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I am looking at a older Knabe concert grand which was "totally rebuilt" about 20 years ago. My concern is it has not been tuned in 15 years and the seller is reluctant to have a tuner come in. I advised the person i could not buy a piano without it being checked by a tech. They even offered to lower the price if i bought it without tuning it but to me that is a red flag. Am i being too cautious?

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    I think this question is subjective. Only you can finally decide what you are comfortable with. That said, a concert grand is a huge investment and I personally would have to be 100% comfortable before spending anywhere near that kind of money. Even if they offered to give it away, you still have to get it to your home and make a place for it, and if you're not happy with it, you have to dispose of it or repair it somehow, and if you are you have to pay to maintain it. Something with that much baggage justifies any amount of care taken in its purchase. – Todd Wilcox Jul 31 '18 at 19:08
  • I'd be saying something like, here's the £100 to have it tuned (to concert) and if it's ok we'll continue. That may be a little loss against getting it home and finding... – Tim Jul 31 '18 at 19:19
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    I suggested that and offered to pay for the tech but they declined and said "what if you dont want it after it is tuned?" It is a red flag for me – John Gallagher Jul 31 '18 at 19:20
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    @alephzero I would vote this up as an answer – coconochao Jul 31 '18 at 19:51
  • @JohnGallagher, don't hesitate to vote up the answers you found suitable to your questions. It means "thank you" to the ones who took the time to answer, a motivation to answer more questions and keep the service going, and it might help those who should fall in the same situation as you have. – avi.elkharrat Aug 2 '18 at 8:08
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One obvious check you can make is, "Is it in tune with itself, whatever the pitch happens to be". I assume if you want to buy a concert grand piano to actually play it, not as a piece of furniture, you should be able to judge that for yourself - or you would have some musical friends whose judgment you can trust if you don't feel confident in your own ability.

If it is, then there's probably not much to worry about at least so far as the strings and soundboard are concerned. If not, you may be buying some very expensive firewood.

Note that the manufacturer's price for new Knabe concert grands range from about $30,000 to $150,000 depending on the size. A good quality 20-year-old rebuild would be worth a significant fraction of that (say 25% to 50% IMO). That is based on the plausible assumption that either it hasn't been played at all for 15 years (and therefore it won't have been worn out!) or else it has stood in tune well enough to satisfy the owner for all those years.

If the asking price is way below those numbers, either the seller doesn't know what he/she is selling, or you may be buying junk.

If they won't let you tune it, get a professional to value it "as is" at your expense. Since the pro will be working for you, he/she won't tell the seller what the valuation is. If they won't agree to either tuning or valuation, the best advice is probably to walk away!!

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If they won't let a tech look at it, walk away. Period.

  • I think i found out why they are reluctant to have the piano evaluated, it has not been tuned in over 15 years. My tuner advised to walk away, which i what i did. thanks for your response – John Gallagher Aug 2 '18 at 1:53
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This sounds really awkward...

Shouldn't the seller have it tuned before hand for people to try and play? He would loose the deal because he would not spend a 100$ to tune it?

You'll find other great opportunities I'm sure.

Most important of all: would you buy again from this seller? Do you trust him? Wouldn't you like to buy from people you trust?

  • I think i found out why they are reluctant to have the piano evaluated, it has not been tuned in over 15 years. My tuner advised to walk away, which i what i did. thanks for your response – John Gallagher Aug 2 '18 at 1:52
  • Glad I could help! – avi.elkharrat Aug 2 '18 at 8:09
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The reason for not letting you check it is not clear. They either know it's bad or are just ignorant of the importance of the procedure.

A tuner friend of mine always says checking's a must with second hand pianos because a tech can immediately (using a special key tool) tell whether 'the instrument will remain tuned or it will be untuned next week/month', so for him pre-sell check is often not about tuning but about how long it will REMAIN tuned.

  • I think i found out why they are reluctant to have the piano evaluated, it has not been tuned in over 15 years. My tuner advised to walk away, which i what i did. thanks for your response – John Gallagher Aug 2 '18 at 1:52

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