Maybe it’s just not for you. Maybe you’ve tried, but you don’t have the time, patience, or will to learn piano. And that’s OK. Look, I firmly believe that everyone is capable of playing the piano. However, some will find that it’s just not for them, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’ve decided you don’t want to learn any more, or you haven’t played in years, this presents you with a big problem.
How on earth do you get rid of this piano?
If you went out and bought a brand new baby grand, I’m going to suggest that this article is not for you. You’ll be far better off selling your piano on the private market, for which you’ll probably make most of your money back. No, this article is for those that picked up a cheap upright for a few hundred dollars/pounds/euros/etc, or were learning on their grandma’s old piano that hasn’t been tuned in years. How do you get rid of this thing?
The Cold, Hard Truth
Many people who’ve had a piano in their house for years and have decided to get rid of it may think that they can just sell it privately. It’s not uncommon for pianos in private homes to be nearly 100 years old. Usually they were bought by grandparents or great grandparents when the only form of entertainment at home was to have a piano there. No TV, no radio, no computers, nothing. Only music.
Some people might be misled into thinking that because the piano is old, it’s an antique, and it’s worth something. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Now, I’m not saying old pianos are worthless. If you have a 100 year old Steinway or Bechstein that’s been properly looked after, chances are it’s worth quite a lot. However, it’s more likely that you have an old, out of tune, generic branded piano. These pianos are not worth anything. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but a piano is not worth anything as furniture. It’s only worth money if it’s usable as an instrument. Many of these old pianos have sat neglected for years, have sticky keys, cracked soundboards, all sorts of problems that make them next to useless for a serious musician.
You’re very unlikely to be able to sell a really old piano, especially if it’s between 80 - 100 years old and hasn’t been played in a while. In fact, you will end up PAYING someone to have them take it away if you’re unlucky. Which brings me to the point of this article - how to get rid of a piano for free.
How to Get Rid of a Piano for Free
Now, you may think I’ve just said that old pianos are worthless, but that’s not quite true. They’re worthless to any serious musician. They may be just fine for a beginner or an intermediate player. So, you may find that there is someone willing to take the piano off your hands for free, but it depends on where you advertise it.
You may want to go to the local classified boards, or classified ad sites such as craigslist or Gumtree. More often than not, someone will be willing to take your piano off your hands for you. Offer it to them as sold as seen with local pickup only. First come, first serve. The first person that turns up with a truck gets to take the piano away with them.
You may also consider giving it to a local charity shop or goodwill store. This is potentially a little more challenging, as it depends on the store being large enough, coupled with the fact that they may not want to take such a large, heavy item.
However, I’ve seen all sorts of things sold in these stores, including pianos, so it may be worth trying your luck. Often the charity will come and pick it up for you if you ask them to. This is a win/win - you get the piano taken off your hands without costing you anything, and if someone purchases it in the store, the money goes to a good cause.
You may also consider websites such as pianoadoption.com, which is similar to a classified ads site, but just for pianos. There are alternatives, but this is the most famous one. However, you may find the selection limited, as people are more familiar with and therefore more likely to use sites such as craigslist, eBay, etc. Of course, if someone is willing to take it off you, someone is going to have to pay to move it. This should be the recipient of the piano; make sure you insist on it.
Despite all that’s been said, you may actually be able to extract some cash out of your piano. If it’s in working order and can hold a tune, you may be able to put it on eBay for $50 - $100, or if you’re really lucky, sell it to a local dealer. However, depending on the condition of your piano, the probability of this ranges from slightly feasible to almost zero.
If you know the condition of your piano, or really believe it’s not just worth something sentimentally, this is an avenue worth exploring. However, don’t expect big bucks. Make sure you take decent pictures, add a truthful description and price sensibly. I wrote an article about where to sell your piano that might help you out if you choose to go down this route.
As sad as it is, this is probably the most likely option for most people. If you’ve tried the other options, and nobody is interested, this may be the only way you’ll get rid of your piano. Be aware that this is probably going to cost you some money - the landfill site may charge you to get dump it, or you can potentially pay your local authority to come and collect it from you and dispose of it accordingly. There are also private companies who will come and take your piano away for you.
