Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

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ASpenderInRecovery
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Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by ASpenderInRecovery » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:16 pm

Bogleheads,

Looking to solicit some wisdom from our crowd, as I have never played piano and am not musically inclined at all. We are looking to replace our hand-me-down upright piano that has a cracked board and can’t hold a tune. My wife has played piano her whole life and still teaches lessons daily. She’s had to pivot to offering virtual piano lessons and use our substandard upright for demonstration with the students. We are now searching for a replacement and the piano market is interesting. The process feels oddly similar to buying a car. Since she is an avid player and teacher we aren’t looking at entry level models or electric pianos. Additionally we want one that is less than 10 years old so that is likely to be in better condition.

Her ideal piano is a new Kawai K-300 which is a 48” studio upright and from what I gather is roughly $8.5k delivered. I should mention we have a solid combined income, high savings rate, and 12+ mo EF.

Observations/Challenges:
- used Pianos tend to be 15-20+ years old and are not that cheap compared to new when bought at a dealer/store
- used pianos on Craiglist present an issue because it’s hard to visit people right now, and tough to determine if the owner cared for it without a piano tech checking it out, moving it is another logistical challenge
- some used pianos are apparently gray market and lower quality models sold then refurbished by a dealer/store
- many dealers offer their own new/used storebrands that are essentially pianos produced in China to their spec then labeled with their name. This makes comparison very difficult
- new pianos from Kawai, Yamaha, etc are not cheap

Questions:
- Based on the challenges presented by the used piano market is it even worth looking at Craiglist pianos?
- If we can’t find a used piano at a dealer that fits my wife’s criteria should we just buy new?
- Is buying new the way to go?

Thanks for your help and advice!

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David Jay
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by David Jay » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:28 pm

Pianos take up a lot of space and require maintenance (tuning, etc.) so people are unloading them. I saw one in the “free” section just yesterday on Craigslist. I would “go for it”, take a bit of time and find one.

Truly, modern keyboards make a lot more sense than a traditional piano in most settings (which is why so many pianos are available used).
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Lalamimi
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Lalamimi » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:32 pm

We found it impossible to find a piano tuner for ours, and left it when we moved for the new home owners to deal with. Perhaps she knows a tuner who could check used ones for her, or who might know of some for sale?

hicabob
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by hicabob » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:38 pm

Larry Fine's "The Piano Book: Buying & Owning a New or Used Pianos" is a classic .
https://www.amazon.com/Larry-Fine/dp/19 ... 1668866426

This seems to be the updated buyer guide ...
https://www.amazon.com/Best-Acoustic-Di ... DC33SY4VFG

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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:40 pm

Having someone who can properly assess a used piano would be absolutely key. I don't play but do look through Craigslist quite a bit in the musical sections, looking for guitars. From what I see, pianos on craigslist seem to be one of 2 prices. Free and $25,000. I've always found it amusing that this seems to be the case.

Good luck.
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by snailderby » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:40 pm

Health risks aside (you'll have to determine that for yourself), I would consider buying used. In my area, there are Kawai baby grands selling on Craigslist for $4000 to $6000. I imagine that means you might be able to get a pretty good upright for less. Even after adding (the not insignificant costs of moving and tuning), you might be able to save a few thousand dollars by shopping around.
Last edited by snailderby on Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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cashboy
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by cashboy » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:45 pm

i was in a similar situation (of sorts) some years ago. new or used?? what to do....

first i determined 'use': it was to be used by someone used to playing and winning in contests and would be using it on an ongoing basis.

next i determined costs: what would a new piano cost and did i have the money for it.

based on my situation (the piano player), and that I had the money, i went new and never regretted it. Yamaha upright from a long time established seller with a great reputation.

https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical ... 2/p22.html

now, if it was a different situation (such as low use dust collector :happy ) i might have gone used. it is possible to get used deals from owners, but that takes time, effort, and cost (for a piano analysis by a tuner, moving it, tuning and repairing it).

good luck with whatever you decide!

