I bought a used Steinway. Sometimes its keys don't always make a sound when pressed down. Is this my fault or the piano's?

Should I contact the seller, or is it a minor problem that the tuner can fix in a few weeks when it's settled?

  • Is there any pattern as to when it does, and doesn't make the sound? Have you had a look inside to see what is happening with the hammer? Jul 28, 2019 at 8:24
  • Thank you for responding. I will check and let you know Jul 28, 2019 at 8:53
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    Is it always the same key(s)? Do you have a piano tuner you could ask to have a look at it? They might be able to fix or advise. Jul 28, 2019 at 9:12
  • 1
    You did check basic things like that before buying - didn't you?
    – Tim
    Jul 28, 2019 at 10:54
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    A piano is like a car. It is a mechanical device that needs proper upkeep to keep in a working condition. This does not sound like a major problem though and a good piano tuner with a workshop could fix it for you.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jul 29, 2019 at 15:11

3 Answers 3


Ask the piano tuner to regulate the action, especially if the piano's move underwent changes of humidity. Some keys' pivots may have become sticky. In the meantime, if one key often suffers from a silent depress, bang away at it fast and loud for a minute. That could loosen it up, and certainly won't hurt it.


It is possible to depress a piano key so slowly that the hammer isn't actually 'thrown' at the string. This is normal. If the cut-off speed is too high, or inconsistent across the keyboard, your tuner needs to 'regulate' the action. This isn't an enormous job.

(@Teresa Walker will have resolved this issue by now. Perhaps she can come back and tell us how?)


If you just bought a Steinway, it's a reasonable assumption that you already can play the piano, so it's unlikely to be "your fault" that you can't play a note.

It could just be a temporary thing caused by change of humidity or temperature. I once had an upright piano where this happened to almost every key a few days after it was moved, but week later it was back to normal without any adjustments when all the working parts had acclimatized to the new environment.

Whatever the cause, you need to get a professional to look at it if the cause of the problem is not obvious to you.

We don't know anything about the instrument, but just because it's a Steinway doesn't mean it is guaranteed to be in good condition if it has never been looked after. Let's hope you haven't made the mistake of buying a Steinway nameplate attached to an overpriced heap of firewood and scrap metal!

The fact that you said "the seller" and not "the piano dealer" or "music shop" might mean you bought it from a private individual, so I hope you got a professional valuation on the instrument if you paid a lot of money for it. If it seemed like a bargain because of the maker's name plus a low price tag, you might have just found out why the seller wanted to get rid of it.

(Sorry, but I'm a pessimist by nature!)

  • It was a music shop and I have contacted the owner and I am not concerned. As you have said it probably needs to settle. It is a beautiful piano and sounds beautiful so I am more than happy. Blessings to you Jul 28, 2019 at 16:19

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