Would you buy a used car without having a mechanic look under the hood? Of course not. Buying a used piano on the internet or from an ad in the local newspaper is no different. If a piano passes a common sense test – i.e.: the price is right and it does not seem to have been abused – then you might leave a deposit subject to approval by a technician.
Many advertisements in the paper which appear to be private people selling pianos are, in fact, really dealers, and they are usually selling dubious pianos with inadequate work performed. Remember they’ve already deceived you once with a misleading ad. Some ads are from technicians who independently rebuild or refurbish pianos at their own private workshop. Since they don’t have the pressures of operating costs and overhead like a retail store does, their prices can be very competitive compared to dealers. The amount of actual “rebuilding” and replacement with new parts, however, can vary considerably from one technician to another, or one piano to another. Once again, if you like the piano’s look, sound and feel, bring a technician to inspect its structural and mechanical condition before you decide to buy it.
Beware of Internet piano buyer scams. The convenience of the internet has spawned new opportunities for scam artists. Credit card fraud, identity theft and international scams are constantly evolving. Although misrepresentation is a compelling reason not to purchase a piano on the internet, there are even bigger things to worry about, such as making sure the piano and seller actually exist.
A word about warranty. If you purchase a piano from a private party, the warranty will most likely be non-transferable. A local dealer will not only include a warranty, but also skilled technicians who can uphold it.
A piano should be bought from someone who can service it after the sale is made. Pianos need service their entire lives, and you should buy it from someone who is prepared to service it. A piano contains over 8000 parts that all work together to create touch and tone. Wood is a delicate material which moves and changes over time. A local piano dealer will be there to fine tune and adjust your instrument, both before and after the sale.