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I have a Baldwin upright that's at least 30 years old. It won't hold a tune, many of the keys are sticky or difficult to depress and the middle octave is now picking up harmonic? actual notes? from the octave below. To anyone knowledgeable, does this sound repairable? Is this model of piano worth expensive repairs?

I'm trying to get my 4yo playing but I think the crappy piano might be hindering her progress. I know her teacher is always telling her to not press so hard, but I think she's learned it from our piano. In replacing the piano, should I look for a better upright, or are the new digital pianos worth investigating? I'd be interested in a digital only due to their much smaller footprint - we have a tiny house. I expect all three children will spend some time learning the piano over the next 15 years so happy to invest.

closed as primarily opinion-based by ttw, Todd Wilcox, Dom Aug 27 '18 at 1:29

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Have you opened the piano and examined it yourself yet? This is free and not too difficult, you can look for problems yourself to get an idea of what would be involved in fixing them. Does it need lubrication/overlubricated? Did something sticky get inside or too much dust? Worn felt? You won't break it by looking at it and if you find something you can put up a picture here. – K H Aug 23 '18 at 1:57
  • I'd suggest letting an expert have a look at it and asking them for an estimate of costs. Your actual questions (Is it worth to repair? Should I look for a better upright, or a digital piano?) are very much opinion-based, IMHO. – Arsak Aug 23 '18 at 4:31
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    @KH Pianos shouldn't need "lubrication" - certainly not with anything that resembles "oil". Attempting to fix problems by doing that has probably wrecked far more pianos than it has saved! – user19146 Aug 23 '18 at 7:25
  • My point is not to go on recklessly with diy repair, but simply that it won't hurt to look. – K H Aug 23 '18 at 8:23
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Of your list of problems, the most worrying one IMO is "won't hold its tune". That is usually irreparable - there are some "cures" that might work in the short term, but in the long term (i.e. a year rather than a month) they often make the problem worse rather than better.

IMO if the instrument is only 30 years old and won't stay in tune, the best place for it is on a bonfire unless there is something "special" about it. A Baldwin piano is a perfectly good instrument, but it's hardly worth keeping (and living with its problems) as precious antique.

With a digital piano, as with everything else, you get what you pay for. The best quality mechanical parts you can afford is worth the money, both for the playing experience and because the mechanical parts are the most likely to cause any future problems, not the electronics. (Not that you should be getting any problems for many years if you buy a new instrument, of course).

Personally, if I was buying "from new" now I would probably go for a top-of-the-range dumb piano-weighted keyboard (e.g. by Fatar - their keyboards are used by several other manufacturers' top-of-the range digital pianos), plus a PC-based piano synthesiser like Pianoteq.

But I'm not a beginner keyboard player, and as a "starter instrument" for your children, a digital piano with a built-in selection of teaching aids (metronome, recording option, etc) and a selection of sounds in addition to the basic piano would probably be a better bet.

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If your piano has a wooden frame, (no, not the casing!), it's probably worth a trip to the tip. With an iron frame, it's probably worth mending, although the cost could be several hundred pounds. That money could go to getting an electronic keyboard, which may or may not have as effective an action as a real piano, but will have several advantages.

Smaller, lighter, more easily moved, a plethora of different sounds, recording facility, metronome, drum machine, layered sounds, split sounds, headphone listening, to name several. And low maintenance.

Gear recommendations are offside here, but a trip to your local shop should help you choose one with a half-decent hammer action, which should be your number one consideration. There are several out there that won't break the bank. Teacher will most likely suggest an acoustic, but given your restrictions, should be sympathetic and might even help you choose. He will also be able to know someone who can quote for Baldwin repairs.

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    A 30-year-old piano from a major company like Baldwin is unlikely to have a wooden frame - but see my answer also. (And FWIW I often play a 150-year-old wooden framed piano that "holds its tune" just as well as a brand new iron-framed one!) – user19146 Aug 23 '18 at 7:03

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