Buying a grand piano
How many people have written articles about buying a piano? On the Web there are more than three dozen! What is so special about buying a piano?
Unless you are in the piano trade business, you will probably only buy one piano once in your life, if at all. Pianos become liabilities except for the kinds that are purchased for investment reasons. Because the market for second-hand pianos is not liquid, it is much harder to sell a piano than to buy one. That's why a piano becomes a liability for the space that it occupies as well as the opportunity cost of buying a better piano.
I wanted to write an article about buying a piano based on what I learned from my own experience. What could I possibly add to the three dozen articles on the Web? I decided to read those articles and find an angle not previously approached.
Most articles tell you what you need to know about pianos. After all, a piano is a complex musical instrument. You need to know what to look for and what to ask. There are many myths about pianos. Some advise only buying new pianos from piano shops. Others recommend restoring older pianos. Still others tell you to get a piano technician to assess second-hand pianos.
My parents bought a new Yamaha upright when I was eight years old so that my mother, my six year old sister, and I could learn to play it. There was no such thing as a second-hand piano in those days. We simply went to a Yamaha piano store and chose a console. For most people, such occasions (parents buying a piano for their children to learn) are the first time for piano purchase.
When the child grows up and wants to continue to play the piano, she will experience the second occasion for buying a piano. In my mid-twenties, I found myself with free time after work and an overwhelming desire to play the piano. Naturally I decided to look for a piano.
A small ad in a local shop window tempted me to call on the piano owner. She was more than happy to sell her inherited piano to me, minus 25 pounds, plus free transport. She needed the space for a cabinet. 50 pounds later, I bought my first upright piano in the house that I shared with the landlord and two housemates. I hired a blind piano tuner to tune it for 25 pounds.
The third common occasion for buying a piano occurs when the owner grows out or tired of the piano. I moved to my own flat and wanted a better piano. I gave my 50-pound upright to a friend who wanted to learn the piano. He never got past chopsticks but claimed that the piano was nice furniture in the dining room.
At some point, my piano took over my life. Instead of finding a piano to fit into my home and life, I had to find a home big enough for my piano. How many times I've moved for this reason! How long I've house-hunted for my piano! Come to think of it, I could write an entire book about my life with pianos.
6 July 2004 Tuesday