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Piano Finders Standard

on Scale of All Pianos

effective date 12/01/01

Explanatory Note: The Piano Finders Standard is a set of criteria we use for rating a specific piano compared to all other pianos, and also compared to other pianos in its class. The standard is based upon features or properties of the piano that we have found are important to pianists, piano technicians, and piano buyers in general. There are five basic categories: 

  • Quality of General Construction

  • Durability

  • Tone Quality

  • Touch

  • Appearance

Quality of General Construction: There are myriad ways of building a piano. However, over the years there has emerged a consensus of sorts in the piano industry as to which types of construction are preferred for the highest quality instruments. These typically include such features as 1) Overstrung bass  2) Continuous Rim 3) Solid spruce soundboard  4) Certain standard types of materials and construction employed in the case, rim, and plate or frame. It will be noted that certain of these features are only found on grands. The general consensus is that the highest quality instruments must be of a grand piano type of construction.  An additional consensus is that generally the larger the grand, the better the tone, and the better the quality of construction, since the larger grands are generally built and targeted for the more serious musician. For this reason the second part of the General Construction category rates the  instrument in question according to size. Note again that the top two categories are reserved for grand pianos.

Durability: How long the instrument is expected to last under a specified rate of usage.

Tone: How the instrument sounds, and meets certain tone-producing criteria. Some of the criteria are basic to all pianos. Other criteria are specific to larger quality grands. Again, the size of the instrument is an important factor. 

Touch: How responsive the instrument is to the touch, and how it meets certain performance and adjustment criteria.

Appearance: The condition of the instrument's case and finish, and whether it meets certain industry standard finishing criteria.

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#R1.11 Piano Finders Standard (PFS) Test Results 
on Scale of All Pianos
(|Effective Date as of 12/01/01

This Report shows the weights of the various factors used to determine the PFS ratings for Pianos For Sale through the Piano Finders Shopping Service. 

PFS Test Performed by:  Karen E. Lile  & Kendall Ross Bean based on

Certification for Karen E. Lile expires on  9/2003
Certification for Kendall R. Bean expires on  9/2003


Piano Finders Standard Test Results

On Scale of All Pianos

Includes pianos from 36 spinets to

96 concert grands

(PFS Scale effective date 1/7/2000)








PFS Test Results On Scale of All Pianos









up to 100





up to 100





up to 100





up to 100





up to 100





up to 100









**PFS Test Results

Conversion Formula.

For converting the results

on the PFS scale of All Pianos

to any other PFS scale:


**Formula for converting ratings on Scale of All pianos to various PFS scales:  where x = % on any scale 1 through 5 and y = % on Scale of All Pianos, z  equals maximum % on scale of All pianos that can be achieved at 100% on any PFS scale.


x = (y times 100) divided by z


The following gives the value of z we used in the PFS Test Results Conversion Formula** for each of the following scales:


1.      Scale of 5 & under Grands

a.       Quality = 50

b.       Durability = 80

c.       Tone = 50

d.       Touch = 80

e.      Appearance = 90

2.      Scale of 51-56 Grands

a.       Quality = 70

b.       Durability = 100

c.       Tone = 70

d.       Touch = 90

e.      Appearance = 100

3.      Scale of 57-64 Grands

a.       Quality = 80

b.       Durability = 100

c.       Tone = 80

d.       Touch = 100

e.      Appearance = 100

4.      Scale of 65 74 Grands

a.       Quality = 90

b.       Durability = 100

c.       Tone = 90

d.       Touch = 100

e.      Appearance = 100

5.      Scale of 75 & up Grands

a.       Quality = 100

b.       Durability = 100

c.       Tone = 100

d.       Touch = 100

Appearance = 100

PFS Test:


Quality of General Construction


1.     10% :   Has overstrung bass

2.     10% :   Has 88 Keys; 2 pedals;  width keyboard is 3'11" to 4'1" wide; spacing between naturals is 1/32" to 1/16"

3.     10% :   Has solid spruce soundboard and a continuous rim, and working sostenuto pedal in middle (3 pedals)

4.      10% :   Has duplex scale, aliquot scale; or capo 'd astro bar in treble

5.      10% :   Pinblock is mated to the stretcher, ribs notched into rim; has special tone enhancing features such as: arched (bell shaped) plate, wet or green sand cast; tension resonator;  and/or hard rock maple used for rim, other high quality materials known for their musicality and durability in the construction of the piano.

