Posted on: July 7, 2023 Posted by: Aaron_George Comments: 0

Buying a used piano can be affordable for bringing music into your home. However, you need to go into the process with your eyes open. A used piano from a reputable music shop Dublin could provide greater value over the lifetime of the instrument. Used pianos can come with hidden issues that end up costing you a lot of money in repairs and tunings. Asking the seller the right questions upfront will help you find a quality used piano that truly fits your budget. These 8 important questions will guide you through evaluating used pianos thoroughly and determining which one will suit your needs for years at a price you can live with. Do your due diligence—it will make all the difference in finding a used piano you’ll enjoy playing rather than merely settling for. With some patience and the help of these tips, you’ll be well on your way to bringing a musical gem into your space.

How old is the piano?

To determine the age of a used piano, first, ask when it was originally built. Pianos less than 20 to 30 years old are typically suitable as used instruments, as they require fewer repairs and regular maintenance. Older pianos, especially those 50 years or more in age, often need additional work to keep them in good, working condition. The wooden and felt components can dry out and compress over time, resulting in poorer sound quality and responsiveness. Unless an older piano has been meticulously maintained, additional restoration work may be required to return it to its original glory. For most buyers, a piano built within the last few decades is ideal.

What is the brand and model?

The brand and model of a piano also significantly impact its value and quality. Well-known brands like Yamaha, Kawai, and Steinway are reputable makers that produce pianos known to hold up well over time. Lesser known brands may require more research to determine the original quality and standards. Once the brand is known, checking the specific model number can provide details about the piano’s original price range, the quality of wood and felts used, and any accolades received at the time of manufacture. Some older models are considered classics, while others may have developed poor reputations over time. The right brand and model, combined with regular care and maintenance, are essential to a used piano’s longevity and playability.

How frequently has the piano been tuned/maintained?

The tuning and maintenance history of a used piano provides insight into how well it has been cared for over time. Ask if the owner has records of regular tunings, repairs, and service calls made for the piano. Infrequent or no documentation of maintenance is a red flag that the piano may now need extensive work to be returned to playable condition. Pianos that have been tuned only once a year or less often will likely require pitch raising, regulation, and possibly re-felting to be brought up to standard. An inconsistent maintenance history means additional costs to the buyer to make the piano whole again. For the best quality used piano, seek an instrument with a proven record of routine care.

Why is the owner selling the piano?

Understanding why an owner is selling their piano provides useful context for a potential buyer. Reasons such as downsizing to a smaller home, switching to a digital piano, or needing funds for other expenses are typically better than a seller who expresses dissatisfaction with the instrument’s quality or sound. An owner who cannot give a clear reason for selling may not have maintained a good relationship with the piano, implying that it was of lower priority or value to them. Of course, there are times when a lack of use means an owner no longer has space or purpose for a piano they have enjoyed for years. However, the most promising used pianos are typically sold by those who are motivated to find a good new home for a cherished instrument.

How much use/play has the piano received over its lifetime?

Determining how much a piano has been played over its lifetime provides context on its potential condition. Ask if the piano was used primarily for private home use, as part of a teaching studio, or as a concert hall instrument. More frequent or intense use in a concert hall or institutional setting could mean increased wear and tear on the piano’s components. Many years of constant or careless use may necessitate repairs or replacement of parts like hammers, dampers, bridges, or tuning pins. However, an instrument that has been well-maintained despite significant use could still have plenty of music left to make in the right home. For typical residential purposes, a piano with a history of moderate home use is ideal. 

Has any significant repair work been done to the piano?

Ask if any major repair or restoration work has been done to a used piano you’re considering purchasing. Some essential areas inquire repairs to the soundboard, pin block, bridges, and other structural parts. Recent, comprehensive repairs by a qualified technician are better than ongoing issues with certain components, or a piano that still needs extensive work to be functional. However, multiple historic repairs in a short period of time could indicate weaknesses in the instrument or signal the potential for continued problems down the road.   

The proper approach is finding a piano that has many years of enjoyment left, rather than one requiring frequent, expensive rehabilitation to keep in working order. With quality and craftsmanship, a well-built piano of a reputable brand should last for decades with just regular tuning and maintenance. If major repairs have already been done, ensure they were performed by a skilled technician and have held up well since being serviced. The ideal used piano needs no significant work to provide its next owner with years of faithful service.

Can you demonstrate the touch sensitivity and tone of the keys?

Ask the seller if they are able to demonstrate the touch sensitivity, tone, and responsiveness of the piano keys. Have them play each key to check that notes trigger evenly with no sticking, and produce clear, consistent tones across the range from highest to lowest notes. The hammers should strike the strings firmly and rebound quickly, with no buzzing, rattling, or severely muted notes. Each key should feel balanced and predictable under the fingers, rather than loose, uneven, or sluggish in places. 

Has the piano been re-felted or restrung recently?

For the best tone and volume, a used piano ideally had its hammer felts and strings replaced within the last 5-10 years. Over time, felts compress and harden, reducing their ability to produce a warm, singing tone. Strings also deteriorate with age and use, compromising tuning stability and the richness of timbre. Replacing both felt and strings returns a piano to like-new condition and performance. Ask if the hammers were filed to match the profile of the new felt and if plates were adjusted to properly tension the new strings. Recent replacement of these parts may justify a higher asking price, as the piano has essentially been rebuilt with many additional years of superior playability and sound ahead of it.

Like all components in a piano, felt and strings wear out from regular use and need to be traded for fresh materials to maintain a beautiful tone and touch. Newer felts and strings alone can breathe decades of additional life into an otherwise aging instrument, and should be given due consideration in the overall evaluation and pricing of a used piano. For the best in control, sound, and longevity, seek out a piano with felts and strings no more than 10-15 years old.


In summary, asking probing questions about a used piano’s history and condition is key to finding a quality instrument that will stand the test of time. Doing your due diligence upfront to understand the piano’s age, ownership, care, repairs, and current performance will help avoid unwelcome surprises or costly work needed later on. While finding a used piano at an affordable price can take patience, the reward is an instrument you can confidently welcome into your home—one that will fill the space with beautiful music for years to come with just routine tuning and light maintenance.

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