How to Find a Used Piano

A quality used piano can be an excellent choice for beginning your child’s piano lessons or for your personal enjoyment. A used piano tends to be more affordable than a new one and often offers superb value for your budget. Knowing exactly how or where to find an excellent used instrument, however, can be a challenge.
You may count yourself lucky to be offered a free piano as a gift or find one cheaply through a garage sale or classified ad, hoping it will be a good starter instrument. Although these scenarios may be ideal for your budget, they seldom lead you to a quality piano in good working condition.
This article will discuss people, places, and opportunities to help you find a quality used piano that suits your needs. Of course, we encourage you to thoroughly research all options before you begin shopping to ensure confidence in choosing the best financial value.

Talk to Experts in the Piano Industry

Tuners and Technicians

A first great option to begin your search for a used piano is to seek a local piano tuner or technician. These individuals are often available for a quick chat on the phone, an email, or a brief meeting. They can provide crucial information regarding what to look for in a used piano. More importantly, these piano experts spend many hours traveling to homes, churches, universities, and other locations to tune and repair pianos. They often know of pianos available for sale and their current condition and approximate value. Tuners and technicians can be vital liaisons between a potential buyer and seller looking for a piano. At least several of these experts in your area will have a website with contact information where you can begin your conversation with them.

Piano Service Companies

Perhaps the ideal place to find a high-quality used piano is a piano service company in your area. In addition to tuning, these small businesses often specialize in refurbishing, restoring, and rebuilding pianos and usually offer them for sale in their own shop. These expert craftsmen take the time to make sure each instrument they sell is properly working, tuned, and refurbished to be ready for delivery and use. Many of these same shops will also restore and rebuild pianos if that is what you desire. Purchasing a piano through one of these small businesses provides significant assurance that you will not encounter necessary repairs once the piano is in your home.

At Hulme and Sweeney Piano Service, we can provide complete assistance in your search and purchase of a used piano. We will answer all your technical questions and invite you to our showroom of available used pianos. A visit to our store is a great place to find an excellent used piano in proper working condition that provides the most value for your budget.

Visit Piano Dealer Showrooms and Walk-In Retail Stores

New Piano Dealer Showrooms

If you are interested in browsing for used pianos in person, you can consider visiting a new piano dealer showroom. Many dealers will accept trade-in pianos from individuals upgrading to a new instrument. These trade-in pianos are often available for sale somewhere on the showroom floor. It is essential to ask questions about the condition and value of these pianos to learn if they have been refurbished, tuned, or have a maintenance history.
Remember, the goal of a piano dealership is to sell new pianos, not to refurbish and restore older pianos. Therefore, it is wise to have any piano you consider purchasing thoroughly checked by an independent technician. Sales associates may try to convince you that a new piano is a better deal than a used one, but that is not always the case. Getting a good used piano at a retail store is possible, but it will likely cost more than buying from a private seller or service shop.

Consignment and Resale Stores

If you consider yourself a bargain hunter who wants an extremely inexpensive piano, check the local consignment and resale stores. In some situations, people just need to unload a piano quickly, and donating it to a charity shop or resale store provides an easy solution for them. On rare occasions, you can find a decent piano that is just in need of basic repairs and tuning. Still, you will likely have to arrange for transportation and incur the costs of needed maintenance work. It is always best to have a piano thoroughly inspected by a trusted technician before making any decisions. In the end, most pianos at these stores are in very poor condition and will likely cost more money to restore than just purchasing from a reputable used piano shop.

Explore Online Piano Shopping

Great for Browsing!

With the help of the internet, piano shoppers have access to many choices of used instruments sold by private sellers rather than in local businesses. Even if you do not purchase a piano through a website marketplace, online browsing can still help provide general comparative information. Online marketplaces allow you to see pictures of models in different conditions for an array of prices. In some instances, comparison shopping online could lead you to a unique local piano shop or piano service business that could provide an excellent instrument.
Online shopping seems convenient, but any piano you are considering should be seen in person, inspected, and played before buying. Unfortunately, not every posted classified ad is legitimate, and buyers should use caution when a deal seems too good to be true.

