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The True Cost of a Free Piano

Have you ever been tempted by a free piano ad you’ve seen online? Or maybe you’ve considered nabbing a piano sitting on the curb. If you’ve been thinking about bringing a piano into your home, either for yourself or your child, then a free one might seem like a great idea. Who doesn’t love free? And you can always upgrade if you need to, right? In our decades of experience, however, we’ve found that free pianos tend to come with more pitfalls than benefits. Let’s take a quick look at how much a free piano might actually cost you!

Moving costs

Even if a piano is free, you somehow have to get it into your house. An old upright piano can weigh an average of 700 pounds! That’s more than the average person is willing to handle. Beyond the safety concerns of moving such a heavy, awkward item (especially if there are stairs to navigate), there are logistics with finding a truck that can handle the piano. Then, you have to figure out how to move the piano into place without damaging door frames, walls, and stairs. Lastly, you must do all that without damaging the piano! If you decide to hire movers to help – which we always recommend! – then you’ll have to add at least a few hundred dollars to the cost of your “free” piano. It’s best to hire movers who are experienced at moving pianos specifically, as pianos require special considerations.

Rehab costs

Unfortunately, not all pianos can be simply tuned. If it’s been neglected for long enough, a piano may need to undergo repair and restoration before it can be played. There are thousands of intricate parts in a piano and their ability to work properly depends on prior care and environment. Dirt and grime have likely accumulated and exposure to the elements greatly affects a piano. For its thousands of parts to all work together, every component needs to be clean, stable, and in good working condition. The work required to realign and replace so many parts is substantial, and so your costs will be substantial as well. Even worse? If the piano is old and of poor quality, there’s no telling how long a repair will last.

Tuning costs

This probably isn’t a surprise but a piano that hasn’t been maintained and – so much worse! – has been exposed to the elements isn’t going to sound very good. When you get it home, you’ll need to hire a piano tuner. Tuning costs vary depending on the business and on the condition of the piano. Some tuning elements, like raising the pitch, are necessary when a piano hasn’t been tuned in a long time and require extra work. In general, you should expect to spend a few hundred dollars.

What about enjoyment?

A less tangible cost is how playing a low-quality piano affects your skills and your enjoyment of the instrument. Many older pianos will be functional but won’t be satisfying to play. The touch may be too firm or too soft, which can make playing unpleasant or even difficult. The tone may be too bright or too mellow and the notes might not sustain at the level you want. It might be difficult to play softly enough, too. These complex elements of tone work together to produce the rich, expressive sound desired when playing or listening to the piano. While an experienced piano professional works with buyers to find a piano that has the right tone and touch for their liking, you don’t have this option with a free piano. At a piano store, you can also work with a piano technician to voice the piano, which lets you adjust the tone to your personal liking.

Pianos for all levels

If budget is your concern and you’re hesitant to purchase an instrument when you’re not sure how long your interest will last, then consider working with the friendly team at Classic Pianos! We’re pleased to sell a wide range of new and used pianos at all budget levels. You’ll be assured of a high-quality piano that meets your needs. Even better? With our Five-Star Trade-Up Policy, your piano investment grows and develops alongside your family’s musical appreciation. No matter how your needs change throughout the years, our trade-up policy cultivates your family’s love of music. Contact us online or call 425-462-1888 today.

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