Two pianos of the same make and model, made the same day at the same factory, can have very different ‘values’ resulting from a number of factors.
First of all, I do not buy or sell pianos. Buying and selling pianos, while at the same time ‘selling’ piano services, would be conflicting interests. A piano service professional needs to remain unbiased, and as objective as possible with the piano owner regarding the condition of their piano.
There are three basic levels of pricing:
- Retail value: a piano dealer’s price if the piano was in their store’s showroom.
- Wholesale value: the price a piano dealer pays for the piano.
- Individual seller’s value: the price the piano owner may get for a used piano or have to pay for a used piano not associated with a retail piano store or dealer.
Call a piano tuner/technician.
Pianos need regular servicing. The tuner/technician who has servicing it should know the piano and should be your first call, and may have some helpful/useful information about your piano.
Ask them if they know of any problems that would take your piano out of the mainstream of similar pianos, or if it has any ‘special’ features, such as an upgraded or special cabinet, finish, autograph, some other feature, or ‘history’ that might put it above the mainstream of other similar pianos.
You should know the brand and model (spinet, console, consolette, studio, upright, grand, etc.) of your piano. The age of the piano can be determined by the serial number. Your piano technician may not have the serial number in his records, but may be able to help you locate it on your piano.
If it’s a grand piano, you’ll want to know the size in feet and inches. The terms ‘baby, or large, or living room, or concert are not accurate enough. Measure the piano if you don’t know the model. Measure from the very ‘front’ of the piano – the piece of wood just in front and below the keys – to the farthest point on the ‘tail’ end of the lid.
Your technician may be able to tell you how your piano compares to others regarding the overall condition of the case, wear and tear on parts, etc. and may even try to give you an idea as to selling price. Remember what you paid for it and how long ago that was. What you paid for it can often be a good starting point. If you can get close to what you paid for it now you are doing very well.
If you have a piano still in production, and the price of the new ones have gone up, this does not mean your piano has necessarily appreciated in value. Age does not make a piano more valuable. The fact that pianos like yours are still in production is worth more than the increase in price.
If you don’t have a tuner/technician (or can’t remember who tuned it last, lost his number, etc.) try to find a friend or relative who has worked with a tuner they know and trust. Or, you can call me. I would be happy to talk with you. However, the only way anyone can really give you an accurate appraisal is to take a look at the piano and perhaps tune it.
Make sure the piano technicians you talk to – or listen to – have sufficient piano service experience, and whose judgement you will be able to respect. Music teachers, piano teachers and piano salesmen, though knowledgeable, are generally not skilled in the technical aspects of piano service and maintenance. Make certain you talk to an experienced piano service professional as well.
You can also contact the Piano Technician’s Guild and see if you can find a Registered Piano Technician in your area.
Always visit your local piano dealers.
The next step in determining the value of your piano is to visit your local piano store and look at used pianos about the same size, age, brand, model, cabinet style and finish as yours. Don’t omit this step! Even though you will not find an exact match to your piano, if you look at enough used pianos, you will get a general idea as to what dealers are asking for a good used piano similar to yours.
But keep in mind dealers will be able to get considerably more for a good used piano than you could selling them out of our home. But they should get more.
Before selling the piano, the dealer will have already moved the piano to their store, and likely done any necessary cleaning, fixing, repairing, tuning and service. More often than not a store warranty is included with the piano – which does add value and can be an appealing safety net for used piano buyers. The dealer can also deliver the piano, take a trade-in and even help buyers with financing. They also advertise on a regular basis, and have knowledgeable piano sales professionals to assist buyers in their purchase before, during, and after the sale. Dealers generally provide an in-home tuning after the piano has been delivered to the new owner.
The dealer may have a consignment plan you might want to investigate – they may be able to sell your piano for you. They may be able to sell it more quickly and with less aggravation than doing it on your own. They have walk-in traffic – people go there looking for pianos. You may even end up with a higher price than you could get on your own?? Maybe you will see another piano or an electric keyboard you might want to own? Maybe they would take your piano on trade for it?
You may have a discussion with the dealer about your piano and what he thinks your piano is worth. But that is where he can become expectedly conflicted.
If you’re asking for insurance purposes, he will be able to talk replacement costs with you. But you become competition once you ask them about selling your piano.. After all, they are in the business of selling pianos too, and they are the professionals. But they are professional, and should therefore be helpful up to a point and courteous.
Another thing to do while visiting the dealer is to see what he has for sale in the same price range you are thinking your piano is worth. Just remember, the dealer has all sorts of added values (described above) which are included in the price of his pianos. A visit to your local dealers will be a very informative experience when it comes to determining the value of your piano.
Wholesale ‘value’ is the amount the dealers pay for their pianos.
Generally, you and I cannot buy pianos at the wholesale level, even though we sometimes think we are or can. More often than not, there are good reasons why pianos are sometimes given away. “Nothing” is generally what they are worth – sometimes less.
Do yourself a favor and a service by calling an experienced piano guy BEFORE accepting or picking up a ‘freebie’ piano. I can’t tell you how many times people have called me after they’ve spent money and time (and friends who will no longer speak to them) because they luging a worthless ‘freebie’ piano home from a friend’s, relative’s, friend of a relative’s, relative of a friend’s, off the street, or out of the basement of a building or church, etc.
You may think you are getting the deal of the century, and maybe you are, but odds are against. Very against. Before doing this, call a piano technician. The phone call could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
The best economy is quality. Especially with pianos!
The last thing you want to do is end up with a piano that will be a constant service headache, will never sound right, will be an eyesore in your home, and not really worth fixing even if it could be fixed.
If the exterior case is something you think is special, but if the inside is full of broken rusted strings, cracked bridges, loose tuning pins, failing glue joints, brass flanges, etc., let it go.
Before the piano gets put out on the street or is given away, all other avenues of getting rid of it have probably been tried and exhausted. No one likes having to pay to have an old worthless piano hauled off. If the technicians and the dealers don’t think the piano has value, you shouldn’t either.
The value of your piano will be somewhere between the wholesale price and the retail price.
The final consideration in determining the value of your piano is your local piano ‘market’. Different parts of the country will have different figures. Remember, I am NOT a piano dealer. Only the dealers know what their costs are, and with prices changing all the time, only they know what their retail prices of new and used pianos are at any given time.
After talking to your technician, and having visited any local dealers, reviewed any ‘pianos for sale’ in Craig’s List or wherever, and maybe even gone to see a few, you will end up with a fairly good idea as to what your piano may be worth in your area.
Keep at it, do your homework and try to find knowledgeable professionals in the piano business who will talk with you. Eventually the smoke will clear and you will end up with a reasonably good idea as to what your piano is worth.
After you have done your homework you will be subject to market at the time you try to sell it.
Your piano is worth what someone else will pay for it.