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desiderium
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by desiderium » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:51 pm

Talk to some local local piano tuners
First, they know piano owners that take good care of their instruments
Second, they often know the instruments personally, including tone, flaws and future work that might be needed
Third, they know who in the local area is (or might be) interested in selling their piano
Fourth, they usually know something about fair market value for a used instrument

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ASpenderInRecovery
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by ASpenderInRecovery » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:06 pm

cashboy wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:45 pm
i was in a similar situation (of sorts) some years ago. new or used?? what to do....

first i determined 'use': it was to be used by someone used to playing and winning in contests and would be using it on an ongoing basis.

next i determined costs: what would a new piano cost and did i have the money for it.

based on my situation (the piano player), and that I had the money, i went new and never regretted it. Yamaha upright from a long time established seller with a great reputation.

https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical ... 2/p22.html

now, if it was a different situation (such as low use dust collector :happy ) i might have gone used. it is possible to get used deals from owners, but that takes time, effort, and cost (for a piano analysis by a tuner, moving it, tuning and repairing it).

good luck with whatever you decide!

:sharebeer
Thanks for sharing. Very similar situation. It will definitely be played daily. We are finding there are deals posted out there but will take a substantial time and effort investment to validate if it’s a well maintained piano or not. Additionally it’s challenging to go and see a bunch due to health risks.

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ASpenderInRecovery
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by ASpenderInRecovery » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:07 pm

desiderium wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:51 pm
Talk to some local local piano tuners
First, they know piano owners that take good care of their instruments
Second, they often know the instruments personally, including tone, flaws and future work that might be needed
Third, they know who in the local area is (or might be) interested in selling their piano
Fourth, they usually know something about fair market value for a used instrument
Thanks for the advice. This is something we had not considered.

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celia
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by celia » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:14 pm

Having had to get rid of an organ recently, I learned it is almost impossible to give organs and pianos away. People won't take them even if they are free.

Once you know that, you should have lots of options for getting a free one (Craigslist, music stores, music teachers, to name a few).

linuxizer
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by linuxizer » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:26 pm

Spent a few months looking and eventually found a nice 1970s Yamaha upright for 650. Recently tuned. Called the tuner who said, “buy that one.” Have been happy since.

Agree with CL + FB. Agree you must find a good tuner. Have it tuned once moved.

Disagree about a conventional piano not being as good as a digital. Ignore the haters. Steel is real.

Student2
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Student2 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:30 pm

I second what desiderium said. You will be far better off if you contact a bona fide piano technician https://www.ptg.org/home. They will not only be able to make a recommendation, but will also know what is available in your community, and will be able to help you arrange for transport and ensure it is in working order when it arrives.

I knew a piano technician long ago, whose unpleasantness was exceeded only by his skill. I learned a lot by listening to him. The very best pianos of today, in terms of both the sound and beauty, are all used. While there are some very good pianos today, they don't equal the equivalent pianos made ~40-60 years ago. One of those old pianos, properly restored by someone who has trained and has the experience, is truly an impressive instrument. I saw a few dusty old [to me] relics, restored to look and sound amazing. They could not have been made today because of the quality of the wood available at that time.

All that aside, just find a real piano technician. You'll end up with a better piano than you would otherwise and, due to current conditions, possibly at a better price than other times.

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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by stoptothink » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:35 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:40 pm
Having someone who can properly assess a used piano would be absolutely key. I don't play but do look through Craigslist quite a bit in the musical sections, looking for guitars. From what I see, pianos on craigslist seem to be one of 2 prices. Free and $25,000. I've always found it amusing that this seems to be the case.

Good luck.
My mom has a piano, that she's spent a lot of money trying to salvage, that she hasn't been able to give away on Craigslist/KSL for about a year. I've been fortunate to have moved it for her four times during that timespan. Next move is probably onto their trailer and to the dump.

