How NOT to buy an used piano

Be mindful when buying pianos from music schools

I used to teach in many private music schools and I know how poorly maintained most of their pianos were. There were no tunings, hardly any regulations. To put it more simply, would you want to buy an used and badly maintained taxi to be your family car? These pianos are being played on almost round the clock by teachers and students which translates to huge wear and tear on the piano mechanisms. If there is no refurbishment procedures and regulation be done after you purchase their piano, think twice.

Some cheap pianos might be huge ripoffs

Many years ago when I teach part-time in a private music school, I was always the one who helped the school choosing used pianos from some dealers for reselling purposes. The pianos were generally cheaper. They seem to be nice from the outside and occasionally some might just be your cup of tea. After visiting them many times I noticed that the way they ‘refurbish’ the pianos is no more than blowing off the dust, polishing the keys and shining up the exterior. A piano just got traded in in the morning can be sold to another parent in the early afternoon and was told that the piano had been fully refurbished and regulated. There was another time when a dealer just bought over a used white piano for S$100, he shined the exterior and sold it for S$2700. Sounds shocking? My advice is, no matter how cheap the piano is, if it’s not worth the money that you are paying, it is then very expensive and has a very low reselling value.

Buy from the shop owner, not from the sales personnel

Believe it or not, many piano shop owners were used to be in the field that is completely unrelated to the piano industry. They need to pay their sales personnels high commissions to help selling off the pianos. This means that a big chunk of the price you are paying for your piano will be the employee’s commission. Moreover, It is harder to bargain with the sales since they want to keep as high of the commission as possible.

If they claim that the pianos were imported from overseas, always ask for shipping invoices

I have a friend who told me her unpleasant story of buying a new piano and ended up found tons of junks and dirt inside the piano cabinet. The dealer told her that the piano was a brand new import from Japan. In reality, the piano was actually a local traded in and heavily used one. She then asked for the shipping invoice from the dealer who simply didn’t have anything to show, which says everything about this scam.

A lot of the times when the dealer claim that their pianos were handpicked and imported directly from overseas, you must be smart enough to ask to see their shipping invoices. If they really did import the piano from overseas, they will always keep the shipping invoice handy to show to the customers. If they lied, you would probably start to hear loads of excuses.