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I've been browsing this forum semi regularly for the last few year, casually in search of an affordable but nice piano to replace my very very old (1937) Hardman grand and have gotten a ton of great information along the way. One of the most commonly quoted pieces of advice is to always have a used piano checked out by a registered tech prior to purchasing. A week ago something good finally popped up on Craig's list. It was a late 90's Yamaha DC3 for under $6K. It was the right size, the right brand, the right age (trying to stay with pianos in the 20year old and younger range) and the right price range, so I immediately sent an email to the owner saying I was interested and got a prompt answer back including a picture of the original sales receipt showing that the owner had paid 31K for it back. Awesome! So I quickly responded back saying that I was very interested in purchasing and would like to come try it out ASAP. And then, because I try to be as honest as possible in CL exchanges I added this in: "full disclosure, this will be a 2 part process for me to purchase. First to come check out the piano and then to have my tech come out and check out the piano." Fully believing that my honesty in this exchange would be an indicator that I was an upstanding citizen, I sent the email full of hope and anticipation, and then waited for a response...and waited...and waited....Finally I sent a follow up email a day and a half later asking if I could set up a time and come see the piano and the owner responded back to say, sorry I've already sold it. This series of events can only lead me to believe that when hearing that it would take a small amount of extra time on their part, the owner decided to pass on my offer to come look at the piano and sold it to someone who either also recognized that it was a good deal and snatched it up quickly without having it inspected, or possessed enough knowledge about pianos (like a local dealer) to come out and purchase it on the first visit.

I'm curious how other's people have handled this in their used purchases. If you believe it's a good enough deal do you pay for a tech to come with you on the first purchase? Or don't mention anything about having a tech inspect it and only bring it up after you've determined that you like the piano during your initial visit? I'd hate to pay the tech to come out only to find out that the piano was a dud or I didn't like the pay it played our sounded.

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I don't intend to purchase an acoustic piano so I wouldn't be in this position myself, but it seems to me that if you're going to make a purchase in the tens-of-thousands range then paying someone a few hundred dollars potentially "for nothing" becomes a mere rounding error.

You could pay a tech $200 to come with you five times and your ultimate purchase price would be only $800 more than if you had done it another way. The question for you to decide is if that extra amount is worth paying to insure that you get the piano that you want and don't miss out on "the one"?


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I've had similar experiences while in the process of "upgrading" to a better piano, as my enjoyment of learning to play the piano has progressed.

Unfortunately, in the world of used pianos for sale, especially private sales, there are no rules, per-se, and usually the first prospective buyer with the money in hand gets the piano. But, yes, that was a super bargain on that Yamaha C3, and the lucky buyer recognized it immediately, and took action.

The idea of having a used piano inspected by a qualified tech is excellent advice, and highly recommended by members here, both general enthusiast (like me) and piano professionals. However, in a case like this, those who recognize a super bargain when they see it will jump on it ASAP, without an inspection; but if they know it is a super bargain, that means they usually know something about pianos in general.

I've seem some real bargain pianos listed for sale on CL sell the same day, and within a few hours of the ad listing, because they were exceptional bargains. Quite often, I would imagine, this is where many of the used piano dealers get their pre-owned inventory. This is the kind of thing they look for day in and day out.

So, when that very nice piano comes up for sale at a very good price, you have to act quickly or someone else will.

Another opportunity will come along, but in this case, it might be a while before a similar, quality grand, comes up for sale as such a good price.

Don't give up, and keep looking!

All the best!

Rick


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If the person who bought the piano didn't have it inspected, they didn't know it was a good deal unless they know far more than most about pianos. For all we know, the piano had serious issues.

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I would see and try the piano first. Then there are three possibilities.
1. If the piano seems okay to me, only then would I have a tech examine it.
2. If it seems otherwise, skip the tech. Skip the $200 evaluation. Move on.
3. If the seemingly good piano gets an evaluation, then the $200 is worthwhile ...
... because you know you're buying a worthwhile piano (and $200 is peanuts) ...
... or you're NOT buying a bad piano, and for a mere $200 you've avoided an expensive mistake.
Originally Posted by funk@delic
I'd hate to pay the tech to come out only to find out that the piano was a dud or I didn't like the pay it played our sounded.

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Originally Posted by Rickster
Another opportunity will come along, but in this case, it might be a while before a similar, quality grand, comes up for sale as such a good price.

Don't give up, and keep looking!

