Q. Should I buy a new or used piano?
Okay, that might have been a trick question. One way of looking at it is that you should buy a piano, regardless of whether it is used or new. (Although renting a piano or other scenarios may be appropriate at one time or another.) After all, everyone should have a piano, right? Or maybe we are just biased.
But the question remains, is it better to buy a new instrument or one that is “pre-owned” as some like to classify them. As with most such questions, it really does depend on a number of factors, some general and some more specific to your particular situation. For instance, why are you buying a piano and who is the piano for?
Is this a starter piano or some other sort of temporary purchase, or is it the one you plan on passing down to your heirs?
The less invested (in an emotional sense) you are in this particular instrument, the less you will probably want to invest in it monetarily. If you know this will be a temporary instrument, to be replaced by a better one later, it makes sense to save as much as possible now and reserve your funds for that more important piano purchase later on.
If this is your situation, you have a strong incentive to buy a used instrument due to the simple, unavoidable reality of depreciation. Pianos are often held up as good investments and they are, especially if compared to certain other types of products such as cars, but they are still a commodity subject to the normal characteristics of the market place.
Simply put, while it can be a negative for someone selling a relatively new piano, the depreciation inherent in a used piano’s value is a positive for the piano buyer. Because a relatively new piano is still a used piano, and not a new one, as far as the market is concerned.
And that is one reason buying a used piano can get you more piano for your money than buying a new one. That’s not to say there can’t be good reasons to buy a new piano – there are. But as we have said your decision will depend on your own situation.
One thing to note: we don’t mean to imply you should simply buy the cheapest piano you can find. That is often a mistake which may cost you more in the long run than you save on the original purchase.
Whether you buy a new or used piano, you will want to select one which fulfills all your needs for the best price – which is another way of saying look for the best value, not just the lowest price. This strategy can apply to either a “temporary” or a “permanent” piano purchase.
Buying used involves certain concerns you might not have when buying new. But beyond that there are additional things to be careful about depending on who the seller is – local dealer, online dealer, local private party, online private party, etc. We will discuss these and other considerations in further articles.