When my wife and I met, she actually sold her mint condition high-end electric piano for half what it was worth because she never played it...7.5yrs, 2 kids, a far more stressful job, a full-time student load, and a time-consuming bike racing and triathlon hobby later, she has decided she wants to start playing again :oops: .

oldlongbeard
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by oldlongbeard » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:48 pm

We did this about 12 years ago. Ask your piano TECHNICIAN. Not all tuners are TECHNICIANS. Offer to pay them for evaluating any potential instruments. They will then most likely immediately help you eliminate many you may consider. We found a beautiful used Kawai grand. He checked it out, and told us: "if you want a good instrument that will last, get out your checkbook." We did. He's always amazed how well it holds tune. He was right.
On a second "note", many of the new Korean pianos have improved so much, as to be valid choices as well.
There are also very high quality rebuilders, who may have just what you want. Reeder's near Lansing Michigan is one.
Good luck. Most of our kids have moved out, and I sure miss hearing it being play.....and I have no aptitude.

Greg in West Mitten

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LilyFleur
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by LilyFleur » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:53 pm

I understand the value of a real piano, and we bought a used one when our children were younger and taking lessons. The richness of the sound and the feel of the keys cannot be completely replicated, in my opinion.

I wonder, though, if a high-quality electric piano with weighted keys might have advantages when teaching remotely? If not now, perhaps in the future there may be a way to plug in her piano so the quality of hearing it remotely would be much better. Also, now that she teaches remotely, she could have students all over the world, so the ability to do that with better quality acoustics might be a consideration.

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Marmot
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Marmot » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:58 pm


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ResearchMed
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:10 pm

atikovi wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how? I thought it was like the antiques and collectibles in your grandmas attic, or film camera users. The generation that it appeals to is quickly dying off. Maybe try estate sales in rich neighborhoods. The heirs don't want it and it's probably a premium brand.
No idea about whether people "still want to learn to play the piano", but some certainly do "still play the piano".
In our case, that would be DH.
(I play the flute, which is much easier to transport. :wink: )

Also, IF there were to be another crop of young children with us, we'd definitely have them take piano lessons, and yes, with a real piano. To us, that's a terrific way generally to learn about music and notes, etc., even if they never go much further.
That was one of the "you must try this at least enough to 'know how' and to decide if you like it or not".
(Only swimming was something where they had to attain a certain level of accomplishment. I doubt that anyone ever died "because they couldn't do ballet", etc.)

However, the bit about "on a real piano"... that might just be because indeed, I am a dinosaur, which was part of your point.
OTOH, I think it is of real interest to see "how the innards work", and just a keyboard would lack that.

RM
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Ricchan
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Ricchan » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:19 pm

Since your wife is the person who would be using the piano, the most important thing would be to have her play on every piano you are considering and ultimately go with the one she feels has the best sound and feel according to her ears and touch.

Regarding used vs new, I believe a used piano can be just as good as (and often better than) a new piano as long as it has been cared for properly throughout its lifetime. The main things to ask about is if the piano has been regularly tuned (ideally every 6 months), and if it has been kept in a proper humidity controlled environment. As for wear and tear, that varies according to each individual piano and is something you'll have to assess with your own eyes. Make sure to check the action of every key. Even if there's a chance they can be restored, the fact that there are troublesome keys is an indication of poor maintenance in the past.

If you are still unsure, asking a trusted piano technician to look at a piano would not be a bad idea. There can be issues with the wood and mechanical parts that can't be seen or heard by untrained professionals but may evolve into more serious issues in the future.

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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by atikovi » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:26 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:10 pm
Also, IF there were to be another crop of young children with us, we'd definitely have them take piano lessons, and yes, with a real piano. To us, that's a terrific way generally to learn about music and notes, etc., even if they never go much further.
Might reconsider. I played back when I was probably 8 to 10. My mother didn't force me to play but took me to lessons so I assume I was expected to. Never really enjoyed it, so after we moved to a different state and it wasn't continued, I was pretty glad. Maybe that's why I have no particular interest in music today.

