Buying a Used Grand Piano: Questions, Tips, and More

Kevin Busse May 24, 2024
78 People Read

Should I buy a used baby grand piano?

It depends.

Buying a pre-owned piano is an exciting experience, but it can be easy to overlook critical details that will compromise your piano playing experience (and inspiration).

But hey, throw caution to the wind! Any piano tuner can work their magic on the piano! ;) Jokes aside, it's important to find the right used grand piano to maximize the joy experienced from playing the piano, without any immediate need for repairs.

To avoid scams, it's most important to verify the listing, inspect the piano, and get a fair price.

...At the very least, avoid the "21 Worst Piano Brands to Buy at a Bargain: Peer Reviewed."

What should I look at in a Grand Piano?

The most important things:

  • Verify the listing is legitimate (Don't get scammed)

  • Seek inspection by a certified piano technician

  • Look for a cracked soundboard

  • Find out the Piano's Age

  • Does it have a reputable Brand?

  • A sense of the overall condition

  • Imperfections in the furniture

  • Condition of the pin block (Tuner would know)

  • Maintenance history

  • Is it within your price range?

The best advice for buying a used grand piano from a Piano Expert is as follows...


  • Piano Teacher

  • Professional pianist

  • Piano Technician

It's a good idea to hire a piano teacher or a professional musician to play the acoustic piano to verify its quality.

Another good way to determine whether the piano is in good condition is to hire a piano expert, such as a qualified piano technician to serve as a form of quality control, to help you make an informed decision.

Checklist for grand pianos

Should I trust a used Grand Piano?

Trustworthiness all depends on track record.

Typically, piano dealers and local music stores with many public reviews have amassed the most trust in piano buying.

When buying from less than trustworthy places, no one is there to guide you on how to own a piano that's capable of an outstanding piano playing experience. This is of paramount importance because nothing else compares to an authentically brilliant piano playing experience.

Local Dealer and Music Stores selling pianos

Companies like this are going to give you the best choice of pianos in addition to a greater amount of trust.

Anyone random person online who sells you a used grand piano can feign confidence about the piano they're selling. But the confidence a seller conveys from a piano is only 5% of the multitude of elements that actually make a truly great piano. As a piano technician, I understand how tricky it can be to know what to believe when buying.

Private Sellers of pianos

It's not always possible to count out private sellers of pianos. While it's not ideal, there are ways to protect yourself against scams through buying pianos from mutual connections.

If you see grand pianos listed on your friend's social media, you will at least be able to verify the piano that's listed and there's a basic level of trust from being an acquaintance.

Pianos on Craigslist

I am always skeptical of pianos found solely through the internet. This is where it's important to verify (see the piano in person) the listing. Even then, it's likely that little work has been done to the piano other than tuning, which is a very small aspect of piano maintenance.

Beware: If a piano must be "moved out" by a certain time, and their asking you to pay the moving fee, it's a scam.

If you see the grand piano listed on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay etc. pay very close attention to the details and maintain a level of skepticism and verify each detail listed, including serial number, brand of the grand piano, and the overall color/finish of the piano.

Be wary and ask for guidance from a piano professional to avoid pianos that will ruin the inspiration in your musical journey.

Piano Phishing emails

Please allow me to reiterate about scams.

Beware! If you receive an email about someone giving away a piano from good brands like Yamaha, Kawai, Mason & Hamlin, or Steinway piano for free to someone who will "appreciate it and give it a nice home" (for the price of the piano move); it’s a scam!

grand piano scam

How should I inspect the mechanics of a piano?

Play all 88 keys and play all 3 pedals!

Once you are face to face with the piano, it's time to inspect it (as best as you can).

The most important thing is to play all 88 keys to ensure they are functional and that none of them are sticking or making an unusual sound. It's important to be picky and use your intuition!

Listen for any odd sounds throughout your playing, if something doesn’t feel quite right, it’s a good time to listen to your instincts and take additional time to decide.

How should I inspect the furniture of a piano?

Here are routine inspection items piano technician’s often look for when inspecting the outside furniture of a piano.

Piano furniture imperfections:

  • Sunfading of the finish (discoloration)

  • Whether the appearance looks “milky”

  • Large amount of Chips/dents/gouges

  • Deep scratches that you can feel with a fingernail

  • Busted case parts like hinges, missing bolts, falling apart etc.

