1. Chipped or Crooked Piano Keys
Piano keys get a regular beating. If the keyboard is showing its age on the outside, it may have serious problems on the inside. Strike each key a few times, while testing out different lengths and volumes. Look out for the following:
- Buzzing sounds and strange vibrations.
- Notes that don’t hold their lengths.
- Off-pitch notes.
- Keys that sound like two notes playing at once.
- Notes that don’t play at all.
2. Cracks in the Piano’s Finish
Cloudiness and cracks in the piano’s finish is often caused by humidity, which is a serious threat to piano health (read why). If weather damage has affected the exterior wood, you can safely assume that the fragile interior wood has been compromised. Check all sides of the piano for cracks, scratches, and discoloration -- a symptom of sun-damage -- and keep your eye out for misshapen and warped wood; these can all harm sound quality.
3. Unresponsive Piano Pedals
Piano pedals that have lost their muscle have most likely become detached from surrounding parts; pedals that don’t move at all are an even bigger problem. Test each pedal with the keyboard -- even if you’re not sure what the foot pedals do -- and make sure they produce clean, balanced tones.
Not planning to use the pedals? Pay attention to them anyway. If something has gone wrong behind your pedals, other areas of your piano may soon exhibit signs of damage.
Learn about what can go wrong inside a piano, and how to find it before you buy it: Read about the interior signs of piano damage.