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20 year M500 Yamaha

Posted By: mercury3000

20 year M500 Yamaha - 11/30/12 03:19 PM

I am in the market for a 'middle of the range' upright for my 11 year old, who has been learning on a Clavinova for about 3 years. We found a 20 year old Yamaha M500, that is listed at $1600 on Craigslist. The piano is in reasonably good shape, and the single owner has paperwork confirming regular maintenance (tuning, some string replacements etc.).

Based on information I read online, this model is considered good, but by no means great. I also read that it will not hold its value after 20-30 years or so. Is 1600 (1850 after paying the movers) a decent price, or should I be offering less? I intend holding on to this for another 5-10 years - my daughter is a decent player and enjoys learning and playing music, but has no plans of getting into serious competitive performances. (At least as yet!)

Advice appreciated. Thanks!!
Posted By: MacDan

Re: 20 year M500 Yamaha - 11/30/12 06:09 PM

Price is relative.

Just as one would (should) do with a used car, find a competent piano technician to inspect it and give you their opinion on the condition and value. (A mechanic to inspect the used car, a piano technician to inspect the piano, of course!)

The local market can and does dictate prices, so someone who is actively involved in it will be best suited to determine its value and whether or not the price is fair.

Also, don't expect to recoup your money. It simply won't happen. Consider it a consumable in some respects, in that your child will derive value from the instrument over the time that they use it. That's not to say it will have no value when the time might come that you want to move up to another instrument or dispose of this one - it's just that looking at it as a possible investment in the range of value you are considering is not a realistic point of reference.

I live in Florida, where due to the large number of retirees in my area, it is not uncommon to see 4-5 baby grands come up on Craigslist every day - yes, I said every day! The number of uprights can be staggering at times!

This causes some really bizarre things to occur in prices, as you have everything from the realists ($100-$500 pianos) to those who have unrealistic expectations of value or are still looking at that invoice from 40 years ago and don't understand that pianos, like any mechanical device, age and wear as they get older. The only possible way one can sort through all of the "noise" and locate a good quality instrument at a fair price is through the use of a qualified piano technician that is in sync with the local market.

Anyway, before you fixate on price, locate a qualified piano technician and enlist their help in finding a good piano in your budget range. It's money well spent.

Posted By: Rickster

Re: 20 year M500 Yamaha - 12/01/12 12:40 PM

I agree with Dan about the value of hiring a good piano tech to inspect the piano before purchase. I also think the price is a tad high based on the age and model, but that is just my personal opinion. For just a little more $ you could likely buy a lot better pre-owned piano in todays market.

Good luck!

Posted By: PianoWorksATL

Re: 20 year M500 Yamaha - 12/01/12 04:49 PM

An M500 is mechanically solid and as good musically as any of the Yamaha consoles of the last 30 years. Mechanical condition (beyond what a layman can see) is the key to value. The price is not out of line for a good condition, private sale. Still, it is worth the inspection.

Afterwards, plan on investing a few hundred dollars on service. That's the difference between getting by and being happy.
Posted By: mercury3000

Re: 20 year M500 Yamaha - 12/04/12 07:50 PM

Thanks for the great advice folks.

My question was primarily about how well this piano will hold up over the next 10 years, assuming there are no major issues today. Based on the responses, looks like this is a decent piano to go forward with.
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: 20 year M500 Yamaha - 12/05/12 01:32 PM

Originally Posted by mercury3000
Thanks for the great advice folks.

My question was primarily about how well this piano will hold up over the next 10 years, assuming there are no major issues today. Based on the responses, looks like this is a decent piano to go forward with.

It really depends on the condition of what you're starting with. But since you've had a Clav for 3 years and you're looking to invest in something that will last for 10 years, why not save up a bit and buy new? That way you have a much better chance of it lasting.

The piano you're looking at is already 20 years old, and so you want to know if it will last until 30....that's something only a piano tech could tell you, but my guess is that is unlikely for two reasons:

1) It's already old by piano standards, so things will begin to fail and the expenses of maintenance/repairs will most likely be higher than a new piano under warranty.

2) Your daughter who has been studying for 3 years already has outgrown the digital. Getting an upright that is older and may be a good deal may not necessarily last her for the next 10 years. Chances are she will need a better upright (or ideally, a grand) in a few years if she continues to progress. So my advice is to buy the biggest, best piano you can at this time to allow for her to grow into.
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