How to Buy a Used Piano

Tips for purchasing a used Instrument

Why pay full price for your piano when you can save huge amounts of money purchasing a used instrument? By doing a little research before your purchase you will make an informed decision and not be stuck with a lemon.

Purchasing From a Private Party

Purchasing from a private party will most likely be less expensive than purchasing from a retailer. However, there is a  downside. When you purchase from a private party keep in mind, there is no warranty on the instrument. Another thing to consider is that the seller may not have a realistic idea of its value. Be sure to research values of each instrument you are considering buying. Many people think all pianos are worth a lot of money when in fact, they may not be.

You will most likely need to travel to people’s homes to view the instruments. It is not recommended to purchase a piano which you have not seen or played. By purchasing from a private party you will have less choices in regards to brand, style of cabinetry and finish.

You need to know what to look for to be sure you are making the right choice. Also, once the decision has been made, you will need to hire a reliable instrument moving company to relocate your piano. Never move the instrument yourself. There are many things to consider when moving a piano, having an inexperienced mover can be very costly. If you are not an experienced mover be sure to hire a professional.

Where Can I Find a Used Piano?

Most instruments are sold in the newspaper classified section under the musical instrument category. You can also search the internet or the local Craigslist ads. Oftentimes, older instruments can be found in the free section on Craigslist. Keep in mind these instruments are usually not in the best shape.

How Much Can I Expect to Spend?

Costs for your used piano will vary greatly. Cost will depend on make, model and type (Grand or Upright.) Cost will also be determined by condition.

How Do I Know if the Piano is in Good Condition?

They way a piano visually appears is not the best way to make your decision. Be sure to play every key  (black and white) on the piano one at a time. Keys that don’t work are most likely repairable. If you play a key that sounds as if it is a combination of more than one note or it sounds unusual there could be pin block problems. The pin block is a steel peg that the strings wrap around (see photo below.)If the pin block is no longer effective the piano will not stay in tune because the pins will slip. Repairing a pin block can be very costly. If the piano is on the higher end in value is may be worth restoring, otherwise, this is not the piano you want to buy.

The soundboard is another area that needs to be inspected thoroughly. The soundboard is the large wooden board that is on the underside of the grand piano or on the backside of the upright piano. Sometimes the soundboard can become cracked or the wood becomes unglued resulting in rattles and buzzes. If you hear a rattling or buzzing when the keys are depressed it could be the soundboard. If this is the case, it probably needs a new sound block. Replacing the sound block is possible but costly. Before you purchase that piano with the cracked sound block, make sure the piano is worth the money that you will be investing.

Take a Look at the Inner Workings

Look inside the piano. Are the hammers (see photo below) in alignment with each other? Are there deep grooves in the felt or are they slight? If the grooves are not too deep they can be restored. However, if they are deep grooves, they may need to be restored and restoration of the hammers is expensive.

Registered Technicians (RPT)

Once you have found a piano you think will be suitable for you, it would be wise to hire a registered piano technician (RPT) to inspect the instrument. You are making a large purchase, and while it costs money to hire a technician, it can save you from making the wrong purchase.

A piano is a purchase that you may keep for generations to come. You want to be sure to take every aspect of the purchase into consideration. Overall, the more careful you are with your inspections, the better. You can never be too cautious when making such a large investment and you want to be sure you make the right choice.

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