Buying a Used Piano

Posted by Gordon Bolton

Well-built pianos can last for decades while producing clear tones that enchant listeners. However, these instruments aren’t cheap which puts them out of the reach of many potential owners. A person should never give up on their dream of possessing one of these instruments.

A used piano is a great option for those who want to enhance their musical pleasure without decimating their budget. Knowing what to look for when making this purchase becomes critical, as this instrument is both delicate and complex.

Certain pianos don’t age well, and you have to research any instrument you’re considering buying to make sure you get the right piano for your needs. This research goes beyond knowing the brand of the piano and the manufacturer’s reputation. You have to understand how the different components work, how age affects the musical instrument, and much, much more.

Just as many people hire piano movers when they want to get their new instrument home, they should also turn to a piano expert to inspect their piano and give it once over. A professional will look beyond the brand and the superficial details and go deep into the inner workings to make certain all is in order and the new owner won’t have problems as soon as they get it home.

The Piano’s Purpose

The purpose of every piano is to make beautiful music. Nevertheless, a parent purchasing a piano for their child will probably choose a basic instrument. In contrast, an older student looking to become a renowned concert pianist needs an instrument that will allow them to achieve this goal.

Durability and quality serve as the top priorities when choosing an instrument. The piano needs to remain in tune with regular use and hold up. Furthermore, the buyer should consider future moves.

Moving an instrument of this size, even when the move occurs within the home, requires a lot of planning. Men and women often need professional help to carry out this task, and people need to recognize this as it may influence which model they choose to buy.


Although people would love to have an unlimited budget when they go to purchase a musical instrument, most individuals find this isn’t the case. They must consider the price of the piano.

While used pianos cost less than new ones, many people still find the price to be high, when compared to many new instruments for sale today. Furthermore, pianos come with hidden costs, and many people remain unaware of this.

A quality used piano runs in the thousands of dollars, and a person has to consider the cost of moving the piano to the home. People often hire movers trained to handle this instrument.

Furthermore, after any move, the piano needs tuning. Even moves within the home can lead to movement of the internal components and lead to distorted sounds. However, allow the instrument to sit in the new location for a few weeks before calling a piano tuner. It needs time to adjust to the unfamiliar environment before the piano tuner makes any changes.


A person must know where they will place the piano before buying an instrument. Upright pianos require less space than their grand counterparts. Furthermore, the home must allow for the piano.

Measure doorways and stairwells to ensure problems won’t arise when the movers arrive with the new instrument. Finally, choose a location away from direct sunlight, humidifiers, and heaters. All do harm to the delicate components, so keep this in mind when buying.

If a piano undergoes exposure to any of these items, which may be seen when the potential buyer goes to examine the instrument, avoid buying it. There could be hidden damage that doesn’t become apparent immediately.


Research various brands to learn which manufacturers have an excellent reputation and which are to be avoided. Although the quality of the piano depends on many factors, a well-respected brand uses high-quality materials and construction methods that withstand the test of time. Brands to consider include Yamaha, Kawai, Pearl River, Steinway and Sons, or Bosendorfer.

Inspect the Piano

Never rely on the seller to provide accurate information about an instrument. It falls on the buyer to inspect the instrument thoroughly and gather pertinent information.

Anyone can determine the age of a piano by examining the serial number. Manufacturers locate this number under the lid of an upright piano or between the tenor and bass strings on full-size instruments.

Upon locating this number, use Google or another search engine to learn its year of production. The Bluebook of Pianos also becomes of help when researching a piano. Men and women usually find a newer piano, one that was made in the past three decades, remains a safe bet.

Nevertheless, an older piano could be a gem just waiting to be discovered. Anyone who believes they have found one of these instruments should work with a certified piano technician to ensure the purchase is wise.

  • Examine all components to make certain the piano case and soundboard have no cracks or termite holes. A small crack can negatively affect the instrument’s sound drastically.
  • Check the keyboard to ensure the keys form a solid line. Each key needs to move freely, and the sound should remain consistent as a person moves from key to key. Any rattling noises or wobbling when pressing a key needs to be a cause for concern.
  • Open the lid to examine the hammers. Look for signs of damage or wearing and see if the strings remain evenly spaced. Close the lid before moving on to other components.
  • Inspect the pedals and bridges. The pedals should move easily without being loose. Cracks in the bridges show the piano needs repair. Finally, play the piano to see if it is in tune. A tuned piano suggests the owner cared for the instrument.

Question the owner with anything having to do with the instrument. They should provide you with the desired information readily or admit they don’t have an answer. When spending this amount of money, a person needs to feel comfortable with the purchase. Any doubts mean you should move on and find another instrument to buy.

Never purchase a piano solely on the brand name. An inexpensive piano might be in better shape than a Steinway. If an owner doesn’t care for their instrument properly, it could be beyond repair. Keep this in mind and don’t rush the process of buying. Those who do often end up regretting their haste. You don’t want to say the same.

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