Formerly Flanagans of Mt Merrion


Q. What is the best piano for a beginner?

A. One that functions properly and is in tune - this is really important. Starting a beginner on an inferior piano is a recipe for failure. Experienced players can cope with mechanicial and tuning problems more easily because they know how things are supposed to be, a beginner will not.

Q. How do I pick out a good used piano?

A. Reject pianos that have serious problems. Here are some pointers for inspecting a used piano. Open the piano. Take the front panel off so you can see what's inside. Examine the strings. Are they rusty? Some may even be broken - if so walk away. Rust weakens strings, making them more likely to break and almost impossible to tune to concert pitch. Listen as you play each of the 85 or 88 keys. All pianos go out of tune. It is normal and unavoidable, but piano strings tend to go out of tune somewhat together. It's not normal to have a string that is wildly and disproportionately out of tune with respect to its neighbouring strings. It suggests that the tuning pins might be too loose and may be slipping in the pinblock. Watch as you play each of the 85 or 88 keys. The felt-covered piano hammers are thrown forward to hit the strings. They are supposed to move in a "back and forth" direction. They are not supposed to wobble from side to side. Wobbly piano hammers are a bad sign. It suggests that the piano is very worn. Also if there are deep groves in the hammers where they hit the strings, this will tell you the piano is very worn. When buying a piano privately, We recommend that you bring along with you a qualified piano tuner/technician.

Q. How often should a piano be tuned?

A. This is a difficult question because some pianos are in environments where there is frequent change in temperature and humidity. On average a piano should be tuned once a year. Make sure your piano dealer is or employs a registered qualified tuner and technician

Q. Where is the best place to put a piano?

A. The most suitable place to put a piano is an area free of radiators, windows and near fires. Pianos placed near or in front of the above will expand and contract all the time with the temperature and humidity changes. After a period of time the piano will become untunable due to loose tuning pins. The heat will also cause cracks in the soundboard. Be careful of windows, like any piece of furniture a piano will fade in the sun. In summary, you should avoid pianos with rusty and broken strings, slipping tuning pins, wobbly hammers or deep groves in hammers. These are, in our opinion, the most common cancers in the lives of pianos. Everything can be fixed, but "restringing", "repining" and "rebuilding the action" are very time consuming (therefore expensive) jobs. Even if the pianos are being given away for free (and they often are), it would be wise to just stay away from them. We personally find that people who don't want to spend a lot of money, buy pianos from their friends, the paper, auctions etc. 99% of the time when we see the piano it has these forementioned problems. Therefore it is money down the drain.  If buying a piano privately keep in mind, what appears to be a rare bargain can prove to be a real liability.