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Joined: Mar 2020
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On a showroom floor, a gently used piano had a note that was really flat (over a step), as though something had slipped. The rest of the instrument and others in the shop were in reasonable tune.

Is this a red flag or just one of those things that happens? I've never had a string go that flat on my crummy '30s piano...at least not without them all going together!

My kid liked this piano a lot and it could be a contender if it's not a real concern.

Thanks!

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Did you ask the dealer? Or ask the dealer to ask the tech who tuned it? If not, call the store and ask.

In addition, any used piano should be evaluated by an independent tech (someone under your employ, not someone paid by the dealer), so if you're really interested in this piano, maybe arrange to have it evaluated?


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From what I heard if one note is dead it is a bad sign or it could be.I do not know if one note is just very flat if it also could be a pin block crack.Only a good technician can advise.This may help-
https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/how-to-inspect-a-used-piano-before-buying/

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The salesman just blew it off and said that pianos go out of tune over time. But really, all the pianos in the store sounded pretty good so I don't think this was from neglect. (Not really my favorite salesman ever...)

I will get a proper inspection before any purchase, but if this is a known sign of trouble, I'll just cross it off my list. It wasn't an amazing deal or anything. smile

Off to read the link. Thank you!

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Unhelpful salespeople are soo frustrating!

I hadn't heard that a problem with one note was a bad sign, but it makes sense actually. Pianos go out of tune, that's just how they work, but they tend to go out of tune across the entire instrument....


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It's possible a string had to be replaced, so the new string is still dropping in pitch.

You can usually tell by looking closely at the string to see if it looks more new.


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That makes sense, Don. smile

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In addition to what KawaiDon 100% correctly pointed out, if it's NOT a new string that just stretched out and needs a tuneup, it makes a difference if the note is in the lowest bass or not.

Lowest bass notes tend to have pinblock hold issues long before the rest of the piano, and frequently the rest of the piano never has an issue, even if the lowest bass does. Very very common situation, problems with lowest bass notes, no problems above that area.

IF the note is in the middle though, that's a very different not-good thing.

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Interesting. It was (pardon my lack of piano terminology) about an octave and half from the high end.

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an octave and half from the high end.

Up or down? Oh wait, you mean, like starting at the high and then about octave and half down towards the middle, right?


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I think that's what YTF means. Don's suggestion is good; but if it's not that, it does sound as though there may be a problem with the tuning pin.

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Originally Posted by YTF2020
Interesting. It was (pardon my lack of piano terminology) about an octave and half from the high end.

It has been known to happen that at the factory, the person responsible for drilling the pinblock (a very precise operation) will once in a while screw up, and a pin or three is chronically looser than all the others. Could be that, or something more serious.

Like a detuning poltergeist. If that's the issue, you need a tech that graduated from Hogwarts.

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Originally Posted by An Old Square
It has been known to happen that at the factory, the person responsible for drilling the pinblock (a very precise operation) will once in a while screw up, and a pin or three is chronically looser than all the others. Could be that, or something more serious.

If not a new string on that note, then I'd agree with the above.


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If you are not in a hurry for the piano you could ask that the piano be tuned.Go back and try the piano in a week or better 2 or 3 weeks time.


My piano's voice is my voice to God and the great unknown universe, and to those I love.In other words a hymn.That is all, but that is enough.Life goes on, despite pain and fear.Music is beautiful,life is beautiful.


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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by An Old Square
It has been known to happen that at the factory, the person responsible for drilling the pinblock (a very precise operation) will once in a while screw up, and a pin or three is chronically looser than all the others. Could be that, or something more serious.

If not a new string on that note, then I'd agree with the above.

Even further out in the weeds...

1. A string broke
2. Tech replaced string
3. Used same (original) pin
4a. That tuning pin hole was in the bottom 10 percentile for tightness of pins on that piano from the factory (ie loosER than 90%, but not defective per se), but not loose enough to set off alarm bells for the tuner during the string replacement process, or, if it did, not LOUD alarm bells
4b. That tuner was not particularly ept vis a vis being careful to not make the pin even looser during the pin's "out-in" needed to set three coils and have the pin tops even, ie, he made things a little worse, but not enough to set off his alarm bells', or, if it was, he said F.I.
5. Combination of
a. string stretching and going flat (physics)
b. that pin being a 10%er (factory quasi-defect)
c. the tech making things 10% worse (less than ept teching)
makes the note extra flat relative to just being a new string.

And yes I just felt like typing something lol.

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Yes, one of the high notes. Like the second-to-highest pitch F.

If we go back, I'll check out the strings more closely. But it'll probably be after exhausting every other piano source. Worst....salesman...ever. :P

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Originally Posted by YTF2020
Yes, one of the high notes. Like the second-to-highest pitch F.

If we go back, I'll check out the strings more closely. But it'll probably be after exhausting every other piano source. Worst....salesman...ever. :P

More weeds, man...

In THAT exact range, especially if it's the note next to a plate strut, stability can be an extra challenge, even for good tuners, as a function of core piano design (great or awful).

It *could* also be a symptom of:

1. The tuner actually MISSED tuning that note (happens, especially in a store with an overworked tech)
2. The tuner was EXTRAORDINARILY incompetent at tuning (left a huge tension inequality that equalized)
3. It's The Note From Hades (had a small handful over 40 years; they exist; hey, another story...)
4. Someone's
a. pranking someone
b. gaslighting someone

(think the weeds end about here)

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I guess it could have been missed in tuning. After all, we didn't notice it until it was time to leave when the kid played through every note. (Maybe he should start with that?) He had played this piano several months ago and liked it then too, but apparently this isn't a key that comes up with whatever musical mishmash my kid tests pianos with so I don't know if it was out then too.

Nothing else in the store was notably out of tune which is why I thought this note was "special". smile

If we go back, I'll ask some more questions. Maybe before I go.

Thanks all for the input. This piano shopping is hard!

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A visual inspection and/or a torque test will answer the question very quickly. If the salesman was unprepared on the spot for an accurate answer, follow up with him for a real answer. If the salesman is unable or unwilling to investigate, then its fair to move on.

The job of a tech inspection is to investigate both known and unknown issues, but I wouldn't want to waste my customer's time if the problem isn't a reasonable fix before delivery.


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If it’s not a newly replaced string, it would be wise to get it checked out by an independent tech. Pin torque might be too low there for several reasons; some are fixable at a reasonable cost, others not so cost effective.


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