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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by marcwd » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:40 pm

ASpenderInRecovery wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:16 pm
Bogleheads,

Looking to solicit some wisdom from our crowd, as I have never played piano and am not musically inclined at all. We are looking to replace our hand-me-down upright piano that has a cracked board and can’t hold a tune. My wife has played piano her whole life and still teaches lessons daily. She’s had to pivot to offering virtual piano lessons and use our substandard upright for demonstration with the students. We are now searching for a replacement and the piano market is interesting. The process feels oddly similar to buying a car. Since she is an avid player and teacher we aren’t looking at entry level models or electric pianos. Additionally we want one that is less than 10 years old so that is likely to be in better condition.

Her ideal piano is a new Kawai K-300 which is a 48” studio upright and from what I gather is roughly $8.5k delivered. I should mention we have a solid combined income, high savings rate, and 12+ mo EF.

Observations/Challenges:
- used Pianos tend to be 15-20+ years old and are not that cheap compared to new when bought at a dealer/store
- used pianos on Craiglist present an issue because it’s hard to visit people right now, and tough to determine if the owner cared for it without a piano tech checking it out, moving it is another logistical challenge
- some used pianos are apparently gray market and lower quality models sold then refurbished by a dealer/store
- many dealers offer their own new/used storebrands that are essentially pianos produced in China to their spec then labeled with their name. This makes comparison very difficult
- new pianos from Kawai, Yamaha, etc are not cheap

Questions:
- Based on the challenges presented by the used piano market is it even worth looking at Craiglist pianos?
- If we can’t find a used piano at a dealer that fits my wife’s criteria should we just buy new?
- Is buying new the way to go?

Thanks for your help and advice!
Need to ask: Is a smaller grand piano out of the question? For 3-4K more than your new upright Kawai price, you can find a well maintained Yamaha C2, for example.

In any case, for this kind of item, there is no need to buy new.

WildBill
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by WildBill » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:44 pm

desiderium wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:51 pm
Talk to some local local piano tuners
First, they know piano owners that take good care of their instruments
Second, they often know the instruments personally, including tone, flaws and future work that might be needed
Third, they know who in the local area is (or might be) interested in selling their piano
Fourth, they usually know something about fair market value for a used instrument
Howdy

This is excellent advice. If you also offer a finders fee or a commitment to having him tune it in the future you will do even better :D

You will also want to find a good guy anyway, as you will need to tune it and this guy will also be able to judge the quality and value, ideally from personal knowledge.

Another thought is any local piano store. They are drying up fast, but if there is one relatively nearby they would be a good source also. They will be also able to arrange moving it and you will get some form of warranty and buyback agreement. Be prepared to haggle.

Still another thought is a local college or university. They usually have studio models they are looking to turn over and the quality and condition is usually OK. You may also have several choices of ones they are selling.

The used piano market is not an efficient market - you could get one free from someone who wants to ditch it, but you have no idea of the condition and moving pianos is not easy. You will need some patience to find the one you want.

W B
"Through chances various, through all vicissitudes, we make our way." Virgil, The Aeneid

000
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by 000 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:35 pm

atikovi wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how? I thought it was like the antiques and collectibles in your grandmas attic, or film camera users. The generation that it appeals to is quickly dying off. Maybe try estate sales in rich neighborhoods. The heirs don't want it and it's probably a premium brand.
I tend to agree with this. Huge, expensive to maintain, and difficult to move "real" pianos are becoming increasingly out of favor to a generation living in smaller spaces with less disposable income that moves around more frequently.

