The Unknown Grand

You walk into the venue and fall in love with a beautiful old grand piano begging to be played.

I feel the same way anytime I find an unknown grand. Until you open the lid it could be any number of things. We romanticise about Steinway, Bosendorfer, Bechstein and so many more. But those moments you don’t know what it is are golden. Once you get the green light to use it, here’s a “how to”.

Free or fee?

If there’s a fee it’s usually to cover tuning immediately before your function. This is a good thing and shows the venue looks after the piano. Music performance venues are most likely to charge (e.g. concert halls).

It hasn’t been played in a while

Time to start detective work. Press some keys in the middle and see how crisp it sounds. A really out of tune piano sounds like a honky tonk. A slighly out of tune piano is harder to distinguish. Six to twelve months since the last tune can be bearable. If you’re after 100 percent, ask them to tune it or book your own tuner.


A group of 40 or so wont need much amplification. Large groups benefit from a microphone or two. Tuning pre microphone is strongly suggested. Although an acoustic piano sounds ok six months after tuning, the microphone tends to make it sound worse.

You tend to get what you pay for. A free grand is common but think about ~$200 to get it tuned.