by Steve Cohen
I get a phone call from someone selling an old no-name upright in "decent" condition but that "hasn't been played or tuned for many years." I explain that there simply is no market for this kind of piano, and recommend junking it. The seller wants me to come out and examine the piano anyway, as he's convinced of its value. I agree to come out and evaluate it for $100. When I get there I confirm that, although the cabinet is ornate, the instrument is junk, and that the cost of repair would exceed by far the cost of a new piano.
About three weeks later, I get a call from another person, who says she's just bought a really nice used piano, paid $300 to have it delivered, and now needs it tuned. We schedule the tuning, and when my technician gets there, he finds that the piano can't be tuned—the tuning pins are loose and the piano is unrepairable. When he describes the piano to me, I realize it's the same one I "condemned" a few weeks ago!
About a month later, I get a call from the music director of a small church half a mile from our store. One of their parishioners has donated a beautiful antique piano, and they need it tuned and some "minor" repairs made. You can guess what we found when we got there!!! The move cost them $275.
When I explain that the piano is junk, the music director tells me it's no problem—they'll have the pastor offer to sell it after the Sunday sermon, for the same $275, "on a first-come, first-served basis."
I bite my tongue and just say that I'm sorry I'm not able to give them better news.
You'd think a church would know when to administer "last rites," 'cause that's what this piano needed!
Jasons Music Center
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Pianos are unique among consumer goods in the extent to which deciding whether or not to purchase a particular instrument combines hardheaded choices about price and features with emotional responses involving art and passion. For many, buying a piano is more like finding a marriage partner than like buying a refrigerator or washing machine. Selling a piano, too, has its special challenges and fulfillments: satisfying the famous client, the donated instrument that helped launch a career, the sharing of a touching moment involving the importance of a piano in a customer’s life.
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