OP, I personally would not spend a lot of money on a piano. I would expect to not get any of it back, so the value would be in the enjoyment the piano provides. I'm not sure a great piano is needed to teach a lesson through the computer. All the audio will be digital anyway :oops:

marcwd
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by marcwd » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:05 pm

000 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:35 pm
atikovi wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how? I thought it was like the antiques and collectibles in your grandmas attic, or film camera users. The generation that it appeals to is quickly dying off. Maybe try estate sales in rich neighborhoods. The heirs don't want it and it's probably a premium brand.
I tend to agree with this. Huge, expensive to maintain, and difficult to move "real" pianos are becoming increasingly out of favor to a generation living in smaller spaces with less disposable income that moves around more frequently.
What you write is entirely separate from asking, “Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how?”

lightheir
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by lightheir » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:10 pm

Seriously just buy a digital piano like a $500 Casio Privia. As a non aspiring concert pianist, it will be all you need and more - and weighs 25lbs total AND you will be able to sell it on Craigslist in a matter of days if you end up wanting to get rid of it down the road.So small and light that you can slight the entire thing under your bed or into a small closet in seconds.

No need to get a big bulky acoustic piano unless you are getting to the point where your proficiency is demanding an acoustic real piano. The current crop is outstanding for up to intermediate level players and won't limit you at all in that range.

Jags4186
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Jags4186 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:15 pm

Since you have a rather high budget and want an upright I would recommend a Yamaha Avantgrand NU1X hybrid piano. They offer real mechanical action without need to ever tune, don’t have a soundboard which can go bad, and can be played silently with headphones.

Jags4186
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Jags4186 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:17 pm

atikovi wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how? I thought it was like the antiques and collectibles in your grandmas attic, or film camera users. The generation that it appeals to is quickly dying off. Maybe try estate sales in rich neighborhoods. The heirs don't want it and it's probably a premium brand.
Is this a real question? Do people still play/listen to music? The piano is the most versatile instrument ever invented.

stan1
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by stan1 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:22 pm

It's a hobby and passion for OP's wife, she teaches piano lessons, and he implies they can afford it, so by all means get something your wife will enjoy for many years.

That said, if I had a 6 year old who I wanted to learn music theory and composition I surely would start with an electronic keyboard these days until there was clear evidence said child had skill and interest in pursuing piano further. I'm of the the keep life simple school, and adding in a heavy special purpose instrument to the house is not in keeping with priorities unless our child had significant skill and interest. I realize this will run afoul of some traditionalists but I likewise don't have a stereo or a 12 place setting German china like my parents did. Phone/tablet with wireless speakers and some plates we bought at Target 20 years ago work for us.

000
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by 000 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:42 pm

marcwd wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:05 pm
000 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:35 pm
atikovi wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how? I thought it was like the antiques and collectibles in your grandmas attic, or film camera users. The generation that it appeals to is quickly dying off. Maybe try estate sales in rich neighborhoods. The heirs don't want it and it's probably a premium brand.
I tend to agree with this. Huge, expensive to maintain, and difficult to move "real" pianos are becoming increasingly out of favor to a generation living in smaller spaces with less disposable income that moves around more frequently.
What you write is entirely separate from asking, “Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how?”
No, it is not entirely separate. I offered some reasons why the answer to “Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how?” might be no.

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ASpenderInRecovery
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by ASpenderInRecovery » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:57 pm

marcwd wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:40 pm
ASpenderInRecovery wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:16 pm
Bogleheads,

Looking to solicit some wisdom from our crowd, as I have never played piano and am not musically inclined at all. We are looking to replace our hand-me-down upright piano that has a cracked board and can’t hold a tune. My wife has played piano her whole life and still teaches lessons daily. She’s had to pivot to offering virtual piano lessons and use our substandard upright for demonstration with the students. We are now searching for a replacement and the piano market is interesting. The process feels oddly similar to buying a car. Since she is an avid player and teacher we aren’t looking at entry level models or electric pianos. Additionally we want one that is less than 10 years old so that is likely to be in better condition.

Her ideal piano is a new Kawai K-300 which is a 48” studio upright and from what I gather is roughly $8.5k delivered. I should mention we have a solid combined income, high savings rate, and 12+ mo EF.

