Before you buy new…
Originally posted on 02/05/2013 11:56
We’ve touched on this issue briefly in other parts of the site, but as it’s something that keeps coming up, we thought it best to point it out here as well. When dealing with older, run-down and generally neglected pianos, we often get asked “Is it worth fixing?”. Often, the answer will be a clear and simple “NO”. This is most often the case with entry level instruments of lower quality, and some solidly built, but poorly designed pianos that have complicated action and damper set-ups that require work that would surely cost more than the value of the instrument itself. Be aware of such pianos when scanning the classifieds for a “good deal”. Often, we’ll get called to repair such newly acquired instruments, only to have to tell the customer that their piano is beyond tunability and repair, making their seemingly amazing $500 investment a complete write-off.
Then there are the pianos worth saving. In general, any quality brand name North American or European made antique upright or grand piano made of solid wood and properly constructed is worth another look. While on the surface the cost of completely restoring such an instrument might seem high, it will be a far cry from the tens of thousands of dollars more one would pay to get an instrument of similar quality new. While a thorough repair job may be in the same neighbourhood as the cost of a brand new entry level piano, the quality and useful life of the instruments simply do not compare. As the old saying goes “You get what you pay for”. In this case, a new piano at that price level will almost definitely be made of composit materials, and not solid wood. These instruments have been known to last as little as ten years before requiring work normally reserved for instruments much older. Properly restoring a well-built brand name antique will not only bring you many more years of playing bliss, it will also retain the value of the restoration in terms of re-sale value, and will provide you with a good-as-new high-end piano at the cost of an entry level clunker.