Author Topic: Free piano. Is it worth it?  (Read 13336 times)

Beckyemerson

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 66
Free piano. Is it worth it?
« on: May 04, 2014, 11:37:47 AM »
A friend offered me her upright piano for free. The only cost would be to move it from her house to mine. My husband and I cannot play but I intend to have my four year old learn when she is a year or two older. She appears to be musically inclined and she has told me numerous times she wants to learn.

To move the piano would cost at least $200 for professionals or I estimate $80 to rent a truck and do it ourselves. I'm not certain we could do it ourselves because she has a number of steps to her front door.

If my daughter already played piano or proved that she is disciplined enough to stick with it I would grab the opportunity but since I am not sure I am hesitant to spend the money to move it.

bobmarley9993

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 59
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2014, 11:47:34 AM »
I would take it.  If u move yourself use moving straps.  Also will need tuning for 100 to 200.

CarDude

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 611
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Beep Beep!
    • The CCD
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2014, 11:55:36 AM »
Before saying yes or no, figure out if it's a real interest or simply an impulse purchase, like buying a candy bar in a checkout line. If it's really something you'd like to do, compare the costs to a digital keyboard too. Unlike an upright, you wouldn't ever need help moving one, and you wouldn't ever need to retune it. The more sophisticated models include weighted and touch sensitive keys too, as well as pedals, and even side covers that make them resemble upright pianos.

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3331
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2014, 04:06:10 PM »
Agreed with PP, free uprights (and even grand models) are not impossible to find.

Recently I went back to playing the piano after being away form it for 30 years. I bought a keyboard with weighted keys, best way EVER to scratch that itch. It was around $600 but there was no moving problems, finding a place downstairs for it, getting the tuner to come out, staying home for the tuning appointment, etc. Plug 'n play, it was great! And I was picky about wanting a piano that more or less felt like a real one. This one does the trick.

RetiredAt63

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11365
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2014, 04:12:30 PM »
Ah, the dynamics of kids taking piano lessons  ;-)  Have you seen 2 Pianos, 4 Hands? It's a hilarious take on this.

Your child might prefer a different instrument, or not be interested at all.  It is easy to find upright pianos, I would wait until you knew you wanted one.

Paul der Krake

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4608
  • Age: 11
  • Location: USA
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2014, 04:16:36 PM »
Make sure the piano doesn't have a history of needing frequent tunings. Many of the pianos given away are beyond repair and unless you have the time and knowledge to learn how to tune them yourself become very annoying.

William

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 195
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Nebraska
    • First Quarter Finance
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2014, 04:42:39 PM »
When my sister was younger she wanted a horse to ride.  My parents bought her a horse and I honestly don't remember her riding it once.

My vote goes to buying your daughter a keyboard first and upgrading from there.

oceanbreeze

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Location: Massachusetts
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2014, 04:57:32 PM »
When our daughter was 5, she asked to learn how to play the piano. My parents had a free upright and we paid to have it moved. She started lessons, in the beginning very low key. When she practiced, I always sat in the living room and listened and encouraged. She took lessons all through school. Played in the school jazz band. While in college and grad school she would use a piano room and play to de-stress. It brings her great pleasure today, and we continue to enjoy her playing when she visits. She has her ph.d in engineering and is currently working in Nairobi . Yesterday she mentioned how much she misses playing so she looked at renting a digital piano as pianos are crazy expensive to buy.
There's nothing like the sound of music in the house. I vote to get the piano and encourage the child.

Mrs. Frugalwoods

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 354
  • Location: Vermont
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2014, 05:27:35 PM »
I agree--free uprights are fairly common (at least on my regional Craigslist). I scoured for months, but realized that the moving and tuning costs would end up being exorbitant. There's also the future moving costs to consider since it's not a piece of furniture you'll be able to move yourself.

Like others on this thread, I instead bought an electric, weighted-key piano on sale and am very happy with both the sound quality, the fact that we can move it ourselves, and that it doesn't require maintenance.

Beckyemerson

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 66
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2014, 05:43:15 PM »
Thanks for all the advice. I think we are going to pass it up. There is a good chance we will move at least once or twice in the next five years. I think a digital piano would be a better fit for our family.

Emg03063

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 458
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2014, 05:54:04 PM »
Before you even go that far, invest in a free app for the piano like piano free.  I got my nephew started on keyboard with it.  You can make the keys rainbow colored and then color code their sheet music to match.  Works great for young kids.

zolotiyeruki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3262
  • Location: State: Denial
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2014, 08:01:17 PM »
I'm going to be a bit contrarian here.  I took piano lessons all the way through high school (and even got to solo once with a real orchestra!), and still play casually.  There's definitely a lot of nuance to acquiring a piano.  I may be a snob, but I haven't yet found a digital piano that feels or sounds quite right.  There's nothing quite like the authentic touch and playing characteristics of a real high-quality piano.

