Is My Old Piano an Antique? — Part 1

Note: In Part 1 of this series, this question is answered from the point of view of a piano technician and dealer. In Part 2, a noted curator of antique musical instruments weighs in with his perspective.—Editor

One of the most common types of call that piano dealers receive is from owners of old pianos who are convinced that their instruments are antiques of great worth.  Usually, the purpose of the call is to find out if the dealer will buy the piano, or to ask if the dealer can verify the piano’s value for a tax deduction from a charitable gift. Most times, these calls end with owners being disappointed to find out that their old pianos are worth less than the cost of moving them.

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Piano Tuning: An Introduction

Tuning a piano is the process of adjusting the tension of its strings, thereby altering their pitch, or frequency of vibration, by slightly turning the tuning pins to which they’re attached, so that each string sounds pleasingly in harmony with every other string. This harmony is achieved by tuning the piano according to certain known acoustical laws and aesthetic rules and customs.

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To most piano buyers and owners, a piano's tone is probably its most important aspect, but also the most difficult to quantify or describe. Likewise, the shaping of the tone by the technician through the procedure known as voicing involves unfamiliar terminology, and techniques that are difficult for technicians to communicate to the customer. The purpose of this article, then, is to provide information about tone, voicing, and definitions of some commonly used terms so that piano owners and technicians can better communicate with each other, and piano shoppers can make more informed buying decisions.

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