Once you have found the piano you are interested in you must give it a closer inspection to make sure it is not a "disguised lemon".
To examine the piano it is a good idea to carry a few tools.
  1. Slot head screwdriver
  2. Robertson screwdriver (square headed)
  3. Philips screwdriver (star headed)
  4. Pair of pliers
  5. Flashlight

When you first see your potential piano you should first start with a visual inspection. A lot can be said for the outside and people tend to over look this. The outside condition may be an indication of what the inside is like. If the outside has been abused, that may be an indication that the inside has also had plenty of use or could have been abused.

Look for the following

  1. Deep gouges and scratches in the finish
  2. Broken legs or chipped corner
  3. Water stains of lifting veneer. This may be a result of drinks or plants being left on the piano
  4. Chipped white keys or discolored black keys may be an indication of heavy usage

One should keep in mind that so far all of these issues are only exterior blemishes which can be fixed by a trained professional and in no way effect the sound of the piano.

But remember, if you are going to have these blemishes corrected by a professional in the future it is going to cost money, so keep this in mind when you are negotiating a price of the piano.

The next step before you look inside the piano is to play all the notes to see if the sound is uniform, if the sound is not even going down the keyboard or there are noises that sound strange you should seek a trained professional to examine the piano more closely.

As a last note when you are examining someone else's piano take special care not to scratch or damage it. It is not your until you pay for it.