I love pianos. I grew up with pianos and, along with Cooper Music, I honestly want to share that love with as many fellow piano enthusiasts as possible. There’s very little in life that can compare with what a piano can bring into your life: music, beauty, and a legacy that will last for decades.
Unfortunately, especially in the last few years as the economy took a downturn, there are a lot of deceptive piano prices and advertisements out there. Dealers are getting pinched, and they’re looking to find ways to move inventory, any way they can.
If you want to own a piano, you have to be a smart buyer. It’s easy to get ripped off for hundreds or thousands of dollars if you aren’t careful when you look at piano prices. So, we’ve put together a guide to some things to watch out for when you’re shopping for a piano.
How Retail Piano Prices Work
First, just a note on how piano pricing generally works. Much like with cars, the majority of piano sales are first made to dealers, who then resell them to you. The dealer buys straight from the manufacturer, then gives the piano a standard markup, which is generally around 30-40%. This might sound high, but remember: piano stores still have to cover employees and overhead, as well as constantly maintaining, tuning, and repairing their stock as needed. It’s not a cheap area of retail.
Never the less, also much like with cars, this gives you, the buyer, quite a bit of room to haggle. You can usually get at least 10% knocked off the price with some negotiating, and sometimes quite a bit more. You shouldn’t ever pay sticker price on a piano without at least attempting to get a better deal.
Used Piano Prices
The real problems when buying a piano come when you start looking at the used market. There are all kinds of sources: eBay, Craigslist, local ads, estate sales, and more. There are a lot of pianos for sale, and some of them could be a great buy.
However, if you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: Never shop for a used piano without having an expert with you. And never, ever, buy a piano sight unseen.
Again, just like with cars, a layman really has very little way of knowing how many “miles” the piano has on it, or just how well things have been maintained under the hood. You could probably spot obvious problems, such as cracks in the case or broken pins, but there is still a lot that would go unnoticed by anyone but a professional technician.
Even if you have to pay a little bit out of pocket to get someone to go along with you, it’s a small price to pay compared to the risk you’re running of taking home a clunker that will need serious restoration you didn’t know about at the time.
A Note On University Piano Prices
Finally, a word of warning: be careful when going to school or university music sales. While these often are completely legitimate, there has been an unfortunate rash of incidents where these sales only included a handful of used instruments and were, in fact, really about attempting to clearance new stock from local suppliers. These often include high-pressure sales tactics and misleading advertisements. Also the prices can be higher than in a store. There is also a considerable expence hauling a bunch of pianos to the college and taking them back to the store and the raises the price.
In short, caveat emptor is the rule of the day when you’re looking at piano prices. Your best defense is to be a good buyer: Be smart, know what piano prices are fair, and use common sense in your dealings. If it seems like a deal that’s too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Good luck!
Have you ever been on the wrong end of a shady piano deal? Share your experiences!