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Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? #1890104
05/02/12 05:43 PM
05/02/12 05:43 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 3
J
JBaldwin Offline OP
Junior Member
JBaldwin  Offline OP
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J

Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 3
I found a Yamaha U1 that I love and want to buy. However, there is about a 12 inch long crack in the soundboard. The piano sounds and plays amazing, and the seller tells me that the crack is inconsequential.

I'd appreciate some informed advice on whether I should buy this piano.

Thanks!

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Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890109
05/02/12 05:53 PM
05/02/12 05:53 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 85
Ludlow, Kentucky
Greg88 Offline
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Greg88  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 85
Ludlow, Kentucky
If the piano sounds good to you and the price is right and everything else checks out, the crack might not be a reason to reject the piano. I've played pianos over the years with cracks in the soundboard and they sounded fine. Some soundboard cracks can produce unwanted buzzes and oddball sounds. I guess it depends on the crack... Played an old George Steck grand last Monday with several cracks in the soundboard that still produced a nice tone. I'm sure some of the tech experts around here can advise you better than me. Good luck!


Schumann Grand by Samick (1990)
Howard Grand by Baldwin (1941)
Yamaha Clavanova Digital
Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890116
05/02/12 06:09 PM
05/02/12 06:09 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,822
Tennessee
E
Ed Foote Offline
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Ed Foote  Offline
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Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,822
Tennessee
Greetings,
Yes, no, maybe. A crack or separation in a piano soundboard is of little consequence as long as it doesn't rattle. It could indicate other conditions, (see below), or it could be the normal separation spruce does when it is glued to ribs and fixed at the edges. It is also an indication that you should check as much of the soundboard surface as you can see, to make sure that the board doesn't have more of these. At some point, the quantity of cracks becomes a quality issue.

It is important to observe the surfaces on either side of the crack and see if they are in the same plane. If one side is up, that means it is coming loose from the rib. This condition can be fixed by destringing and going all the way into the soundboard, but I have seen, over the years, many boards that had shims glued in between the ribs and board. It looked terrible, but performed as well as an uncracked board.

On the U1, it is more important to check the pedal wear, and the hammer wear. I think this model also uses fabric loops to attach the hammer spring,and if these begin to break, you have an action disa$$embly ahead of you. You should have a tech of your own choosing examine the action for problems like this.

There are several U1's from the 1960's at Vanderbilt that have been used in practice rooms for 40 years. They still hold a tune, and the actions are still serviceable, (albeit worn). Don't let a crack throw you off an otherwise good piano.
Regards,

Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890147
05/02/12 08:03 PM
05/02/12 08:03 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,107
Georgia, USA
Rickster Online content
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Georgia, USA
Performance issues related to the crack (or not) aside, it still has a cracked sound board. If it was a new piano, a cracked sound board would be considered a major defect and a sound board replacement/piano replacement would be covered under the warranty.

The perception issues are huge, in my view. Who wants an acoustic piano with a cracked sound board? Not me. The only way I would consider purchasing that piano is if the price was cheap enough to make me ignore the cracked sound board and focus on the positive atributes of the piano.

And, if you do buy it, you will be in the same boat if you decide to sell it… it is hard enough selling a used piano that is in show room condition, much less one with a cracked sound board.

I don’t know, maybe I just need to keep my opinions to myself; of course, it is worth about what it cost. smile

Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

Rick


Last edited by Rickster; 05/02/12 09:41 PM.

Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890377
05/03/12 09:03 AM
05/03/12 09:03 AM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 388
NC
M
mikeheel Offline
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mikeheel  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 388
NC
I looked at two pianos with cracked soundboards when I was shopping a couple of years ago. They made me extremely nervous.

That said, on an older piano, I might accept it if everything else lined up nicely and I had a good understanding of the history of the instrument and was comfortable with the state of the crack and the sound of the piano.

But that's a big hurdle to overcome. And it means you better like it a lot, because selling it will be difficult.

Side note: you can have a crack "repaired" with a shim and/or some sort of putty-like substance, if I remember correctly (sorry; I may be off - it's been a couple of years since I read up on it). But I'd only have that done by a highly-qualified tech. And the repair can change the sound for the worse, too.

