Best value: Mason & Hamlin Model 50 (50 inches tall)
Highlights include: – Wessell, Nickel & Gross composite action which has 3x the lifespan of traditional wooden actions that achieve an unmatched uniform touch and feel. – Hard bushings that don’t change when the weather changes. This is a huge advantage for pianos that live in a climate such as Chicago or the midwest, where the summers are hot and wet, and the winters are cold and dry. Sticking keys and action parts are a thing of the past! – Their Carbon fiber shanks are stronger than wood, and precisely weighted, your piano will not vary in volume from note to note. With the Mason & Hamlin Model 50, you’ll always have a musical, consistent feel whenever you perform.
Yearly cost of maintenance
As of 2020, the price for a standard tuning is about $150. For most pianists, having your piano tuned twice a year is sufficient, and your technician will also touch up little annoyances such as sticky keys, double hitting and squeaky pedals as part of the “tune up”. They will let you know when something more is needed such as voicing or regulation, and that costs around $350 and up depending on the amount of attention the piano needs. Full voicing and regulation is not usually required very often for home pianos, but varies on how much use the piano gets. For the most part, tuning twice per year is all you need to worry about. If you are not ready or willing to maintain the piano after you get a piano, then you are not ready to buy a piano.
Gray Market Piano
What is a Gray Market Piano?
You may have come across the term “gray market pianos” during your used piano research, let’s break down what it really means. Pianos are made primarily from wood. Manufacturers such as Yamaha, “season” the wood for the piano’s destination (think specific climate). So if the piano is going to the USA, where the climate becomes very dry, the piano is treated appropriately. A gray market piano, is one that was intended for a different market, such as Japan, but has been sold and brought over to the USA to be resold. Gray market pianos may be prone to more problems having anything to do with the wood drying out beyond what it was prepared for. Gray market pianos are not always a mistake to buy however, and can be a price effective way to get a premium piano! You will need to determine if you are ready to take a small risk in exchange for some savings. Make sure you get a warranty from the dealer if possible, and bring along a qualified piano technician to assist in your buying decision.
Yamaha Grand Pianos
Yamaha G, C, and CX series
The C series began in the 1967 and really came into their own by the mid 1980’s. Yamaha finally phased out their G series pianos in the mid 90’s and the C series took over. The C series offers more refinement in almost every aspect of the piano. From the keytops, action parts, hammers, and case construction. Everything about the C series is a step up from the G series. In 2012, Yamaha launched the CX series, replacing the C series going forward. Once again, the Yamaha CX Pianos offers more refinement in nearly every aspect of the piano. Relying heavily on advancements and technologies from Yamaha’s CFX concert grand pianos.
Buying pianos on Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, and Facebook Marketplace
The first thing you should know about buying a used piano from a private seller on Craigslist, is that unless the listing is brand new (within a couple of days or so), local piano dealers have (very likely) already looked at it and determined that it’s not resell-able. However, sometimes there’s a good deal to be found if you’re lucky and have done your research. There are a lot of risks when buying something as serious as a piano from a private seller, similar to buying a used car from someone you don’t know.
- There is no warranty
- The seller doesn’t have their reputation on the line, in the way a dealer does
- A piano technician may not have touched it for many years
- You must coordinate and find professional, reliable movers, you will need to have a tech inspect the piano, and then have a tech tune the piano once it’s delivered
- ”Free” pianos are often anything but free, and are more often a costly source of frustration
With all of those points in mind, remember that it is still possible to find a decent piano for sale privately. Call a qualified technician and ask them to evaluate any piano that you are seriously considering. At Chicago Piano Tuners, we are happy to help assist you when making your decision, and can even do a free consultation over the phone! Call us today!