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"This piano is an upright grand"
Translation: This is a big upright.
Reality: Many people apply the term "upright grand" to many old uprights, implying "fine-quality" or "having a large tone."
The term, which actually originated as a sales gimmick with manufacturers who used the name "Upright Grand" on the fallboard, might accurately describe a very old vertical with a large curve built into the top, so the cabinet looks like a grand standing on end.
But in no instance does it mean an upright has a grand piano action.
"This piano has a brass harp" or a "bell metal barp"
Translation: The plate has gold paint on it.
Reality: The terms "brass harp," "brass plate" and "brass frame" are incorrect; piano plates are made of cast iron, with the rare exception of a few made of cast aluminum. Even in a piano with the wording "bell metal" cast into the plate, the plate is made of cast iron.
"This piano bas a solid brass sound-board"
Reality: The plate has gold paint on it. Soundboards are made of wood, and plates are made of cast iron.
"This piano is worth a lot because it has ivory keys"
Reality: A keyboard with perfect ivories, or only a few chips, is a desirable thing to have on an old piano, but an ivory keyboard with chips from one end to the other doesn't enhance the value of a piano, and a poorquality piano with good ivorie keys is still just a Poorquality Piano.
"This piano is very fine, because it is very old"
Reality: An older piano isn't necessarily better than a new one, although most people believe this because some older pianos are better than some new ones.
"This piano never needs tuning"
Translation: "I can't tell if a piano is in tune or not."
Reality: Despite what anyone thinks, when humidity goes up and down, it makes the soundboard expand and coiltract, throwing the piano out of tune.
"An upright Player Piano is inferior to a regular piano for band playing, because the weight of the player mechanism makes the action stiff"
Reality: The player mechanism is separate from the piano action and has no effect on the touch.
"My piano tuner said this piano has a cracked soundboard, so it can't be tuned"
Translation: The tuner said the piano has a cracked pinblock, so it can't be tuned.
"This piano bas a solid oak cabinet"
Translation: "I've heard antique dealers say that old round oak tables and other furniture are made of solid oak, so this piano must be made of solid oak too."
Reality: Crossbanded and veneered wood is much more resistant to warping and cracking than solid wood, and is much better for piano cabinets.
Most old pianos - even most inexpensive old pianos - have crossbanding and veneer on the sides and other large panels.
Many old pianos are in somewhat poor condition contrasted to many newer ones,and a fine-quality smaller piano was better when new than a larger inexpensive one was, so you must weigh the size, quality, age,and condition against each other very carefully.
After a fine restoration, a larger good-quality older piano will always sound better than a smaller good-quality newer one, but don't assume that your first repair attempts will bring an old pialno back to brand new condition.
When searching for a used piano, the more you know about what you're buying,the happier you'll be when you finally purchase one.
Learn as much as possible about pianos by reading and by visiting with others who share your interest.
Don't buy on impulse, don't underestimate the amount of time and money
it takes to perform good-quality major repairs.