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Piano Finders Standard

on Scale of All Pianos (scale's effective date: 1/7/2000)

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: 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.

A piano that receives a rating of 100% in all these categories on the Piano Finders Standard, would most likely cost over $60,000 used and over $75,000 new.  If you want to convert these test results to a lesser scale, you will find the conversion formulas at the end of this test.  Click Here if you want to see this now.

#R1.11 Piano Finders Standard (PFS) Test Results 
on Scale of All Pianos
(Scale's Effective Date:

This Report shows the weights of the various factors used to explain the condition that the Yamaha 6'6" High Polish Ebony Grand G5 will be in, before it is moved to the buyer's home from Piano Finders Clayton location.  Since this piano will be custom ordered for buyer, this report reflects the promised condition the piano will be in after it is selected and then touch and tone work done in Piano Finders shop in Clayton.  

PFS Test Performed by:  Karen E. Lile       on Date:  November 28, 2000 

Certification for Karen E. Lile expires on  9/2003


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; capo 'd astro bar in treble

5.      No :   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 4’5” to 5’ grands

7.        10% :   43” to 48” upright or 5’1” to 5’6” grands

8.        10% :   48” to 60” upright or 5’7” to 6’4” grands

9.        10% :    6’5 to 7’4” grands

10.     No :   7’5” to 9’6” grands


80 % of  QUALITY
on the PFS on the Scale of All Pianos




The following parts:  Soundboard, pinblock, strings, tuning pins, dampers, cabinet finish, hammers, shanks, flanges, whippens, backchecks, keyframe felts, key bushings and other miscellaneous action felts 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.        No :   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.     No :   31-40 years

* For the purpose of  the PFS, we assume that the piano will receive 1 hour of standard use per day 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.



on the PFS on the Scale of All Pianos




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

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, false beats and other undesirable and extraneous noises.

4.     No :   Has adequate sustain time according to PF Specs. (Note on Yamaha:  Usually a yes rating in this category is found only on more expensive pianos that have a wet-sand cast plate and maple rim, which tends to produce a longer sustain.  Usually Steinways and Mason & Hamlin grands receive a yes rating in this category.  Rarely does a Kawai or Yamaha get a yes rating in this category.  This does not mean that a Kawai or Yamaha are not instruments with a beautiful tone, it just means that on the PFS scale, they will not receive a yes rating in this category.  Tone is very subjective.  Piano Finders has created these ratings to help buyers understand why some pianos cost more than others and what types of differences there are between pianos.  If your personal preference is for the shorter sustain time that is obtained by a Yamaha or Kawai or other Asian brands of pianos, then you may consider a No in this rating category to be favorable.) 

5.     10% :   Sound is rich in harmonic content, has proper depth and brightness.  Does not have twanginess, tinniness or other undesirable qualities.  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 4’5” to 5’ grands

7.        10% :   43” to 48” uprights or 5’1” to 5’6” grands

8.        10% :   49" to 60" uprights or 5’7” to 6’4” grands

9.        10% :   6’5 to 7’4” grands

10.     No :   7’5” to 9’6” grands



80 % 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" ( + 1/64"); Sharp Height:  15/32" ( + 1/32") above surface of white keys and uniform note to note.

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

6.        No :   Ivory keytops or keytops with similar properties. (Yamaha has plastic keytops, as do most pianos built after 1960)

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 Properly 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, and no later. 

·         Hammer shanks traveled so they don’t hit 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 4 to 6 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.     No :   Grand Action Touchweight is 50 grams ( + 5 gram variance) uniform from note to note. May taper from bass to treble.  ($700 of Work by Piano Finders can be performed on this piano to reach this standard. However, this is not included in the auction price.  Most new pianos do not have this type of refined adjustment done to them.  So this is considered something that is a personal preference and usually fits in the category of customizing a piano to your particular preference. )



  80 % 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, non-matching or inappropriate replacement parts; broken, damaged or  non-working locks, non-aligned locks

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 style, non-matching or inappropriate replacement parts; customized, modernized or adapted case parts; appliquι', antiquing, or any other post-factory reliefs, carvings, decorations or additions.

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; broken or loose leg locks; 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; warped lid or other parts.

6.      No :   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, scratches, water spots, swirl marks, sinking into pores, nicks, gouges, burns, dings, or other blemishes; excessive touchup of finish defects or rubthroughs.  (Because the cabinet is used, there may be some minor imperfections, not usually visable in standard home lighting.  However, there are no obvious or major cabinet imperfections)

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

8.      10% :   Finish is closed pored;  finish surfaces are smooth and flat without obvious ripples 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. 



on the PFS on the Scale of All Pianos

Piano Finders Standard Test Results

On Scale of All Pianos

Includes pianos from 36” spinets to

9’6” concert grands

(PFS Scale effective date 1/7/2000)








PFS Test Results – On Scale of All Pianos







































**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 5’1”-5’6” Grands

a.       Quality = 70

b.       Durability = 100

c.       Tone = 70

d.       Touch = 90

e.      Appearance = 100

3.      Scale of 5’7”-6’4” Grands

a.       Quality = 80

b.       Durability = 100

c.       Tone = 80

d.       Touch = 100

e.      Appearance = 100

4.      Scale of 6’5” – 7’4” Grands

a.       Quality = 90

b.       Durability = 100

c.       Tone = 90

d.       Touch = 100

e.      Appearance = 100

5.      Scale of 7’5 & up Grands

a.       Quality = 100

b.       Durability = 100

c.       Tone = 100

d.       Touch = 100

e.    Appearance = 100

For more information on the Piano Finders Standard, see the following Link:
Piano Finders Standard Overview





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