In the end, I'd generally avoid a piano with a cracked soundboard, but I wouldn't completely dismiss it if there were good reasons to consider it.


If you're bored, try my blog (mostly faith & family): http://mikeheel.wordpress.com.
Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890403
05/03/12 09:50 AM
05/03/12 09:50 AM
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 12,107
Georgia, USA
Rickster Online content
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Georgia, USA
Another quick story… the professional mover that moved one of my grand pianos told me that he was hired to move an older Yamaha grand piano that was about 250 miles away. The buyer had looked at the piano and made the deal with the seller. The mover said when he got to the sellers home and examined the piano before he started the move, he noticed a crack in the sound board. He showed it to the buyer, and the seller (both unaware of the crack) and wanted them to be aware of it so they did not try to accuse him of causing the crack in the move.

Since the price had already been agreed upon, the mover recommended that further price negotiations were in order, or the buy should look for another piano altogether. Although the mover was not a piano technician, he had been a piano mover for over 30 years and was familiar with pianos and what problems someone might try to blame on the mover.

Anyway, the mover said the seller agreed to lower the agreed upon price $1000 without hesitation. The buyer followed through and bought the piano.

So, a cracked sound board is not the end of the world, but not a positive thing either.

At least the OP knows about the cracked sound board and is aware of it… it is always best to have a used piano inspected by a piano technician or someone familiar with pianos.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890437
05/03/12 10:36 AM
05/03/12 10:36 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,277
Tomball, Texas
J
John Pels Offline
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John Pels  Offline
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Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,277
Tomball, Texas
A cracked soundboard MAY be inconsequential, but unless you are clairvoyant, why take the risk. This is a U1. They made them literally by the boatloads. Find another that is to your liking without the crack. For me rebuilding is a hobby, and most projects I encounter have cracked soundboards to a greater or lesser degree. That said, I always unstring them and fix the cracks. If you eventually end up with a buzz and actually have to unstring it to fix said crack, any savings that you made in the original purchase will be quickly lost with a repair.

Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890477
05/03/12 11:31 AM
05/03/12 11:31 AM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 108
K
kdr152004 Offline
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Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 108
play it safe. NO


"Play Bach constantly. That will be your best means of progress." -F.Chopin
Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890631
05/03/12 04:51 PM
05/03/12 04:51 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,937
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joe80 Offline
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No, please don't buy this piano, unless it is at an unbelievable price, and you are going to keep it forever.

There are so many U1s out there, and other pianos that are just as good that won't have a cracked board. Infact, I'd rather see you put your money into a nice new Clavinova.

Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890641
05/03/12 05:05 PM
05/03/12 05:05 PM
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 273
Minnesota
P
prenex Offline
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prenex  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2010
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Minnesota
I bought a piano with a cracked soundboard. Having been around wooden musical instruments my whole life, if the repair is done properly it should be good as new. Some violinists don't even repair cracks in their instruments. They just keep a dampit in the instrument all the time to keep the crack closed.

But I'm not a piano expert.

Last edited by prenex; 05/03/12 05:06 PM.
Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890647
05/03/12 05:09 PM
05/03/12 05:09 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,937
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joe80 Offline
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joe80  Offline
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Yeah, but to repair the crack, all of the strings have to come off, so the piano then needs re-strung. When you re-string, you might as well re-felt, etc.

When that kind of work is carried out it can cost thousands, in the UK anyway, and might make the purchase of this piano not financially viable. I've no doubt it could be as good as new (when it was new I mean, not the new models), but the costs involved may not be worth it.

Re: Should I buy a Yamaha with a cracked soundboard? [Re: JBaldwin] #1890676
05/03/12 06:15 PM
05/03/12 06:15 PM
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Posts: 26,897
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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One does not necessarily have to remove the strings to repair a crack. Most cracks do not need any repair, anyway. If it bothers you, you do not have to buy it, and in any case, you do not need to match their asking price.

Be certain it is actually a crack in the soundboard. There are parts of many boards that are cut off from the soundboard, and cracks in those areas are not a problem. I do not recall if that is the case in a U1, but it very well could be. Those areas would usually be in the top bass area or the bottom treble area of the rectangle that we consider to be the soundboard. In fact, many soundboards are actually hexagonal.


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