At your Piano Tuner Wilmington DE, Kenneth Keith Piano Services, we sometimes encounter spinet pianos that were recently purchased by clients. This article is designed to warn you of the potential problems with purchasing a spinet piano, so you will not be caught off guard.
Some background on the design and construction of spinet pianos is necessary for you to understand the potential problems. Spinet pianos were produced from the 1930’s to the 197o’s. None are made today. The definition of a spinet piano is that the action, i.e. the mechanical portion of the instrument which transfers movement from the keys to the piano hammers, is located behind and below the back of the keys. Other vertical pianos have the action located above the keys. Another simple way to determine if a piano is a spinet is to measure the overall height of the instrument. If the overall height is around 36″, then it is a spinet. If the height is 40″ or taller, then the piano is not a spinet, and usually is a superior design compared with a spinet.
There are significant problems with having the piano action located behind and below the keys. The most important problem is access to the action for repairs. It can take several hours to remove and replace the action on a spinet piano for a 15 minute repair. Your cost for that service can be ten times what it would be on a taller piano. Essentially, spinet pianos are not designed to be repaired. They are disposable pianos. In addition, since they have not been made since the 1970’s, they are all becoming due for repairs, which can be very expensive.
There are other features of spinet pianos that make them less desirable. Because the action is located below and behind the keys, there is an additional mechanism for transferring the movement. This additional mechanism results in a less sensitive feel when playing the instrument, so it is more difficult to play a beautiful line of music. This can lead to frustration, and may contribute to a student losing interest in learning to play the piano. Additionally, The small size of the instrument limits the length of the strings. Shorter and thicker strings have greater inharmonicity, so the piano never sounds very good. This, again, limits the reward of playing and makes it less likely that a student will maintain his/her interest in learning to play.
Kenneth Keith Piano Services, your piano tuning Wilmington DE expert, recommends purchase of a piano at least 40″ tall, in order to avoid the problems associated with spinet pianos. It is always a good idea to have us assess the condition of any piano that you are considering purchasing. Any piano could have issues that only a trained piano technician will be able to recognize. Please give us a call with any questions you may have.