Like a lot of big or one-time purchases, you need to weigh your actual needs.  We fully expect to get at least a good 18-20 years of good, hard use out of our piano (5.5 kids, expect to do piano lessons for all, plus my wife and I play), so we happily shelled out $3000 for a used-but-like-new Yamaha upright.  If you only see this as a short-term thing, or only a casual thing, then a big, heavy, expensive piano that requires regular tuning may not be for you.

One other thing on the maintenance (if you decide to go with an acoustic piano)--you can limit the frequency of required tunings greatly if you 1) buy a good quality piano, 2) avoid worn-out pianos, and 3) keep it at a constant or near-constant temperature. And, heh, 4) don't care about it being perfectly in tune. :)

samburger

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 257
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2014, 07:50:24 AM »
My husband is conservatory trained and a professional pianist. We have a Yamaha S90ES at home, because a real piano isn't a great option for people who are moving a lot. . . .

Perspective: a 4 year old will acquire the skill of smashing their sticky little fingers on piano keys regardless of quality. Fancy instruments don't matter until, at least, several years into playing. I'm a classically trained musician who's played on $100 instruments and $10,000 instruments, electronic and not. Didn't matter until I was probably 7 years into it, maybe even 10. As an adult, I still don't bother with anything fancy when I pick up something new, just something serviceable until I'm years on.

I'm going to be a bit contrarian here.  I took piano lessons all the way through high school (and even got to solo once with a real orchestra!), and still play casually.  There's definitely a lot of nuance to acquiring a piano.  I may be a snob, but I haven't yet found a digital piano that feels or sounds quite right.

You're right that the $350 electric you're banging on in Best Buy definitely isn't as subtle as a quality string-and-hammer piano, but hardcore musicians are dealing in electrics that cost in the thousands. I grew up in studios, smashing my sticky little kid fingers on $7,000 worth of electric keyboard, so I know what I'm talking about ;)

kite

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 592
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2014, 01:11:01 PM »
Like others have said, free uprights are everywhere.   But that doesn't say anything about the quality of the free piano offered to you.  I bought an excellent piano that is 50 +years old and sounds great.  I regularly play my mother's electronic piano and I've used keyboards for a while, too.  The right sound is the right sound,  and nothing else compares.  If it's a good piano,  the price to move it is both a bargain and less than a decent keyboard.   If it isn't a good one, even free delivery makes it unworthy, ie..cracked soundboard, missing keys, etc.  I try only to take into my home that which I'd be willing to pay for.  Saves me the trouble of eventual disposal.   
I only need to have mine tuned once each year.   

eil

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 246
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2014, 03:54:44 PM »
There's no such thing as a free piano...

As others have noticed, free pianos show up on craigslist quite literally all the time. Before taking up an offer for a free piano, stop and think about why so many people might be willing to give up their perfectly-working pianos for free.

1) Moving a piano is a huge pain. If you don't do it yourself (of course you would, you're mustachian!), you would have to pay someone to move it.

2) Like anything else, pianos require maintenance and care, which consume both time and money.

3) Pianos require a pretty good amount of space in your home. (This is my main objection to them.)

4) If your kid decides he/she doesn't want to play piano, then all of your efforts expended in 1-3 have been wasted and you will find yourself putting the piano up on craigslist in the "free" section some time in the next five years.

If you want your child to have the opportunity to learn to play piano, look for an electronic keyboard with weighted keys. These used to be called "digital pianos," I'm not sure what they call them these days. They cost a bit of money, but if you buy one right, it will hold its value as long as you take care of it. It will not require much, if any maintenance, It will not take up much space, it can be stored and transported easily, it will likely have MIDI capability so that when your child gets older and becomes a budding little musician, he/she can connect it to a computer and instantly have an audio workstation. Oh yes, and the child and play it with headphones! :D

No, it will not have exactly the same sound and feel as a genuine piano. Trust me on this: your four-year-old simply won't care.

EMP

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 344
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2014, 04:09:42 PM »
Oh yes, and the child and play it with headphones! :D

And we have a winner!  :D

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3331
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2014, 07:27:27 PM »
Yes, the headphones were the deciding factor for me.

I was skeptical that any keyboard could approach the sound and feel of a regular piano, but mainly  I wanted to play it at night when DH was sleeping, so when I found weighted keys and headphones, I was on it.

ysette9

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5350
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • Insert Snappy Title Here (Journal)
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2014, 08:02:13 PM »
As other posters have stated, you need to figure out whether your kid will be playing the piano for a while or not. That said, as a parent, you have control over that to a large degree. Some people let their kids stop taking lessons when they stop showing an interest in the instrument; in my household growing up, there was no option not to practice the piano. We complained about it, sure, but in the long run I am very glad I learned piano, even if it is mainly different instruments I play for fun as an adult.

