You might be surprised to learn it’s a challenge figuring out how to get rid of a piano.
While it may seem like everyone would want a piano, that isn’t always the case. And it doesn’t help that there are many available for free, or that it’s hard to convey quality.
To cut to the chase, there are basically three routes you can take to get rid of a piano:
- Selling the piano
- Donating the piano
- Junking the piano
In this article, we’ll examine each with some detail so you can find your piano a new home — or at least, get it out of yours.
How to Sell a Piano
If the piano is newer and/or in good condition, selling it is the first option you’ll want to pursue.
It’s not as simple as you might think though, and it will require a good bit of patience!
Pick a Fair Price
Determining the right price for your piano is a critical step in the selling process.
You’ll want to strike a balance between offering a competitive price that attracts buyers and ensuring you receive fair value for your piano.
Here are some steps to help you determine a fair price for your piano:
Research Comparable Listings
Start by researching online listings for pianos similar to yours in terms of make, model and age. If there aren’t a lot of exact matches, look at pianos of a similar quality level, size, and finish. Pay close attention to pianos in your local area, as prices can vary by region. This will give you a sense of the market value for your piano.
Facebook Marketplace is a fine place to start researching. Here, I searched “upright pianos” within 20 miles of Waukegan, IL. My next step would be sorting by highest price and comparing those pianos to mine. But do note just how many are listed for free too!
Consider the Piano’s Condition
Be honest about your piano’s condition. If it’s in excellent shape, you can ask for a higher price. If it requires some maintenance or has minor imperfections, you’ll need to price it lower. Mention any recent tunings, refurbishments, tech work or rebuilding in your listing, as these can justify a higher price.
Factor in Any Added Value
If you’ve invested in professional tuning, a piano technician’s evaluation, or are paying for the mover, consider how these investments increase the piano’s overall value. You can add these costs to your pricing.
Be Competitive & Realistic
While you want to receive a fair price for your piano, it’s important to be competitive. If your piano is priced significantly higher than similar listings, it will likely deter potential buyers. On the other hand, pricing it too low might raise suspicions about the piano’s condition. Find a middle ground that’s appealing to potential buyers while still ensuring a fair return for your investment.
Try Dropping the Price Over Time
If you’re not in a time crunch, we recommend starting with a higher price and then lowering your price over time. This might mean knocking 5-10% off every 1-3 weeks, until you get an interested buyer.
As a reminder, it’s not just price that will catch a buyer’s eye – it might be the brand, the look, the size, the age, etc. Sometimes it just takes a certain amount of time for the right buyer to find your piano! So unless you’re on a deadline, don’t feel the need to drop the price dramatically.
Be Prepared to Haggle
Keep in mind that many buyers may try to negotiate the price. Be prepared to haggle a bit but also set a minimum price you’re willing to accept. This will help streamline the negotiation process.
Make an Effective Listing
To make your piano listing stand out to buyers, you’ll want to convey all the information you can about your piano.
The goal of a listing is to convince people your piano is worth checking out in-person. So really try to sell it, and be as thorough and honest as you can.
Collect Essential Details
The more information you provide about your piano, the easier it will be for potential buyers to make an informed decision.
Here’s a list to start with:
- Piano Type: May sound silly to some, but you want to make sure people can find your piano — so specify whether it’s an upright or grand piano.
- Brand and Model: Include the brand name and model number for easier identification. Note you won’t always have a model number.
- Serial Number: This is usually 6-8 digits, etched onto the soundboard. Very important for identifying age, country of manufacture and authenticity!
- Age: Mention the manufacturing year of the piano and/or when you purchased it.
- Size and Dimensions: Provide the dimensions, including the height, width, and depth/length. This can make a huge difference particularly for grand pianos!
- Condition: Describe the piano’s condition in detail, highlighting any notable features or issues.
- Tuning and Maintenance History: Moreover, share any information about recent tunings or refurbishments. A piano that was taken care of is worth more secondhand!
- Accessories: List any accessories that come with the piano, such as benches, covers, lamps, caster cups or sheet music.
Take High-Quality Pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words, and this is especially true when selling a piano!
- Good Lighting: Ensure that you have ample, natural lighting to capture the piano’s true colors and features.
- Clean Background: Use a clutter-free background that doesn’t distract from the piano itself.
- Multiple Angles: Take photos from different angles, including close-ups of details.
- Keyboard and Interior: Include shots of the keyboard, pedals, and the interior if possible.
