Table of contents for Piano Value
The following was written by my good friend Bob Conrad and is used by permission from Conrad Piano Services
How Much is my Piano Worth?
Two pianos of the same make and model, made the same day at the same factory, can have very different values in a relatively short time resulting from a number of factors.
I do not buy and sell pianos. I have always thought buying and selling pianos constitutes a conflict of interests for a piano tuner / technician selling piano services. My goal as a piano service professional is to be as honest, forthright, and objective as possible with the piano owner regarding the condition of their piano.
There are three levels of pricing for any piano at any time.
- Retail value: the price a piano dealer would ask when selling the piano.
- Wholesale value: the price a piano dealer would pay if the dealer were going to buy the piano.
- Individual seller’s value: the price you or I may be able to obtain by advertising a piano in the paper, listing it on line, or leaving ‘For Sale’ signs on bulletin boards at churches, offices, etc.
The first step is to call your piano tuner / technician.
The piano tuner who is familiar with your piano should be your first call. He could have some helpful/useful information about your piano to assist in determining your piano’s value.
Ask the piano tuner if they know of any serious problems (delamination, cracks, loose pins, design, etc.) that would take your piano out of the mainstream of similar pianos or if it has any special features (an upgraded or special cabinet, finish, autograph, some other feature, or ‘story’) that puts it above the mainstream of other similar pianos.
Ask your tuner the brand and model (spinet, console, consolette, studio, upright, grand, etc.) of your piano. Your tuner may not have the serial number in his records, but may be able to help locate it on your piano. The age of the piano can be determined by the serial number.
You will need to know the size of your grand piano in feet and inches rather than ‘baby’ or ‘large’ or ‘living-room” size. (Measure grand pianos from the very ‘front’ of the piano – from the wood just below the keys – to the farthest point on the ‘tail’ end of the lid).
Your tuner should be able to tell how your piano compares to others regarding the overall condition of the case, wear and tear on parts, etc. and give you an idea as to the selling price. Try to remember what you paid for it. The amount you paid can often be a good starting point. If you can get “close” to what you paid, you will be doing well.
If your piano model is still in production, and the current market price for your piano has gone up, this does not mean your piano has necessarily appreciated in value. Pianos do not increase in value with age.
If you do not have a tuner, or cannot remember who tuned it last, maybe you have a friend or relative who has worked with a tuner they know and trust. Call them, or call me. I would be happy to talk with you. However, the only way an experienced piano tuner / technician can assess and give an accurate appraisal is to take a look at the piano, and possibly tune it.
Just make sure the piano technicians you talk to – or listen to – have sufficient piano service experience and piano judgment that you will be able to respect. Music teachers, piano teachers and piano salesmen, though knowledgeable, are not usually trained in the technical aspects of piano service and maintenance. So even though they are professionals at what they do, and useful resources for advice, make sure you also talk to an accomplished piano service professional.
The 2nd step is to 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. You do not want to skip this step. You will not find an exact duplicate of your piano, but if you look at enough used pianos, you should be able to get a general idea as to what dealers are asking for used pianos similar to yours.
Keep in mind, piano dealers will be able to ask more for used pianos than piano owners selling them out of their homes, and they should get more. In preparing to sell the piano, the dealer will first move the piano to their store, and likely done any necessary cleaning, fixing, repairing, tuning and service. More often than not a
store will include a warranty with the piano – which has value and can be an attractive 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 investment before, during, and after the sale. Dealers usually provide an in-home tuning after delivering the piano to the new owner.
The dealer may even 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 who go there looking for pianos. You may even end up with a higher price than you expected. Maybe you will see another piano or an electric keyboard you might want to own. Maybe they would take your piano on trade.
Consider asking the dealer what he thinks your piano is worth, but be cautious, this is when he becomes conflicted. If you need to know for insurance purposes, he may be able to talk replacement costs with you; but once you ask him about selling your piano, you become competition. After all, they are in the business of selling pianos too, and they are the professionals. Because they are professional, they should be helpful and courteous.
Another thing to do while visiting the dealer is to examine the asking price for pianos he is selling. Check out his pianos in the same price range you think your piano is worth. Remember, the dealer has all sorts of added values (described above), included in the cost of his pianos. A visit to your local dealers will be a very educational experience when it comes to determining the value of your piano.
The wholesale ‘value’ is the value the piano store pays for their pianos.
Usually, you and I cannot buy pianos at the wholesale level, even though we sometimes think we can.
You should call an experienced piano tuner BEFORE accepting or picking up a ‘freebie’ piano. I cannot tell you how many people have called me after they have spent time and money lugging home a worthless piano 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 the odds are probably millions-to-one against. Call me, or call someone else who may be able to talk sense to you before accepting such a piano. The phone call could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
The best economy is quality, not junk. 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 worth fixing even if it could be fixed.
Even if you think the exterior case is something ‘special’, if the interior is full of broken and rusted strings, cracked bridges, loose tuning pins, failing glue joints, brass flanges, etc. let it go. More often than not, before putting a piano out on the street and giving it away, owners exhaust all other avenues trying to get rid of the piano. No one likes the expense of discarding a useless piano. If the dealers do not 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.
Another factor 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 tuner, visiting some local dealers and reviewing ‘pianos for sale’ in the classified section of the newspaper, you will have a fairly good idea as to what your piano may be worth in your area.
I hope you have found this article helpful. Once you start the process you may soon find many opinions as to what you should do, and how you should proceed. Do your homework, try to find knowledgeable professionals in the piano business who will consult with you; the smoke will eventually clear and you will end up with a reasonably good idea as to the piano worth.
In the end, your piano is worth what someone else will pay for it.
I want to thank Bob Conrad for his fine article ( How Much is my Piano Worth? ) used by permission above.