Almost every day we at www.American-Steinway.com, the largest wholesalers in the world of pre-owned Steinway pianos, are bombarded with the question, “What is my Steinway Piano worth?” “How much can I sell my piano for?” as well as similar questions. If one doesn’t stop to think about this question it seems plausible in itself and legitimate to ask such as question. But truthfully, if a stranger walked up to you and said, “What will you give me for this 1919 baseball glove signed by Babe Ruth?” You might say, “Nothing” if you didn’t understand its value, or you might say, “$100,000” if you saw the worth in it. So the question must be answered with many other prerequisite questions that I will outline below.
First, what year is the piano? The older pianos are not necessarily more valuable than the newer. For example, an 1882, 85-note piano, generally doesn’t get as much as a 1899 88-note piano simply because the demand for 88-note pianos is greater than 85-note pianos.
Secondly, Steinway made many improvements to their piano over the years, and had a few setbacks—for example, in the 1960s when Teflon was introduced to the pianos, most of these pianos eventually needed altered because there were problems with the Teflon. So finding out about the exact date and period of the piano is certainly part of the equation.
Next, what is the overall condition of the piano—this seems simple enough, but is really quite complicated to the untrained eye. For example, a piano that has had poor climitization will most likely have a poor soundboard, poor action, rusty strings, etc. etc., that certainly deteriorates the value of the piano. On the other hand, a piano that has been carefully tended to will tend to have a better resale value.
Fourth is the rarity of the piano. For example, some of the styles made by Steinway, such as Brazilian Rosewood C pianos are so much more rare than the ubiquitous Model M pianos, that the rarity of the wood and the size in itself make them much for value for the seller.
Finally, and this is the most important factor, regardless of everything else, and was implied at the beginning of this article: the demand for the instrument makes it truly worth its value. Some instrument periods and times have a high demand, sometimes for no apparent reason except that they are simply in vogue, so we would recommend you use a service such as ours at American-steinway.com to ascertain the current market for your piano. If you request the Steinway factory to give you the current market value and you spend hundreds of hours attempting to sell your instrument with no luck, could it be because the value of your piano was inflated or simply because you are just attempting to sell it at the wrong time? Actually, the difference is insignificant. What is significant is that you sell the instrument for a price you can accept in a time-frame you can accept. That is the value of your instrument. No more and no less.
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