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Buying an used upright (Read 1754 times)

Offline drkz4ck

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Buying an used upright
« on: June 07, 2016, 07:27:37 PM »
I've had a digital for 5 years and now wanto to buy an acoustic piano.

A grand wouldn't fit in my house, so upright is the way to go. I'm looking for used ones because it's cheaper.

There are many people in my town trying to ged rid of their uprightss that are just piling up dust, but these people usually won't take good care of it.

I don't intend to save money on an used instrument just to end up having to pay for a expensive restoration.
That said, I intend to go check a number of used uprights, and wanna be thorugh.

I've heard pianos can inhabit some nasty termites, wireworms and even cockroacher and mice!
It's unpleasant and can damage the instrument over time, even if it looks and sounds good right now.

Aside from that, there are many other factor that can deffect the piano's quality.
My question is: What should keep an eye on when I go tvisit these people to know if the isntrument is in good shape (even if it's out of tune)?

Thanks everyone! =)

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #1 on: June 07, 2016, 09:29:54 PM »
Take all the covers/panels off -- in most uprights and spinets that's pretty easy -- and, using a good strong flashlight, look around.  Dust?  No problem.  Even a few mouse droppings, no problem.  Mold?  Forget it.  Mildew, unless it's minor, forget it.  Really grubby?  Forget it.  Look at the hammers and dampers.  They may be discoloured, but shouldn't be really off colour -- or have really deep string marks.

Try the piano.  The action may be a bit noisy (and the resulting "music" pretty weird) but it should be reasonably even, and the action should feel reasonably good.  A few somewhat sticky notes aren't really a problem if the instrument hasn't been used much.  However, a really really bad note -- or even more so a cluster of bad notes (say for example, an A, B flat, B, C right together) may indicate problems with the pin board.

Look at the sounding board.  Cracks are astonishingly hard to see -- but if you see an obvious one, I'd forget it.  Look at all the strings -- broken strings are not good.

Bottom line: in most areas, used uprights are pretty common and pretty inexpensive, so unless you fall in love with a particular instrument, there's no point in accepting things which aren't good.
Ian

Offline huaidongxi

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #2 on: June 08, 2016, 04:08:38 AM »
if you live near a dealer with a number of used uprights to try out, take advantage of it even if you have no intention of buying from a dealer.  you will least gain a reasonable notion of what similar instruments that are clean and kept in playable condition should be like, and their high retail cost (some dealers include moving and one tuning as well).

Indianajo has left useful tips on examining and trying out older pianos on previous threads in this section.

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #3 on: June 08, 2016, 08:18:27 AM »
.
"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline indianajo

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #4 on: June 08, 2016, 02:40:22 PM »
Here is a thread with some of my opinions on US uprights.  Also some other opinions.
http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=58857.0
Most old uprights were bought for a dream, and hardly used by the purchaser.  If the humidity has not been excessive, there were no mouse nests, they don't wear out. They are not like cars , there are no rubber parts to age,  they are not computers with brass connectors to oxidize and e-caps to go bad.   I've played many 1920's upright where the main problem was the keytops falling off.  A little super glue is the $1 solution for that.  The other problem with free 1920's uprights is the weight, 400 lb.  Post WWII consoles tend to weigh 300 lb, much more manageable. 
Buying a piano uniformly out of tune from an original owner or heir saves $$$ or $$$$.  One with one note way off, that may mean a loose tuning pin, which requires $$$ in work to correct.  Most home use uprights were hardly used and hardly ever tuned.  Normally the middle octaves are about 1/4 note flat to the bass, and the upper octaves a half tone flat.  Buy a tuning wrench and tuning fork and do the 4 or so rough tunings yourself.  Tighting a lot allows the strings to stretch, so some rework over a couple of months is required to get up to pitch.  Wear safety glasses, strings can break.    Once a piano is close to final pitch, a pro does a better job on the top octave because the overtones fool one. I find tuning to my hammond organ solves that problem, but those tiny speaker tuning gadgets I have my suspicions of. 
Have fun shopping.  I bought new in 1982, but there are only 2 choices for US new pianos now, neither cheap. 