The quality of design, materials and workmanship for the piano when it was built is equal to or greater than that which equals the Piano Finders Specifications for the following size categories.

6.        10% :   36 to 42 upright or 45 to 5 grands

7.        10% :   43 to 48 upright or 51 to 56 grands

8.        10% :   48 to 60 upright or 57 to 64 grands

9.        10% :    65 to 74 grands

10.     10% :   75 to 96 grands

This Piano is at 100 % of  QUALITY
on the PFS on the Scale of All Pianos


The following parts:  Soundboard, pinblock, strings, tuning pins, dampers, hammers, shanks, flanges, whippens, and backchecks would not need to be replaced before (see * ):

1.        10% :   0-5 years

2.        10% :   6-10 years

3.        10% :   11-20 years

4.        10% :   21-30 years

5.        10% :   31-40 years

The following parts that affect the cosmetic appearance of the piano: case parts, veneer, cabinet finish, pedals and other hardware would not need to be replaced before (see * ):

6.        10% :   0-5 years

7.        10% :   6-10 years

8.        10% :   11-20 years

9.        10% :   21-30 years

10.     10% :   31-40 years

* For the purpose of  the PFS, we assume that the piano will receive 3 hours of standard use per week in a humidity-controlled environment.  We have also based our opinion on service record for similarly constructed and designed pianos. New parts are not always more durable than original parts because they may not be as well made, seasoned, etc. Because of the uncertainty in predicting the future, this particular piano may end up being more or less durable than predicted in the rating.

This Piano is at 100 % of  DURABILITY
on the PFS on the Scale of All Pianos



1.     10% :   All keys make a tone when depressed with normal pressure

2.     10% :   Pitch at A440.  Tuning:  Equal Temperment or as close as possible.  (Includes all of the following:)

         No intervals are pure except octaves. 

         Octaves may be stretched slightly, but no more than about 1/2 beat/second

         5ths, minor 3rds and minor 6ths are narrower than perfect.

         Beat speed increases gradually on all imperfect intervals as you travel up the scale.

3.     10% :   Sound is free of all squeaks, clicks, rattles, buzzes, and other noises that are not part of the normal operation of a piano.

4.     10% :   Has adequate sustain time according to PF Specs.

5.     10% :   Sound is rich in harmonic content, has proper depth and brightness.  Does not have twanginess or tinniness..  Dynamic Range:  capable of delivering the full spectrum of dynamics from ppp (pianississimo) to fff  (fortississimo) without excessive effort, distortion or breaking up, according to Piano Finders Specifications.

Has a tone equal to or greater than the Piano Finders Specifications for the following size categories:

6.        10% :   36 to 42 uprights or 45 to 5 grands

7.        10% :   43 to 48 uprights or 51 to 56 grands

8.        10% :   49" to 60" uprights or 57 to 64 grands

9.        10% :   65 to 74 grands

10.     10% :   75 to 96 grands

This Piano is at 100 % of  TONE
on the PFS on the Scale of All Pianos



1.        10% :   All keys perform the function of lifting the hammer when depressed.  Pedal Height 1 1/2" to 2 1/2" on all pedals. All pedals rest at uniform height.

2.        10% :   No cracks, chips, sharp edges or other damage on any key.

3.        10% :   Action is not a drop-lever style found on most spinets.

4.        10% :   Keys level, or crowned no more than 1/16" towards center of keyboard; keys consistently dipped 13/32" ( + 1/32"); Sharp Height:  15/32" ( + 1/32") above surface of white keys and uniform note to note and consistent throughout.

