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That 'free' piano!

Updated: Mar 14




For the parent looking to acquire a cheaper, ‘beginner’s piano’ for a child the selection available is quite broad.  At Pianos Recycled we survey the major selling platforms every month and last week the popular Facebook Marketplace listed 158 pianos below the $1,000 mark, and of that number a very hefty selection were being given away free.
Now it is certainly true to say that browsing in the bargain bin can be very rewarding and for the mortgage stressed parents keen to give their young family a musical start in life there most definitely will be some that are worth looking at.  Equally true however is that many of these advertised instruments are more trouble than they are worth, in fact many that are Free are worth less than zero, principally due to being a) really old!, b) in poor condition, or c) with terminal issues that require investment many thousands of dollars beyond their true market value.
Firstly, ‘really old’, means by broad definition, pianos made prior to 1900.  For technological reasons alone there are a number of reasons to (usually) avoid these pianos.  Much as one does not go out to buy an Amstrad computer in 2024, buying a pre-1900 piano presents a level of technology that includes over-damper mechanisms, three-quarter iron-frames and often non-laminated tuning-planks, which in Australian conditions can suffer catastrophic failure.
Poor condition can cover a huge range of issues, from excessive wear and tear, and at the other end, the very common infestation issue of wool-moth, which can render a piano unplayable and cost thousands to repair.
The effects of 125+ years of the Australian climate can cause major structural damage to soundboards and tuning-planks, and particularly in the latter instance, is the death knell of the older piano.  Simply put, a piano that cannot be tuned, has reached the end of its working life. 

Of course there are exceptions, and strictly speaking Any piano can be restored, but at what cost and to what long term gain.  That is, why spend thousands restoring a piano that even in restored condition might only be worth hundreds?
Here are long term statistics compiled by our piano-tuners:
·         We encounter a piano we cannot tune once every three weeks.
·         In seven out of ten cases these pianos were acquired for free, or very nearly free, off Marketplace (or similar)
·         In two out of the remaining three instances, the pianos were “gifted’ and I am really sorry to report that these are usually a case of an unsuspecting someone’s enthusiasm for a piano being taken advantage of.
·         In the last remaining ten percent, the piano is a long-term family instrument, usually neglected, which a family member has decided to have tuned and ‘looked at’.  Unfortunately, ‘looking’ is often all we can do.
 
What do to if you want a piano for your child or yourself but have to be budget conscious?
Get professional advice. Talk to us.  No, you do not have to buy a brand new piano.  We have a great selection of entry-level pianos which are structurally sound, free of pests, tuned, Regulated, and Certified by our Company as being all of the above.  You can have your child playing a sound, reliable instrument tomorrow and, peace of mind with it.
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