Thomson Piano Works
Serving Northern New Jersey with piano
restoration, sales, storage, tuning & repair

Piano Related Products & Services

Click on the links below for information about local music retailers, piano teachers, and piano movers. There is also a buying guide for purchasing used pianos as well as a catalogue of piano related products. If you are a local teacher or retailer and would like your service added to this free list please contact us

Buying A Used Piano

Common Sense Guideline for Buying a Used Piano

Why buy a used piano?

  • A good used piano costs about half the price of a new one.
  • Even the most cheaply made piano will last a long time
  • Any well maintained piano should last 50 or 60 years
  • Older pianos were often manufactured with high quality materials that are no longer available.

Piano rules of thumb

  • There are two basic types of pianos – grand and upright
  • Grand pianos sit on three legs and their string are horizontally opposed.
  • Upright pianos are also called vertical piano because their strings are vertically opposed
  • Grand pianos are preferred by musicians because the keys and hammers are forced back to rest position by gravity, while upright keys and hammers are brought to rest by springs making them somewhat less responsive to the touch
  • Most Grands are 5’ – 9’ long.
  • Most Uprights are 36” – 54” tall
  • The larger the piano the better the sound (and the more expensive)
  • Grand pianos shorter than 5′ are seriously compromised in the quality of tone they can produce
  • Keys are made of pine and covered in either ivory and ebony (older pianos) or plastic (newer pianos)
  • The most common finishes are ebony, walnut, and mahogany
  • Pianos do not improve with age and use. Pianos that are 10 – 20 years old and well maintained are generally in very good condition. Pianos that are 30 – 50 usually require many repairs and adjustments to the existing parts. Pianos that are 60 years and older usually require replacement of critical structural components and parts.

Where to find used pianos

  • New piano dealers – these instruments are often trade-ins that have received little attention
  • On-line – there are many websites that offer to connect buyers to sellers
  • Piano technicians – pianos that have been purchased and reconditioned or restored for resale
  • Local classified adds – often available at lower prices but you have to assume all extra expenses
  • Friends and neighbors – often for “free” but hardly ever really free

Looking at a piano for sale

  • Determine the brand it is
  • Find the serial number which will tell you the piano’s age – usually a 5 or 6 digit number. On uprights it’s usually visible by lifting the lid on top of the piano. On grands look for it printed on the cast iron plate under the sliding music desk
  • Ask when the piano was last serviced
  • Ask if it has had major work done to it.
  • Play the keys and listen to the tone and decide if you like it
  • Make sure all the keys actually move and make a sound.
  • One or two notes that sound really out of tune may indicate serious internal problems
  • Examine the condition of the finish. It can often indicate how well the piano was maintained
  • Lift the lid (on grands) and examine the condition of the strings (for corrosion or missing strings), bridges and sound board (for cracks or separations)
  • Where the piano is located can tell you a lot about it’s condition. Is it in the garage (bad), basement (not good), the living room (great)?

Buying a piano

  • Depending on where you are purchasing the piano there can be many hidden associated expenses
  • A dealer or technician should offer to move the piano and tune it for you at least once, and guarantee its condition
  • In a private sale you will need to move it yourself or hire a mover, and have the piano examined, tuned, and repaired, if necessary, all at your own expense.

Once you have found a piano that fits your needs, we can make sure everything checks out

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