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Here is a basic checklist for things to look for when buying an old used piano, upright or grand. These may have a variety of different causes and they are mostly fixable, but you should consider the cost of repair and add it to the asking price to see if it is worth it. To do a basic inspection, you need to open the lid and remove the upper and lower panels for upright pianos.
1. I am happy with how it looks on the outside.
2. Keys are level on the keyboard.
3. Spacing of the hammers look even to the eyes.
4. Hammer felts are not too compressed and string marks on them are not too deep.
5. Not many replaced strings (if the piano is old and some of the strings look newer and shinier than others, it may mean that other strings may break soon and need to be replaced as well).
6. Keys do not get stuck when pressed down.
7. There are no keys sounding extremely out of tune (if they do it usually means that the tuning pin(s) require repair).
8. Tuning pins are not rusty.
9. Soundboard does not have major cracks.
10. Soundboard is thoroughly glued and attached to the wooden diagonal ribs (otherwise volume of sound can be substantially reduced and the piano may also buzz).
11. There are no rodent droppings inside the piano.
What to check when you are buying a used piano
a basic guide
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