So You Want to Buy a Used Piano?
Updated: Jun 25, 2022
Buying a Used Piano
Buying a good used instrument can be a challenging experience for most people, especially if you are a first time buyer. Wouldn't it be nice to enter into this process with some help, especially if you are a novice? This article will attempt to provide some guidance for the potential buyer, whether this is your first instrument or an upgrade to an existing one.
The owner of PianoProsDFW who is also the author of this article, has spent over 30 years in the piano industry. With a background as a classically trained organist and pianist with a graduate level degree in music, I had a parallel interest in the the mechanics of the instrument and in tuning. Tuning my first instrument while in high school, I developed an appreciation for the piano not only as an instrument capable of making beautiful melodies, but also as an engineering marvel. So it was no wonder that upon my completion of two music degrees, I would continue to pursue my interests in musical instrument technology. This would soon lead to realizing a childhood dream of owning a music store. Over the past 30 years I have not only been an active musician but have owned two piano dealerships in the state of Texas. At the same time I have owned a rebuilding and service business and provided piano moving services for the public. These experiences have equipped me with a certain level of knowledge I hope I can use to assist you in buying a piano.
New or Used Piano?
While we will save the discussion of whether it is best to buy new or used for another article, today we will focus on purchasing a used one. However, we will list a few of the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a used instrument:
Advantages of Buying a Used Piano
1. Lower cost due to depreciation and you may be able to purchase a much nicer
instrument than your budget might allow if you were buying new.
2. Having already been tuned many times, the strings have stretched and
are more stable. However, this will not always be the case. If the grand or
upright has not been tuned in several years, the tuning will be low in pitch and will
require a bit more attention during your first tuning, but after that should
become stable more quickly than a new instrument would.
Disadvantages of Buying a Used Piano
1. More minor issues to correct such as action regulation and other adjustments of
the action. Small repairs to the case or case hardware of the instrument may be
needed. 2. The older instrument, the more “potential” there is for issues of all types.
3. Potential for major issues that will render it unable to be tuned.
Inspection by a Qualified Expert
Let's begin by stating that without a doubt it is always advisable to have a fully qualified piano tuner / technician evaluate anything you are seriously considering purchasing. Some potential buyers will turn to a music teacher or pianist they know to assist in the purchase or evaluation of an instrument. While these individuals may be able to assist in letting you know if it sounds good and feels good to the touch, they will not be able to determine if any found issues are serious or only minor fixes plus they will not be able to evaluate if there are extremely serious problems that may cost a great deal to repair.
Buying From a Piano Dealership
This is where buying even a used grand or upright from a reputable dealership has a big advantage. A music dealer with a good reputation will have gone through the instrument making needed repairs so that you have peace of mind knowing the one you are purchasing will not be a bag full of surprises after it is moved to your home. Yes, you may pay a bit more for the instrument from a dealer, but you will also save by having potential issues already corrected and some dealers may even include some type of warranty with the used grand or upright.
Buying From an Individual
If however, you do choose to search among the numerous used pianos offered for sale by individuals on such online sites as Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, PianoMart, or Craigslist, etc., then we offer the following suggestions:
Once you have found one that you like the look, price, and sound of, to then hire a fully qualified tuner / technician to inspect and evaluate it for you. However, there are circumstances in which this might not be practical such as the seller needing to sell quickly or having other potential buyers already in line to purchase if you don't make the purchase. If possible, you might consider offering a small non-refundable deposit to hold the instrument until your tuner is able to inspect it. Some technicians, and I am among them, may also offer to at least do a phone consultation to discuss the instrument or perhaps even evaluate photos you can take for us of various parts of the instrument.
Moving the Piano Home
Whatever the path that takes you to your new “used” instrument, remember you will want to keep it in good condition while being moved to your home. Hiring professional piano movers who only move pianos is the best way to ensure it arrives safely. Give us a call today at PianoProsDFW and let us assist you with your piano moving needs.