Is there a used acoustic piano purchase in your future?

Many of my students, or their parents, have asked me about the purchase of a used acoustic piano through sources like kijiji and yes, I have purchased one of my pianos this way myself.   Most certainly there are gems of instruments out there to be purchased at great savings.  Unfortunately, there are also many inferior quality and dilapidated pianos available for sale and it is hard for the average person to determine this.

When I look at used pianos, I tend to look at brands that reputable piano stores might acquire to recondition or restore for re-sale.  These brands include but are not limited to Schimmel, Steinway, Knabe, Heintzman, Mason and Hamlin, Yamaha, Petrof, Bosendorfer, Mason and Risch, Bechstein, Baldwin, Nordheimer, and Kawai.  Some of these brands like Schimmel, Steinway, Bechstein, and Bosendorfer are much beyond the pocket books of most of my students even if the piano is used.  (My favourite piano is the handmade Bosendorfer.  I have played a few high end pianos and I just love the way the notes hang in the air when I play a Bosendorfer.  I almost feel as if I could reach out and touch them.)  For the budget conscious, there are often used Heintzman, Baldwin, Nordheimer, and Yamaha pianos that come up for sale on kijiji that require a smaller pocket book.

It is necessary for me to say something about Mason and Risch too.  There was a period of time when this manufacturer made pianos of superb quality.  Unfortunately, there was another period when they did not.  This makes it difficult for the average person or even piano teacher to know if a Mason and Risch piano is a good one or not.  A technician can assess this using the Mason and Risch serial number.  So if you find yourself considering the purchase of a used Mason and Risch, please involve a piano technician.

When I have inquired about a used piano, I have found it helpful to mention that I am a piano teacher looking for a piano for one of my students.  Why would this be so?  People are attached to their pianos.  Often they have been in the family for many years.  Nothing pleases a seller more than knowing who is going to own and love their piano especially if it is a young piano student.  The sellers tend to prefer this to the alternative which could be that their piano is purchased by a piano seller looking to recondition or restore it for resale, or use it for parts.

Free pianos are not necessarily free.  You still have to move them.  The cost of the move is about $200.  You should not acquire a free piano unless you are sure that it is in good condition or it can be reconditioned or restored.  Piano technicians can assess this for a fee.  If you take a chance on a free piano without having it assessed, you could end up with a piano that in reality needs to go to the junkyard.  On the other hand, free pianos are good places to find a piano bench if your piano is missing its bench.  Paying as much as $400 for a new bench is not unusual.

Besides these brands, there are many types of upright acoustic pianos available on kijiji.  Of these types, I tend to avoid spinets unless space is of consideration.  They are very difficult for piano technicians to regulate and tune in the bass registers.  Also, piano manufacturers no longer make this type of piano because of its shortcomings.

One final word, it is prudent to involve a piano technician in your used piano purchase at all times.    A seeming bargain of even a reputable brand piano could be really a piano that is beyond repair.  For example, the piano may have been dropped, need to be re-strung, or could have a cracked soundboard.

Happy shopping to those of you looking to purchase a used acoustic piano!