Thomas J. Tropp, D.Mus.
Conductor, Musicologist, Recording Producer, Keyboard Technician
Why buy a restored piano?
Even the best built pianos have a limited lifespan without undergoing major restoration. A new piano, on the other hand, will be in perfect condition, work beautifully, and will be under warranty. So is buying refurbished or restored pianos simply a financial move? Yes, it is usually less expensive to buy used/refurbished/restored, but there are other important considerations as well:
Environmentally friendly. There are thousands of old pianos in the U.S., waiting for something to be done with them. Without restoration, these are destined for the scrap heap. Not only is it heartbreaking to see these marvelous instruments thrown away, but they also take up a lot of space. Pianos are made mostly of wood and metal, which can be recycled or repurposed, but disassembly is time-consuming and unprofitable, and more often than not, purged pianos simply end up in landfills.
American-made. In the first half of the twentieth century, the United States, particularly New York, Boston, and Chicago, was the center of the piano building industry. There were pianos well over half of American homes, and they were all made here. In 2016, only three companies are still building pianos in the United States; all others are made overseas. These three companies are still building first-rate products, but they are priced accordingly. Buying a piano that was built in an American factory is a not to history and a guarantee of a well-built instrument.
They just don't make 'em like they used to. In the heyday of the American piano industry, each instrument was hand-crafted by highly skilled artisans who spent a lifetime honing their craft. They were assembled, sanded, finished, carved, and regulated by hand. Some pianos today still are, but not all of them. Parts are now mass-produced, cases machine tooled, and every piano coming off a factory floor is pretty much the same as the one that came before it. With only a few exceptions, the piano is no longer both instrument and art.
All right; I'm convinced. But why buy pre-restoration
You're ready to participate in preserving our history and put a restored antique piano in your house. So why would you buy one of my unrestored ones? Naturally, it's far better for me to know the instrument's final sale price before I start work, and more importantly, have a down payment in the bank, but there are advantages for you as well.
Active participation from the start. You've already agreed that it's cool to bring an old piano back from the grave, so why not see that process through from the very beginning? There are even several tasks in which you can actively assist.
There are decisions to be made. If I have a buyer before I start work, we are able to customize the restoration work to individual taste and budget. Want a more responsive keyboard, or a brighter sound? Want to save some money by skipping work that can wait for a few years? Want a more antique-looking finish? Want to choose special casters for the room in which the piano will be placed? All of these things are more easily customized while the work is being done than after the fact.
Lower price. Because of the advantage to me mentioned above, I am always willing to offer a lower price for pre-restoration purchase commitments.