For a discussion of the definitions of reconditioned and rebuilt, please see the section “Buying a Restored Piano” in this article. For the purposes of this chart, however, we have adopted the requirement that a piano has not been rebuilt unless its pinblock has been replaced, and that a piano that has been restrung, but without a new pinblock, is considered to have been reconditioned. Note that these definitions are not precise, and that both the quality and the quantity of the work can vary greatly, depending on the needs of the instrument and the capabilities of the restorer. These variations should be taken into account when determining the piano’s value.

Depreciation

The depreciation method of determining fair market value is based on the fact that many types of consumer goods lose value over time at a more or less predictable rate. A depreciation schedule, such as the one here, shows how much an unrestored used piano is worth as a percentage of the actual selling price of a new piano of comparable quality. The problem here is that so many older brands are now made by companies different from the original, in different factories and parts of the world, and to different standards, that it can be difficult or impossible to determine what constitutes a “comparable” new piano. Thus, this method of figuring value is best used for pianos of relatively recent make when the model is still in production, or for older pianos whose makers have remained under relatively constant ownership, location, and standards, and for which, therefore, a comparable model can reasonably be determined.

Note that depreciation is from the current price of the model, not the original price, because the current price takes into account inflation and, if applicable, changes in the value of foreign currencies. The values are meant to reflect what the piano would sell for between private, non-commercial parties. I suggest adding 20 to 30 percent to the computed value when the piano is being sold by a dealer, unrestored, but with a warranty. These figures are intended only as guidelines, reflecting our general observation of the market. “Worse,” “Average,” and “Better” refer to the condition of the used piano for its age. A separate chart is given for Steinway pianos. Other fine pianos, such as Mason & Hamlin, or some of the best European brands, may command prices between the regular and Steinway figures.

DEPRECIATION SCHEDULE
Age (Yrs)Percent of New Value
WorseAverageBetter
1758083
2727780
3697477
5636871
10525760
15434851
20364144
25293437
 Verticals only
30222730
35-70152023
 Grands only
30-70253033
 Steinways
1758083
2727780
3707578
5667174
10586366
15505558
20424750
25343942
 Verticals only
30283336
35-70253033
 Grands only
30313639
50303538
70283336

Idealized Value Minus the Cost of Restoration

This is the difference between the cost of a rebuilt piano and the cost to restore the unrebuilt one to like-new condition. For example, if a piano, rebuilt, would be worth $50,000, and it would cost $30,000 to restore the unrebuilt one to like-new condition, then according to this method the unrebuilt piano would be worth $20,000. This method can be used when a piano needs extensive, quantifiable repair work. It’s not appropriate to use this method for an instrument that is relatively new or in good condition.

The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for

Buying New, Used, and Restored Acoustic Pianos and Digital Pianos

Spring 2014    Page 72

Spring 2014    Page 72

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