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Estonia Pianos
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I occasionally see advertisements for pianos that are a bit old, but which have "sat in someone's house as a piece of furniture, never being used. Good as new!"

Assuming a credible technician inspects the piano and certifies that the pianos has indeed not been used very much and is otherwise in like new condition, what issues are there with these kinds of pianos? Are they really as good as new?

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Some of them can be the best bargain available if you have the acquaintance of a skilled piano technician who will take responsibility for the quality.


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Everything deteriorates on a piano, whether you play it or not.

The sound board loses its crown under the constsnt high pressure. The strings age, eg oxidize. The steel strings probably dig into the agraffes slightly. Lubricants harden and oxidize. Wood works. Wood may be damaged from humidity changes, or from woodworms. If the piano is never played, maybe animals take it as their home. etc.


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Assuming nothing disastrous has happened, the biggest negative is that they haven't been tuned in decades. You're typically looking at a pitch raise plus a few tunings before the instrument becomes stable.



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Sometimes strings will stick at various points if they have not been tuned in a long time, and if one is not careful, they can break when they are tuned.


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If one was able to house a newly made piano in a room with modern museum-like climate control, the piano would not deteriorate beyond the effects of string bending at the termination points and the gravity induced compression of various cushioned surfaces in the action components. This also assumes the PH of the materials was properly neutralized in the usual manner.

The tuning would of course become very disordered over time, but this would be mainly from the string settling, (bending). If the piano was tuned several times back to A-440 by a skilled technician in the first five or more years of life, it would then remain in good tune for quite some time with much less frequent tunings.

The forces that contribute to decay are: changing humidity, changing temperature, UV exposure, air carrying acids, oils and ozone, critters, bugs, mold, people spilling various fluids into and onto it, people vandalizing it, and of course; playing the thing a lot. Also unprofessional service can ruin a piano pretty quickly.


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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Also unprofessional service can ruin a piano pretty quickly.


Can you be more specific about this one? What would an unprofessional tech ruin, and how would he/she go about doing this?


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Originally Posted by Sam Rose
Can you be more specific about this one? What would an unprofessional tech ruin, and how would he/she go about doing this?


Taking a dump on the keys and then slamming the fallboard shut.

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My Howard/Kawai 550 from 1969 was rarely played by it's one and only owner. It sat in her living room as a piece of furniture for 45 years before I bought it from her. The action and tuning pins are good and tight. The walnut finish has a little fading on top of the lid from exposure to some sunlight, and the bass strings suffer from the affects of age, not use; but the piano is in superb condition.

I'm certainly no pro, but I agree with Ed. McMorrow... if an acoustic piano is played very little, and kept in a decent environment, and kept tuned (or not), I'd say that a 20 year old piano that was "hardly used" is not a deceptive term. But I certainly wouldn't pay a nearly-new price for it. smile

Just my .02.

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Well it is an infinite list of possibilities. How about oiling the pin-block for starters. Spraying windex on the wound strings. WD-40 on the action centers. I will stop there.


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Shouldn't we add that a compression-crowned soundboard, especially in a climate with large humidity swings between summer and winter, can certainly deteriorate with age. I remember once seeing a Petrof grand of less than 20 years of age with obvious pressure ridges at almost every joint. This piano was in Massachusetts, and did not have a Dampp Chaser installed.


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