Learn this well.. There is no such thing as a free piano! A piano needs to be serviced. The older it is the more service it needs. The average cost of moving an upright pianos is between $250 - $350 depending on distance steps etc. The average cost of moving a Grand piano is between $300 - $400 excluding extreme steps bad terrain and other obstacles. The average cost of tuning a piano is between $100 - $150.00 baring any repairs and major adjustments. So expect to pay and average of $400 - $600 for a free piano.
But someone will say, I will move it myself in my pickup truck. I have seen many do that and then have to pay more for the damages they made in the move. If you rent the equipment to move the piano the way you should expect to pay the same amount more or less. If you are fortunate to have an army of men and a truck and the time, you may be able to move the piano but it still will need to be tuned and repaired. Which will cost between $150 –$200.
Now having said all this, we get calls all the time from people who want to sell us a piano that they think is worth $1000 or less. However after factoring in the costs after we pick up the piano and after we deliver the piano and repair and tune the piano we will have on a average $400 - $600 invested in the piano. So realistically it is not worth it for us to buy a piano that we can only sell for under $1000. Most of the time we have to charge people to remove these pianos because if we sell them for $500 - $800 we have just broken even in our labor invested in them. Sometimes certain pianos we will remove for free figuring they are a nice instrument and worth investing our labor and time into to have a nice starter piano for a family under $1000.00
What pianos then do we buy. We are interested in older Steinway and Mason Hamlin pianos and sometimes Baldwin pianos. We at times buy newer style Yamaha, Baldwin, Kawai pianos. We will at times purchase a newer style grand but it would have to be considerable less than what we would pay for the same piano new. At times we do take pianos in on consignment. This is a good way of getting a higher dollar for your piano without having the expense and waist of time of advertising the piano.
One of the reasons older upright pianos have dropped in value is because of the advancement and improvements of the newer higher quality digital pianos. To learn more about this read my article about digital pianos verses acoustic pianos. "Digital Pianos, Facts or Fiction."
I hope this article has been helpful to you. Many times before investing in a free piano or buying a piano from a consumer it would be wise to contact us. We often have a piano for less than what it is going to cost you to move, repair and tune that free piano. Most often when you buy a piano for $200 - $1000 you will have more in it than what we could have sold you a better instrument for.
However if you do purchase a piano outright and choose to hire us to move it for you.. we often will look at it to make sure there is nothing major wrong with it before it is moved. At times clients have found a good instrument for a good value and asked us to look it over before moving it. There have been many cases where we have given these instruments a thumbs up for the client who in turn feel a lot better about their purchase. It is the horror stories that I am trying to get you to be careful of. We tend to see more horror than happy endings.
I am thinking of clients who have invested over a $1000.00 in moving and repairs on an older beautiful upright (cabinet wise) that was given to them only to get an inferior piano to one that we could have delivered to their home in tune for about $800.00. In fact the piano that was given to them would have ended up in our burn pile pretty cabinet and all.
A average acoustic piano has about over 15,000 parts of these 6000 parts move and wear out and in time can need repair. The older they get the more out of adjustment they become. The average piano has 220 tuning pins that need to be turned, and often in time these pins get loose and will not hold the strings in tune very long. So the older pianos can go out of tune a month or even a few weeks or days after it has been tuned. This is why I often recommend clients to trade in that old upright for one of the digital pianos we carry which never need to be tuned. Again read my article entitled "Digital Pianos, Facts or Fiction." Also if you buy a digital piano most times we include a free removal of that old upright. This will save you $200 – 300 alone in haul off and removal fees if that old upright is not worth tuning and fixing.
We are here to help and would be happy to help you in your quest to get the right instrument for your family. Feel free to contact us to learn more.
Frank Bissol (Owner of Piano Depot)