Time to part ways with your piano? Pianos are not like many other products, they are usually very large, heavy, and there are hundreds if not thousands of makes, models, and variants going back centuries. Preparing and selling a piano can be a considerable task. Believe us when we say we know!
Acoustic pianos in particular are heavy and delicate, moving these instruments safely is no easy task and often requires specialist intervention to be done safely. Likewise, because there is so much conflicting and fragmented information online about the sale of pianos, it can be difficult to know how much the instrument is worth.
Today we wanted to outline the right process of selling a piano and the options available to you to help make the right decision for you. Before we dive in, we also wanted to outline a few key questions to ask yourself BEFORE you begin the selling process.
Why Are You Selling The Instrument?
This is the first question to ask yourself and can often lead to a number of different avenues based on the answer, generally speaking we can split these into three categories: You are looking to buy a new instrument or part exchange your current instrument, you no longer use the instrument and want to sell it, or the instrument is broken or damaged and not cost effective to get repaired.
We’ll break these three avenues down in further detail later in this article and present which may be the best avenue for you, but it is a great starting point to begin considering.
What Type Of Piano Is It?
We have written a number of articles on this in the past, however it is a known fact that acoustic pianos generally hold their value better than that of digital pianos. Due to the fast changing speed of technology, much like televisions or laptops, digital pianos that are more than 3-5 years old are rarely worth part-exchanging.
Knowing the type of piano and the size and rough weight of the instrument is vital as it can dramatically increase the removal costs of the instrument. For example, having a grand piano on the second floor will be significantly more difficult (and expensive) to move than that of a lightweight digital piano on the ground floor so you will need to consider this in your costs of getting rid of the instrument.
This is worth noting as if the job is particularly difficult, an expert piano remover will be needed, read our guide to moving pianos safely here. If you have found a buyer, it is also worth noting in any agreements that are taken that you take no responsibility in the moving of the instrument, if the buyer does not want to use a specialist and the instrument is damaged in transit, make sure you have a written agreement so you are covered!
What Condition Is The Instrument In?
When we are talking about the condition of a piano, we are not only talking about the exterior of the instrument, but the interior components too.
We often hear from people looking to sell their instrument who describe it as ‘good and new’ or that it has been ‘barely played’, however when looking inside the instrument, it is visible that certain components such as the tapes or loops have completely deteriorated. As there are so many delicate parts inside an acoustic piano, it is easy to miss these, so we would often recommend getting the instrument serviced or inspected before trying to sell it, the tuner or technician will likely also be able to provide a rough valuation of the piano. Learn more about our tuning and technician service here.
This is also true for digital instruments and will need testing before trying to sell. Test if all of the keys work, if the speakers are functioning correctly or if there are any issues with the instrument. If certain components have blown and the instrument is rather old, then the instrument may not be financially viable to repair, read our guide to repairing digital instruments here. Learn more about how long digital pianos last as well as common issues here.
There are also a few things to note about instrument conditions that many often overlook when trying to sell their instruments, namely: Is the piano overstrung or under dampered? When was the instrument last tuned? Or are there any notable marks or signs of the instrument such as damp?
Now that we have covered these aspects, it is time to move onto the options for selling the instrument.
If You Are Looking To Purchase A New Instrument
If you are essentially looking to upgrade your piano, then a lesser known fact is that most piano dealers are able to either offer part-exchanges against pianos or will be able to dispose of your existing instrument for you upon delivery of the new one.
This is generally speaking the easiest kind of sale of a piano and definitely our forte at Millers and something we can certainly advise on in order to provide a valuation on your current instrument as well as an agreed price of what this instrument may be worth against your new one.
It is worth noting here that as a business, these offers are often lower than some expect due to the fact that we have to incorporate things such as VAT, delivery of the instrument, business administration and sale value of the instrument. As the dealer is ultimately taking all of the risk in whether or not the instrument will sell, the offer is usually lower than selling privately, however we essentially take away all of the hassle from you. This is also why we offer an investment guarantee on certain instruments purchased from us that ensure the value of the instrument should you choose to upgrade again in the future.
It is also worth noting that if you are looking to dispose of an old piano in order to replace it with a new one, that most piano carriers will be happy to arrange both delivery of the new piano and removal of the old one on the same day. If there is a short delay, it is also possible to temporarily rent a portable piano.
Selling Because You No Longer Play
Perhaps the best solution we are able to offer here, is to ask yourself, what made you stop? Or do you plan on learning again in the future? Piano is a fantastic hobby to have and is something that can be learned regardless of age or prior musical experience, we have many articles on learning piano as an adult here, or if it was your children learning who have decided to give up, here is an article about keeping learning engaging or another article about returning to the piano after a long hiatus.
If however you are looking to sell your piano, the best method here is usually to sell it privately online. There are a number of ways to do this and websites that you will be able to list your instrument on, the most common ones are: Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, Ebay and Reverb.
All of these websites have their pros and cons, so do be aware that you will likely encounter, haggling or particularly difficult requests and on certain listings such as Ebay, you do also pay seller fees in order to list. The main thing to consider here is whether or not the person will collect or arrange a collection of the piano as this is not a job you want to be sorting for them!
The same can be said for auction houses and other piano dealers, here it is important to note that the instrument may not sell for as much as you hope it will, but you will still need to cover the costs of delivery and selling fees. It is also worth doing some research into finding which brands certain dealers stock, for example if you have a Bluthner or Steinway piano that you are looking to sell, it is worth first enquiring with piano dealers who already deal with those products, for example at Millers we primarily only consider buying used instruments if they are: C.Bechstein, Kawai or specific well regarded historical brands such as Kemble or Knight.
Alternatively, if you simply want to see the instrument go to a good home, it is worth getting in touch with local community groups, schools or churches as they are almost always grateful for instruments such as these.
Selling Because The Instrument Is Not Repairable
There are two main options here, either take the hit and get the instrument disposed of or get the instrument repaired or if you are really lucky, you may know a budding piano technician who may be interested in fixing it up (however these are one in a million as fixing pianos is expensive work!)
If you do still play and would like to upgrade the instrument, in the same way as part exchanging an instrument, it is possible to arrange collection and disposal of your instrument and our showroom team are able to assist here.
We hope this article has offered some insight into the kinds of options when it comes to trying to sell a piano, if you would like further information, visit our sell my piano page here.