What is the Value of My Piano?


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Why Choose a Vintage Antique Piano?

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It is impossible for us to appraise an old piano over the Web. You should contact a piano technician in your area who can inspect the instrument. Since we receive a large number of emails each day, we cannot respond to research inquiries about pianos but hope the information on this page is useful.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to appraise an old piano without close examination of it.  Even with such examination, there are no guidelines that can be applied to determining the worth of a piano, like there are for used cars. A piano technician has to make a determination of a piano’s worth based on a number of factors, many of which are not apparent to the untrained eye or ear. People often believe their pianos are worth a certain amount because they are “antiques." While these instruments may be from an earlier time and in some cases, a work of art, an old piano differs considerably from an old piece of furniture and cannot be evaluated in the same way. While some old pianos were constructed with beautiful hardwoods and have intricate art cases, as desirable as this may be, a piano’s primary purpose is that of a musical instrument. There are a number of factors that go into the process of evaluating a piano’s worth including: 1. the type of the piano; 2. the size of the piano; 3. the make or brand of the piano; 4. the age of the piano and 5. the condition of the piano.

1. Types of Pianos – The main types of modern pianos are uprights, grands, and square pianos (or square grands). Uprights or verticals can further be broken down into spinets, console/studio uprights, or full uprights. Nearly all squares were built prior to 1890. Grand pianos can further be broken down by size (see below). All things being equal (brand, age, condition), grands are worth more than verticals and verticals more than squares for reasons that will be discussed below.

2. Piano Size – The size of a piano has some impact on its sound, performance and its worth. The table below provides more detailed information about piano sizes. 

              Vertical Piano Sizes (measured from the floor to the top of the piano)


Specific Type

39" or smaller


39" - 51"

Console or Studio Upright

51" and larger

Full Upright



Grand Piano Sizes (measured from the furthest point in the back or tail to the front of the keys


Specific Type

5'7" or smaller

Baby Grand


Living Room Grand


Professional Grand


Drawing Room Grand

6'8" to 6'10"

Parlor, Artist Grand


Semi Concert Grand

8' or larger

Concert Grand

Square Grands (measured from one side to the other)

Most squares were relatively the same size (about 6-7 feet in length) so size matters less in evaluating a square.

Generally, larger pianos are worth more than a smaller ones. Condition being equal, a full-size upright will produce greater sound than a small spinet due in part to a greater string length and soundboard area. Likewise, a large grand will produce greater sound than a small baby grand piano and so is generally worth more. Grand pianos have several advantages over vertical pianos in terms of sound and responsiveness and so are worth considerably more. However, a piano of smaller size may be suitable to an individual due to space limitations or other factors so its worth must be viewed in that respect. There is certainly nothing wrong with a quality baby grand or a restored older upright, both of which may produce nice sound.

3. Piano Brands – Are some brands of pianos better? To an extent, some companies have produced higher quality instruments and have built a name recognition based on that. It is difficult to “rank” piano companies based on name after 1930 because so many companies were bought and sold after the depression. A few of the undisputed companies that are considered by piano experts to have built high quality pianos are Bosendorfer, Erard, Chickering, Steinway, Knabe, Mason & Hamlin, Sohmer, and Weber.  However, this is only a small number of the many companies prior to 1930 that exhibited excellent care and workmanship in their production. Piano brand should not be the primary consideration when looking for a used piano since many other factors must be considered. A well-cared for no-name piano may outperform an abused Steinway of the same year.

4. The Age of a Piano – Are older pianos better? There are certain desirable things about older pianos that cannot be found on more modern pianos.  Some of the finer piano companies like Chickering aged their soundboard wood for as long as 50 years. This process led to a natural way of totally drying the wood prior to soundboard installation and thus a board less likely to shrink later on. Standards for piano production were high at about the turn of the century, and skilled craftsmen prepared most instruments, including the installation of ivory key tops and the beautiful carvings on the cases. Mass-produced pianos after World War II often did not receive the same attention to detail as the pianos produced from 1880 –1930. (For more information, refer to our page, “Why Buy a Vintage Antique Piano?”)

However, this is not say that an old, unrestored, or neglected piano is worth a lot simply because it is old. A 75 year-old piano will likely need a total restoration including new hammers, felts, strings, tuning pins, and perhaps a pinblock and even a soundboard.  A rebuilding job can range from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on how much work is to be done. With that being said, many old, unrestored uprights and even old grands are simply not considered by rebuilders to be worthy of purchasing or are only worth a few hundred dollars because of the high cost of rebuilding even though they may sound better, play better and look better than a new, poorly built piano. Larger grands and pianos with good name recognition and/or art cases are more desirable and may be worthy of a restoration.

5. Piano Condition – Perhaps the most important factor in determining the value of a used, unrestored piano is its condition. A piano may appear to be in excellent shape because all the keys work, but upon closer examination it often needs considerable work to ensure its reliability, stability and longevity. There are thousands of parts that make up the internal workings of a piano. While there are a number of companies that reproduce parts for older pianos, they do not have all parts for all pianos, therefore placing limitations on one’s ability to make an old piano like new. This is particularly the case in some old Victorian pianos and especially squares.

In older pianos, it is common for bridges to come loose from the soundboard or crack, creating a poor tone. In addition, tuning pins often become loose over the years due to the age of the wooden pinblock, changes in temperature and humidity and many tunings—this makes it difficult for the piano to hold a tune. Also, soundboards may lose their crown or develop numerous cracks. Repairs like these are major rebuilding jobs and generally only worth doing on a quality grand. Also, felts become packed down or disintegrate, springs become weak, bass string windings become loose, and action parts become sluggish. All these things affect the sound and performance of a piano and require attention. These are some of the many things considered by piano technicians and rebuilders when asked, “How much is my piano worth?”




Some of the information on this page is the opinion of Shaffer Pianos. For specific information on your piano, we suggest you contact a piano technician in your area who can examine the piano for you.