Safely Buying a Piano on the Internet

How to Safely Buy a Piano on the Internet

If you only read the next sentence, you will eliminate fraud and deceptive practices 100%

Always under every circumstance, hire a non-affiliated (to the seller) piano technician to inspect the piano before ANY purchase.

Here are some red flags:

Price is too good to be true.

Piano is claimed to be ‘rebuilt’ ( an honest rebuild on a 100 year old piano is usually at least $20,000.00 and often much more).

Piano seller does not endorse an inspection and tries to prevent it.


Cracked pinblock

A typical pinblock after the cast iron plate has been removed. This will not hold the piano in tune

Often, beautiful looking pianos will have been infested with mice, moths, or have had serious structural glue failures or cracks which cannot be seen. Some of these problems may render the piano useless, others mean a possible expensive repair. If you cannot recognize the signs of these problems, get someone who can.

Other issues are with private sellers. Most private sellers are well meaning. However, after thousands of inspections, I have learned that the piano is usually 2 to 3 times older than they think, and has not been serviced. They are usually described as being in ‘mint’ condition or ‘beautiful’. This usually refers to the cabinet only. Unfortunately, a piano is a beautiful piece of furniture, but its main function is of a complex musical instrument made of thousands of parts. These parts wear and fail over time, wood dries and cracks, felt gets damaged by pests.


A new pinblock

A new pinblock under construction

Here are some things you can check out on your own before calling in an inspection:

1) Look at the keys. They should look even across the keyboard.

2) Press a black key. If it goes below or level with the white key, this is a red flag for sloppy work.

3) Get a simple guitar tuning app for your phone. Play middle C. It should come very close to middle C. If not, the piano needs extra work and has not been serviced for decades.

4) Play each note, black and white softly. They should all play. A little sluggishness may be OK.

5) If an upright, look at the back of the piano, if it is a grand, look underneath. The big wooden panel is the soundboard. Cracks are usually not a problem. Look for cracks that have become unglued, or a lot of screws put there. This may indicate more serious problems.

6) Try to play some simple songs. If it is badly, or wildly out of tune, the piano may have serious structural problems.


Here are some good online resources to checkout before you purchase