When is a piano old?
How long does a piano last?
Let us begin by saying that an upright or grand piano does NOT have eternal life, even though many people believe that is the case. A piano really is subject to wear, due to the usage and climatic circumstances an instrument undergoes. A piano consists almost entirely of natural materials, and at a certain point they are simply completely worn.
When is a piano old?
Beautiful and technically good instruments from before 1930 are rare. Unless, of course, they have been completely reconditioned. But then they would really need to be completely reconditioned. Not just done up and made playable. A complete reconditioning easily takes 200 man-hours. As you will understand, a completely reconditioned upright or grand piano for under € 10.000,00 is not a completely reconditioned instrument!
During the years of the Second World War, hardly any pianos were built. During the post-war reconstruction years, many people were focussed on other things than playing the piano. In the 1960s, people started playing the piano again, and piano building recommenced too. From then on, Eastern European instruments have come to our country in great numbers. These instruments have definitely had their day. The pianos that were built there, were cheap, with lower-quality materials and cheap labour.
The pianos that were built in Western Europe and Japan from 1960 onwards, had a far better quality. Many of these instruments still play very well and have quite a good sound.
Will a piano maintain the sound it had when it was newly purchased, through the years?
No, unfortunately not, a piano reaches its optimum sound in the first 5 years of its life. The soundboard and the tensions it bears, will set and reach their optimum performance. The instrument will maintain this optimum sound for approximately 25 years. After that, the tension of the soundboard will slowly decrease, and with that, so will the quality of the sound. You will not hear this immediately, because it is a slow process. By that time, the action mechanism usually needs a thorough maintenance service too. But that is the reason you often see used upright and grand pianos of approximately 30-40 years old.