If your kid is going to stick with it for some time, I highly recommend you end up with a decent upright piano. Not a keyboard, not a baby grand (those things are awful), a real piano. Since you aren't musical yourself, ask a music teacher or musical friend to help you pick a decent one. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it is important that it sounds good, that you regularly tune it, and that the key action is good. This all will matter more and more as your kid continues lessons because you will essentially be training her ear and her touch which are both crucial to playing decently. This might be hard since these qualities are things you likely won't be able to distinguish yourself, not having that musical training.

Whatever you do, please don't get an old, cheap, piano and let it sit in the corner untuned for years. It is so painful for me to hear someone's neglected piano crying out with a warbled and tinny voice because its owner can't tell the difference! :)

jba302

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 623
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2014, 08:04:52 PM »
I taught myself to tune a piano. It's fairly easy on an upright, takes about 2 hours with the right tools and a tuner.

penny

  • Guest
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2014, 09:15:17 PM »
I don't think it is without reason that if you put it out there, at some point someone will pay to have one delivered to you. I'm not even from a piano family, and in the past two years I've had three family members pay for piano delivery-simply because they needed to get it out before they moved, and the idea of junking it was too tough for them to handle. If you really want a piano, and live street level, just put an ad on craigslist about your cut kid needing a piano, and something should come of it pretty quick.

EDIT: Grammar
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 09:23:17 PM by penny »

The Happy Philosopher

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 343
    • thehappyphilosopher
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2014, 11:28:43 PM »
I'm going to be a bit contrarian here.  I took piano lessons all the way through high school (and even got to solo once with a real orchestra!), and still play casually.  There's definitely a lot of nuance to acquiring a piano.  I may be a snob, but I haven't yet found a digital piano that feels or sounds quite right.  There's nothing quite like the authentic touch and playing characteristics of a real high-quality piano.

Like a lot of big or one-time purchases, you need to weigh your actual needs.  We fully expect to get at least a good 18-20 years of good, hard use out of our piano (5.5 kids, expect to do piano lessons for all, plus my wife and I play), so we happily shelled out $3000 for a used-but-like-new Yamaha upright.  If you only see this as a short-term thing, or only a casual thing, then a big, heavy, expensive piano that requires regular tuning may not be for you.

One other thing on the maintenance (if you decide to go with an acoustic piano)--you can limit the frequency of required tunings greatly if you 1) buy a good quality piano, 2) avoid worn-out pianos, and 3) keep it at a constant or near-constant temperature. And, heh, 4) don't care about it being perfectly in tune. :)

Agree. Any piano or keyboard will do for a beginner, but I've found there is a point where it is a lot more enjoyable to play on a high quality instrument. Sometimes schools unload good pianos for decent prices so worth checking into.  Also consider learning to play piano yourself. A musical instrument is a great relatively inexpensive hobby (well it can be expensive if you let it).

paddedhat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2229
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2014, 06:38:18 AM »
Living in a rural area, this is a lot like that occasional question from friends and neighbors, "hey, are you interested in a free horse?"

If it's just a friendly local asking, I politely thank them for the offer, but decline. If it's a friend, I usually step it up with, "are you stoned, or did you somehow reach the conclusion that I suddenly became a moron?"

As for a free piano, a bit like a free set of encyclopedias, eh?  The only "free" part is you "freeing" the owner from the cost of hauling and disposal.

higgins2013

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2014, 05:26:41 PM »
Pay for a piano-tuner to go to your friend's house and assess piano.  IF IT'S WORTH SAVING, perhaps tune it then and there, to determine everything is "ok", and then pay to move it and retune it when it arrives in your home.  And use a professional piano mover, or a mover recommended by a piano store; this is a precision move and not a "strap it to the side of the truck" move.  Note: pianos are presently difficult to sell, and or often donated or destroyed, per a NYTimes article I read.  A lot of free pianos are junk.  Worst case scenario is you pay to move this free piano and then discover it has a cracked board or broken strings/keys, and your facing decision to pay big bucks to repair it, or need to dispose of it altogether yourself.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 05:28:38 PM by higgins2013 »

Jags4186

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 596
Re: Free piano. Is it worth it?
« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2014, 05:50:13 PM »
Have the piano checked out. If it is in good shape it's worth moving and having tuned. If you are serious about learning or having your child learn DO NOT learn on a keyboard and switch.   You'll end up buying a keyboard for $500-$750 and then having to upgrade to a piano anyway.

Worst case scenario you give it away free to someone and you're out a few $100 for the initial move/tune.