Piano terms

Piano terms

I have been looking at second-hand pianos from various outlets and I’m confused by the different terms that dealers use to describe the work done to their pianos, such as ‘refurbished’ and ‘reconditioned’. What do they mean?

It is no surprise that you are confused! However, until all piano dealers agree to use a standard set of definitions to indicate the amount of work undertaken on a piano, these terms will be vague and interchangeable. The PTA has initiated just such a scheme to formally standardise terms used to describe the condition of second-hand pianos which carries the full support of the Institute of Musical Instrument Technology, the Association of Blind Piano Tuners and the Music Industries Association. These definitions refer to the condition of the piano and the work undertaken, are quite precise in the minimum requirements for each category, and range from ‘rebuilt’ through ‘reconditioned’ to ‘renovated’ and ‘tidied up’. For example, ‘rebuilt’ should mean that major structural work has been undertaken, including replacement of at least one of the following: soundboard, wrest plank, substantial casework parts, or action and keys. Repinning, restringing, etc. must have been done. Armed with a full set of definitions (available from the PTA Secretary), you could return to your dealers and politely ask which pianos conform to these standards.