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How to Buy a Used Piano


A properly crafted piano can be a magnificent instrument that will last for ages and produce the most beautiful sounds. Buying a used piano can therefore be an excellent decision economically as well as musically.

Be that as it may, pianos are quite complex and very delicate instruments and not all of them age that well. This is why it’s important to know certain details before you decide which used piano is the perfect choice for you.

Some of the knowledge you need to possess before you make a purchase includes the piano brands and which of them are worthy of your trust, how to properly check the parts and the age of the piano, and whether you need to consult a professional to assist you with your purchase.

Why do you need it?

One of the first things to determine is your needs. It makes a great difference whether you are buying a piano for your kid to start learning how to play it or you are a conservatory graduate looking for a professional instrument.

Flexibility is one of the desired qualities in a piano, but for now, let’s focus on durability and quality. Purchasing a piano is quite a big decision and you want yours to be in proper shape and stay in tune.

Furthermore, you should give some thought to your current living circumstances and whether you’re likely to stay in your current home for any length of time. Pianos are quite difficult to move around, especially larger ones, and you probably shouldn’t commit to buying one if you are planning to move a lot.

Consider your budget

Since we are talking about used pianos, the price is invariably lower than with the new ones. However, a quality piano is still much pricier than a ukulele or nearly all other instruments for that matter. Additionally, there are some hidden costs you should consider.

To buy a properly made, decent used piano, you’ll need to pay at least $2000. This is the bare minimum price you should expect.

Furthermore, you must think about how you will get it home. You don’t want your piano to be damaged before you even get to play it, so you’ll need to hire a specialized piano mover to transport it for you. You will usually have to pay for this anywhere from a hundred dollars to a thousand or more, depending on the size of the piano, the distance traveled and any flights of stairs or other complications getting it to its new location.

In certain cases, however, you should hire a professional tuner or a professional piano technician to adjust a piano before you can play it. This may be more the case with used pianos; for new pianos, servicing and tuning are often done at the factory or dealership rather than in your home after purchase. The piano needs time to settle into its new environment and it should be tuned and serviced once it has been played and had time to adjust.

Where will your piano go?

Chances are that you have already decided whether you will buy a modest upright piano or a grand piano, but in any case, it’s a good idea to take a measuring tape and measure the available space, just so you can make sure that you can fit the piano in your home.

Don’t just measure the space where you plan to put the piano. You’ll also need to measure your stairwells and doorways if you need to move it up- or downstairs. There is really no use of finding an ideal piano if it’s not possible to get it into your house. Also don’t forget to leave enough room for the bench!

You might have to reconfigure your living room to accommodate a musical instrument. A piano should always be placed away from direct sunlight, any heating units or humidifiers. If you visit a private residence to inspect and test a piano before making a purchase decision, look out for these serious mistakes, as they can significantly damage a musical instrument.

Know the brands

You may already know which brands of pianos you prefer and which you don’t. If this is not the case, make sure you do a little bit of research. Of course, the quality can differ from one model to another, but if the piano comes from a renowned brand the quality of materials, construction and workmanship, at least when the instrument was first built and sold, is assured.

If you are looking for a good budget piano, you can most definitely rely on Kawai and Yamaha. Pearl River has also established itself at the lower end of the market, with pianos at several levels of quality, and has become the world’s largest piano manufacturer. However, if you are looking for something on the high end of the spectrum, we can highly recommend Bösendorfer or Steinway and Sons pianos. A word of caution about lower-end brands which you might find alongside the high-end brands: Steinway may own Boston but this by no means makes a Boston piano a Steinway! The same holds for Bechstein, which owns the Hoffmann brand. This does not make Boston or Hoffman pianos poor-quality instruments; it just means that (no matter what the seller may say) you shouldn’t try to convince yourself that you’re somehow getting a Steinway or a Bechstein when these pianos are nothing of the sort (nor are they meant to be).


If you are not completely sure that you can check everything, please hire a registered piano technician to help you. Some pianos might look like they are in solid condition but still require a significant deal of repairs, making them not worth the money.

When you find a registered piano technician, ask him or her to follow you to a store or a place of sale. If this is not possible, ask if he or she can approximately determine the condition of the piano based solely on the pictures. If so, make sure that your technician explains to you in detail the parts on which you should base your pictures when you photograph the instrument.

It’s also not a bad idea to read some online reviews and visit some music stores. Most of the music stores offer used pianos they got from a trade. Those are in most cases tuned and checked and in some cases, there are piano technicians who work in a store and can help you with your purchase.

Always check the age and inspect the instrument

When you find the piano you like, make sure to check its age. The easiest way to do this is by checking the serial number. You can locate the piano’s serial number between the tenor and bass strings on a standard (full-size) piano or under the main lid on an upright one.

When you find the serial number, Google it and check when it was produced. A useful resource for used pianos is the Bluebook of Pianos. Pianos thirty years old or younger are generally a safe bet. The best pianos are designed to last for generations, however, and there are beautiful gems to be found. In general, the older the piano, the more important it is to have a certified technician inspect its details for any faults or necessary repairs.

Also, inspect each of the parts carefully. Make sure that there are no termite holes or cracks in the piano case or soundboard. Cracks especially can affect the sound significantly.

The next thing you should check is the keyboard. Make sure that the keys form a solid straight line, that they are able to move easily, and that they sound consistent from one key to the next. Press each key and make sure that you don’t hear anything rattling or wobbling.

Open the piano’s lid and make sure that the hammers aren’t damaged or worn and that all the strings have even spacing between them.

Check the bridges and pedals. All of the pedals should be able to move easily, but they shouldn’t be loose and there should be zero cracks in the bridges.

Also, make sure that the instrument is in tune because that is an indication that the owner took good care of the instrument.

Finally, ask a lot of questions. This is a significant purchase, after all, and whoever is selling the piano should be able to answer any significant questions you have about it.

Make sure that you transport your piano with a certified professional specialized in piano moving.


In conclusion, we’d like to point out that it can often be too easy to forget to separate brand name from the condition a piano is in. We’ve seen old pianos from such iconic makers as Steinway, but unfortunately, they were in such terrible condition that they were simply beyond repair. Although they were once beautiful instruments, they are now effectively useless, and some buyers just see the name and assume they’re automatically getting a great piano. This is not the case, so do be wary. With that, good luck finding your perfect used piano!

Author bio

I’m Alex, owner of headphonesunder100center.com. Visit my site to take latest news about headphones on the market.

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