  • Cracks on the soundboard or rusting of the strings

    piano sun fading

Consider the overall condition of the Piano

Speak with the customer to learn the maintenance record that the owner is aware of.

What to ask about a pianos history?

  • Has the piano been safeguarded from temperature and humidity extremes?

  • Has the piano been regularly maintained/tuned?

  • Has the piano ever been rebuilt?

  • What's the age of the piano?

  • Are there any functional issues or general problems?

    baby grand piano defects

How picky should I be with a Piano?

Whether or not there is an actual issue with the piano, it is important to pick up on any perceived performance imperfections.

Uncovering imperfections can be a great indicator to discover which grand pianos aren’t up to your standards or should be avoided.

Keep in mind that there are countless grand pianos for sale that need new homes. Be picky!

With this in mind, holding out a little bit longer can add tremendous value to your future piano should you eventually choose one.

Which pianos retain their value?

The price of a used baby grand piano will vary depending on its size, condition, brand name, and whether or not it has had work done by a technician or a rebuilder.

8 of the most common brands you’ll find used pianos worth a premium are…

  • Yamaha

  • Bechstein

  • Hoffmann

  • Kawai

  • Steinway & Sons

  • Mason & Hamlin

  • Bösendorfer

  • Fazioli

yamaha grand piano

What if a used baby grand piano for sale needs repairs?

Take into account if any repairs need to be done; this could significantly increase your final cost when you have the tuner over for the first time, second, or third time!

If possible, it’s always best to have an experienced piano tuner check out the instrument or have a quick phone call before committing to purchase—their expertise can help you determine if the asking price is fair based on its brand, condition, and age.

Evaluate the Personality, Character, and Charm of the piano

A nice piano always comes with its own unique story and character.

Many of these instruments have been around for decades, having been owned by multiple people throughout their lives, each leaving their own mark in the form of scratches, dings, or other imperfections that add to the charm of each individual instrument.

Positive attributes like color, sheen, tone, playability and size/length of strings all play a role in determining whether it’s the right piano for your space.

Ultimately, sound quality and playability should be the ultimate deciding factor. Especially if the intent is to start piano lessons when choosing between different used baby grand pianos.

Is buying a used grand piano worth it?

If something doesn’t quite seem right, inquire about what you notice or ask to have a piano technician take a look at the hammers, whether it has been "reconditioned", and the overall performance of the Grand Piano before making a final decision.

If there is any question of quality or reparability, experienced Piano Tuners may be found near you.

==> 7 Better Ways to Find a Piano Tuner Near You

grand piano being played

What do piano tuners think about buying used grand pianos?

Buying a used baby grand piano requires careful consideration and research in order to make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for at an affordable price point without sacrificing quality or longevity.

It's always a good idea to have an independent piano expert to inspect any particular piano on the private market.*

After finding one through a music store or dealer, social media or classifieds like Craigslist, these steps help ensure that your next purchase of a used baby grand piano will meet your piano needs!

If you’re considering purchasing a pre-owned instrument, ensure a positive outcome and consider all these factors before making your decision!

Good luck!


FAQ's: Piano Consumer Resources

  1. 21+ Useful Gift Ideas for Pianists and Piano Lovers in 2024

  2. The Berlin Showroom for C. Bechstein Concert Grand Pianos

  3. C. Bechstein Grand Piano Factory Tour Experience

  4. Console Pianos vs. Upright Pianos: Which is Better for You?

  5. Why a Spinet is Different than an Upright

  6. How often you should need to tune your piano: Tuner Tuning Tips

  7. How to Quickly Sell a piano

  8. 21 Worst Piano Brands to Buy at a Bargain: Peer Reviewed

  9. Piano or Spinet?: 10 Quick Ways to Tell

  10. 7 Better Ways to Find a Piano Tuner Near You

  11. 10 Things to know about the Piano LifeSaver System

  12. 7 Things to know when locally buying a used Grand Piano For Sale

  13. How long does it take to tune a piano?

  14. Do you Tip a Piano Tuner?

  15. How Much Do Pianos Weigh? Grand and Upright

  16. How Wide are Pianos: Grand and Upright Dimensions

  17. How tall is a standard piano bench & Adjustable Benches

  18. How many strings a piano has and why

  19. How to tell if piano keys are made of Ivory or plastic (20 photos)