Appraisals and Evaluation

Fair/Current Market Value
Any piano is ultimately worth what someone is willing to pay for it, but many people have no idea even where to start when it comes to pricing their piano once they intend to sell it. On the other hand, potential buyers are not sure whether or not a used piano for sale is reasonably priced. An appraisal prevents you from selling your piano for too little or paying too much for one.


Factors considered include visible, market and judgment factors such as:

  • Size
  • Sound
  • Cabinet Condition
  • Playing condition Keyboard
  • Mechanical Condition
  • Restoration needed
  • Market conditions

TESTS FOR NEW AND USED PIANOS
THE EIGHT SECOND TEST
The eight second test: Play the note C6 (C two octaves above middle C). The sound should last about eight seconds. If it does not, there may be a serious wood problem. In all pianos, metal struts reinforce the plate. The action of a piano has a separation with one hammer striking on each side of the strut. These are called the bass-tenor and the treble breaks. If you play the two keys on either side of the break simultaneously, the sound should die away evenly on both notes. In the case of the bass-tenor break, the sound should last around 24 or 25 seconds. If the sound decays quickly on one note, there may be a structural problem. Repairs may be expensive or impossible.

TESTS FOR USED PIANOS
  • Look at the case. Is it in good condition? Are the keys chipped or are key-tops missing? Remove the kick plate (the board just above the pedals), look for a water line. If the piano has been flooded, it may be a bad buy.
  • Play each key several times in a row. If a note fails to sound or will not repeat, the mechanism may need repairs or adjustments. If there is buzzing, the soundboard may be cracked.
  • Play each note in turn from the bottom to the top. Are there any dramatic changes in pitch or tone color? If there are, the instrument may need to have strings or hammers replaced.
  • Stack a dime and six pennies on a played white key (careful, it's not a piggy bank). Gently depress the key. If the surface of the top coin is below the neighboring white key, the action may need adjustment.
  • The dial tone of a telephone is the same note as the F and A above middle C on the piano. By listening to the dial tone and striking these two notes in unison, you can compare the pitches to determine if the piano is out of tune. The farther out of tune the instrument, the less desirable a purchase it may be.

Action and Keys


  • Does the action look untidy and dirty? Can you see any broken, missing or badly worn parts?
  • Can you see any irregularity in what should be a neat row of hammers?
  • Can you see any obvious sign of moth damage?
  • Try repeating a few notes at treble and bass. Are there any sluggish hammers? Do they fail to return to the rest position?
  • Are the damper felts dirty, hard, or not stopping the notes from sounding when the key is released? (Dirty or hard felts could cause buzzing noises, and notes continuing to sound indicate broken damper springs.)
  • Iron Frame and Strings
  • The iron frame can be seen most easily in the bottom of an upright piano, although it usually covers most of the area inside the piano. The strings are attached to the frame at the bottom and to the tuning pins at the top.
  • Is there rust on the frame or strings? (top and bottom)
  • Is the iron frame cracked?
  • Are there cracks in the wrest plank (the wood in which the tuning pins are inserted) between the tuning pins? Are some tuning pins leaning down more than others?
  • Are any strings missing, or have some been replaced? (New strings will be a different color from the rest)


Soundboard and Bridges
The soundboard is the varnished wooden panel which can be seen underneath the strings. The bridges are lengths of wood, glued to the soundboard, into which metal pins are driven. The strings run over the bridges and between the pins. The vibration of the strings is transmitted to the soundboard by the bridges, and this produces the sound you hear. It is vital that these parts are in good condition.

Are there cracks in the soundboard?
Are there splits in the bridges between the bridge pins? (An older piano may have a wooden bridge close to the tuning pins, in addition to those on the soundboard.)
Are the bridges poorly attached to the soundboard? (If so the sound will be of poor quality and there may be a rattling noise as the notes are played.)

REASONS FOR AN APPRAISAL
  • BUYING
  • INSURANCE
  • COMMUNITY PROPERTY
  • SELLING
  • ESTATE TAX
  • REBUILDING
  • TRADING
  • DONATIONS
  • EQUAL DISTRIBUTION
  • DAMAGE CLAIMS
  • REFINISHING
  • TAX DEDUCTIONS

I will look up the serial number to establish the date of manufacture, perform a complete inspection of the instrument and give you a written report. The report covers the piano’s age, retail value, private sale value and insurance replacement value. It also covers the condition of the soundboard, pin block, bridges, strings, hammers, felt components and action condition.

SELLING YOUR PIANO
A picture and free posting on this site is included for clients who wish to sell their piano. I charge $85 plus GST for the appraisal. If you are considering selling your piano, it makes sense to show it in its best light . . and sounding as good as possible. There is a substantial cost saving to have a piano appraised and tuned at the same time. In this case the fee is only for the additional time involved in assessing the piano and is $45 in addition to the tuning fee.( $95 + $45 = combined $140 )