How to choose a second-hand piano

Being the eldest child and the only girl among my cousins mean that most of the time I get new clothes. Growing up, in a bid to save money for more shopping, I accepted hand-me-downs, and have continued this habit, so that I have more money to spend on learning experiences for my children.

Once, I overheard on radio of how one celebrity mum who always rummaged in thrift stores for pre-owned clothes, ensured that they were branded and still in good condition. Clothes and pianos may be worlds apart, but we can still learn a lesson or two from her, on how to choose used items wisely.

A new piano has its advantages:

1. You are assured of the brand’s original quality

Remember to sort out the warranties (whether in-store or manufacturer’s), to cover any defects or damages.

2. New pianos provide stability for novices

There’s nothing more frustrating and discouraging than an out-of-tune piano when you are just beginning to learn the piano.

3. A new piano has lower maintenance cost

If you intend to be a serious pianist, learning the proper way to care for your piano will maximize its life expectancy.


However, a new piano can set you back by the thousands, and it may not be feasible for your pockets. There is always the option of getting a second-hand piano.

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A second-hand piano can be more forgiving on your pockets, but there are risks to buying it, especially from a desperate salesman. Don’t be the uninformed, unrehearsed customer looking for a cheap buy. Take note of these points when choosing a used piano:

· What is its history? How often has it been moved? How many times has it changed hands?

· Who played the piano? Knowing whether a serious pianist or an uninterested one was playing the piano will help you gauge the condition of the piano. Serious musicians tend to keep their instruments in top shape.

· What is the condition in which the piano is kept? High temperatures and high levels of humidity causes a piano to deteriorate faster than in cooler climates. Especially in Singapore, the use of piano heaters helps prevent rust, sticky keys, damage to the wooden parts, and growth of moss and mildew.

· Have you tried the piano? Never let the seller pressure you into a sale before you have tested and played the piano to ensure you are comfortable with the feel of the keys, and the singing quality of the sound.

· What was the frequency of the tuning? And who performed maintenance? A $50 piano tuning by any Tom, Dick or Harry next door could cause irreparable internal damage. Always ensure you have piano tuning done by a qualified Piano Technician, at least twice a year, and up to four times if used often.

Picture Glossary – Integrity Piano Service


· Noticed any of these signs of poor condition?

1. The tone of the piano is the first factor to consider in judging the soundboard’s overall condition; there could be unpleasant buzzing if there are wide-enough cracks.

2. Cracks on the cast-iron plate are often irreparable.

3. Ensure the strings are not extremely rusty. When you play up and down the keyboard, and you notice that it sounds dull, you may want to repair the strings. But it can be costly, and may or may not be worth doing.

4. Inspect the tuning pins and the area around them: a cracked pin block can cause the piano to sound out-of-tune. Usually, a piano in this condition could mean potential tuning problems, or may not be able to hold its tune at all.

5. Cracks in the bridge also contributes to tuning instability and could also be the source of buzzing noises.

6. Thin hammers affect the tone of the piano, and is usually just as worn as the action. Look out for hammers that are riddled with many little holes; they are caused by moths, which often destroy the other felts as well.

7. Get an idea of the action’s condition by playing up and down the keyboard several times, first loudly and then softly. This will reveal most problems, such as squeaks, clicks, loose and wobbly keys, notes that do not sound, keys that stick, and the likes.


You can only be as good a pianist as your piano allows.

— Kenneth Farrington, Registered Piano Technician, and author of Taking the Mystery out of
Evaluating and Purchasing a Used Piano
at Integrity Piano Service)


Before you make the final purchase decision, it is imperative to ensure a piano technician evaluates the piano; more so if you are spending money on the piano or the move. The piano technician has more experience, techniques, tools, and the keen eye to check on things you may have overlooked.

Bloom School of Music & Arts offers Piano Technical Services at the push of–exactly eight–buttons. Just give us a call if you ever need these services:

· Piano Repair

· Piano Regulating

· Piano Cleaning

· Piano Voicing

· Piano Assessment

For regular tuning, $120 is a bi-annual investment to ensure your piano, or second-hand piano stays in tip-top condition, for stress-free and pleasant piano practices.

If you have enquiries, or if you wish to use our services, give us a call at 6458 8854.