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Joined: Dec 2004
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AKA things private sellers say. crazy

Ugh. I wish people would treat selling a piano the way they treat selling a house, in other words get it in the best shape it can possibly be in before they start advertising it. Can you imagine a housing listing that said "it hasn't been cleaned or maintained in four years" and they still expect to sell it at a high price? I know, I'm preaching to the choir here... But I'm looking at grand pianos that people are trying to sell for 10K and up, not a "$100 OBO" upright in someone's leaky garage. Good grief.

I got spoiled with my first visit to a private seller. That piano had been tuned last Christmas, and was, in fact, in tune. They said they have it tuned every Christmas, and gee, whadya know, the piano sounds great!

Then the next private seller I encountered seemed to think it's bad for pianos to tune them too often. ??? So that piano hasn't been tuned in over two years.

And now this one, "it hasn't been tuned in 4 years. It's still in tune."

Okey dokey, if you say so. I don't think I'm going to drive two hours to go see that one...

Sorry, I just needed to vent.


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At the price range you are looking, that is surprising! At least they told the truth so you did not drive 2 hours to find an untuned piano smile


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If I were evaluating a piano for someone, I would prefer it to be untuned. That gives a better indication of how well it stays in tune. But around here, I run into a lot of pianos that are not badly out of tune after quite a bit of time.


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Of course it's relative, a piano is perfectly in tune about an hour after the tuner leaves wink

But honestly, my other piano wasn't tuned for almost 2 years and it was totally playable. If the humidity conditions are stable and the piano isn't played hard a lot, an older piano can actually keep it's tune for years. Again, relatively speaking...

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I'd still go and look if it was something in your target range.

I play lots of different pianos at times. I played a few for funerals - you take what you get. Some, you know full well that it hasn't been tuned in ages, but is still "I don't mind this" category. As BDB indicated, sometimes you can judge more about a piano by how good it is after 4 years without a tune.


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I don't see how one can evaluate the tone on an out of tune piano. Perhaps a very experienced tech could but I doubt almost everyone else could .

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Why let have tuned my piano? Was it not tuned in the factory?


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Since you live in an area without many pianos and aren’t able to fly to a better buying location, you may need to not be as discriminating with the frogs 🐸 you go kiss. Maybe one will be a prince you passed up.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I don't see how one can evaluate the tone on an out of tune piano. Perhaps a very experienced tech could but I doubt almost everyone else could .


I agree with this. Of course it depends on the piano and the degree to which it is out of tune with itself. Some pianos can be fairly out of tune and you can still get a good idea of how they'll sound. The piano I did go and play (the one that hadn't been tuned in two years) was so out of tune, cacophony ruled across the keyboard! It was impossible for me to tell how it would sound when it gets tuned up.

Gregor: grin

Dogperson, on the one hand, you may be right. OTOH, there are dealers within driving distance (some of those drives are 2+ hours one way, but it's doable). I have visited 3 dealers so far and there are 3 more I plan to visit soon-ish (I wish they were all on the same route! But alas, they are all in different directions!). Actually, the hasn't-been-tuned-in-four-years piano is in the direction of one of those dealers, so I may stop on the way. We'll see.

I do think I've been spoiled though, playing these very nicely prepped pianos has lowered my tolerance for cacophony! whome


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BTW to what degree do you think it would be possible to evaluate a piano over the phone? As I think of it, could I have a phone or video chat with the seller and ask them to play a few scales, octaves, and chords? Then if it sounded promising, go and actually see it myself.

Or do you think that wouldn't work well? I wouldn't buy a piano without going to play it in person myself, but maybe this can help me decide what's worth making the drive for?


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If the piano isn’t badly out of tune you can judge the sound, the overall warmth and the action. I’m not sure you can judge much of anything by phone.
The sad truth is, many piano owners don’t have their pianos regularly tuned after the first free tuning. If the period of little to no maintenance isn’t overly long, you might find a diamond in the rough. If a piano hasn’t been tuned in 4 years, that should give you a clear message about the “standard of care” that piano’s had, NONE.
If it’s not too far out of your way, you might check it out. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Best of Luck!


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
BTW to what degree do you think it would be possible to evaluate a piano over the phone? As I think of it, could I have a phone or video chat with the seller and ask them to play a few scales, octaves, and chords? Then if it sounded promising, go and actually see it myself.

Or do you think that wouldn't work well? I wouldn't buy a piano without going to play it in person myself, but maybe this can help me decide what's worth making the drive for?

I think it would be possible to hear enough of a sample over the phone to decide whether or not it's worth going to look at, at least in terms of intuneness or outoftunness.

This may be silly, but on occasion, I'll play a live tune on my piano over the phone for my brother, who lives in Ohio, or my sister, who lives about 8 miles away. I've played my piano over the phone for my late mother, who loved it! Also, I've played a new composition or arrangement I was working on over the phone for my two sons. I figure that is a good way to communicate over phone... piano music (or a semblance thereof smile ).

Good luck!

Rick


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Rick - hadn’t thought of that. Maybe ShiroKuro could tell enough over the phone or maybe even FaceTime or Skype. That could be enough to determine if it’s worth a looksee.


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Yeah, I would be using the phone/video just to see if it's worth it to make the drive.

We just rearranged our schedule so I'm not going that direction this weekend, but if/when I do, I'll post an update and let you know whether the seller was ok with that kind of request, and whether it was helpful for me.

