Ask The Attic: What Is My Piano Worth?

Apr 28, 2023 by

What Is My Piano Worth? Negative $400 In Many Cases. And Yes, We Mean – $400. As In Minus $400.

People with great excitement in their voices call us all the time to ask how much we would pay them for their pianos. It’s one of our least favorite questions because it’s never fun to give people bad news.

Most pianos are really bad news. Their value is usually a negative number. You don’t get money from selling your piano; you pay money to get rid of it. The quicker you accept this reality, the faster you’ll be able to part with yours. This is true whether we’re talking about upright pianos or baby grand pianos. (Don’t even bother asking about organs.)

The overwhelming majority of people who call us about such a boat anchor tell me it hasn’t been played in years to decades and that it isn’t in tune. By a pianist’s standards, this means poor condition. Very few people want to go through the expense of moving a piano and paying to get it tuned when they can find them in good working order all over the place.

There are other factors in the negative value of many pianos. Few people want them. Few people have room in their houses for them. The few people who do want them generally prefer shiny new ones in perfect working order.

I generally have to respond to the question of what is my piano worth by advising people to call a professional piano mover to remove the unwanted item. That typically costs $400 to $500 with the companies we’ve used.

It’s important to hire professional piano movers instead of trying to move the boulders yourself. In addition to the obvious challenges presented by the weight, they’re also very dangerous to handle — especially baby grands and grands. Snap a string and say goodbye to a finger or a whole hand. Drop one and say goodbye to your favorite toes. I’m not sure exactly what piano movers do with them but I suspect they at least try to salvage parts and then send the rest to the great composer in the sky.

People put up a fuss when I deliver the bad news.

“But you can donate them to a church,” they say.

“No ma’am, I can’t,” I reply. “Churches have enough pianos already and they don’t need to pay to move one that’s not even in tune.”

“But you can donate them to a charity,” they retort.

“No ma’am, I can’t. Charities almost never take pianos. I’ve been able to donate one in the past twelve years.” I’ve even called The Beethoven Foundation, which allegedly accepts piano donations. It has never once returned any of my inquiries, and likely only responds to people looking to donate very high-end pianos.

“But you could take my piano to an auction house, right?”

“No ma’am, I can’t. There’s no money in it for them. No one wants them. They get paid on commission.”

“But you could put my piano on something like Facebook Marketplace or Freecycle and help me give it away.”

“That hasn’t worked once for us but you’re more than welcome to give it a shot.”

“Piano stores?”

“No ma’am. They have enough great instruments already. They don’t need an old one that needs work.”

If you’ve got a GREAT piano in perfect working condition that’s worth $10,000 or more, you’re much more likely to find a buyer than you are for your old piano, even if it is in tune.

If you don’t, just call your local piano mover and let that company haul it away. There’s just nothing we can do with it.

Do you have questions about your antiques and collectibles? Got some great stuff including high-end collectibles that you would like to sell? Need a full estate liquidation and home cleanout? Contact us today!

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