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#2025277 - 02/01/13 01:07 PM Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy.  
Joined: Feb 2013
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flippo Offline
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I am in the process of shopping for a used (probably Craigslist) piano for my son to use for Music Therapy, and was hoping for some shopping advice. Any help is appreciated.

Nobody in our house can play, but right now, his music therapist isn't doing anything more advanced than singing, and banging "two black keys", which we can handle. We don't know how good my son's 'ear' is, since he is mostly nonverbal. An electric is out - our MT recommends acoustic for music therapy, and if my son figures out the machine can play on it's own, our chances of getting him to use it for therapy are over.

I am looking at used Spinets, and watched/read a few basic "How to inspect a used piano" videos/articles on the internet. So far, I have a choice of three, and I'm not sure which is better, or if I should hold out for something else.

Option 1: Whitney/Kimball for $550 from retail piano store.
This is a Whitney/Kimball spinet which they haven't refurbished yet. The case is a little beat up, but I don't care about the asthetics of it - my kid will beat on it anyway. They have said they would restore the inerts and make it play well, but from my inspection, right now, it's rough. The hammers were pretty misaligned, and it needs regulation. The dampers were similarly off. I didn't open the bottom panel. The advantage of this one is that it would be 'professionally' fixed and tuned as part of the price, and would include a 1-year warranty. This is significantly less than the 'ready to go' spinets for sale in their store, but they offered this up to me when I explained my situation, what I was doing, and their basic competition (craigslist).
$450 for piano, $100 to move, comes pre-tuned.

Option 2: Baldwin Acrosonic for $475 from Craigslist
This is a Baldwin Acrosonic, one of those flat deep brown ones a that looks like this: http://www.piano-play-it.com/baldwin-acrosonic-piano.html. It looks much nicer than the Whitney. I inspected it.
- $190 for piano, $165 for professional moving, and $120 for 'major' tuning.
- One of the front legs is loose, but it looks like that leg is not weight bearing, and looks like an easy fix.
- The casing is a little beat up, but still looks decent - better than the Whitney.
- Some of the white keys in front are chipped a bit. Just the overlay part that 'sticks out' past the end of the keys. I don't consider that a big deal.
- The hammers look fairly unworn, and are a bit off in terms of distance from each other, but again, better than the whitney.
- The lower board was dusty (though just cobwebs), and smelled OK.
- The bridge was straight, and the pedals all worked (at least they shoved up the sticks they were supposed to shove up)
- The backboard was solid.
- The keys were all level and none looked or felt off.

Option 3: $485 for a Baldwin Acrosonic from Craigslist
- Inspecting tomorrow.
- $295 for piano + $50 for seller to move + $140 for 'major' tuning.

Last edited by flippo; 02/01/13 04:19 PM.
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#2025528 - 02/01/13 08:10 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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malkin Offline
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I am wondering what goals have been set for your son in his Music Therapy, and also if your therapist is a board certified MT. Requiring a family to purchase a piano seems a little unusual to me.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2025543 - 02/01/13 08:30 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: malkin]  
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flippo Offline
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This isn't a requirement, or even a suggestion on her part. She is with a MT with significant training in neurologic MT and has goals, yes, but due to his behavioral therapy schedule, he only gets about 1/2 to 1 hour of MT a week, which isn't having much of an effect.

We want to be able to supplement and reinforce at home, and that is the reason for the piano.

She is actually our third MT.
- We fired one because we didn't think she was effective.
- One fired us because we discussed the techniques she was using and goals, and didn't really like the scrutiny. (It seemed she was trying to do behavioral therapy with music rather than music therapy - he gets 39 hours of behavioral a week, so I didn't feel that an extra hour done badly would have any effect. I mentioned that and she suggested we find another MT)

Either way, I would like to get back on topic on how to pick a 'good enough' piano from the ones I have found. Right now, I'm leaning toward the Acrosonic because I have heard they are generally much more durable than a Whitney. It certainly looks better/prettier. But, the Whitney will be professionally fixed and come with a warranty...

Last edited by flippo; 02/01/13 08:32 PM.
#2025565 - 02/01/13 09:03 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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Steven Y. A. Offline
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Toronto
under 1k budget I would suggest a nice digital keyboard.
Yamaha P95 or P105
http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-P95B-D...66936&sr=8-1&keywords=yamaha+p95



PLEYEL P124
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#2025572 - 02/01/13 09:18 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014
Minnesota Marty  Offline

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Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
There is no doubt that the build quality of an Acrosonic exceeds that of a Whitney. The Acros are very durable little pianos.