Oh! This just occurred to me: I think I'll ask my husband to get on the cell phone while I'm at work or something and see if I can tell how my upright sounds. Since I know how it sounds in real life, this should tell me whether or not that's even a valid way to do a first assessment.


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I don't see how one can evaluate the tone on an out of tune piano. Perhaps a very experienced tech could but I doubt almost everyone else could .


It is hard to evaluate the tone of most pianos, because so few of them are tuned, regulated, and voiced. Especially used pianos. It is hard to evaluate the touch as well. If you are shopping to a price point, that is what you have to expect.

Usually it is more important to shop around for a good technician. At least when you do that, you are not committed to one.


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It is hard to evaluate the tone of most pianos, because so few of them are tuned, regulated, and voiced. Especially used pianos. It is hard to evaluate the touch as well.


I don't know if you and I are talking about different things, but that has not been my experience at all. Although I have played a few new pianos, most of those I've tried out have been used, and all the pianos I've played at dealers so far have been in tune. As to whether they needed additional voicing or regulation, that's a separate issue. But when I sit down to play a piano that's reasonably in tune, I can tell a lot about its tone, touch, and action, at least in terms of my own opinion about that particular piano.

OTOH when I played the cacophony piano, it was so out of tune that it sounded horrible to me. What I couldn't tell, and couldn't imagine or visualize, was whether just getting it tuned would solve most of what I didn't like about that piano. So my reaction to that piano was, I can't form an opinion about this piano in this state.


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But that, in itself, is an opinion.

When I bought my piano, it had not been tuned in many years. I checked it out by playing all the notes in a chromatic scale. The seller (son of the original owner, who had died) was upset that I did not play any more. So I played a little bit of music.

It plays and sounds better now, and it does not sound like it did. Of course, I did a lot of work on it. But even then, I knew it had the sound I wanted, even if it was not immediately present.


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Yes, it's an opinion, and what I've been saying is that the cacophony-piano was so out of tune that I felt unable to form an opinion about it, and unable to imagine how it would sound once it was tuned up. I could not tell whether, after tuning and care, it would have a sound that I would like or not.

My current piano (a Petrof upright) was somewhat out of tune when I first tried, but I could tell that I loved how it sounded. Since it has come into my possession, I have had it tuned approximately once every 6 months, and not only is it now in tune, but it is (I believe) a better instrument than it was when I bought it because of the care my tech has given it. But I could hear that potential in it when I first tried it out.

So, yes, I agree, it is possible to be able to tell or imagine a piano's potential even if it's not in tune, but the degree to which this is possible depends on the piano and the degree to which that specific piano is out of tune. The cacophony piano was, in my opinion, past that point. You might play it and say "ah, I can tell that it will sound like X when it's tuned" and you might be right. I felt that it was so badly out of tune that I just couldn't tell.

More to the point, that made me decide to continue search and pursue other pianos. Private sellers, if they hope to sell their instruments for their desired price, would be wise to recognize that probably a great deal of piano shoppers are like me in this regard and will not be able to see/hear the potential in such a neglected piano.


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Yes, it's an opinion, and what I've been saying is that the cacophony-piano was so out of tune that I felt unable to form an opinion about it, and unable to imagine how it would sound once it was tuned up. I could not tell whether, after tuning and care, it would have a sound that I would like or not.

My current piano (a Petrof upright) was somewhat out of tune when I first tried, but I could tell that I loved how it sounded. Since it has come into my possession, I have had it tuned approximately once every 6 months, and not only is it now in tune, but it is (I believe) a better instrument than it was when I bought it because of the care my tech has given it. But I could hear that potential in it when I first tried it out.

So, yes, I agree, it is possible to be able to tell or imagine a piano's potential even if it's not in tune, but the degree to which this is possible depends on the piano and the degree to which that specific piano is out of tune. The cacophony piano was, in my opinion, past that point. You might play it and say "ah, I can tell that it will sound like X when it's tuned" and you might be right. I felt that it was so badly out of tune that I just couldn't tell.

More to the point, that made me decide to continue search and pursue other pianos. Private sellers, if they hope to sell their instruments for their desired price, would be wise to recognize that probably a great deal of piano shoppers are like me in this regard and will not be able to see/hear the potential in such a neglected piano.

When I was searching for a piano I came across
a used Ronisch upright piano it was also very out of
tune.There was something about the piano which
I thought gave it potential to be a good piano if it was tuned and had a little voicing but eventually decided
to leave it.
The difficulty when you trying unknown pianos and they are badly out of tune is you cannot fully compair
it to your main reference piano., for you the Petrof
I think it is different for BDB because being a technician he can tell so much better than the
average person if the piano has got real potential
or not.ShiroKuro I would try the video it may give
you some idea.
Even if the piano has not had much attention for
a few years if the piano is good you can make it
shine again.
When we were trying to sell the Kawai grand we
made a video of me playing the piano.
The woman who pretended to be interested in
the piano turned out to be just trying to con us.
That's is a different story but I found it a really
scary experience.
Best wishes on finding your piano.

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BDB’s great response gave me another idea. Are you still using the same technician for your Petrof? Does/he know what you like in sound and warmth and feel? Your tech already knows your home and should be an excellent resource in finding a piano that works for you.


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