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #5 on: June 08, 2016, 03:19:44 PM »
Indianajo, the upper note overtones you can block with a strip of felt ( so called temperament mute, cost about $4 or use a gang mute http://www.howardpianoindustries.com/piano-tuning-gang-mute/), tuck in between unisons in that whole upper range and tune the center string of each set, then branch out from there. You're a smart guy you will figure it out in your own way. I'm a polack  and I do it lol ! I had to reposition a couple of hammers up there on my grand, tiny movements mean a lot, as in some tonal quality and non.. Tough area to tune, I agree.

To the OP, if you don't feel comfortable with a tuning hammer don't do it. You can totally screw up the pin block if done incorrectly, but the good news is it's not hard to do it correctly either. Good tuning not withstanding.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #6 on: June 08, 2016, 04:00:09 PM »
Take all the covers/panels off -- in most uprights and spinets that's pretty easy --

I agree with the rest of your post but have an opinion on this part. 

Don't take the covers off a spinet.  Instead, just walk away.  You aren't going to find a spinet in the same class as a good digital.  You'll be disappointed. 
Tim

Offline huaidongxi

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #7 on: June 08, 2016, 05:42:03 PM »
the Baldwin Acrosonic spinet is one of the best small uprights made in the u.s.a. and they can still be found from time to time in decent condition for <$500.  their action is made entirely differently than the usual 'drop' spinet action.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #8 on: June 08, 2016, 06:38:08 PM »
My sister has a late 1930's Steiway spinet with superb action.  Not much power -- to be expected -- but really a joy to play.

However, I tend on the whole to agree with timothy42b -- most spinets aren't that much fun.
Ian

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #9 on: June 08, 2016, 07:52:15 PM »
I found this:
http://www.esteypiano.com/bt_upright.pdf

but cannot vouch for how accurate it is.
Tim

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #10 on: June 08, 2016, 08:01:12 PM »
Tim

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #11 on: June 08, 2016, 10:26:56 PM »
And an interesting thread on the Acrosonic:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2285626/Baldwin_Acrosonic_Spinet_36&am.html



I know I'm the ultimate downer in the forum towards upright pianos but if I can actually sometimes tolerate one, that won't include spinets.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Buying an used upright
«Reply #12 on: June 08, 2016, 11:22:41 PM »
Estey pianos link seems to be very afraid of old pianos.  I, on the other hand, are very afraid of pianos with high hours of use.  This tends to show up in the scooped hammers in the middle.  i won't buy one of those.  My 400 lb piano excluder also tends to exclude 100 year old pianos where the clevice glue has come unglued. Damper glue, if a damper falls off it is just elmer's, big ****ing deal.
The piano world tech is very negative on doing regulation or action repairs on baldwin spinetts.  These repairs are never worth doing, there is always another one available for $100.  There isn't anybody near here that does that kind of work on any piano worth less than $20000 anyway.  However, I would say anybody serious enough about piano to play classical repretoire, spend $400 more to get a console (39" and above).  Spinettes are for grandma to play hymns. 
I wouldn't buy a spinette in the first place, the actions are too slow for me.  OTOH the Baldwin ones have a nice bright tone and are pretty fast ( but not as fast as the consoles).  I've played several Baldwin spinettes in churches around, and find them very pleasant to perform on.  People that don't like a bright sound should buy a dull, lifeless Yamaha upright and be done with it. Betsy Ross and Winter are other dull, lifeless sounding brands.   Most of the guys I know that prefer Yamahas (church leaders) have a lot of experience running chainsaws, gas weedeaters,  bass boats, firing shotguns and other ear destroying practices.  If your ears are ruined, high frequency sources sound like "buzz buzz buzz buzz".  Better leave them out.  The Yamaha at my church sounds so bad I refuse to sing with it. 
Have fun shopping.