Do you have a friend who plays and can do at least a cursory inspection and find out if everything is working properly? You are purchasing at a very minimal cost and you cannot expect perfection. Playability is what is important. What works best for your son is the most important consideration.

Even though the Whitney would come "pre-tuned" from the dealership, it will need to be retuned once it acclimates to your home environment anyway.

Good luck and feel free to ask any question.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2025583 - 02/01/13 09:40 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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flippo Offline
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Thank you Marty - that is helpful.

Unfortunately, I don't have a friend that plays well enough that I would use them for their opinion.

If I buy the craigslist piano, I am hiring a local piano tech to inspect, move, and tune the piano. If it fails his inspection, he goes home without moving/tuning and I pay for that. If I buy the move/tune, the inspection is included.

With the retail piano, they repair/move/tune, so I don't really have an independent opinion.

I certainly don't expect perfection. If the case is banged up and/or it has cosmetic defects, I don't care (and all of the pianos I am looking at have these issues). I just want to know that it will play 'good enough' and be durable enough to handle the abuse my kid will dish out. To be honest, the one craigslist piano I inspected was much better than what I was expecting.

Hearing that Acrosonics are more durable, for that reason, goes a long way.

Another issue is that we don't know how good my son's ear is - he's mostly nonverbal. However, I do know that if you play atonal music on the radio (matchbox 20), he hates it. He prefers show tunes.

Last edited by flippo; 02/01/13 09:49 PM.
#2025588 - 02/01/13 09:47 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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Minnesota Marty Offline

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Minnesota Marty  Offline

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Hi Flippo,

You are being treated well by the Tech/Tuner/Mover and received a very satisfactory way to proceed. That seems like the best insurance you could get.

Well, the Acro is known to suffer abuse kindly!

Good Luck and keep us posted.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2025603 - 02/01/13 10:15 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: Steven Y. A.]  
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flippo Offline
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flippo  Offline
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Originally Posted by Steven Y. A.
under 1k budget I would suggest a nice digital keyboard.
Yamaha P95 or P105
http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-P95B-D...66936&sr=8-1&keywords=yamaha+p95


Unfortunately, a digital is a no-go. We already have a cheap keyboard. Once he figures out that the piano can play itself, it's use as a therapy tool ends. He LOVES demo mode.

Also, the MT strongly recommends acoustic for kiddies with sensory issues. Something about the reverberation and feel of the kick board that they tend to respond to (I don't totally understand that, but I trust her judgement).

#2025609 - 02/01/13 10:25 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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malkin Offline
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Thanks for the clarification flippo. I'm a speech-language pathologist working full time with kids with autism, I agree with your MT about the sound and feel of an acoustic piano rather than digital. (I like the whole Waldorf idea about natural materials too, but I can't go overboard with that.)

Good luck with your search and best wishes to your son!


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2025623 - 02/01/13 10:56 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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PianoWorksATL Offline
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Atlanta, GA
Yamaha does make a model P35B digital piano, and without the manual, you'd have to get very lucky to find the demo as it isn't marked anywhere. The only way to activate it is to hold down the function and certain unmarked keys at the same time. I didn't even know it had a demo feature until Yamaha sent us a display sticker for the showroom.

You'd have to decide how likely it is that he'd defeat it, but it's as basic as any weighted digital gets and its ~$450. Korg's SP170s is also very sparse with its buttons.

I don't think I like the Whitney. If a dealer wasn't selling it and offering some services, its value would probably be $0.


Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
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#2025751 - 02/02/13 07:40 AM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: PianoWorksATL]  
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flippo Offline
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Thanks everyone for the help.

I'm definately sticking with my original plan of only looking at Craigslist Baldwins (Mostly Acrosonics, and a Howard).

The dealer was trying to talk me into the Whitney and sold-up his services as value add, which admittedly are significant - they do professionally restore.

However, from what you and other sources are telling me, comparing a Whitney to an Acrosonic is a bit like comparing a 10-year old old Neon or Passat to a Civic or Corolla. The Civic/Corollas are clearly better built, and the Neon/Passat would likely give you nothing but repair bills.

