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#653287 - 12/12/02 12:02 AM Signs of a well prepped piano
rrattigan Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/02
Posts: 10
Loc: Boston MA
I'm trying to get my piano retailer to do a decent job of prepping my young chang 52 inch upright piano - they don't seem to have done anything before delivery.

I don't really know what work ought to have been done though. Can anyone tell me what should I expect of a fully prepped piano?

In particular, should hammers, dampers, backstops etc be clearly aligned and evenly space, or is a reasonable amount of variation throughout the action to be expected? One of their guys had a look and told me that as long as it was working, it didn't really matter if things look aligned. I sort of expected that they would be however, since it is a brand new piano.

Also, many of the dampers are only just touching the third string, even though there is ample width to overlap on both sides of the strings. He seemed reluctant to commit to doing anything about these, saying that if they are touching at all, that's fine. Is this correct?


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#653288 - 12/12/02 11:09 AM Re: Signs of a well prepped piano
HRA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/02
Posts: 64
If I was you I would give them one more chance to correct all of these complaints which seem to be legitimate. They should have been addressed prior to delivery. If you don't get satisfaction, I would contact the manufacturer and speak with their head of service, Phil Glenn. He can help a lot.

#653289 - 12/15/02 12:42 PM Re: Signs of a well prepped piano
Joy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 550
Loc: Encinitas, CA
I just had a discussion about this with a technician because the subject interested me, too. He wrote this reply:

"Precision is one of the main things that separates the expensive piano from the cheap one. A piano which is built in an unskilled or sloppy manner cannot be made into a precision instrument by prepping it at the dealer any more than a car dealer can afford to prep a bottom of the line car into a great one. It's just too much work relative to the price. So if you select a new piano with unevenly spaced/aligned parts, that is pretty much the piano you are stuck with in terms of what the dealer can fix for free. Also, I have seen many Young Chang uprights where the screw holes drilled into the metal action rails were unevenly spaced to begin with. The uneven spacing cannot be adjusted out. Consider the flaw permanent.

However, if the piano is functioning satisfactorily, at least you don't have a serious problem.

As far as preparation in general goes, dealers who practice thorough, competent prepping of even expensive pianos are few and far between. The expense of truly good technicians is one factor, not to mention their rarity. Most dealers can't afford to hire expensive, in-demand techs and spend a lot prepping pianos when shoppers are out there comparing for the cheapest prices and trying to bargain the price down.

Prepping inexpensive pianos like YCs beyond the minimum is rare- a floor tuning, a free tuning in the home, and whatever dysfunctions you happen to notice. That's it.

At the high end of the scale (the rare dealer) multiple tunings may be performed then voicing, thorough debugging, regulation work, etc- thouroughly evaluating then bringing a piano to it's full potential. But the dealer who does so is the exception and even then only on the best pianos."


#653290 - 12/20/02 10:13 PM Re: Signs of a well prepped piano
Bob Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 4490
Loc: Florida
I'm afraid Joy is right. Manufacturers and dealers simply can't afford the labor to properly prep a piano. Many manufacturers ship pianos out before they stabilize the tuning and properly adjust the action. Then, many stores send the piano to the customer 2 notes flat in pitch without any prep at all. Then an underpaid, inexperienced tech arrives for the in home tuning/pitch raise/fix what he can in an hour. In this scenario, it takes several tunings before the piano stays at pitch, and any mechanical problems are fixed.

Your chances of seeing this first hand increase the cheaper piano you buy. The more expensive pianos get more prep and care.

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#653291 - 12/31/02 07:55 PM Re: Signs of a well prepped piano
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Dealers CHOOSE not to properly prep pianos. For several years I worked for a dealer who had three full time techs (not independent, but employed by the dealer). We spent most of our time not servicing pianos in the field, but prepping new pianos. In fact, a lot of this time was spent on Young Chang's. What Joy said is correct, but the problem can be looked at two ways. You can consider these flaws as part of the piano, or you can fix them. You know the instrument is designed well, and you also know it's put together with good parts. In this case, you know it's worth it to do good work on the instrument. If parts aren't aligned properly, they will wear unevenly. This drastically affects the longevity of the instrument, not just the way it looks. Once these parts are worn unevenly, there's no aligning them, so consider doing it now when the instrument's new. Yes, the hammers should be evenly spaced and aligned when you look inside the piano. Yes the dampers should be adjusted evenly over the strings. Why? Not only because it's the right way to do it (for Pete’s sake!), but also because other problems can be caused by this sloppy prep. Uneven dampers can easily catch on each other, which can do some interesting things to the "touch" of the piano. Unevenly spaced hammers can strike multiple notes simultaneously (especially on a grand where you have the una corda pedal). And if the things that you notice easily aren't adjusted, what about the things you can't see? This kind of sloppy work speaks volumes about the person who has supposedly "prepped" your piano. But please know that all of this has a price as well. You can't fairly expect/demand this level of servicing when you've shopped for price exclusively. I'm not saying that you have either, but it should go without saying that you get what you pay for. But having worked for a dealer who was honest, charged fair prices, and was able to prep pianos to a high standard, I can say first hand that it is possible to do, and should be expected by the consumer. If nobody calls dealers/techs to work to a higher standard, there won't be any quality work done. Thankfully there are still some techs and dealers who work to a high standard, and take pride in their work. Joy's friend Rich (is that the right name Joy?) is I think this type of tech. I've never met him, but reading what he's said about a few things, he seems to have a high standard for the work he does. Knowing that there are techs out there willing to do good work comforts me. But it also comes down to the consumer who must also recognize the same standard, and be able to hold the dealers and techs accountable.
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