Thanks Rick! Yeah, gotta put in the work to find the gems. I look at CL every single day for Pianos and a few other instruments as well. I'd say about once or twice a year I see something that's too good to pass up, but this was the best Grand deal I'd seen in the last couple years...maybe I'll find another in a few more smile

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If the person who bought the piano didn't have it inspected, they didn't know it was a good deal unless they know far more than most about pianos. For all we know, the piano had serious issues.

Yeah, the thought crossed my mind that this was right after we had some major flooding in the area, so who knows what the actual condition was. While it would probably make me feel better to some extent if I missed out on a lemon, hopefully whoever bought it got an awesome deal on a great piano and are bragging about it right now smile

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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I would see and try the piano first. Then there are three possibilities.
1. If the piano seems okay to me, only then would I have a tech examine it.
2. If it seems otherwise, skip the tech. Skip the $200 evaluation. Move on.
3. If the seemingly good piano gets an evaluation, then the $200 is worthwhile ...
... because you know you're buying a worthwhile piano (and $200 is peanuts) ...
... or you're NOT buying a bad piano, and for a mere $200 you've avoided an expensive mistake.
Originally Posted by funk@delic
I'd hate to pay the tech to come out only to find out that the piano was a dud or I didn't like the pay it played our sounded.

Yeah this is what I was trying to do. Guess in the future I just don't mention in advance that I need multiple trips to the to check it out and have it inspected to not have the seller rule me out of coming to even see it? Or as Frank said, just pony up and pay for the tech to come with me for the first time if it really sounds like a good deal.

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Originally Posted by Rickster
The idea of having a used piano inspected by a qualified tech is excellent advice, and highly recommended by members here, both general enthusiast (like me) and piano professionals. However, in a case like this, those who recognize a super bargain when they see it will jump on it ASAP, without an inspection; but if they know it is a super bargain, that means they usually know something about pianos in general.

I've seem some real bargain pianos listed for sale on CL sell the same day, and within a few hours of the ad listing, because they were exceptional bargains. Quite often, I would imagine, this is where many of the used piano dealers get their pre-owned inventory. This is the kind of thing they look for day in and day out.

My experience is consistent with Rick's sage advice. I answered a Craigslist ad 40 minutes after it was posted and paid the sellers their asking price in cash, without an inspection and ten days before the piano was moved to my house. Why? I am usually very risk-averse!

The piano was a Kawai grand, hardly touched and just a few years old. It did not get direct sunlight and was not near a fireplace or heating vents. It played surprisingly well, considering that it had not been recently tuned. The owners lived in an upscale neighborhood and needed the piano gone before closing on the sale of their house.

By the time I reached their house to see it, they had received several other calls expressing interest. It was extremely underpriced, as the sellers had first reached out to the dealer from whom they had bought it, and he severely lowballed them with his offer. They considered that offer unreasonable, so they doubled it for their Craigslist ad! (Another dealer, who moved the piano to my house, told me they tried to buy it, too.)

I was reluctant to hand over cash for a piano that I couldn't move that same day, but the owners were very cooperative. They signed a legal agreement I drafted, with witnesses for each side, I photocopied their driver's licenses, and checked ownership of their house. We got along pretty well, I played an hour of music on the piano for them, and they came over to my house to see where it would be placed.

Good luck, funk@delic! I scoured Craigslist for months before finding my piano and encountered a fair number of scams, badly-kept, and unrealistically-priced pianos. Keep at it and be ready to jump when the right one shows up! All the best, Lotus

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Do inspections involve disassembly e.g. removing the action? If I were the seller I would be leery of anything other than just visual inspection or test play.


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Quite often, good deals like that are picked up extremely quickly by dealers who are capable of providing any necessary repairs at a low cost and flip them. If you are hoping to beat them, you have to be nimble and make an arrangement to go test it ASAP.


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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I would see and try the piano first. Then there are three possibilities.
1. If the piano seems okay to me, only then would I have a tech examine it.
2. If it seems otherwise, skip the tech. Skip the $200 evaluation. Move on.
3. If the seemingly good piano gets an evaluation, then the $200 is worthwhile ...
... because you know you're buying a worthwhile piano (and $200 is peanuts) ...
... or you're NOT buying a bad piano, and for a mere $200 you've avoided an expensive mistake.
Originally Posted by funk@delic
I'd hate to pay the tech to come out only to find out that the piano was a dud or I didn't like the pay it played our sounded.

If it were me, I’d check the piano first and call to check my techs availability. If I really like the piano I would then get the tech asap to check it out. If it gets sold before I get that accomplished, I hate it, but it wasn’t meant to be. I will find a piano I feel confident in purchasing.