- Close-Ups of Flaws: Be honest and include close-ups of any imperfections or wear and tear.
Make a Video Demo
In addition to photos, consider making a little video to create a more immersive experience. Not only will you be able to give an idea of the piano’s sound, but you’ll also come off as more personable!
- Steady Camera: Avoid shaky footage, and use a tripod if you can!
- Play the Piano: No need for a full concerto — just play each note and a short melody to demonstrate the sound! If you’re just hitting it each note, do so at a medium-volume – pounding on each note highlights the worst acoustic aspects of the piano. It doesn’t sound great!
- Mention Details: You don’t need to repeat everything you know about the piano, but certainly bring up the main points. In addition, you might suggest how easy/hard the move is based on where the piano is in your home (ie. if it has to go up stairs, it’s a good idea to show them).
Where to Sell a Piano
There are all kinds of places where you might be able to sell your piano. So do expect it to take time to list and relist your piano.
To start, list your pianos on local directories. Websites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and OfferUp are great platforms to sell your piano to local buyers.
Contacting your local piano dealers may also be fruitful. Many shops may offer consignment deals where they’ll sell your piano for a cut of the total, leaving all the work to the experts. Or they may make an outright cash offer.
You may consider trying to sell your piano out-of-state if it’s a more valuable instrument. Websites like Reverb, Pianomart and other online marketplaces for musical instruments are worth checking out. Just note that it’s best practice for you to arrange the movers!
Most moves across the country will run about $1200 – $1800, but can be more, depending on size, area, stairs, etc. Try Walter’s Piano Transport for a quote!
If you’re wondering where to sell your piano near Chicago, we might be interested in offering a consignment deal!
Piano Consignment Deals?
It is possible to find a piano store that’ll take your piano in on consignment! They’ll keep your piano tuned and in good shape, show it to various customers, and even list it online for you.
This will mostly be the case for nicer and newer instruments, but mileage may vary depending on your local dealers.
We think our friends over at Stillwell Pianos speak for every piano dealer. If you have really worn out instruments, it’d cost us a lot to fix them up good enough to sit on our showroom floor.
For reference, when we offer consignment deals, we’ll typically offer the owner roughly 50% of what we think we’ll sell the piano for. We offer a fixed price upfront, which doesn’t change. In the case we drop its price due to a promotion or lack of interest, we’ll take the hit – you receive the same amount regardless. But each store does things differently.
For transparency, we have seen other stores offer the owner up to 80% of the sales price. This leaves very little room to properly refurbish the piano and cover other related expenses, and as such, the shop has very little incentive to actually sell the instrument. Some of these “sweet heart deals” have resulted in pianos hanging out on the showroom floor for 5-10 years!
In any case, make sure to be reasonable with what you expect from the store. Keeping your piano on a showroom floor does have costs. Frankly, you won’t make as much in a piano consignment as you would selling it yourself.
Also be sure to ask questions! Ask if they offer a minimum payout and get an idea of when it might sell. While no one can guarantee what the piano buying market will look like in the future, a good store should know their average inventory turnover rate (we typically tell clients to expect 6-12 months)!
Get it Tuned & Pay for the Movers
In the secondhand marketplace, simply listing a nice piano at a fair price may not guarantee people rush to come play it.
Two things you can do to help a listing that’s been up for a while is have a technician verify it sounds/plays well, and promise a smooth delivery process.
A well-maintained piano not only sounds better but is also more attractive to potential buyers. If your piano hasn’t been tuned recently, investing in a professional tuning can make a huge difference. This not only enhances the piano’s sound and appeal, but it also assures buyers that the instrument is in good condition.
A tuning to a piano is more or less just an oil change to a car. In addition, consider having a tech evaluate your instrument’s condition and provide a report.
One of the common reasons many pianos are listed for free is the significant cost and logistical challenge of moving them. To set your listing apart and make it more appealing to buyers, consider including the cost of movers in the selling price. This approach can alleviate a major concern for potential buyers and make the purchase more enticing.
The cost of moving a piano will depend largely on the piano and the delivery address. At the very least, we’d recommend finding a fair quote on a move for your type of piano within your county.
If you’re not sure your piano will sell for money, perhaps you’re just hoping for a piano donation with free pickup.
This isn’t impossible, but again, even donating a piano isn’t as easy as you may think. This route will still require some effort and patience. Please don’t wait until the week before closing on your house to start this process (it happens!).
