Take my piano, please!
January 2, 2011 7:47 AM   Subscribe

How can I get rid of an old-ish, beat up piano that I do not want to move yet again? I have a Kimball upright piano, no stool. All the keys work, but it has significant cosmetic damage (gouges and scratches on the wood case, the music stand is broken off, some of the keys are chipped on the ends). I'm not sure how old it is, but it is definitely not a valuable antique.

I'm moving in two weeks, and I don't think I can sell it. Is there a good way to give it to someone? Because it is in poor shape, I don't want to give it to anyone who won't realize what they are getting.

What are my options for getting rid of this? Can I donate it somewhere? Is there any chance it will move on craigslist? Is there something I'm not thinking of?
posted by jeoc to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's a working piano - even banged up, I can't imagine it wouldn't get snapped up pretty quickly if listed on craigslist or something. Or another thought would be to put an ad in the classifieds in the newspaper (I'm pretty sure some people do still read those!) offering it cheaply/free for someone who'd pick it up themselves.
posted by Stormfeather at 7:49 AM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Post it on Freecycle; make sure to explicitly note whether or not you can transport it or if you need someone else to pick it up. It sounds like it works, and it's just cosmetic stuff, so I'm sure someone would take it at the price of free.
posted by criacow at 7:56 AM on January 2, 2011

Shop it around to some local schools, charities or community centers, and if they don't want it, Craigslist, Free for pickup.
posted by mhoye at 8:00 AM on January 2, 2011

Seconding Craigslist. I notice that you are in NC. I would cross post it into a few nearby CL cities to get better results. A free working piano will get snatched up fast, even with cosmetic dings.

Also, be a little ruthless when picking a winner for the piano. CL users are notorious for backing on even free deals. You have a timetable and it would be nuts to have this wait till the last minute.
posted by lampshade at 8:09 AM on January 2, 2011

Get a couple of quotes on moving the piano and then sell it for that much ($100?). You can advertise 'great beginner piano - delivered to your door, only $100!'. This would give someone less of a chance of backing out because they couldn't get their buddies to help move etc and because they've given up some of their hard-earned money for the item.
posted by nelvana at 8:25 AM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Free, damaged upright pianos are everywhere on Craigslist. Definitely advertise it as free to anyone who wants to take it away. It is worth precisely nothing.
posted by spitbull at 8:26 AM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Because it is working, I wouldn't advertise for free - I'd put a cheap price on it, say $10 or $20. People tend to assume that things that are free don't work, etc and for some reason I've heard it's usually easier to get rid of bigger ticket items by putting a nominal price on them. Plus, it forces people to make a commitment - CL people (at least those around here) are, in general, notorious flakes (no offence to those people who buy from CL and don't flake out ever, but you're definitely in the minority!).

If getting $20 doesn't work, then give it a go for free.
posted by cgg at 8:31 AM on January 2, 2011

My experience is that most schools, charities or community centers are very wary of offers for free pianos. The cost of transport and proper tuning can turn an offer like this into a very costly one.
Second, the worse way for a child to learn music is with an instrument that is out of tune.

Unless you have maintained the piano - tuning regulation etc your piano is better sent to landfill.

If you have maintained it have the tuner provide a letter stating that it has been tuned recently and will hold the tune. The piano will then be snatched up quickly via any of the ways suggested above.
posted by pianomover at 8:37 AM on January 2, 2011

On Craigslist TO there is a tinkerer/restorer sometimes looking for free beater pianos. Maybe there is someone like this in your area.
posted by ovvl at 8:41 AM on January 2, 2011

After listing his similar piano on freecycle and having two separate people say they wanted it and then fail to show up, one of my relatives got rid of his piano by selling it on ebay (listed as 'for collection only') for about £10. YMMV in your local area, but I'm seconding cgg's suggestion that you put some kind of a price on it.
posted by Lebannen at 9:53 AM on January 2, 2011

Contact piano teachers or school music teachers and see if they know someone who might need the piano and have the ability to move and tune it?
posted by Agatha at 10:38 AM on January 2, 2011

Has it been tuned recently and does it hold it's tuning for long? If it does, that may be worth mentioning. We were "gifted" an old piano that was fully functional but when the tuner came, he said it wasn't worth his time to even try working on it because the tuning pin holes weren't in good shape.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:22 PM on January 2, 2011

If you are just looking to get rid of it, the Salvation Army has a pick-up service for donations. If it is a working piano, I am sure Sally would want it.
posted by Flood at 12:31 PM on January 2, 2011

I just unloaded a baby grand on craigslist. I listed it in the section for musical instruments, not the free section and got a half dozen queries within the first hour. I listed it as free but also clearly stated that I would only consider someone who agreed to bring in a proper moving service (no wheeling it out of my house bungee corded to a skateboard). In the ad, I included a lot of photos of the piano looking its best, along with closeups of the cosmetic damage and a link to an MP3 of the piano being played. Time from the ad being posted to the piano leaving my house was four days.

I had previously spent over three years contacting a huge number of schools, music teachers, and charities, including one that specializes in taking in old pianos but due to the piano's size & condition, none were interested. All expressed a preference for uprights, so maybe that route would work better for you than it did for me. More recently, I also posted it as a Facebook status and had interest from a few friends of friends that ultimately didn't pan out and were time-consuming in that it's socially awkward to prod along a friend's friend who is dithering over a decision.

One possibility: the craigslister who took it brought in a professional piano tuner to look it over. The piano tuner turned out to have a side business restoring and reselling pianos so maybe try calling some local piano tuners, if CL doesn't pan out for you.
posted by jamaro at 2:14 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Definitely get real movers to take it out. A cheap accident moving a piano might put you out a few hundred to repair the floor. Some idiot breaking his leg in three places and deciding that you're to blame could keep you tied up in court for months.
posted by Orb2069 at 7:43 PM on January 2, 2011

I will confirm that local schools and colleges do not want this piano. They are inundated with offers of crappy pianos people want to get rid of.

And absolutely, have it professionally moved.
posted by spitbull at 7:36 AM on January 3, 2011

Popping back in with an update...

An insanely generous neighbor helped us move the piano to the new place. Shortly after the move, I mentioned off-hand at work that I wanted to get rid of my piano. One of my coworkers had just started a kid on piano lessons, and was trying to figure out how to get a piano on the cheap. I told her if she could come get it, it was hers.

She rounded up a couple of beefy relatives and they came and picked it up. The kid is thrilled to have a real piano (was practicing on a keyboard), and the coworker is very happy with it. I'm very happy to know that I won't have to stress about moving it again, and I'm glad it went to someone who can use it.

All good all around.
posted by jeoc at 3:32 PM on March 20, 2011

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