How To Choose
(Adapted from brochure produced by Piano Tuners and Technicians
The greatest call
for pianos, comes from a beginner, or learner, and frequently, the person
choosing the piano is a non player. In all too many cases, the purchaser
bases their decision on price and appearance, and all too often, the
student winds up with a sub standard piano.
Many people look to
second-hand pianos, expecting to pick up an instrument for their child
at around $1000 - $2000. Unfortunately, there are very few decent second-hand
pianos available in this price range. So, where do you go, and what
do you do?
Pianos vary so drastically,
that it is impossible to give you a formula, which can be used to assure
you of a decent instrument when choosing a second hand piano. There
are so many points to look for, that the layman would have difficulty
in determining whether a piano is defect free.
There is no such thing
as a beginner's piano. If the price of the instrument is cheap, there
is usually a reason why the seller cannot ask more for it. If the action
and keyboard are worn, then the student will not learn the correct touch.
If a piano can't be tuned to concert pitch, or wont hold pitch, then
the student's ear cannot be trained correctly. If the tone is wrong,
then the student's ears will not enjoy the correct sound.
You are spending a
lot of money on lessons, and the student is going to spend a lot of
time practising. If the student hates the feel and the sound, they are
going to be even less inclined to practise, and even if they do spend
hours practising, they are not going to develop properly, technically.
Don't cut corners by buying a cheapie.
So what can you look
for? Is the piano badly out of tune? Any serious seller would at least
tune the piano to present it in it's best light to prospective purchasers.
The chances are that this piano has been badly neglected, and will probably
cost big dollars to be put into a reasonable condition. It's probably
a good idea to purchase a tuning fork, find out how to use it, and if
the piano is in tune, check the tune against your tuning fork. If there
is a difference, the piano may be in tune with itself, but not be at
concert pitch. If you have done the test properly, the piano probably
needs repinning. Look for wear on the face of the hammers. This is the
part of the action that strikes the strings. If the face of the hammer
has deep lines where the strings have been cutting into the felt, then
the piano has had considerable wear. Look at the pedals. If the right
pedal has been worn down, then that could be an indication of excessive
use. Strings that are rusty are not good, and cause poor sound. There
is also a strong possibility that they may break. Check to see if new
strings have been fitted recently (they look shiny against dull old
ones). If yes, then the indication is that strings are starting to break.
Other things that need checking include cracked bridges, cracks in the
frame, weakness in the wrest plank, and splits in the soundboard.
We can't stress too
highly, that a piano advertised in the weekend press, should be thoroughly
checked by an approved piano technician before you make the purchase.
This will cost you $70 - $100, but could save you a couple of thousand
dollars in repairs. Is there a stool with the piano? Piano stools cost
between $100 and $450. Another outlay is the cost of transporting your
purchase to your home. Don't trust just anyone. Use the services of
a reliable Piano Removalist, not just a common carrier. Finally, don't
forget that your new purchase has no warranty back up whatsoever.
So what about second-hand pianos
from a dealer. You can usually tell a dealer's commitment from their
showroom. Does the dealer have a resident piano tuner or tuners? A reputable
dealer will not risk their reputation, by selling you a "questionable
quality" piano. They will supply you with a warranty, which covers
the work done to the piano.
Is the piano a
recent import from Japan or Asia? These secondhand pianos are built
for their domestic markets, and are not suited to Australian conditions.
Over a period of time, these instruments could well suffer from warpage
and shrinkage in critical areas, such as soundboard, moving hammer parts,
and other wooden parts. These pianos could also be older than you think.
Check the age with the chart supplied with this handout. Why would Yamaha
warn against buying these instruments? (see brochure attached to this
Refer to "What About Purchasing
A Used Yamaha Piano"
NOTE: Yamaha pianos
built in Indonesia are made to Yamaha's exacting standards, and are
made for Australian Conditions.
Consider very carefully before parting with your hard earned dollars. More...
A third consideration
is the Digital
Piano. Over the years, digital piano design has improved out
of all sight. Pianos of current manufacture usually have good tone,
and a feel that is not too distant from a real acoustic piano. Some
early pianos had actions that while officially weighted, had a less
than satisfactory feel. It should be pointed out that some current actions,
especially in cheaper models of major brands, are not technically fully
weighted. The mid range Yamaha digital pianos are a good indication
of what a digital piano action should feel like. The Sample of the sound
in early models was also, usually not of the best quality. The advantages
of digital pianos are their light weight, which makes them easy to move
for cleaning or relocation, their contemporary look for modern homes,
lack of need for tuning, and a headphone facility. Most digital pianos
have a MIDI facility, for interfacing with other instruments, tone modules,
or computers. They also have a variety of sounds, which add to the enjoyment
of the player. They are however, products of computer technology, and
thus, are less likely to retain value, as new improved models are released
periodically. On the other hand, it costs over $150 to tune a
piano, and so the saving of this cost over a number of years tends to
cancel out this depreciation factor.
