Out of sight, out of mind
Some pianos, for whatever reason, spend part of their life being stored in garages or even sheds! At this point allow me to be very prescriptive – do not buy. Garages and sheds are normally damp, very damp at times. Pianos are made with a high proportion of wood and other natural materials – wood in particular will expand and distort, causing much damage but arguably, not as much damage as when it is moved into a centrally heated environment again, causing it to then shrink and crack.
Of course, some woods will deteriorate and sometimes even develop splits through ageing alone. The process of becoming damp and then drying out again will further augment this. Damage of this type to the integral parts of the piano, for example, the wrest plank that grips the tuning pins, will have a direct effect on whether a piano can be tuned. This will also determine how a piano ‘holds’ or maintains concert pitch; deterioration of the steel strings, through rusting in this type of environment, will also prevent a piano from attaining concert pitch. It is as if the steel strings have developed a memory of their lower pitch and when subjected to stretching will break rather than come back up to pitch again. Many older pianos, although in reasonable tune with themselves, are below concert pitch and therefore, will not help you or your children to develop the correct ear for music.