Advice for Students

Buying a Used Piano

July 13, 2018

“Twinkle twinkle little star” ….  Yes, it is possible to learn to play that song fairly quickly!

Pianos, real live pianos, are available, either free or for low prices, on used websites.  I would never buy a used piano off Kijiji or other used website without first having a piano technician look at it.  Buyer beware!  There are used pianos being sold that were not made for the North American climate, even some models of Yamaha.  There are also “wet” pianos being sold.  Thanks to for the following definition:

“A “Grey Market” or “Wet Piano” is a piano purchased in a container load, usually from Asia.  They are very often used in an institution, such as a music school or university, for many years. They are then reconditioned and cleaned up to look better. These pianos are brought to North America, and sold at a discount, with no Factory Warranty available and no authentic dealer support. Any warranty given can only be an in-house one by the seller.”

For more information about grey market or wet pianos, read an article at

If you are seriously considering buying a piano off a used website, a piano technician will, for a fee, go with you to look at it, and give you the information you need to make an informed decision on buying it or not.  How old is it?  What is wrong with it?  How much work will it need in the future, and how much will it cost?  Some free pianos will end up costing you an arm and a leg.

In my opinion, the safest way to buy a piano is through a reputable piano technician.  My piano tuner is Dave Potter of Old World Piano.   He offers reconditioned pianos (a reconditioned piano is a piano that has been cleaned, repaired and adjusted to original factory standards).  Piano tuners know which of their clients is selling their piano, and know how well the client maintained it.

I would personally never buy through a music store or dealer.  A Kawai, for example, might cost $2,000 through a piano tuner.  Through a piano store, it would cost $3,500 – $4,000.

If someone offers you a free piano from a church basement, don’t walk away, run!  They are usually huge, old pianos with broken ivory keys that will need a large (expensive) amount of work.  Did I mention they are ridiculously heavy?

Yamaha pianos  – yes, they are nice, but you are paying for the name.  A Kawai will cost less.

One of my piano students got a free piano.  Yes, it is possible.  It is worth investing approx. $75 and having a piano tuner take a look at it.  You will also have to move it; the price varies depending on the number of steps the piano has to be carried up or down.  Finally you have to pay to tune it.  Don’t tune the piano right away.  Wait a couple of months.

“Twinkle twinkle little star” …. here I come!

You can also read about Purchasing Used Keyboards here.


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