Observations/Challenges:
- used Pianos tend to be 15-20+ years old and are not that cheap compared to new when bought at a dealer/store
- used pianos on Craiglist present an issue because it’s hard to visit people right now, and tough to determine if the owner cared for it without a piano tech checking it out, moving it is another logistical challenge
- some used pianos are apparently gray market and lower quality models sold then refurbished by a dealer/store
- many dealers offer their own new/used storebrands that are essentially pianos produced in China to their spec then labeled with their name. This makes comparison very difficult
- new pianos from Kawai, Yamaha, etc are not cheap

Questions:
- Based on the challenges presented by the used piano market is it even worth looking at Craiglist pianos?
- If we can’t find a used piano at a dealer that fits my wife’s criteria should we just buy new?
- Is buying new the way to go?

Thanks for your help and advice!
Need to ask: Is a smaller grand piano out of the question? For 3-4K more than your new upright Kawai price, you can find a well maintained Yamaha C2, for example.

In any case, for this kind of item, there is no need to buy new.
We live in a townhome so space is limited.

sport
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by sport » Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:38 pm

If there is a music school in your area, you could ask about buying one of their pianos. In my area, the Cleveland Institute of Music periodically has piano sales when they replace their pianos. These would be decent instruments.

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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:43 pm

As it is your spouses passion and she is a teaching professional, buy that Kawai new for a lifetime of reward.

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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Kagord » Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:26 pm

For a studio one, my preference would be a 80s/90s U1 that checks out over a new K-300, and you'd save a few K at least. For someone playing a lot their whole life, the U1 is probably bottom of the barrel though, we're talking standard fare for conservatory students.

brajalle
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by brajalle » Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:40 pm

There is some great advice in this thread. There are many great values in used pianos - many quality & expensive brands often had less expensive re-labels, and a competent piano tech will know all of that - plus know what to look for in terms of problems. If you find a good tech - they may also do (or know someone who does) rebuilds/etc. All of this could be drastically less expensive than a new piano.

As far as finding a good tech - the link in a prior post to a professional certifying organization isn't a bad way to start. It isn't necessarily a guarantee of quality, and there are plenty of piano tuners/techs out there who aren't part of it. For example - my step-father is in the business, he never saw the point of getting the certification because he kept plenty busy without it...and because it had an ear-tune requirement (silly because an electronic tuner is much more accurate). He knew one person who had it that struggled on things like broken strings, loose pins, and action reconditioning - and would sometimes sub out the work to him (the guy tuned pretty well though). You also may not want to rely on specific experience - ie a tuner who worked for the factory may be able to say they tuned for the - XYZ orchestra or such - I knew one person who could claim just that...and they did some horrid repair work (brush paint refinish that looked horrid, strips of coffee cans to shim loose pins, etc) - my father would get calls to fix the problem later. Past that, look for someone who has been in business for awhile. They may not have a website or store even - its alot of overhead and usually they get customers from word of mouth - they'll have a business card though. You might check around at several local (nicer) churches for who they use - they often have the budget to invest in quality sound and don't necessarily go for the cheapest instruments or tuners/etc. I don't always suggest checking who schools use because sometimes those are more price-driven (it varies around here depending on what the music personnel prioritize in terms of budgeting). I'd also be careful with school pianos if you don't have a tech take a look - it's possible a college level or professional program is gentler, but those pianos get used ALOT in k-12 schools at least and can be beat to hell at times. That being said, if it's a good brand, that isn't necessarily a problem, it may just need some mild reconditioning (hammers resurfaced, etc). If you're buying a spinet or a console with front legs that are not free-standing (ie no cross brace back into the piano body like uprights have) - be sure to look for signs that the leg may have been snapped or broken and repaired. This happens not infrequently when non-professional people move them, especially in school or business settings. Professional movers can do a decent job moving them (it varies a ton), but if you have a piano and are moving it, you can always hire a piano mover to come supervise (if not outright move it). My step-father used to move pianos - he stopped a few years ago for various reasons - but on more than a few occasions all he did was get hired to supervise to ensure no damage (usually professional movers in a semi). Also, don't use a pickup - he did a fair amount of estimates over the years for pianos that flipped over the side of the pickup on a turn and into the street.

