Piano Player - the Cooper Piano blog

7 Things to Consider When Buying a Pre-Owned Piano

Posted by Blake Cooper

Aug 17, 2015 4:43:00 PM


Thinking of buying a piano on Craiglist? Here are 7 points to consider.

When considering a pre-owned and rebuilt grand piano or other pianos for sale, there are a variety of factors that will determine the consistency and playability of the instrument as well as the case design and finish quality.

It's Cooper Piano's ongoing commitment to help your find the right piano for your needs, both musical and visual, as well as a sound financial investment!

1. Know Your Dealer

When searching for the right piano, first consider whether you're dealing with a reputable, legitimate piano dealer. Beware of Craigslist, Ebay, Amazon or someone who operates a small “garage” type facility out of their home.

Though some one-man operations may have one or two apparently good values, what happens when you run into trouble with maintenance and service down the line? Purchasing in a retail store is a much safer bet, both up front and over the long haul. 

2. Know the Warranty

Be certain that the dealer offers a substantial warranty, backed up by in-house technical services, and a money-back or exchange guarantee for the instrument if you are not completely satisfied.

3. Examine Your Piano

Don't make a purchase of any older reconditioned or pre-owned piano if the dealer will not allow it to be examined by an Independent Registered Piano Technician (RPT) and member of the local Piano Technician’s Guild (PTG).

Under no conditions should you purchase in advance any grand piano in the process of being rebuilt, as the quality of tone and playability can vary greatly! The rule of thumb is this: if it's not ready to play, it's not ready to buy.

4. Comparison Shop

When selecting a grand for your musical taste and decor, it's generally better to shop at piano dealerships with a wide selection of sizes and styles. A one or two piano selection will never give you a reliable cross-section of pianos to choose from. Many times, to the untrained ear, a single piano with no comparison may sound good when in fact, it may be quite deficient tonally.

5. Buy What You Really Want

This may seem simple, but in some cases, dealers may attempt to sway you with price alone on a lessor instrument than the one you would prefer. Don’t fall for this! Chances are, you’ll buy ONE grand piano in your life. Price notwithstanding, buy what YOU want!

6. Stick To the Brand Names

For the best possible value, stay with more widely known names in rebuilt pianos. Some of the best known of these are: Mason & Hamlin, Steinway, Sohmer & Co., Knabe, Baldwin, Petrof, Bosendorfer, or similarly built high quality instruments. A reputable dealer should have a list of names available of hand-crafted pianos worthy of being rebuilt.

Pianos from “The Golden Age” of piano construction, those from the years 1890 to 1940, are the best candidates for successful rebuilding. Stay away from more obscure names with questionable materials or construction quality. Additionally, Japanese made Yamaha and Kawai pianos rebuilt with documented new factory parts are acceptable. In all instances, insist on a written warranty of 10 years parts and labor.

7. Observe a 70/70 Rule

A freshly rebuilt piano should, under normal conditions, have a useful life of at least 70 years from the time you purchase it until it will need to be rebuilt again. Fair price ranges for such pianos of better quality names should not exceed 70% of the price of a comparable new piano.

We at Cooper Piano are sure these points will help you make an informed decision in your search for a quality grand piano, and we thank you for the opportunity to help!


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Topics: Grand Piano, piano sale, Used Piano, piano, cooper piano, piano lessons, Digital Piano, yamaha piano, piano care, yamaha keyboard

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