Park Pianos was established in the early 1970's,
and was purchased in 1987 by its current owner, Barry Drysdale. We have
a fully equipped Piano Workshop, and two tuners on staff. Pianos
are reconditioned on the premises, and all second hand pianos carry
a FIVE year warranty. All second-hand pianos are supplied with a stool,
and are delivered into your home (in the metropolitan area), and one
FREE tuning in your home is included in the purchase agreement. Park
Pianos also stock quality NEW pianos from Japan's leading
manufacturer, Yamaha, and recently added a new brand to their
lineup, the renowned George Steck & Sons. Each of these makes
have a TEN year transferable warranty period.
Yamaha has been established since 1887, and have been manufacturing
pianos since 1900. Although probably better known for motorbikes, Yamaha's
first motorcycle wasn't produced until 1955. In the ensuing century
and a bit, Yamaha has become recognised as one of the worlds leading
piano manufacturers, supplying pianos to most major universities, conservatories
and education facilities around the world. Their pianos have been one
of only four makes used extensively in the prestigious World Piano Competition.
The George Steck & Sons brand is being manufactured at a
brand new state of the art facility in China, and it's technical and
manufacturing Departments have recruited some of the top executives
from other major world piano manufacturers. The product received so
far has exceeded even our most optimistic expectations, and our technical
staff are very enthusiastic about the quality and performance of this
We also stock a large range of digital pianos from Yamaha. Yamaha
created the digital piano concept and have been the industry leader
for a number of years. The Clavinova product carries a FULL
Three Year Warranty and all parts and labour. It should be noted
that the AMEB have approved the use of some digital pianos in
exams up to Grade Four. All models in the Yamaha range have been
Having now purchased
your "new" instrument, what is required to care for it, to
ensure that it gives you many years of trouble free service? The piano
should be placed in a position where it is adequately ventilated. But
don't place it in a draft. The best place is on a wall, which separates
two rooms. Avoid placing it against an outside wall, because excessive
heat or dampness will harm the instrument, and cause extreme instability
in tuning. The polished surface of a piano can be damaged if the piano
is placed near a window, and changes in humidity will also affect the
tuning stability. Certainly, do not place it near a heater or radiator.
Avoid sudden temperature changes, as moisture formed can form on the
steel strings and turn them rusty. Excessive heat will cause the piano
to dry out, causing the Tuning Pins to work loose, thus creating severe
tuning instability. Articles placed on top of pianos can rattle and
vibrate. NEVER place a vase of flowers that needs to be watered
on top of a piano. The slightest drop of water can cause untold damage
to the action and keys.
The ideal tuning period
for a piano is every three months, however, a piano should not be allowed
to go more than twelve months without tuning, whether it is being played
or not. The amount of stress and strain a piano has to withstand is
enormous. The tension on an upright piano can be as much as 18 tonnes
when tuned to A440 CPS. If the tuning is not regular, then each time
it is tuned, undue stress will be placed upon the frame. If the piano
appears to go uneven, then a technician should regulate the instrument.
This should be done every time the piano is tuned. Periodically, the
piano will need voicing. This entails making the sound of the piano
even and pure.
Apart from the benefits
of purchasing a New or Second-hand or Digital piano from Park
Pianos as outlined above, we have many other products available
as well. We have a comprehensive and expanding sheet music section,
and most requests for music can be met immediately, or if not in stock,
can be ordered for you, with a waiting time (depending on suppliers
stock holding) of no more than 2 weeks. We carry a huge range of Portable
Keyboards, Guitars (acoustic and electric), Amplifiers, and accessories.
Our Drum Department is stocked with a full range of percussion equipment,
from tambourines and shakers, to full professional drum kits. Our Professional
Keyboard department stocks synthesizers from the world's major manufacturers,
as well as professional software and recording equipment. Our PA department
has Perth's largest showroom, and has installations in many of Perth's
major churches and clubs.
As a purchaser of
a New or used acoustic or digital piano from Park Pianos, you
will be entitled to 15% discount off most print music lines, and at
least 10% on most other products that we sell. We will also guarantee
to credit you At Least the purchase price of your piano against the
cost of an upgrade at some time in the future, providing the piano has
been properly and regularly maintained and serviced by a technician
of our approval.
NOTE: Yamaha Pianos are manufactured to three different
specifications, correlating to different destinations. Pianos imported
and warranted by Yamaha Australia are manufactured to the "Super
Dry Specification". Imported domestic pianos are manufactured
to the other extreme called the "Wet Specification". These
pianos would only have had a one year warranty on their original parts
and have no Yamaha warranty in Australia. In some cases, the age of
these used pianos is not truthfully represented.