A fully restored/rebuilt player or grand is truly a thing of beauty & auditory excellence. Unfortunately, there's less and less people who do that sort of work - it's incredibly detail orientated to get right and the pay is never great. I was lucky enough to see many examples while my step-father was doing more of that sort of work - including some 7ft and even a few 9ft grands - plus a ton of amazing players.
Last edited by brajalle on Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dottie57
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:47 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:17 pm
atikovi wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how? I thought it was like the antiques and collectibles in your grandmas attic, or film camera users. The generation that it appeals to is quickly dying off. Maybe try estate sales in rich neighborhoods. The heirs don't want it and it's probably a premium brand.
Is this a real question? Do people still play/listen to music? The piano is the most versatile instrument ever invented.
+1

I love the sound of a real piano.

HoosierJim
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by HoosierJim » Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:55 pm

We bought a upright piano many years ago, beautiful sound only comes out when somebody plays it. On second thought, I should have purchased an self playing electronic piano that would have filled the house with beautiful sound even if we weren't playing it.

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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by JAZZISCOOL » Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:56 pm

desiderium wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:51 pm
Talk to some local local piano tuners
First, they know piano owners that take good care of their instruments
Second, they often know the instruments personally, including tone, flaws and future work that might be needed
Third, they know who in the local area is (or might be) interested in selling their piano
Fourth, they usually know something about fair market value for a used instrument
+1

Some piano tuners in my area appraise pianos for insurance purposes so have a good pulse on the used market. I think a used piano would be the way to go as you can negotiate a better price IMO. Easy to wear a mask, etc. to test one out. YMMV.

marcwd
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by marcwd » Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:09 pm

000 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:42 pm
marcwd wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:05 pm
000 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:35 pm
atikovi wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how? I thought it was like the antiques and collectibles in your grandmas attic, or film camera users. The generation that it appeals to is quickly dying off. Maybe try estate sales in rich neighborhoods. The heirs don't want it and it's probably a premium brand.
I tend to agree with this. Huge, expensive to maintain, and difficult to move "real" pianos are becoming increasingly out of favor to a generation living in smaller spaces with less disposable income that moves around more frequently.
What you write is entirely separate from asking, “Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how?”
No, it is not entirely separate. I offered some reasons why the answer to “Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how?” might be no.
No one who is sincerely interested in playing or learning to play the piano is going to be put off by what you offer as a reason. There are multitudes of high quality, inexpensive, lightweight digital pianos available.

000
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by 000 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:12 pm

marcwd wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:09 pm
000 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:42 pm
marcwd wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:05 pm
000 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:35 pm
atikovi wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how? I thought it was like the antiques and collectibles in your grandmas attic, or film camera users. The generation that it appeals to is quickly dying off. Maybe try estate sales in rich neighborhoods. The heirs don't want it and it's probably a premium brand.
I tend to agree with this. Huge, expensive to maintain, and difficult to move "real" pianos are becoming increasingly out of favor to a generation living in smaller spaces with less disposable income that moves around more frequently.
What you write is entirely separate from asking, “Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how?”
No, it is not entirely separate. I offered some reasons why the answer to “Do people today still even play the piano or even want to learn how?” might be no.
No one who is sincerely interested in playing or learning to play the piano is going to be put off by what you offer as a reason. There are multitudes of high quality, inexpensive, lightweight digital pianos available.
Perhaps I was not clear earlier. My comment was about "real", e.g. non-digital, pianos.

RetiredCSProf
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by RetiredCSProf » Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:19 pm

I purchased a grand piano about four years ago. My son and I both play. My son's piano teacher recommended a piano warehouse about an hour's drive from our house. The teacher met us at the warehouse to help us choose. We narrowed our choice to three pianos:

(1) A 1920's Steinway with a completely new "engine" -- the action and sound was excellent, but the furniture style too traditional for my taste
(2) A slightly used Yamaha -- this was my first choice, but it was larger and more expensive than I had planned ($20K)
(3) A brand new Kawai -- this was my son's first choice -- he liked the sound; it was a good size for us; and the contemporary styling fits our home

We chose the Kawai -- I sometimes have buyer's remorse that I didn't spring for the more pricy Yamaha -- I just couldn't imagine that it would fit. The Kawai seems to go out of tune 10 minutes after the piano tuner leaves the house, but this is the nature of new pianos.

