What to Do With Your Old Piano?

Are You Looking to Get Rid of Your Old Piano?
I know that most people would prefer to sell something rather than give it away or have to pay to have it removed. And if your piano is in reasonable condition with some life left in it that’s a fair way to pass it on to someone else.

BUT…

Depending on how old your piano is it may be worn out.

Unfortunately many old pianos are often worn out to the point that they are unplayable and would require way too much investment to bring them back to life, if they even can be restored you could easily be talking multiple thousands of $$$$ dollars! (A complete restoration of a Steinway grand performed by Steinway can run $30,000 – $40,000!).
The keys on your piano may all work, but the action (moving parts) are loose from years of wear and tear caused in part from many years of playing and exposure to changes in humidity and temperature.

As a piano tuner I am often tasked with trying to tune these older pianos, a challenge for sure. I run into tuning pins that are loose, action (all the moving parts inside) parts that are loose and wobble, bass strings that sound tubby (they tend to lose their tone over the years), and myriad other issues.
So unless your piano has been regularly maintained by a qualified piano tuner-technician you may want to bring in a piano tuner to assess the condition. And by all means, if you intend to sell the piano, have him/her tune it!

Has Your Piano Been Rebuilt?
There is a big difference between rebuilt and repaired.
A complete rebuild or restoration runs into multiple thousands of dollars and requires the piano be moved to the piano shop where it may take months to complete. A good restoration shop will typically replace all the strings, tuning pins, hammers, etc.
They may also replace the soundboard and pinblock (the block the tuning pins go into). Often they will replace the keytops and may replace or rebuild other components.

On the other hand a repair job, or a partial restoration will be limited to what you and your technician agree upon and is typically just enough to make the piano more playable but does not constitute a restoration/rebuild.

Where/How To Sell Your Piano
If your piano is still in decent playing condition, all notes work well, it can be tuned to pitch and hold its pitch for a reasonable amount of time you can try selling it online.
Be sure to post pictures with your ad, people will want to know what it looks like before they come to see it. You should include the Brand, Model, Serial Number, Age (if known, your tuner can help) and type (spinet, console, upright, baby grand, grand, etc.).

Advertise on:
Facebook Marketplace
Craig’s List
Local Shopping Guides
Piano World Forums http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3067096/instructions-selling-your-piano.html

Make sure the purchaser knows they are responsible for moving the piano. You may want to insist they hire a piano mover unless it’s a really simple move, still it can be tricky. (See https://pianoworld.com/piano-info/moving-a-piano/ )

But If It’s Old / Worn Out

If your piano is really old and/or in really bad shape, PLEASE don’t pawn if off on somebody else. Just pay to get rid of it and be done with it. It’s not fair to expect someone else to go through the trouble and expense of moving the piano only to find out it’s junk. And it isn’t fair to whoever was looking forward to having a piano to learn on and play.

Plus… You could be legally responsible if you claim the piano is ok when you sell it (see below).

Fitness for Purpose Law and Legal Definition

Fitness for purpose refers to the standard that must be met by a seller in the course of a business. Generally, when a buyer makes known to a seller the particular purpose for which the goods are bought, there is an implied condition that the goods are reasonably fit for that purpose (customer’s requirements, needs, or desires). (In other words, if someone wants to buy your piano so they can play it they assume the one you are selling them is in playable condition).

The principal of fitness for purpose is basic and must be present in the article supplied regardless of the limitations surrounding a sale by sample or by description.
If you knowingly sell someone an old piano that turns out to be junk you could be sued!

It Isn’t Fair

It’s also not fair to a budding piano player who is just starting out to saddle them with an instrument that is difficult to play, may not hold its tuning properly, and doesn’t sound that good even when it is tuned. A beginner needs all the help they can get from the instrument (whatever instrument that may be).
It is discouraging for someone starting out to have to slog through trying to get music out of an inferior instrument.
In many cases they will give up before they ever even have a chance to see if they would take to playing the instrument.

What Else Can You Do With Your Old Piano?

Well, you could upcycle it into a desk, bookcase, or bar.

piano desk Piano Desk 2

If you decide to dismantle it instead, make sure you take the tension of the strings. Yes, all 230 of them!
You might be able to get a few dollars for the cast iron plate (the last time I sold one as scrap I got about $12.00 for it). The plain wood could be burned, but I wouldn’t burn the cabinet wood as it’s usually stained and has lacquer or poly something on it, chemicals you don’t want to burn.

If you plan to take it to the dump or a recycling center, check with them first to be sure they will accept it.
If you need help taking the piano apart, consider hiring a piano tuner-tech. And remember, they are HEAVY! (see Moving a Piano ).
I know in the Portland Maine area Riverside Recycling accepts old pianos. They quoted me 6¢ per pound with a $20 minimum (cheap enough).

For lots more information about pianos, digital pianos, learning to play, piano parties, and much more, check out our world famous Piano Forums

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