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Joined: Nov 2019
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Hi - I am new to the piano world and have been exploring used pianos from private sellers. They look spectacular in pics but it hasn't been used or ruined in years. Will such a piano:
1) difficult to tune?
2) take several tuning sessions to stabilize?
3) have reduce lifespan?

Thanks in advance
Sam

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The answer to all of your questions is, "It depends." (Of course, if you are planning on ruining the pianos, it hardly matters! I know, spellcheck!)

It depends on how long it has been since the piano was tuned, how old it is, what conditions it has been stored in, and similar factors.


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How about if a 25 year old Yamaha u3 remained in the living room unused for 6 years? It was dusted but no tuning for 6 years.

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Depends on the first 19 years!


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Assuming medium use with regular yearly tuning. Thanks in advance

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Doesn't make a difference! The only issue are typically old, saloon style uprights that are 100 years old, OR pianos in coastal communities like Newport Beach because some of those pianos have strings as rusty as an old Impala.

I regularly tune pianos that haven't been tuned in decades. With proper pitch-raise techniques, even a piano a full semi-tone flat can be pulled up with 2-3 pitch-raises and a fine tune in one session.

I'm more worried about pianos with plastic parts!

Dan

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Originally Posted by Samdeen3
Assuming medium use with regular yearly tuning. Thanks in advance

If that's the owner/seller talking, take it "with a grain of salt". How do you KNOW it is 25 years old? Have you looked up the serial number and confirmed it? Again, if this is the owner/seller telling you, my experience suggests typically adding at least 50% to whatever they tell you. Memories fade...and get distorted with time.

Best practice is to have it thoroughly inspected by a qualified and objective tech. If it's actually from the 70's or 80's you could have a big problem with spring cord breakage requiring replacement of them all. This is the "Achilles heel" in Yamaha vertical production.

If in fact it is 25 years or so old, it may not be bad, HOWEVER what has its environment been...could there be mice in it...is it in front of a heater...etc?

This is why "it depends", as was stated earlier.

Edit: As far as tuning it, piano danno is correct, assuming no other issues.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Last edited by P W Grey; 01/25/22 04:41 PM.

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Thank you for response. Mind explaining why would plastic parts be a concern?

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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Originally Posted by Samdeen3
Assuming medium use with regular yearly tuning. Thanks in advance

If that's the owner/seller talking, take it "with a grain of salt". How do you KNOW it is 25 years old? Have you looked up the serial number and confirmed it? Again, if this is the owner/seller telling you, my experience suggests typically adding at least 50% to whatever they tell you. Memories fade...and get distorted with time.

Best practice is to have it thoroughly inspected by a qualified and objective tech. If it's actually from the 70's or 80's you could have a big problem with spring cord breakage requiring replacement of them all. This is the "Achilles heel" in Yamaha vertical production.

If in fact it is 25 years or so old, it may not be bad, HOWEVER what has its environment been...could there be mice in it...is it in front of a heater...etc?

This is why "it depends", as was stated earlier.

Edit: As far as tuning it, piano danno is correct, assuming no other issues.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Ya. I would never buy anything used without being checked by a professional. Thank you.

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99% of my new customers haven't tuned their pianos in years. The only issues I find are with very old pianos with a combination of corroded strings, grooved termination points/excess friction. Then strings will occasionally break.
It's hard to know how well tunings hold after these big pitch raises because those customers are likely to wait another decade for the next tuning.

Some older pianos--1950's vintage cheap consoles and spinets--have plastic parts that degrade and crumble. This will affect damper flanges and spinet elbows. Repairable, usually several hundred $.

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Originally Posted by Scott Cole, RPT
99% of my new customers haven't tuned their pianos in years. The only issues I find are with very old pianos with a combination of corroded strings, grooved termination points/excess friction. Then strings will occasionally break.
It's hard to know how well tunings hold after these big pitch raises because those customers are likely to wait another decade for the next tuning.

Some older pianos--1950's vintage cheap consoles and spinets--have plastic parts that degrade and crumble. This will affect damper flanges and spinet elbows. Repairable, usually several hundred $.

Appreciate the input

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Originally Posted by Piano Danno
With proper pitch-raise techniques, even a piano a full semi-tone flat can be pulled up with 2-3 pitch-raises and a fine tune in one session.

Dan

Really? I find older pianos with more brittle strings may 'stay' better to allow a fine tune after a large pull more than fresher strings trying to do a fine tune. But in either case, tuning stability can be a joke with the piano adjusting to the increased tension. Maybe I'm doing something wrong. I certainly would not do a large raise without mentioning to the customer the chance of drifting.
I don't think I'm alone in this.

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It's only February, but so far I've tuned the Pitch Raise Champion of 2022:

Late 1960s Hobart M. Cable console, raised between 100-300 cents. Set my Verituner on 12/30/40, and still over-pulled 10c higher than that. Naturally, it still fell. The second pass of the high treble showed it had already fallen to 40c low. Third pass, 20 cents low.


After about 4 passes, each time a new pitch raise, it finally started to settle in. I worked pretty fast (for me), so I was out in about 90 minutes.
I'll tune it again in a month.

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Spoke too soon: another 200-300 C pitch raise today on a Wurlitzer spinet. It's not my week.
Sigh.

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Originally Posted by Scott Cole, RPT
Spoke too soon: another 200-300 C pitch raise today on a Wurlitzer spinet. It's not my week.
Sigh.

Do you offer the option of tuning to the existing pitch?

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David, I always tune to 440 unless there's a good reason not to. For example, a 100-year-old piano that has old strings that may break and that may have been designed to be lower than 440.

Other than that, no, I wouldn't tune a piano 100 cents low to itself. For one thing, if it's 100 cents low in the middle, it's even lower in the high end. So I still have to raise the pitch in the worst part of the piano. For another, modern pianos are designed to be at 440, and if they're low the tone suffers.

Lastly, I'd personally consider it to be just plain lazy tuning.


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