We were called to move a piano for an elderly man just a few days ago. Gus had just retired from a florist’s job and sounded very exited as he told us about the piano he found on Craigslist. The seller told him that all the piano needed was a good tuning. Gus wanted to get the piano picked up and delivered so he could start practicing right away. I asked him if he had hired a technician to inspect the piano to which he replied that he had checked the piano out and it was fine, “just needed a tuning”.
Old pianos are never fine, they need to be inspected thoroughly for any defects. How does one became an “Expert” by just looking at the piano? We recently moved a Baldwin Hamilton upright for a client who had also “inspected the piano himself”. Late at night some noises came out of the piano, and t0 his wife’s horror, he discovered a mouse living inside it.”Just tuning” turned into taking out the mechanism and all the keys to vacuum and scrub inside the piano, adding a pitch raise, and tightening all the hammer flange screws. The bill was quite hefty. Back to Gus and his piano, once I had a good look at the piano we were picking up the situation looked pretty sad. We were standing next to a 20 odd year old Spinet piano with several problems: 1) Three broken plastic elbows (they connect the key to the hammer for strike). 2) Pin block that was dried out (the piano would not hold a tuning for more than 3 seconds). 3) The hammers were unglued from the inner core (no sound) . Needless to say a piano like this is toast.
This is like the old guy method of kicking the tires on a car to see if it is good! Don’t do it get a technician to check it out!