What Makes a Good Piano? 50 Things to look for

Kevin Busse Feb 18, 2024
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Q & A

A user on Quora requested me to answer this question. I listed the first 50 things I look for when determining the good qualities of a piano.

Q. "What makes a good piano?"

-Submitted by a Quora user

A. "There are many things that make a good piano!"

From the perspective of a Piano Technician, here are 50 qualities I quickly notice about a piano that are important in determining whether it's a great piano or not!

50 Qualities for How to Tell it's a Good piano

  1. No major damage to soundboard

  2. No major damage to the bridge

  3. No major damage to the finish

  4. No major damage to the pinblock

  5. Tight tuning pins

  6. Properly spaced hammers

  7. Properly traveled hammers

  8. Properly burned hammers

  9. Piano is up to pitch and does not need a pitch raise

  10. Piano has been recently tuned

  11. Free of sticking keys

  12. Front key bushings are not loose and do not wiggle side to side too much

  13. The action is bedded properly (no knocking when playing)

  14. The hammers have been filed properly

  15. The hammers have been voiced

  16. The hammers have been seated to the strings

  17. The strings are spaced properly

  18. The tri-chord strings are level to the hammers

  19. The soft pedal is does not shift too far, but shifts to a preference of hitting only two strings or two strings and slightly the third

  20. The sostenuto pedal functions without catching on the sostenuto tabs as to create excess noise

  21. The sustain pedal lifts off of all dampers at the same time

  22. The sustain pedal has sufficient lost motion so as not to cause excess notes to ring without pressing the pedal

  23. The tops of the pedal rods are tightened with wrenches (not just fingers)

  24. The furniture is free from deep scratches, or gouges, nor missing veneer

  25. The music shelf is in working condition and adheres to the guide rails

  26. There are hinge pins in both hinges for the lid

  27. The piano has been fully vacuumed and clear of dust or debris that may vibrate when playing

  28. The wheels are sufficient to slowly move the piano without excess noise or friction

  29. The finish does not have a milky appearance

  30. The finish is not sun-faded

  31. There is sufficient aftertouch for each key

  32. The bushings of the keys are not too hard/crusty or are all in place

  33. The strings are free from rust

  34. The piano does not have a humidification system that is too old

  35. If the piano has a player system that it operates and does not need a power supply replaced or replacement in the near future

  36. If the piano has a player system, that it is calibrated

  37. The coils of the strings over the tuning pins have 3 coils and are tightly wound

  38. Tuning pins are all drilled at the same angle

  39. There are no broken strings

  40. The hammer return springs do not have cords that are broken or are disintegrating

  41. The keys are level

  42. The bridge does not have any tears

  43. There are original strings only

  44. The keys are clean and clear of filth on the sides

  45. The bench is tightened

  46. None of the keys make erroneous clicking noises

  47. None of the strings have false beats

  48. The tone quality is even throughout the piano, yet well balanced and tasteful brightness in the extreme ranges

  49. The tone quality is even throughout the full dynamic range of a keystroke and is consistent on all keys

  50. The copper strings are not corroding

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