Piano-Buying Stories Submitted by piano buyers and dealers

Stories about the piano-buying experience


Last Rites

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!

Steve Cohen
Jasons Music Center
Pasadena, Maryland

If you'd like to make a comment on this story, please visit our Piano-Buying Stories blog page.


Copyright Notice

Piano-Buying Stories are copyright 2014 by their respective authors. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of a story without the express written permission of that story's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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.

In Piano-Buying Stories, we bring together tales, from both consumers and retailers, of their experiences in buying or selling pianos that were somehow unusual, surprising, touching, or instructive — or all of these at once. We invite the submission of additional stories; please see our submission guidelines below. — L.F.

If you'd like to make a comment on any of the stories, please visit our Piano-Buying Stories blog page.

Submission Guidelines
  • Stories should be of the author’s experience in buying or selling pianos — experiences that were somehow unusual, surprising, touching, and/or instructive.
  • Stories must be true; however, the names of persons and firms mentioned in the stories may be disguised when advisable.
  • The author’s real name — and, if a retailer, actual store affiliation — must accompany submission. In rare instances, however, a request to publish anonymously will be considered.
  • Stories will be edited for length, grammar, and style, but the edited version will be published only with the author’s approval.
  • Photos pertinent to the story will be considered for publication.
  • Publication will be online only.
  • In general, no payment will be made for use of the story. However, when the story is by a professional author, a small payment will be considered.
  • License is only to publish online on the Piano Buyer blog/website; author retains all other rights.
  • Submissions of any length are considered, but shorter ones are preferred.
  • Submissions should be sent in Microsoft Word, as an e-mail attachment, to larry@pianobuyer.com.

If you'd like to make a comment on any of the stories, please visit our Piano-Buying Stories blog page.









Features (current)