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Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
#3000508 07/09/20 06:17 AM
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I am very interested in a used Essex EUP 116 that I looked at yesterday. I went over it with a fine tooth comb and it seems to be as good as new. The price is reasonable and I want it.

It was listed as "like new". Before going out there I specifically asked if there was anything at all wrong with it and the reply was, "no, it's like brand new".

There is one issue: one key (middle c#) does not play a note; instead, it produces sort of a quiet buzz/hum. Upon inspecting the strings for that note I found one of the three to be slightly misaligned.

Here's the thing: the seller said the instrument was tuned and serviced just a few days prior. She showed me a chicken-scratch invoice for $150. The seller was very surprised when I played the malfunctioning key for her.

As I said, I really want this piano, but I have no idea how minor or major a fix this might entail. When I pointed out the flaw she offered to "knock a couple hundred dollars off the price".

I suspect the technician told her about it and I suspect she was hoping I wouldn't notice. I also suspect that her Plan B was to offer the discount if I did notice.

Is it possible the tech, in serving the piano, caused the damage?

Is it possible that this could be a major repair?

I appreciate any advice.

Thanks!

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Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3000514 07/09/20 06:55 AM
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I suspect the damper is not lifting due to a broken or misaligned part. I suggest you tell the seller that you are still interested in the piano and will take another look when the problem is fixed. Don't turn the seller's problem into your problem! But no, it is probably not a major fix. Still, gotta wonder how it happened. A black key right in the middle, maybe a kid banging on it? I dunno...


Jeff Deutschle
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Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
UnrightTooner #3000534 07/09/20 08:19 AM
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Thanks, Jeff.

The damper...I don't know. I will say that, when you hit the key, the hammer (?) does strike the strings. When looking at the strings, it is just one string that is obviously not aligned with the others.

Would this still be a possible damper issue?

Any thoughts on the technician somehow causing it? Or noticing it and not reporting it?

Jon

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3000551 07/09/20 08:58 AM
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Is this a private sale or from a store? Either way, I would agree with Unright Tooner. Say you will think seriously about the purchase when they have got the technician to fix the problem. If it's a small problem, then this shouldn't be a big deal from the vendor's point of view.

(PS What is a chicken-scratch invoice?)

Last edited by David-G; 07/09/20 09:02 AM.
Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3000565 07/09/20 09:23 AM
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If the piano has a few years of use, I wouldn’t fool around with the string spacing because it can cause other problems. My advice would be different if the hammers were brand new. Just focus on getting someone to get the note working before making a purchase.


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Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3000567 07/09/20 09:27 AM
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It is a private sale. The piano has been largely unused, so I can sort of understand how they would not know about the malfunctioning key. I can't believe the tuner could have missed that, though (or noticed but not mentioned it).

I contacted the seller, she says she called the technician but has not received a call back. She seems agreeable to getting it fixed, but we shall see.

Chicken scratch invoice - sorry...I meant it is mostly illegible handwriting on a generic form; no identifying info about who the technician or company is. Almost looks like the sort of check you would receive at a diner.


Jon

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
terminaldegree #3000568 07/09/20 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
If the piano has a few years of use, I wouldn’t fool around with the string spacing because it can cause other problems. My advice would be different if the hammers were brand new. Just focus on getting someone to get the note working before making a purchase.

Thanks for the reply but I'm not quite understanding.

Are you saying if that one issue is corrected by the seller I should be good to go?

Or that there could be other, more severe causes even if the one problem is fixed?



Jon

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3000571 07/09/20 09:41 AM
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It's possible the string is broken, and still sort of in place. When they break, it will appear the strings are out of alignment. The sound you describe is similar to a broken string. It's also possible the string broke at some point after the piano was tuned. If no one was nearby to hear it, they would not have heard the BANG. Remember, I'm not saying this is what happened, but it's a possibility to consider.


Eric Gloo
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Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3000595 07/09/20 10:29 AM
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The problem could be at the bridge, which could be quite serious.


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Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3000596 07/09/20 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Jon999
Are you saying if that one issue is corrected by the seller I should be good to go?

Or that there could be other, more severe causes even if the one problem is fixed?J

First question: Yes, if you otherwise like the touch, tone, appearance, and price of the piano.
Second question: No, string spacing on vertical pianos across the pressure bar is rarely uniform on low to mid-priced pianos. If we were talking about something from western Europe, then it would likely be perfect, but the price might be a 5-figure amount of money... I'm suspecting the one problem you observed may have nothing to do with the other issue, but it's hard to go by a description without a picture or video.


