Old Ivories

If you didn’t figure it out from my last post, I want an acoustic piano. I’ve played a few digitals: they just don’t feel the same as a solid, majestic upright. Of course, there’s a few issues with my desire for real keys under my fingers, a few issues that mean I can’t have an acoustic piano for at least half a year.

Of course, the main issue at the moment is space. Remember what our apartment looks like? Maybe I could get a small, apartment style piano into the spot my Yamaha currently sits. But even a small acoustic piano would take up a significant amount of space. Access to our beautiful bookcase would be lost and the couch may need to squish up against our side table. And really, do I want an apartment style piano? Even if such a piano would fit, getting it up the elevator onto the 30th floor and down the hall and into our suite would likely be way more work than it’s worth, especially considering I’d much rather a full-sized upright.

And then, there’s cost. I don’t want a new piano. I have a strong fondness for ivory keys and scratched panels. I don’t like the shiny coating of brand new pianos, their susceptibility to fingerprints and their lack of history. Besides that, new pianos are expensive. But so are refurbished pianos, pianos that have been beautifully restored, ivory keys carefully replaced, strings restrung, felts refelted. So, a new piano is out, a refurbished piano is out. Kijiji?

There’s plenty of $100 pianos on Kijiji. $150 pianos. Maybe $200. This is a warning to anyone trying to find a piano on Kijiji: unless the seller is also delivering the antique piano, it’s not worth the $100 they’re asking for it, except perhaps in their own sentimental value. Especially ads that say ‘Some TLC required’ or, worse, ‘Works fine but needs tuning’. Unless you know a little something about pianos, don’t touch these. A glance or two won’t tell you if the soundboard is broken or, worse, the tuning block is cracked. A piano that can’t hold its tune has no value except as firewood.

But what’s about the free pianos on Kijiji? There’s a few. Lots of people just want the monstrosities out of their houses: a child has left for university and doesn’t care about the instrument she was forced to play as a child; someone bought the thing thinking they would learn and then realized it was actually hard; it was handed down, and they thought it would make a beautiful piece of furniture, until they realized how much space it was really taking up. These are the ones I look for. There’s a few I’d like to go look at, just to see if I could tell if it’s a good enough piano for me.

But, then, I think about my piano. It looks something like this:

The finish is a little darker, not so red. And mine is missing that beautiful decal along the top. But pretty much, that’s my piano. It’s the piano I learned on, the piano I played for approximately 11 years before moving out of the house. I have a lot of sentiment attached to this piano. And, guess what? It’s not only free, but I know exactly what kind of shape it’s in.

About two years ago when I was looking for a piano I could have with me, my parents considered selling the upright and giving me whatever they got from it to go towards a new, good quality digital piano. They called in a piano technician from a local restoration and retail company to assess the piano, tell us how much it’s worth and maybe buy it off of us. The results were mixed, but ultimately, as beautiful and valuable as the piano is to me, it’s junk to pretty much everyone else. Except. The bones on my piano are remarkable. The soundboard survived a fall down the stairs into the basement, the tuning block has been able to handle 100 years of changing temperatures without losing its ability to hold its tune, and the rest of the structure is solid. Yes, the hammers need to be replaced and the action needs some work. But if I were to put approximately $1000 into refurbishing the interior of this piano, it would sound a heck of a lot better than any new piano I could buy. And, until we decide to actually do the refurbishing, I know my piano will still be good to me, even if the tone is a little shrill.

So, the question now is how do we get it out of my parents’ basement? And, when we do get it out, will M and I have the space for it wherever we’re living in six months?



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4 responses to “Old Ivories

  1. farminarian

    The picture is broken!

  2. Rivikah

    You get it out of the parents’ basement the same way it got in to the parents’ basement. Preferably without the extra fast trip down the stairs. A piano cart, 2-4 strong people and a little cursing should do the trick!

    Or…You could fuss around with some kind of winching mechanism to provide the upward and forward motion and just have one or two strong people to provide direction.

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