Selecting Your Last Piano First

. Your Last Piano, First

By James Grebe

This article will help you choose a new piano that you can live with for the rest of your life.  Your new piano will be a valued, lifelong companion if you choose wisely.  Do not be swayed by a fast talking salesman, lowest price, or trendy looks.  A piano should be chosen just as you would a valued friend. 

          A piano is a musical instrument first, and a fine piece of furniture, second.  All fine pianos will have certain characteristics that are common with them.  This is a discussion of what to look for.          All fine pianos use solid spruce soundboards, not laminated spruce or anything else.  In my opinion, I have heard no laminated soundboard pianos that sound as good as a solid spruce soundboard piano, period.  The reason for that is that a laminated boards will be much more rigid than a solid spruce board and because of that one fact, it cannot vibrate as easily or as long.  This is the very essence of sound amplification, sustain, and carrying power.  The soundboard is not a simple flat board, but is crowned, bulged in the middle towards the strings and this is controlled by the ribs, which are glued to the underside of the soundboard and at right angles to the grain of the soundboard.  They, too, are made of spruce and give the board a way to transmit vibration across the grain.  Vibration normally travels with the grain.  The ribs also impart some stability to the board and assist in letting the soundboard operate as a unit.          Actions are pretty standard in design and the big difference is in the quality of materials used.  Generally, real leather and buckskin have stood the test of time for wear ability and reliability .  Some companies are using synthetic products in their lower priced models so you have to check the individual specifications on the piano you are interested in, not just assume that a given brand name uses the same quality parts in all their models.  There may also be other features left out in the lower priced models and that is individual weighted and leaded key sticks.  The lead weights assist in key return and it should have separate key buttons with bushings on the side of the key buttons rather than bushings in the key stick itself.  The hammers are graded in terms of the number of pounds of felt the hammer is made from.  The heavier the weight, the better.  In small vertical pianos 8lbs are common. The larger grand pianos use 12 lbs or higher.  The hammer weight will be in sync with the size of the piano.  The large the piano the heavier the felt should be.  There is a lot of bragging in the specs so don’t be dismayed.  The fact that hammers may be reinforced, stapled or pinned does not seem to matter.          Vertical pianos range in size from 36” tall ( spinets) up to 52” tall.  Generally you want a  taller piano you can live with that you can afford. The space it takes up on the floor is the same for the smallest piano up the the largest vertical.  The only difference is height which allows them to less compromise in design the taller the instrument.  Most of the time, the smaller the instrument the more it will cost to service due to the fact that everything is so condensed and makes working on it more of a chore.  The more heavy duty a piano is means the longer it will take of normal use from you.  Grand pianos range in size from 4’6” to 9’6” in length.  In a grand, size gets pretty important as a larger grand may generate too much volume for a given space.  Size the piano for the amount of space you have in the music room.  The test is not how loud a piano will play but the difference between how loud and how soft, with control, the piano can be played..           Plastic (high-tech variety) is now being used in some makes of pianos in some action locations.  The advantage of this is the lighter weight of plastic parts, which can be translated into a lighter action with more control and the extreme uniformity of action parts not affected by humidity.          In general, the simpler the case design the more timeless the case.  This means you will not grow tired of trendy styling that goes out of fashion and forever dates you piano to a given era..  It will have more universal appeal to would be buyers, if you do sell your piano later.          Wise piano buyers must be prepared for a certain amount of price haggling.  NEVER by a piano on the first trip to the store.  If you play, bring your favorite music along to make sure you are compatible with the piano, Ask the salesman that the particular piano you are interested in be tuned to A-440Hz. So you can hear exactly what it sounds like.  Do not be shy in asking questions like this.          Once you get your new piano in your home, treat it wilh respect and teach those around you to do likewise.  When placed in its spot provide adequate light to read your music and keep extraneous trinkets off the piano.  Keep it away from places in the room where temperature and humidity variations occur.  Follow my tuning recommendations and your new piano and your new piano will last your life time.

          After you receive your piano it will be up to you to take care of it properly.  During the first year, expect to tune it frequently.  My recommendation is tune in 1 month, then 2, then 3, then 4, and then ever 6 months after. By following this procedure I can spot how well the piano is doing and alert you of any possible problems that may concern your warranty.  Better to spot problems early and have the factory pay rather than later and you pay to repair a larger problem.

Copyright 2008/Yesterday Once More Publications,James Grebe

© Copyright 2017 James Grebe. All rights reserved.