Buying a Second-hand Piano
BUYING A SECOND-HAND PIANO
Buying a second-hand piano from a reputable piano retailer should be straightforward as a good retailer will be able to discuss your requirements and suggest suitable instruments. The piano bought from a retailer should be covered by a warranty and, where necessary, should have been restored. Generally the amount that you pay for a piano is determined by the quality of the instrument.
We recommend that you spend as much as you can afford as many factors affect the price; the age and condition of the piano, whether it is a grand or upright, its size, the style of the case, its finish and colour, the number and type of pedals. Avoid the temptation to spend as little as possible on a piano for a beginner, especially for a child. It is unlikely that a cheap second-hand piano will work correctly which could put them off very easily.
We do not recommend that you buy any piano from junk shops, charity shops or general second-hand shops, as shops of this type are not best placed either to know the condition of a piano or to place a (correct) market value on it. Nor should you buy a piano from free advertisement newspapers as it is most likely that these instruments are of no value and the owner is simply trying to avoid the cost of disposal.
It is possible to buy a piano from a reputable dealer on the Internet provided that the dealer offers a similar level of after sales service to that which you would normally have expected should you have bought the instrument from a shop. However, we advise against purchasing pianos from websites such as EBay or free cycle as you do not have the opportunity to inspect the instrument and identify any problems there may be before taking delivery. Many pianos offered for sale this way are life-expired and most are beyond economic restoration.
The exception to the above would be if you were buying the piano purely as a piece of furniture and have no intention to play the instrument. Victorian pianos with elegant and decorative casework would be good examples of this type of instrument.
It is always advisable to take your tuner with you to view a second-hand piano, particularly when it is being sold privately or at an auction. Tuners know exactly what to look for; they know all the pitfalls and can prevent you from ending up with something of a liability. Expect to pay for this service; it is their time and expertise. You may also wish to take your piano teacher with you. However, whereas a piano teacher may be able to advise you on the playability of an instrument, it is unlikely that they will be able to tell you whether there are any underlying issues. Although the piano may appear to play properly, many of the problems which affect second-hand pianos are not obvious from simply playing the instrument. Some of these faults can be very serious and costly to correct.