to the soundboard by the bridges, and vibration makes the sound you hear. It is important that these parts are kept in good condition always.

1. Check if there are there cracks in the soundboard?

2. Check if there are there splits in the bridges between the bridge pins?

3. Check if there are gaps between the bridges and the soundboard?

After checking all the points listed above, and you still have any concerns, these should be discussed with the person selling the used piano. Do not hesitate to ask questions. Know how frequent the piano has been maintained. Ideally, you want it tuned and maintained regularly. It also helps to know how frequently it was played to know the wear and tear it has had. If it has sat unused for long, it is likely to have many problems. Just the same, heavy use can also bear different issues. You just want to know what you are getting into.

However, to minimize any risk in buying a second-hand piano we suggest that you can always contact us to have a detailed check over any piano you may consider buying.

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