What to Look for When Buying a Used Piano

Whether it’s your first instrument or an upgrade, purchasing a piano is an exciting decision. While many people opt for new pianos, there are several compelling reasons why others choose to buy used pianos instead. What to look for when buying a used piano?

In this article, we’ll explore several essential factors to ensure you make an educated purchase decision. Additionally, we’ll also share some of the key motivations behind purchasing a used piano.

Why Do People Buy Used Pianos?

Used pianos

The decision to purchase a piano is a significant one. Although shiny brand-new pianos are attractive, there are imperative reasons why many people choose to buy used pianos instead.

Buying a used piano can be a practical and fulfilling choice for various individuals, from professional pianists to music enthusiasts and beginners. Let’s explore some primary motivations behind why people buy used pianos.

Cost Effectiveness

One of the most apparent reasons people consider buying a used piano is the cost. Purchasing a brand-new piano, especially one of high quality, can be a substantial financial investment.

Used pianos, on the other hand, generally come with a lower price tag. Individuals can often find pianos in good condition at significantly reduced prices by choosing a used instrument, making it a more budget-friendly option.

Certain piano brands and models have established a strong reputation for their sound, performance, and durability. However, new pianos from these brands can be expensive and may only fit some people’s budgets. Buying used allows individuals to access these reputable brands and models more cheaply. It provides an avenue for aspiring musicians to own an instrument they may not have been able to afford otherwise.

Another cost that should also be taken into consideration is the delivery expense. Always check with the seller to see if they can cover the delivery because moving a piano can be expensive.

Quality and Craftsmanship

Many older pianos were crafted during eras when craftsmanship and attention to detail were highly valued. Instruments from reputable manufacturers can showcase exceptional build quality and produce superior sound.

Used pianos from established brands often feature high-quality materials and traditional construction techniques that may be challenging to replicate in modern production. This aspect makes used pianos an attractive choice for those seeking well-crafted instruments.

Vintage Character and Uniqueness

Vintage pianos carry a unique charm and character that resonates with many people. These instruments often possess distinct design features, intricate cabinetry, and a mature tone that develops over time.

The nostalgic appeal of vintage pianos can evoke a sense of history and tradition, appealing to musicians and enthusiasts who appreciate the connection with the past. Moreover, certain models and designs may no longer be in production, making used pianos the only way to acquire these unique instruments.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Piano

upright piano insight

When buying a used piano, especially an acoustic piano, several essential factors must be considered to ensure you make a wise purchase.

Here are some things to look for when buying a used piano –

Brand and Model

Research the brand and model of the piano to understand its reputation for quality and durability. Some well-known brands include Steinway & Sons, Yamaha, Kawai, and Baldwin, but there are many reputable manufacturers to consider.

Overall Condition

Examine the piano’s exterior for any signs of damage, such as scratches, dents, or discoloration. Check for any structural issues like warping or loose parts.

It’s also crucial to inspect the internal components, including the soundboard, strings, hammers, and action mechanism, for wear and tear.

Tuning Stability

Play each key to assess the piano’s tuning stability. Listen for any unusual buzzing, rattling, or muted sounds that may indicate internal problems.

If possible, have a professional piano technician check the piano’s tuning stability and overall condition.

Age and History

Inquire about the piano’s age, as older pianos may require more maintenance and repairs. It’s also helpful to know the piano’s history, including previous owners, maintenance records, and the environment in which it was stored.

Sound and Action

Play various notes and chords across the keyboard to evaluate the piano’s sound quality. Listen for a rich, balanced tone and assess if it suits your musical preferences and needs.

Assess the responsiveness and touch of the keys. The piano action should feel smooth and consistent across all keys. Uneven or sluggish keys may require costly repairs.

Pedals and Other Features

Check the pedals to ensure they are functional and responsive. Some pianos may have additional features like a practice mute, which can be beneficial for practicing in a shared living space.

Piano Size

Consider the size of the piano and ensure it fits comfortably in your intended space. Remember that larger pianos generally produce a fuller sound, but they also require more room.

A Note About Piano with Ivory Keys

Some old pianos may come with ivory keys. There are ways to check if the keys are ivory.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) enacted legislation prohibiting the purchase, sale, interstate transportation, or international export of items containing genuine ivory. This restriction includes pianos featuring ivory keytops.

What to Consider When Buying a Used Digital Piano?


When talking about “what to look for when buying a used piano,” we should not forget used digital pianos. The considerations above are mostly applicable to purchase used acoustic pianos. When you are buying a used digital piano, there are a few other things to examine.

Technology and Features

Evaluate the available features, sound quality, key action, and functionality of the digital piano. Consider factors such as the number and quality of built-in sounds, effects, connectivity options, and the user interface.

Age and Technology

Determine the age of the digital piano and research the technology it utilizes. Older models may lack the advancements and updated features found in newer ones.

Condition and Maintenance

Check for any physical damages or malfunctions, such as broken keys, non-responsive buttons, or faulty connections. Inquire about the maintenance history, including any software updates or repairs that have been performed.

Portability and Space

Consider the size, weight, and portability of the digital piano if you plan to move or travel with it frequently. Also, assess if it fits well within the available space in your home or studio.

Where to Buy Used Pianos?

There are several places where you can buy a secondhand piano. Here are some common options available:

Piano Dealers

Visit local piano dealerships that specialize in both new and used pianos. They often have a selection of pre-owned pianos that have been inspected, refurbished and are ready for sale.

Dealerships may offer a limited warranty that covers certain components or repairs for a specific period of time. However, it’s important to carefully read and understand the terms of the warranty before making a purchase, as they can vary significantly.

Private Sellers and Online Marketplaces

Look for advertisements in local classified ads, online marketplaces, or community bulletin boards. Private sellers can offer a range of used pianos at different price points. Still, when buying from a private seller, it’s important to thoroughly inspect the piano and, if possible, have a professional evaluate its condition.

Websites such as eBay, Craigslist, or dedicated online piano marketplaces provide a wide range of options for buying used pianos. On the other hand, buying online carries some risks, so make sure to research the seller’s reputation, ask for detailed information about the piano’s condition, and consider arranging an inspection or asking for additional photos.

It’s less common to receive a warranty from private sellers or online marketplaces. In these cases, the piano is typically sold “as-is,” meaning you assume responsibility for any repairs or maintenance needed after the purchase.

Auctions and Estate Sales

Keep an eye out for local auctions or estate sales that may include pianos. These events can sometimes offer used pianos at competitive prices. However, it’s essential to carefully evaluate the piano’s condition and consider any potential restoration costs before bidding or purchasing.

Piano Technicians

Piano technicians often have contacts or may know of pianos for sale. They can provide valuable advice and may even have restored pianos available for purchase. Consulting with a piano technician can be beneficial, as they can help you find a piano that suits your needs and budget.


Overall, in regards to what to look for when buying a used piano, whether acoustic or digital, it is important to thoroughly inspect the instrument, evaluate its condition, and ideally have it checked by a professional before making a final decision. A professional inspection can offer a comprehensive assessment of the piano’s condition and any potential repair or maintenance costs.

Another important facet is to research the market value of similar pianos to determine if the asking price is reasonable. Take into account factors like the piano’s age, condition, brand, and model.

In conclusion, both types of pianos require careful evaluation, but acoustic pianos focus more on the physical condition while buying digital pianos involves assessing the technological aspects and features.

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