Piano on craigslist

Posted by: brandino

Piano on craigslist - 08/30/09 10:41 PM

Hey all,
I'm knew to piano buying and am doing research and whatnot to see what I can afford and what would be best to fit in my house. I'm a begginer at the insturment, so I figured I try and find something used and cheap to practice on and see how I like it.

I was searching craigslist and came across someone who's giving away a piano they have no room for. I haven't had a chance to take a look at it myself yet. But what I do know about it is what I got from the seller. She said this, "It's dark brown, and it says 'Oakland Cabinet Grand, Buffalo, New York.' A couple of the keys don't play properly - I assume it needs a few new strings, but I don't know much about pianos."

Have any of you heard of of a piano like this? And if you have, are they anything decent? Oh, and if I do get it, any ideas on how much it'd cost to get those keys fixed?
Posted by: Bob

Re: Piano on craigslist - 08/30/09 10:43 PM

That sounds like a big old upright in poor condition. A free piano is never free. Consider spending $600 on a Wurlitzer spinet or Acrosonic spinet instead. You should always have a tech look at a new piano before you buy it.
Posted by: boxijie

Re: Piano on craigslist - 08/30/09 10:49 PM

You might want to consider renting as another option. You could have a higher quality instrument to practise on. If you decide not to continue, you send it back. If you decide to continue sometimes the rent you paid gets taken off the purchase price.

What is your budget?
Posted by: SeilerFan

Re: Piano on craigslist - 08/30/09 10:53 PM

sounds like a piano that should be passed up. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a cash for clunkers program for pianos.
Posted by: brandino

Re: Piano on craigslist - 08/30/09 11:14 PM

I'm not to sure what my budget is right now. I only really just started looking and I'm not in to much of a hurry cause my college has practice rooms with baby grands I can practice on. I may even go the digital route so I won't wake any family members if I want to practice late at night.
Posted by: 88Key_PianoPlayer

Re: Piano on craigslist - 08/31/09 01:23 AM

I found what I think was the listing via google search, but upon going to the listing on the craigslist website it had been deleted by the post's author. Since the piano was in Lincoln, NE, I will assume you are in that general area. I took the liberty to browse Craigslist in that area, and came up with what I think may be a few possibilities:

Spinets:
Baldwin Spinet - $450
Baldwin Acrosonic 1950s blonde oak spinet - $450 (not the same as the above one - different phone numbers in ads)
Baldwin Acrosonic spinet - $450 (cabinet in pic looks like 1950s-1960s style iirc)
Baldwin Acrosonic 900 spinet - $500
Wurlitzer spinet - $450 (looks like it may be 40s style cabinet, but i'm not sure)
Wurlitzer spinet - $650 (same cabinet style as a 1955 Wurlitzer some friends have, and their piano is one of the nicest Wurlitzer spinets I have seen & played)
Wurlitzer spinet - $395 (this one has toe blocks under the legs, which most spinets do not have)
Wurlitzer spinet - $600
Wurlitzer spinet - $600

Consoles:
Kimball Artist console - $500
Cable-Nelson console - $449 (purchased new in 1978, someone in another thread said they were made by Everett)
Kimball Console piano - $750
Kawai 602-T console - $1000 (purchased new in 1990)

Studios:
Wurlitzer studio upright (~45") - $400 (no bench)
school piano - $100 (pic shows a Baldwin Hamilton)

Hopefully one of those would be a good piano. I think if it's still available (it was posted on August 4) the Baldwin Hamilton would be the best of the bunch if it's in good condition.
Posted by: charleslang

Re: Piano on craigslist - 08/31/09 01:57 AM

brandino, getting a decent instrument can mean the difference between enjoying playing piano and not enjoying playing piano. That in turn can mean the difference between continuing to play and practice and giving up the piano. So it's really important to get something decent.

The first major hurdle is getting something that can be tuned and can keep its tuning. Unlike guitars, where the strings are kept in position by friction in metal screws, pianos keep their tuning depending on metal pins that are in wooden holes. As the wood ages and the pin is tuned over the years, they loosen up. Some very old pianos will hold a tuning still, but many will not. A piano that can't hold its tuning will require considerable work even in order to get a stop-gap fix.

A second hurdle is getting a piano with hammers that aren't hopelessly worn out. Hammers should have a full teardrop shape (you can see pictures online). If they have deep grooves, they can be shaped so that there's a new surface, but beyond a certain point you'll have to replace the hammers, another big cost.

Getting a piano under about 50 years old will vastly increase your chances of finding a piano without some of these problems, but depending on how it has been treated over the years, a piano in this age range can also be in bad shape.

The usual advice is to hire a technician to accompany you to inspect the piano. If you're on an extremely tight budget, just look inside the piano -- does it look corroded, or are the parts clean and new-looking? After looking at a few pianos you'll be able to tell which have been treated well and which have not.

After all those concerns, just play the pianos and trust your feelings about what sounds and feels good. Play different parts of the keyboard, high, low and middle. Do you hear tone in the higher keys, or does it sound like the hammer is just knocking on wood? When you push a key down, does it feel like the mechanism starts responding immediately, or do you have to push down a little bit before something starts moving? Do the keys move loosely from side to side (meaning that the felt holding them in place is worn out), or are they stay snugly in place?