Old piano with damaged key

We get lots of questions about Pianos, as they are very heavy and expensive to move. You need to know a bit about old pianos to understand if they have any resale value. If you are buying or trying to get rid of an old Piano it is worth checking the following things. For information on getting rid of other types of junk and waste check out out our article on junk removal Auckland here.

Open the lid of the piano and look at the felt hammers that strike the strings. If they have very deep worn grooves, then that Piano has been played a lot and the felt may need replacing which can be expensive. Small grooves are usually ok. Then look at the “harp” frame that supports the strings. If the frame is made of wood, then they warp and crack easily – especially with changes in humidity and temperature. These pianos (if they still sound and work ok) can be lots of fun for young kids, in early childhood centres, or as street art projects or they can be dismantled and used for art materials and the wood upcycled. If your piano has a metal frame it is worth looking harder – especially if it has a brass harp that a magnet won’t stick to. Check the big bridges at the bottom of the harp where you see all the strings connected to the nuts that screw into the harp. Sometimes these bridges crack in a line along the nuts- and this is a very expensive fix and means the piano won’t hold its’ tune properly. Check the soundboard (the large wood panel) at the back of the harp- (Usually the back board of the upright piano or the base of a grand or baby grand piano). If this is warped, very wet or badly cracked then this is an expensive fix and can make the piano sound buzzy. Also look at the keys, especially those in the centre around the middle C position (where the lock is) and press them down and wriggle them side to side. If you can play a scale or a tune, then give your fingers a bit of a work-out and try playing each note including the black notes one after the other. If they are badly discoloured, the laminate is peeling off, they are worn out, they are very stiff or click or move a lot when you give them the wriggle — there may be some expensive work required. If a note doesn’t sound when you play it- and you hear a dull thud, it may be that the strings are broken or the felt pad or hammer action for that note is broken which can be expensive. Finally try the pedals and check that they dampen or amplify the sound properly. The pads on the pedals do wear out and they are not too hard to change, but there is a cost involved. Pedals can crack and break off under a heavy-footed enthusiastic player or if the piano has been moved. It is best to call your friendly piano tuner or an experienced piano player you can trust to spend a bit of time looking over the piano before you buy and move it into your home.
If you are getting rid of a piano it is worth checking all these things first to know whether it has value or whether it is best upcycled. Remember too that the strings inside a piano often have copper wound around them for the base notes, which has scrap metal value.