Online Classified Sites

Most people are familiar with popular online sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace, but there are also piano-specific sites that may offer better options. These include www.pianomart.com and www.pianobuyer.com, which offer pianos throughout the country. Most of these sites have search features that allow you to find pianos nearby. Remember, moving and maintenance costs associated with an online purchase will generally be up to the buyer. It is also essential to determine if a warranty is included with any piano you wish to buy online and to verify its playing condition.

Utilize Personal Networking Opportunities to Find a Piano

Most of us visit with friends, family, and nearby acquaintances regularly, which leads to another option for finding a used piano. Talking to people within your circle remains an easy way to see if someone you know is trying to sell a piano they no longer use. Caution is still needed if anyone wants to gift you a free piano. As mentioned before, these instruments may often be in very poor condition and require numerous, costly repairs.
Other people to contact about a possible used piano may include piano faculty at a local university, Music Teacher Association members, or even a church that might be upgrading their pianos.
Private piano teachers in your area will sometimes have students graduate high school and move on, leaving their parents desiring to sell the piano. Another option is to visit estate sales where a family might be downsizing or relocating and cannot take a piano with them.
Finding a piano through any of these means could be a great deal, but we highly recommend contacting a skilled technician to evaluate the piano before purchasing.

Final Thoughts

Searching for a good used piano takes patience and perseverance as there are numerous places where they might be available. We recommend exploring several options presented in this article and stress the importance of a professional assessment before choosing an instrument.
One of the best options for purchasing a used piano is to check with a local piano service shop that refurbishes and restores pianos and offers them for sale. You will likely get a quality, working instrument approved by a skilled craftsman and accompanied by a warranty.
Whether you decide to purchase an instrument online, from a private seller, or consider accepting a gifted piano, feel free to contact Hulme and Sweeney Piano Service to help guide you through the process and answer your questions.

Benefits of Buying a Used Piano

Most of us love the thrill and excitement we experience from purchasing a brand new luxury item. That same feeling entices people when they walk into a showroom filled with beautiful, new pianos and envision one in their home. However, just because a piano is new, does that mean it’s the best option for beginning music lessons?

New pianos offer peace of mind when you shop, assuming they are free of defects and come with a manufacturer’s warranty. However, used pianos already have depreciation factored in, usually have a more mellow tone, and are considerably less expensive. Let’s look at how choosing a used or even rebuilt piano might be an ideal investment as you select a piano for yourself or contemplate lessons for your child.

Refurbished Pianos are More Affordable

Purchasing a used piano can stretch your budget for a better brand and maybe longer soundboard, rather than settling for a smaller, entry-level new piano. In addition to less depreciation, a first-rate used piano brings an opportunity to find unique older styles and wood finishes, plus the possibility of a richer, warmer tone. Ultimately, a good refurbished piano might allow you to get the best piano possible for your price range.

Used Pianos Have Less Value Depreciation

In glancing at a few retailer websites or showrooms, you find that many new pianos made by the top brands start at around $10,000 for consoles and reach considerable amounts for grand pianos. Not only can these instruments be out of budget, but their potential resell price also substantially drops when it reaches your home.

Depreciation is a significant factor when purchasing a new piano, unlike a used one. A new instrument will lose approximately 20% of its value by the end of the first year, then roughly 5% each year after for the next ten years. This aspect of a piano purchase is one of the overriding reasons many people choose a used piano. A refurbished, well-maintained used instrument will retain a more significant portion of its value if you decide to resell it in the future.

Reputable Piano Rebuilders offer Warranties

Quality refurbished pianos often come with a warranty on parts and labor from a reputable technician, making them a trustworthy purchase. Used pianos are also much less affected by depreciation should you or your child discontinue lessons.

Buying a used piano with a warranty, plus knowing its value will not be entirely lost if you sell your piano, provides a level of confidence in your decision. 

At Hulme and Sweeney, our pianos always come with the assurance of a 5-year warranty on parts and labor.

Used Pianos Present a Variety of Styles

Shopping for a used piano adds a potential element of fun if you like searching for something unique. Good used pianos can offer a greater variety of styles and finishes from years past that may not be found in today’s newest models.