That said, it sounds like we’re in a weird post pandemic market where inventory is down and demand is up. New piano owners are having to order pianos without having tried one in the showroom. If the used piano market is that hot, maybe schedule a tech to go with you when you try it out. Best Wishes on your search.


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funk@delic, I've thought about your questions a little more and have these additional thoughts:

1. Don't mention anything about a tech inspection in your initial conversation with a seller. Your goal is to be first in line to see the piano, and you may dismiss it after a few minutes of playing it. This has happened to me; once the piano was in a sunroom as a display piece and hadn't been touched in years! Perhaps a skilled technician could have rescued it, but I couldn't take that chance on what for me was simply unplayable.

2. Give your technician a heads up that you are test-playing a piano and may need her advice. This would give you an idea of her schedule, and if you need her help later, you may be able to give the seller a specific time for a follow-up visit. Having met the seller in person by that point, he may be willing to work with you, rather than to a mere stranger responding to a Craigslist post.

3. If you haven't already, read Larry Fine's "The Piano Book". It contains a wealth of information on buying and owning a new or used piano, construction techniques, inspection tips, dealing with salespeople, etc. It has been out of print since 2001, I believe, but used copies are easily available. Though there is no substitute for a professional inspection, you could use Mr. Fine's tips on checking out a used piano, flashlight in hand.

As you've discovered, it's a fine line between making sure you are completely comfortable with the purchase vs. the seller's need for cash in hand, as soon as possible. All the best for a successful search, one that doesn't take a few more years! Regards, Lotus

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Originally Posted by Lotus1
funk@delic, I've thought about your questions a little more and have these additional thoughts:

Many thanks for giving it a few more of your brain cycles smile

Yes, I think I've come to the same conclusion about not mentioning the inspection to the seller till after I've taken a look for my self. Honestly I'm kind of conflicted about this one as shady Craigslist buyers irk me. That's why if it's a good deal I usually try and be upfront and will let them know things like "I will not haggle on the price" etc... to differentiate myself from other buyers.

I've spent a fair amount of time reading through the piano book. I generally have a good idea of what makes, models, ages, and price range is in my target range as well as what's a good piano when I play one...but wouldn't pretend to be an expert. Luckily I'm also patient and am willing to wait till I find the right deal lol smile

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If I have something to sell, the first person who puts money in my hand is the one who gets it.

A few years ago I sold my old truck and told everyone who came to look at it, "This is the price, the first person who gives me that amount is the one who drives away with this truck." I sold it one day after advertising it and a couple of the "I'll think about it" guys were out of luck but that was their fault. I don't see what I did as being shady on my part at all. You snooze you lose and all that.


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Just because the OP may have lost out on a good deal(we don't know how good the deal was because we don't know the condition of the piano), doesn't mean most buyers should forgo a tech inspection.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If the person who bought the piano didn't have it inspected, they didn't know it was a good deal unless they know far more than most about pianos. For all we know, the piano had serious issues.

For all we know the buyer had an independent evaluation by a piano tech, or is a piano tech themselves.

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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If the person who bought the piano didn't have it inspected, they didn't know it was a good deal unless they know far more than most about pianos. For all we know, the piano had serious issues.
For all we know the buyer had an independent evaluation by a piano tech, or is a piano tech themselves.
If either of those were the case, the opening post would make no sense whatsoever. If the OP was a tech he wouldn't need a two part inspection(first him and then a tech). Since the OP never even got to see the piano because it was sold, he also never had it inspected because that was going to be after he looked at it.

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Originally Posted by FrankCox
If I have something to sell, the first person who puts money in my hand is the one who gets it.

A few years ago I sold my old truck and told everyone who came to look at it, "This is the price, the first person who gives me that amount is the one who drives away with this truck." I sold it one day after advertising it and a couple of the "I'll think about it" guys were out of luck but that was their fault. I don't see what I did as being shady on my part at all. You snooze you lose and all that.

Yup that's totally fair, and what I would generally expect from any seller on CL or similar. Wasn't shady on the seller's part at all.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Just because the OP may have lost out on a good deal(we don't know how good the deal was because we don't know the condition of the piano), doesn't mean most buyers should forgo a tech inspection.

100% Agreed...and that's why it doesn't bug me too much...but just enough to vent in this post I guess smile Bottom line, I've been saving a long time for a decent piano and I'm definitely not interested in spending my $$ on something without being sure of what I'm getting.

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