Refer to "What About Purchasing
A Used Yamaha Piano"
The Story With Imported Second-Hand Pianos?
(Reprinted from Yamaha A.I.M.S. Newsletter 1997)
Today, it has become
commonplace for second-hand luxury commodities to be shipped around
the world. Shopping the global village has never been easier, and many
have heard the horror stories of luxury cars… exotic furniture
imported from the tropics… and of once fine pianos that self-destruct
in their new and alien environment. Even finely crafted instruments
such as Japanese pianos are not immune to the risks of re-location.
So what does happen
to the well presented piano you buy second hand, unaware that it's first
10 or even 20 years were spent in say, Tokyo or Manila?
The piano has been
moved to Australia, into an enormously different temperature and humidity
environment. As a consequence, the fine timber soundboard, the piano's
"heart" - may slowly and progressively begin to warp.
Delicately moving hammer parts can stick, while other wooden
parts may over time, shrink and become loose. The piano's once beautiful
tone and smooth response could be lost forever. You may have unknowingly,
bought yourself a bomb.
Before you consider
buying a second-hand Yamaha piano, why not give Yamaha a call. Tell
us the serial number, and we will tell you immediately, how old it is,
and where possible, whether it began it's playing career in Sydney or
the Sudan. Considering that you are about to make a substantial investment,
and may even want their piano to be passed down as a family heirloom,
take the time to check what is available from your authorised Yamaha
Gold Standard Piano Dealer. There may just be a "Gold Standard"
used piano available. And whilst a Gold Standard used piano can never
be as good as brand new Yamaha, you can rest assured that you are purchasing
a piano that has been marketed by Yamaha Music Australia in the long
term interests of Australian Consumers. Whilst you are at your Yamaha
dealer, check out the new contemporary Series Yamahas… a new piano
may be cheaper than you think.
Yamaha - The Gold
Standard In Pianos
How Yamaha 'Seasons'
its Pianos for Different Climatic Conditions!
There are a number
of reasons why Yamaha pianos are way ahead of its competitors. Certainly
too many to mention here. However, besides the company's much celebrated
and recognised reputation for superior quality and craftsmanship, Yamaha
Is also renowned for its apperception of different climatic conditions
and its affect on musical instruments.
The above consideration is very interesting; especially when confronted
with used piano imports being contemplated by potential piano purchasers.
So what is the difference between a Yamaha Piano originally destined
for Australia, and the used piano import.
As the piano travels through its extensive production process, there
are three important stages that Yamaha employs to ensure that the piano
will play at the most optimum level within its destined environment.
The first stage happens within the Kiln drying process of the lumber
employed to craft the piano. The seasoning of the lumber occurs to further
control the moisture content of the wood. Careful consideration is taken
to keep in mind the final destination of the eventual piano. Temperatures
and time within the kiln are adjusted to prepare the piano for its final
The second stage occurs towards the end of a piano's completion. Just
after the assembly of the external parts of the piano, and before the
piano's final tuning, regulation, and voicing, the completed piano is
placed in a controlled seasoning room. The piano sits within this enclosure
for a period of time to enable stabilisation of the full unit and all
The ventilation and air circulation within the seasoning room is fashioned
to that of the piano's final destination. This is done in an attempt
to ensure that the piano and all its "living" parts are stabilised
and settled in an environment similar to that of its final destination.
(After all parts of the piano have been assembled and glued - the piano
is still "living". That is, parts are still moving and not
Depending on what region within the world the piano will finally be
shipped to, the piano can spend up to a number of weeks within the seasoning
room. Pianos destined for an environment that has a "super dry"
climate, e.g: Australia, spend a longer period of time within this seasoning
After the piano has graduated from the seasoning process, all parts
are checked, and adjusted if movement or shifting has occurred. At this
point the piano's final tuning, regulation, and voicing occurs. It is
then stamped and ready for shipment.
The final and third stage includes the secure packing of the instrument.
The piano is packed to ensure the conservation of the seasoning process.
As the piano travels and is shipped across various humidity and climatic
conditions, such as tropical regions and high temperatures, the piano
needs to be securely encased to ensure no "exposure" occurs.
Any exposure may tamper with the piano's seasoning result, and result
in shifting of parts, shrinkage or expansion of the soundboard. Thus,
ultimately hindering the piano's performance and condition within its
eventual environmental home.
For further details
on Yamaha's Piano Production Process, or for further details on responding
to consumers most asked questions about new vs old pianos, please contact
Marnie Anderson at Yamaha Music Australia.
Phone.. 03 9693 5213.
Refer to "What About Purchasing
A Used Yamaha Piano"
When Was Your Yamaha
or Eterna Piano Made?
To check the age of
a Yamaha or Eterna piano made in Japan, simply check the serial number
against the list below.