Options and colors of wood finish, such as lacquer, satin, high-gloss, or something natural-looking, might be essential to you as you consider the room’s color schemes, furniture, and the piano you choose. Older pianos may have more exciting cabinet design features, enabling you to find something to match your home furnishings. Some pianos have beautifully carved music stands with ornate legs. In contrast, others offer efficient, industrial-style looks or even smooth, streamlined curves.

Tone: Older Pianos vs Newer Pianos

One other reason to consider purchasing a used piano is the appeal of its tone, which could significantly differ from newly made pianos. Warmer, more mellow tones were popular in early 20th-century pianos. Instruments built in recent years tend to have an overall brighter tone, as this seems to be what is currently in demand.

You may prefer one type of tone over another, but this is certainly something you should think about before investing in a piano. We suggest playing as many instruments as you can find to understand which one sounds best for your ear.

The Restored Piano Option

A similar but more costly option to a refurbished piano is that of a restored piano. The advantage of a fully restored or rebuilt piano is that a trained technician can take an older, high-quality brand piano and recreate the interior with new, modern mechanical parts.

Technology that exists today was not available 100 years ago when piano makers were crafting their premiere instruments. Thanks to innovations in carbon fiber action parts, carbon steel strings, and computer aid to correct design flaws, a skilled technician can bring an old piano to new performance levels. This means if you like the qualities of an older model Steinway, for example, but would like to customize certain features such as tone and action, this option allows you to modify the piano to your preferences.

Advantages of a Rebuilt Piano

Rebuilding a premium grand piano, such as Steinway, with all authentic parts in their New York location will cost around 80% of a new Steinway. A more reasonably priced alternative is to choose a skilled, professional independent piano builder who can use premium brand parts to rebuild an exceptional piano for a lower cost. A rebuilt piano from a trusted restoration company also provides protection from hidden defects and unexpected maintenance and will likely come with a warranty on the work.

All Students Need Good Pianos

Learning to play the piano is still essential to many children and adult students and finding a suitable piano within your budget is a vital part of this process. Parents often believe in the approach of buying the cheapest piano they find to see if their child is genuinely interested before investing in a better instrument.

The dilemma with this approach is a piano that has broken parts, fails to hold its tuning, or has terrible action will likely discourage a new student from continuing. Students become frustrated when they cannot duplicate melodies, harmonies, or technical passages they hear from a teacher during lessons. They may blame themselves for lack of progress rather than realizing it could be the piano’s poor condition.

Refurbished Pianos Offer Quality

Students learning to play the piano progress more quickly on a quality instrument. A properly working refurbished piano with unchipped keys and uniform action develops better finger strength and dexterity. A piano that stays in tune improves aural skills, while fully working pedals are essential for advancing students. Purchasing an antique instrument or accepting something for free in deplorable conditions will not provide these much-needed features for a student of any level.

Keep in mind certain piano manufacturers and models from particular decades should be avoided in your search. Many old, low-quality spinet and upright pianos are sold or given away by individuals in deteriorated conditions, and we do not recommend purchasing or accepting these instruments.

Finding a vertical console or small grand that was initially built with excellent craftsmanship is a good candidate for refurbishing to like-new conditions. We are happy to discuss the best brands of pianos at Hulme and Sweeney that we feel make excellent used instruments.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a piano for your child’s music education or your home encompasses a thoughtful search for an instrument that suits your needs and budget.

New pianos are easy to shop for at showrooms and come with the manufacturer’s warranty and no anticipated problems. However, the depreciation factor and immediate loss of financial value spur many piano shoppers to consider a high-quality, affordable, refurbished piano instead.

A restored or rebuilt piano might be an ideal option if you are looking for customized features. A rebuilt instrument is a great way to acquire a premium brand piano at a reduced cost with improvements that could possibly surpass its original condition.

Working with a knowledgeable, capable rebuilder offers a distinct advantage in being able to find or refurbish a piano to fantastic working conditions at a much more affordable price. As you begin your search, we invite you to Hulme and Sweeney Piano Service to discuss our selection of used pianos and restoration services.