I would never buy a used Chrysler or VW (at least not again, but that's a lesson learned).

Last edited by flippo; 02/02/13 08:43 AM.
#2025882 - 02/02/13 01:24 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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flippo Offline
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I just saw today's Acrosonic ($485, delivered and tuned), and to my surprise, it is a console. I didn't even know those existed.

In comparison to the other Acrosonic ($475, delivered and tuned)

Which piano is likely to be more durable?

The 40s Spinet:
- Cabinet much prettier. I think it is deeper, but definately not as tall. Gorgeous dark red/brown finish and woodwork (not in great shape, but well-done and ornate originally).
- Keys more beaten up.
- Older (probably 1940s)
- Seems in good condition, as described earlier.
- $485 price includes inspection, delivery and tuning by a piano tech. Actual piano cost is $190.

The 1984 Console:
- $495 price includes move and tuning, but not inspection. Actual piano cost is $295, the seller delivers for $50, and heavy tuning is $140. If I buy an inspection, that will be extra (have not quoted that service).
- Built in 1984 (from serial lookup)
- Looks like this (not the actual piano - stock photo): http://www.pianosolutions.net/usedpianos/photos/July2012/0712Image020.jpg
- Being a console messed up my inspection a bit, as I only studied where parts were on a spinet. All the bridge parts were metal.
- Cabinet in good shape, plays well, all keys work.
- Hammers more aligned vertically (equally spaced), but less aligned horizonally (top of hammers don't all line up) when compared to spinet.
- Under kick plate and top were cleaner than expected. Not decades of dust - maybe months or a year of dust. Certainly cleaner than any computer I have ever opened.
- Not as pretty originally, but finish in better condition. Kick plate had some peeling varnish/stain.

#2025906 - 02/02/13 02:23 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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Minnesota Marty Offline

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Durability would be the same, with the coin toss going to the newer instrument. The console will give better sound and the action is better than a spinet drop action.

Can you get the same deal with your tech/tuner/mover if you buy the console?


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2025908 - 02/02/13 02:25 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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Console - easy choice for several reasons. Age, action and sound potential all offer advantage to a console.


Sam Bennett
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#2025940 - 02/02/13 03:53 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: Minnesota Marty]  
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flippo Offline
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Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Durability would be the same, with the Can you get the same deal with your tech/tuner/mover if you buy the console?

Unfortunately, no.

The thing that makes the console affordable is that the seller will move it for $50. The agreement with the piano tech is for a free inspect if I pay $165+ for the move and $100-120 or so for the tuning. Without the move, I would have to pay for an inspect (which I still may decide to do). I also lose the $20 discount off the tune for doing the move and tune at the same time.

And yes, the piano tech did do his job and tell me that doing the move and tune at the same time isn't as good as letting the piano sit in the new environment for awhile first, but given my needs (not perfection), and that the piano was stored inside by the seller, would probably be OK.

#2026342 - 02/03/13 03:04 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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flippo Offline
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Things just got a little more interesting.

Upon research, the seller (who works out of small home) has four pianos for sale on Craigslist (two Acrosonics, one Wurlitzer Spinet, and one organ). He didn't mention this during the inspection.

Clearly, he has a mini-used-piano-store business on the side.

If I pursue the console, I am DEFINITELY buying a detailed pre-purchase inspection from a piano tech. This guy probably has the skills required to hide issues from my cruddy inspection, and is less than completely open and honest.


Last edited by flippo; 02/03/13 03:19 PM.
#2029362 - 02/08/13 04:18 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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flippo Offline
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Thanks all,

Just took delivery on the 1984 Acrosonic Console and used an old water softener box to cover/wrap it for my son's birthday.

The inspector said it wasn't perfect, but pretty good. One issue with one set of bridge pins, but that was basically it. He says he may be able to repair that with some epoxy and clamps when I have it tuned in the spring if I decide to do that. A 'real fix' (replace the bridge) would be more than the piano is worth.

Either way, it only affects one note, one that is unlikely to be used much, and the problem is subtle enough that my untrained ear doesn't notice.

#2029367 - 02/08/13 04:37 PM Re: Advice on buying used piano for Music Therapy. [Re: flippo]  
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Minnesota Marty Offline

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Minnesota Marty  Offline

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Rochester MN
Congratulations!

I'm sure that it will fulfill the needs of your son nicely.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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