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Buying A Piano – Piano Buying Tips

Golden Piano Tuning - Columbus Ohio

Tips For Buying A Piano

Golden Piano Tuning, Columbus Ohio

Here is some great information regarding buying a piano in the Columbus and Central Ohio area!

(NOTE: Bill does not take piano donations, nor does he buy pianos.)

Let Bill know if you are looking to buy a piano!

Find pianos to check out

In addition to checking with family, friends, churches, etc., take a look at CraigsList (Columbus, Ohio) as well ( CraigsList is a great place to look for a piano. Also, here is a service that will automatically notify you via email you when someone lists a piano for sale: NotiCraig ( This is an easy way to track pianos and you click right to CraigsList from your email to check what’s there. And last, but not least, Bill posts pianos for sale on his Pianos for Sale and Facebook pages.

Take a notebook, pencil, and flashlight

You will want to make notes for comparison and review. You will need the flashlight to help you see inside the piano and even outside if it is a dimly-lit area.

Take your “smartphone” & guitar/chromatic tuner app

Take your “smartphone” with a guitar or chromatic tuner app installed, a tuned instrument, a tuning fork, or an electronic tone device so you can compare tones with the piano to determine how close the piano is to the correct pitch.

You can buy an electronic metronome for $16-$18 from a local music store or online, such as These metronomes typically generate an A 440 Hz tone that you can compare with the piano you are evaluating. Check the middle “A” on the piano for correct pitch – the standard for an “A” is 440 cycles per second, also known as A440.

If the piano has dropped in pitch, you will need to have the pitch raised as part of your initial tuning. If the piano has dropped significantly, you may need more than one pitch raising session before the piano can be stabilized. Unless there is some compelling reason to go with a piano that has dropped more than one step (note) in pitch, it is best to keep looking. Pianos like this have been ignored for many years. If there’s nothing else out there in that price range, figure on a few tunings to get it stabilized and use it as a negotiating point.

Take a friend with you

Take a friend with you so you can another set of eyes and ears. Depending on the piano, you may even want to move it away from a wall so you can see behind it.

Determine approximate last tuning date

Ask when the piano was last tuned. This will give you a feel for how well the piano has been maintained. Industry standard for tunings is every 6 months. If they tell you something greater than 3 years or say, “I have no idea,” you may have a reason for concern or at least a point for price negotiation, especially if the sale price is more than $3-$500.

Get the Piano’s history

Find out the history of the piano. When and where was it purchased? You can lift the lid of some of the upright pianos and find a manufacturer and serial number. Go to our Piano Services page and read all about determining the piano’s age.

Test the piano’s mechanics

Even if you don’t play piano, press every single key to make sure it makes a sound. It may sound terrible, but at least you will know that each key works (or doesn’t). Make note of whether the key plays with full motion, but no sound is heard, or if the key is difficult to depress, whether you can hear the note or not.

Listen for unusual sounds

Listen for vibrating wood sounds as you play each note. If you hear this, the piano may have a cracked soundboard. Unless you want to tolerate the vibrating sound, you may want to steer clear of the piano.

Look inside the piano

For most upright pianos, you can lift the lid and see inside. Look for broken wires, especially up where the wire attaches to the pins. This will make sense, once you look inside. Also look for rust on the pins or wires, missing parts (you can tell because there will be a hole or gap where it looks like something should be). Look for deep grooves in the hammers (the part that strikes the wires). Deep groves mean you may need to have some work done to the hammers, but a lot of it has to do with how the piano sounds to you and how much you want to invest in it (aka, what your tolerance level is).

Check the pedals

Test the pedals and make sure they work. Typically, the right pedal sustains the sound while the left pedal softens the sound.

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