If you have a nicer and newer piano, you do have a good chance of successfully rehoming your instrument. Just don’t expect it to be an overnight endeavor.
Make a Listing
Yes, even if you’re giving your piano away for free, you will still need to go through the effort of creating a nice listing for it.
We won’t write out the whole process again, but definitely read our points in the previous Make an Effective Listing section!
Where to Donate a Piano
Just as if you were selling it, there are a number of places you could donate a piano.
However, they depend largely on your local market and the piano itself.
Ask Friends & Family
Start your search by asking within your local community! Friends and family may know of someone in need of a piano, or they themselves may be interested.
It is important to be transparent about any necessary expenses, and why you’re giving the piano away. Could make for awkward holidays if you give them a lemon, after all.
But in a best-case scenario, the piano finds a convenient home within your immediate circle, and your loved ones discover a new hobby!
Piano Teachers and Technicians
Piano teachers and technicians are another local resource, and one that’s better connected within the local music community. They may know of students, aspiring musicians, or institutions in need of a piano.
Local music stores and piano stores especially may sometimes accept piano donations. Contact them to find out what their donation policies are, and if they can help you out.
School Districts and Churches
Schools, churches, and community centers often have music programs or community spaces that may benefit from a donated piano. Donating to such organizations can have a positive impact on the community so do touch base with them to see if they can make use of your piano.
That said, many of them are frequently approached with offers of free pianos and/or they may have been burned with rougher-than-expected “free” pianos in the past – don’t be surprised if they politely decline your generous offer.
Piano Donation Organizations
Lastly, we’ll mention that piano donation services usually aren’t the best option for people wondering how to get rid of a piano.
Free piano pickups and donations generally have strict requirements, and pianos that do qualify are ones you’ll want to try selling first.
However, if your piano is one of their accepted brands and in great condition, and if you mostly just want it to disappear for free — fill out their forms and see if they can help!
Goodwill & Thrift Stores?
Goodwill, thrift stores, and other charitable resale shops very rarely accept donated pianos.
You can contact your local Goodwill or thrift stores to inquire about their donation policies for musical instruments.
We find more times than not, they don’t accept them. However, it’s always worth a shot!
The last option for how to get rid of a piano is simply removal and disposal: sending it off to “piano heaven.”
Piano Removal Cost
The exact cost of piano removal will depend on your local area, but we’d guess it averages around $300-$600 depending on the instrument’s size, stair situation, mover experience and more.
Piano Removal Services near Chicago
However, we’ll link to some piano removal services that work nationwide. Do try calling your local piano movers for more options too!
- Kevin’s Piano Movers is our go-to for any piano moving.
- Alden’s Piano Co is another popular piano moving company based in the north Chicagoland area.
- H&L Piano Movers do a lot of piano removals in Chicagoland at a fair price.
- Chicagoland Junk Pickup is a seemingly popular option that’s closer to Chicago.
- 1-800-GOT-JUNK takes all kinds of junk across the country, and they note they can remove pianos professionally.
Free Piano Removal Options?
We’ll be honest: it’s not likely you’ll find a proper piano removal company that works for free.
If you’re set on figuring out an option for free piano disposal, you’re likely looking at moving the piano to a local junkyard yourself. However, do note there are still costs in dumping and renting a proper box truck (and gear) as necessary.
While you may consider a demo project, disassembling a piano can be challenging and potentially dangerous. It’s really best to consult with professionals for safe disposal or recycling.
“Much easier to break down a piano than people think.” *Takes hours and hours of work plus specialized tools to disassemble it*. Great tutorial and overview of a piano’s inside — but it’s obvious Burke is a professional woodworker. Would not recommend trying this at home!
A word of caution if you do try junking a piano yourself: pianos are heavy instruments that do require specialized equipment to move or disassemble. Consider that your health and wellbeing is worth more than the few hundred dollars it costs to hire professional piano movers. Do not use a truck without a ramp for loading. Do not use less than a team of three. Do not snip the strings while they’re in-tune. Please be very careful.
How to Get Rid of a Piano for Free
Basically, the easiest way to get rid of a piano for free is to donate a nice and expensive piano.
Short of that, collect as much information on your piano as you can, take really nice pictures, take a nice video or two demoing it, and send it to as many places as you can.
And then wait! Speaking as a piano store, it can often take 3-18+ months to find a piano a home, depending on its appeal.
With time and effort, you can find your piano a new home. Just understand that it may be more time and effort than you may have initially thought!