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Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3000645 07/09/20 12:30 PM
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UPDATE: The seller got in touch with the technician. Her text to me:

"I just got finished talking with the tech and he is coming Saturday to replace the string and repair it. He said that sometimes it's not uncommon after getting a piano tuned for the string to come out of the pin because it's tightly tuned or something like that."

Thoughts?

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
terminaldegree #3000647 07/09/20 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
[quote=Jon999]
...I'm suspecting the one problem you observed may have nothing to do with the other issue, but it's hard to go by a description without a picture or video.

I'll describe as best I can...

The part that strikes the strings (hammer, I think?) for this particular note is supposed to hit three strings. The string on the far left (of the three) is clearly off to the side a bit so that the hammer is actually only striking two of the three. Every other string on the piano is, to my novice eye, more or less perfectly aligned. This one string's issue is obvious when you look at it.

Thanks to all.

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3000652 07/09/20 12:46 PM
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A little more info: The piano is an Essex EUP 116 that was manufactured in 2006.

Asking price: $2750.

https://www.essexpianos.com/pianos/essex/upright/eup-116e

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3001043 07/10/20 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Jon999
UPDATE: The seller got in touch with the technician. Her text to me:

"I just got finished talking with the tech and he is coming Saturday to replace the string and repair it. He said that sometimes it's not uncommon after getting a piano tuned for the string to come out of the pin because it's tightly tuned or something like that."

Thoughts?

That quote above seems just friendly chatter and conveys no useful information I'm afraid.

Although you have noticed that one of the strings is misaligned there must be more to the problem than that. Just having the hammer hit two of the three strings would not stop the note sounding so there is something else hat the technician will have to identify and fix.

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
gwing #3001245 07/10/20 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by Jon999
UPDATE: The seller got in touch with the technician. Her text to me:

"I just got finished talking with the tech and he is coming Saturday to replace the string and repair it. He said that sometimes it's not uncommon after getting a piano tuned for the string to come out of the pin because it's tightly tuned or something like that."

Thoughts?

That quote above seems just friendly chatter and conveys no useful information I'm afraid.

Although you have noticed that one of the strings is misaligned there must be more to the problem than that. Just having the hammer hit two of the three strings would not stop the note sounding so there is something else hat the technician will have to identify and fix.

Interesting, and thank you.

FWIW I'm going to have it checked out by my own pro before pulling the trigger.

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3001583 07/11/20 05:41 PM
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A few comments:

1) Always have a good technician inspect a piano that you are considering buying.
As you can tell, trying to describe an issue that you do not understand to people who cannot see what you are seeing is fraught with all kinds of problems and leads to all kinds of speculation as to the reasons, and remedy.

2) that price seems very high for a used entry level piano.You should be able to get much more of a piano for that investment.

3) What she says her tech said makes little sense to me. But then, it could be the seller's interpretation of what the tech said, not unlike your interpretation of the problem. -> refer to comment 1.


JG
Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3003574 07/17/20 05:49 AM
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UPDATE:

A good friend, who is a choir director, referred me to his friend whom he values as his own piano technician. I called him and he has actually worked with the tech for several years who worked on this piano. He regards him highly. So he called him on my behalf to get the skinny.

His report: The string broke after he tuned it (he acknowledges this is a rarity) and he went back and repaired it and pronounces it good to go. He says the piano is in mint condition, literally like new; and new would cost 7k.

So I went back to look at it again and I'm satisfied. I offered $2500 and they accepted. Delivery is next week.

I well understand the limitations of asking for advice over the internet. Thanks to all who posted.

Jon

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3003578 07/17/20 06:47 AM
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Enjoy your piano!

Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3003637 07/17/20 12:03 PM
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I’m glad you were able to get some background information from the servicing tech, and that you were happy with the price. In the US market in the standard polished ebony finish, a new one would probably sell for $5,500 plus tax and delivery, depending on how much you negotiate and the dealer is willing to discount.


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Re: Advice sought on used piano for sale - is this a red flag?
Jon999 #3003655 07/17/20 12:40 PM
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A flaw in the wire could be weakness which is audible and eventually leads to a break. It is a rare anomaly which should not recur once it is fixed.


Semipro Tech
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