Sadly, as much as these old instruments hold sentimental value, they don’t have much worth beyond that. If you no longer want your piano, and you’ve tried every way you can to get someone to take it off you and keep using it, you should feel no shame for disposing of it. It’s probably existed for far beyond its’ expected life anyway.
You may live to regret getting rid of your piano. If you’re not absolutely sure you don’t want to learn, your kids/husband/wife/partner/roommate doesn’t want to learn, then keep your piano around. You might be glad you did. However, there may be better options than your 100 year old upright piano; either a new keyboard, or a new digital piano.
13 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of a Piano for Free”
I want to donate an old piano, Carl Seilor, still using, 50H x 60W.
It needs tunning.
I want to donate my piano to some one who need it. But need tuning.
Maker Laffargue, New York. Upright and brown equipped with Auto playing.
I want to donate an old piano. It’s in good condition and would love a young person to benefit from learning to play. All it needs is tuning.
I would tare the piano down. Guitar builders are looking for old sound boards the top of the piano may be spruce as well. I collect 100 year old pianos to build my guitars. These sound boards came from a time when the wood was a lot older than today’s trees. In the 1900s there where a lot of trees that where 100s of years old. You can not find trees like that anymore.
Love this idea! TY
I just disassembled an upright piano made – probably – before the end of the 19th century. I saw its picture on Craigslist in the “Free” section and wanted the wood on the outside, and maybe some of the wood inside for small projects. The piano repairman who got the keys – for free – said the hammer mechanism was a very poor mechanism – making it worthless as a piano now, not counting the other problems making it untunable. There may be woodworkers in your area who will take a piano for its parts to make something completely different from them.
I have an old, but stylish upright piano that we need to get out of our home. The sounding board has been replaced about 20 years ago, and has decent sound in spite of its age. It would also be perfect fo repurposing into a desk or a beverage server/bar. It was painted a creamy white and antiqued before we bought it 45 years ago, but is attractive to look at, and helped our son determine that playing piano was for him, and we eventually purchased a new Kimball piano soon after that is still in use. Would love for this piano to find a new lifestyle and home. I have photos available.
My sister has an old upright piano at her house and we need to get rid of it it has a lot of history. I would love to give it to anyone All It needs is Tuning.
I have a upright that I’ve had for about 30 years that I would like to get rid of. My kids took lessons & are grown & gone now. I would love to give it to someone who is or would like to learn to play. I would hate to just trash it when there is nothing wrong other than needs tuning.and someone could benefit from it.
Sadly, my story echoes many of the previous ones. Our son learned to play on this very old, upright grand about 25 years ago and he played beautifully! The piano has gorgeous tone (although it does need to be tuned) and is quite lovely. I wouldn’t mind if someone used it’s parts for something else. But I don’t want to junk it! We can even help to relocate it locally (in Western Pa.) with our truck and trailer. Suggestions?
For those donating or giving a student a piano — at least have the courtesy to tune it first — you probably haven’t tuned it in years and it needs a pitch raise. That way at least you will find out if any strings break during the tuning, and if the technician finds any other “deal breaker” problems. It will cost about $150 — less if you just want to have them take a look to see if there are any bad problems. The recipient will also have to have a tuning done after the move, but it will be more of a regular tuning rather than a pitch raise. And I wouldn’t even bother for most pianos older than 20-30 years or so. (OK, my upright is 40 years old and still OK, but that was a well-made upright from a decent company that hasn’t been abused).
The piano needs to be tuned in the new environment after it has settled.
I don’t see the point in tuning before transfer and then after. My piano company told me this.
Mine sounds fine and it’s been tuned some time ago. I would not tune before giving it away.
If all else fails the local scrap metal merchant will take it in – you might even get a small amount for it as there is a lot of metal in there. Here in the UK we are currently getting about 100 pounds per tonne for ‘mixed metal’, about US$120, Sad but true, and better than going into land fill. And how do they get the metal out? The whole thing will be shredded to iron filings in some gigantic and terrifying machine and then mechanically sorted, the same process as with old cars, fridges and so on.