5.        10% :   Keybushings properly eased, not too tight or too loose.

6.        10% :   Ivory keytops or keytops with similar properties.

7.        10% :   Grand Piano action with repetition lever and spring; and action design, materials and construction capable of being properly regulated.

8.        10% :   Grand Action Finely Regulated (includes ALL of  the following)

         Let-off: 1/16" to 1/32" from string and consistent throughout

         Drop: 1/16" to 1/8" below point of let-off and consistent throughout

         Checking:  5/8" to 1/2" from string and consistent throughout  In no case, however should the hammer be allowed in any way to brush against the backcheck on the upstroke.

         Aftertouch:  1/16" to 1/8" or about the thickness of a nickel

         Repetition spring tension:  must neither "jump" nor be too slow to rise, but may be anywhere from "slow" and steady to "brisk" and steady, as long as it is uniform from note to note.  Pianist must not feel a "kick" in key when key is released.

         Strike distance or hammer height:  Nominally from 1 7/8" to 1 5/8" from string and consistent throughout.  In all cases the key dip shall always be set properly first, and then the strike distance adjusted to accommodate the key dip.

         Damper Timing:  Damper should start to rise when hammer is 1/3 to 1/2 of the way to the string,  no later or sooner.

         Hammer shanks traveled so hammers don't rub each other when lifted several at the same time.

         Action centers properly pinned: 3 to 5 grams on hammer and whippen flanges, or capable of delivering results of 3 to 7 swings on hammer swing test.

9.        10% :   Key length is typical of 6 or larger grands.  Action design, quality of materials and functionality is equal to Piano Finders Specifications for a grand over 6 feet long.

10.     10% :   Grand Action Touchweight is 50 grams ( + 5 gram variance) uniform from note to note. May taper from bass to treble.

This Piano is at 100 % of  TOUCH
on the PFS on the Scale of All Pianos



1.      10% :   External wood surfaces of cabinet are protected with any of the following agents: nitrocellulose lacquer, polyester, or other equivalent type of finish.

2.      10% :   Hardware shall intact and free from the following:  stripped, wrong size, or type or missing screws; non-standard, wrong size or non-matching parts; broken, damaged or non-aligned locks (if it has a lock).

3.      10% :   Hardware shall be in good condition and free from the following:  tarnishing, worn-through plating or material; substandard quality replating, cleaning, polishing or recoating.

4.      10% :   Case parts shall be intact on piano and free from the following:  missing, damaged or broken parts; non-standard, wrong size, or non-matching  replacement parts.

5.      10% :   Case parts shall be in good condition, properly installed on piano and free from the following:  stripped or missing screws, stripped screw holes in non-hardware joints; frozen, sticking or rubbing parts (such as fallboard or music desk); missing or damaged knobs, rubber buttons; broken glue joints; wobbly legs; loose broken or stripped pedal lyre.

6.      10% :   Finish is free from the following:  dirt, dust, smoke, nicotine, or any other  residue; crazing, cracking, sun bleaching, fading; fisheye peeling or other adhesion problems; chipping, blushing, water spots, swirl marks, nicks, gouges, burns, or dings.

7.      10% :   Finish applied evenly and uniformly, and hand-rubbed or satinized if nitrocellulose lacquer.  If polyester, shall be polished to a high gloss. Finish is closed pored.

8.      10% :   Finish surfaces are smooth without significant ripples, scratches or depressions when viewed under average household lighting.

9.      10% :   If ebony, hue and shade shall be uniform. If wood grain:  wood grain veneers shall be matching, stained to a uniform hue & shade and appropriate for type of veneer. 

10.     10% :   If ebony, wood grain patterns shall not be seen through finish.  If wood grain:  wood grain patterns shall be readily apparent through clear finish.

This Piano is at 100 % of  APPEARANCE
on the PFS on the Scale of All Pianos


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