A few months after I purchased the Kawai, I noticed several ads on our local NextDoor for used pianos -- there were at least two that I think I would have liked. If you go that route, take a piano technician with you.

Hint: I contacted Steinway directly and told them I was thinking about purchasing one of their pianos. They mailed me a 2-D paper template to lay out in my living room to see which size would best fit the room.

catpepper
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Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by catpepper » Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:24 am

I would like to give a different suggestion since your wife is just giving virutal lessons at the moment.

I highly recommend you to go for a midi controller. They are basically an electronic piano without any sound and are just used to send midi signals to trigger sounds. The best ones in the market are from Studiologic https://www.studiologic-music.com/products/sl-grand/ . Their midi controllers are built to emulate the touch of an actual upright or grand piano.

Now that we have the touch out of the way. It's time to talk about the sound.

What you want are sound libraries. Sound libraries are emulation of an actual instrument which is achieved by recording every single note of the piano. A good library will capture different level of loudness and hardness as well as capturing the overtones and harmonics when certain notes are played together to replicate the sound of an actual piano. The best ones I have personally tried is Synthology https://www.amazon.com/Synthogy-Ivory-G ... B0042LKSXW . This particular one contains the Bosendorfer 290 Imperial Grand, Yamaha C7 and Steinway D 9" concert grand.

You may need to get an audio interface as your onboard PC or Mac's sound card might not be powerful enough, such as the Mackie Onyx Producer would be sufficient.

All you need to do is to hook up your midi controller and the audio interface to your computer then turn on the sound library and you're good to good.

Studiologic SL88 - ~USD$600
Synthology Ivory 2 - ~USD$300
Simple audio interface - ~USD$150

I'm pretty sure your wife will be much happier with such a setup that I think she'll achieve better performance with total cost at around USD$1000.

linuxizer
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:55 am

Re: Buying a new or used piano - advice needed

Post by linuxizer » Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:59 pm

catpepper wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:24 am
I would like to give a different suggestion since your wife is just giving virutal lessons at the moment.

I highly recommend you to go for a midi controller. They are basically an electronic piano without any sound and are just used to send midi signals to trigger sounds. The best ones in the market are from Studiologic https://www.studiologic-music.com/products/sl-grand/ . Their midi controllers are built to emulate the touch of an actual upright or grand piano.

Now that we have the touch out of the way. It's time to talk about the sound.

What you want are sound libraries. Sound libraries are emulation of an actual instrument which is achieved by recording every single note of the piano. A good library will capture different level of loudness and hardness as well as capturing the overtones and harmonics when certain notes are played together to replicate the sound of an actual piano. The best ones I have personally tried is Synthology https://www.amazon.com/Synthogy-Ivory-G ... B0042LKSXW . This particular one contains the Bosendorfer 290 Imperial Grand, Yamaha C7 and Steinway D 9" concert grand.

You may need to get an audio interface as your onboard PC or Mac's sound card might not be powerful enough, such as the Mackie Onyx Producer would be sufficient.

All you need to do is to hook up your midi controller and the audio interface to your computer then turn on the sound library and you're good to good.

Studiologic SL88 - ~USD$600
Synthology Ivory 2 - ~USD$300
Simple audio interface - ~USD$150

I'm pretty sure your wife will be much happier with such a setup that I think she'll achieve better performance with total cost at around USD$1000.
And $500 for a pair of decent floorstanding speakers, and another $100-200 for a used amp to play, and some serious $$$ in your time fiddling with the solution.

This sounds fun, and maybe the best-sounding solution overall, but not a good solution for everyday playing for most people.

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