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#3163772 10/13/21 10:01 AM
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Hello,

I am looking to buy a piano for my 4-year old and have been advised to stay away from Spinet pianos. Can any anyone confirm this piano is a spinet or consolette piano?

Thank you!

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That is a very cute mid-century spinet! I have worked on many of them, and they are tricky to work with and many technicians like to trash on them.

Because they naturally have a somewhat nasally tone they really benefit from voicing work: Fitting hammers to the strings, making sure the hammers are properly aligned, and making sure the hammers are needled down to get rid of excess hardness.

You should definitely get a good look at the insides.

Good luck!


Ryan Sowers,
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By the time you pay for all that extra work, which is more difficult in a spinet, you could pay for a larger, better piano. There are several available on the local Craigslist.


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Too much extra friction in the action design to ever make a decent playing response in my opinion.


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It's probably a spinet--have to see the action to make sure.

But it's still very small. Many technicians don't want to work on spinets, and few owners want to pay for it, so spinets tend not to be in a good state of regulation.
It's also a poor investment in general, even if free.

I once explained to a customer that a spinet is like a Suzuki Samurai: there's absolutely no reason to even consider one. He looked a little hurt and replied "but...I have Suzuki Samurai!"

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It was parked next to his Yugo.


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Which was parked next to his Pinto.

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Thanks!

The owner just sent me these pictures of the inside. Are you able to tell if this is certainly a spinet piano now?

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I think it is, but the pictures do not show the relationship between the action and the keys.

I think there are more likely candidates on the Bay Area Craigslist than this one.


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Rusty strings and what looks like mould spots on hammers, I would walk away, but I'm no expert at all.

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What I find more concerning, judging by the pictures, is the high mileage as evidenced by the deeply grooved hammers.


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I guess I'm the outlier here! I don't think it looks that bad - It's probably from the mid 1950's or early 60's I'm guessing? That's the golden age of spinets ( I know, the spinet bashers are rolling their eyes!). But seriously, they were well made in those days.

There is a little evidence of some moisture based on the hammers and the slight amount of rust on a few tuning pins.

Actually I just looked up the serial number 216860 and that puts it at 1941! I'd say its very well-preserved for its age.

As far as the hammers go - they appear to be in virgin condition: never been reshaped, so in my estimation those hammers have some good life left in them. They would sound much better with shaping, fitting, and voicing, I'm sure.

It's always best to have it checked out by a reputable piano technician - but you may want to find someone who doesn't have "anti-spinet prejudice" like many technicians tend to have.

I wish you were in my town! I'd love to look at it, and I have had many successes working on these.


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I think I’ve told this story on here before, but OP has reminded me of it, so here you go.

My wife and I bought an old house that had sat vacant for a few years after the last family member died. The only folks who ever lived in the house were a couple and their daughter who never left home. Dad died in the 80’s, mom in the 90’s, and daughter lived well into the 2Ks. She had a niece, but she left her home to her home healthcare nurse and her money to the Church.

After we moved in, I wanted to get pictures of the house as it would have looked back in its heyday. The original owners never updated, but maintained the place as-is, so it’s very much still a 30’s-40’s home as far as the fixtures go. I made co tact with the niece, who was elderly by now, and she gave me a few pictures. I said thanks and never thought I’d hear from her again.

Anyway, a couple of years later, the niece calls me. She says, “I’m moving to a Senior’s condo, and I’ve got the piano from my Aunt’s house. I can’t find anyone who will buy it, and I hate to throw it away. I’d feel a lot better if it could go back into the house. Would you like to have it?” My son had just turned 5, I figured I could get him into piano lessons, so I rented a trailer and piano dollies, and went over to pick it up.

She told me that her Great-Aunt and Uncle had bought the piano along with a shortwave radio cabinet, (that she also gave me), the year after the house was built. Her Great Aunt was very active in the Church and played the piano daily. She said that the daughter, her Aunt, had never played, and it hadn’t had any attention since her Great Aunt had died and probably not for many years before that. She said that when the Home Health Nurse that inherited the home held the estate sale, that she wasn’t informed, and that when she heard about it she went over to the house and found the piano and the radio on the curb. She had her kids help her haul them to her house and used them as furniture for 15 years or so,

The piano was a Kimball “Consolette” from 1940. It wasn’t a spinet according to the tuner I called out to the house to take a look, but according to him it was the cheapest non-spinet money could buy back then plus it had a ton of wear on it amd hadn’t been tuned in 20 years. He told me “I’m going to start tuning it, and if I break a string then that’s OK. If I break 2 that’s still all right, but if I break 3 then we’re going to have to step back and rethink this thing. It took him a couple of hours at least, but it came up to A440 and didn’t break a string. Now, I’m not saying it was the best sounding piano out there, but it sounded ok in our living room. The tuner asked me if I played and I told him no but that I was going to get my son some lessons. He told me that “this piano is great for someone who just wants to play around of for a child in their first year or two of lessons.” After he left, my neighbor from across the street came over and said, “I saw the piano tuner over here. He’s the same guy that tunes mine. I didn’t know you had a piano.” Then he comes in and says, “I remember this piano! It’s the same one that used to be here. I saw it at the estate sale, and I saw them drag it to the curb the day after. I ALMOST went out there and got it but I figured there was no way it would ever be able to hold a tune!”. Then he asked me how I got it and what I wanted it for. I told him that I wanted to get my son some lessons and he recommended the lady that taught his kids. She was the piano player for the big Baptist church in town for 50 years and taught as well for a lot of that time. She’s retired from the church but still teaches. My son has been with her for over 3 years now. She’s done wonders for him.

Anyway, remember how I said that the tuner told me that the Kimball would only be good for a year or two of lessons? He was right. As soon as my son advanced to the point where he was learning to play “loud” or “soft” the Kimball became frustrating to him. He could play it on his teacher’s Yamaha grand, but on the Kimball there was no playing softly. If you pressed the keys softly, you just didn’t get any sound. COVID hit about that same time and we used our stimulus check to buy a 1963 Baldwin M. No problems at all with that piano.

We gave the Kimball to a friend who plays. I hauled it over to his apartment for him right after we got the Baldwin, so it’s still out there, still getting played. I guess my point is that if that piano is free and you don’t mind gambling a little then get a trailer, bring it home, and call a tuner to see if it’ll hold a tune. If you’re wanting to get your kid into lessons, then if it can hold a tune and is still in halfway decent shape you might get a couple of years out of it. Good luck to you.

Last edited by jakedaniel; 10/14/21 10:25 PM.
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I'm going to agree with Ryan on this one. I think it could be a sweet little piano. I service a couple of the Kimball Consolettes. I did a CA treatment to one, and now it hold its tune very well. As long as your expectation of what it's going to sound like is reasonable they can be a good little piano.


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A Wurlitzer is not a Kimball. In any case, there are better pianos available for very little cost.


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Good for you in getting your child started with piano!

For info - since your child is young, if this particular piano isn’t selected, and you continue looking, be cautious about the ones in the ‘contemporary’ style. These are the sleek looking ones where the keyboard extends in the front but it doesn’t have legs at the sides of the front. They’re attractive, and I had one and liked it, but can tip over frontward since they don’t have the legs that stabilize it. If you choose that style, consider attaching to the wall for safety, sort of like they now recommend dressers be stabilized.


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