Robert Estrin - piano expert

The myth of the $1,000 piano

Have you ever thought of buying a cheap piano? Watch this video...

If you have ever thought of buying a cheap piano, be sure to watch this video to understand how to move into the piano market without regrets and only benefits.

Released on March 26, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi. I'm Robert Estrin here at and Today's subject is the "Myth of the $1,000 Piano." How could this be? You see them all the time. We're going to cover this today and see is it really a myth or are there a $1,000 pianos out there.

Well, here's the analogy for you. If you've ever looked on Craigslist or other online sources for a car, you can find lots of car for a $1,000 or less. That's right. They're out there. But anybody who's buying a car, even less than $3,000, knows that you're going to have to put some work into it in order to make it operate and function safely. Maybe it needs tires, maybe there's something more serious wrong with it. Well, the same thing is true of pianos.

Now, there are some under a $1,000 pianos or piano-like instruments. There are keyboards, for example, that call themselves pianos and for certain purposes they could be functional. And, yes, there are some decent digitals starting at about the $800 mark.

Now, the other place where you can sometimes, if you search out enough for them, look on your local Craigslist, there are a lot of uprights that are incredibly cheap. And if you don't mind the old-fashioned furniture styles that were popular years ago, sometimes you could find a piano that's sat in a house for a long time, maybe you could pick it up for $300 or $400, put another few $100 in regulating, pitch raise, tuning, action lubrication, voicing, and you could have a perfectly good piano for less than a $1,000, if you're willing to do the work and have the resources.

What you will not find, however, is a high quality instrument that's suitable for an advanced player. At that price point, it's pretty much impossible. The idea that there's somebody who has some Steinway Grand that they don't know what they have, that is where the real myth is. Even under $5,000, to find a high quality piano, takes a lot of work, and almost always requires some additional work to put it on a high level.

So it depends on what your purposes are. If it's just to have a keyboard to practice on or maybe an upright, you don't mind doing some leg work, there are some under a $1,000 pianos. But set your sights realistically, and I think you'll do fine. Thanks for joining me. Robert Estrin here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Dawn * VSM MEMBER * on April 19, 2014 @7:43 pm PST
Hi Robert. I found a beautiful piano it's a Hazelton Brothers 1899 parlor grand piano, an antique shop sold it to me for $3,500. It needs a few things their are some broken strings, needs a tunning, a few hammers need reshaped. My question for you, this piano is the real deal it's made of Honduras wood and has real ivory (now light yellow) keys. How do I care for the wood? It's not plastic, I'm sure I'll want to dust it or wipe it down but how do you do that with something 115 yrs old?
Robert - host, on April 21, 2014 @10:44 am PST
If the finish is O.K., simply dust with a soft cotton cloth. If there are smudges, you can dampen the cloth slightly and rub in the direction of the wood grain.
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on March 27, 2014 @5:12 pm PST
Thanks for the explanation, Robert. My current upright Yamaha is perfect for me, I love it!
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on March 26, 2014 @6:39 pm PST
Some 30 years ago, I got lucky to find a massive good upright piano, at least 50 years old, made in Chicago. Extremely heavy, it took 4 strong men to get it in the living room. There was an odd problem with that piano, the keyboard was higher than any other piano I had owned. By any chance would you know why? It was a problem for a short person like me, I had to use an antique "rotary" stool and sit on the edge in order to rest the feet on the floor. I am not sure now, but I think the brand name was Campbell.
Robert - host, on March 27, 2014 @10:02 am PST
You have noticed a fact of pianos - the keyboards are at different heights! Overall, Asian pianos have higher keyboards than American pianos.

Sometimes with older pianos, when casters are replaced, this can change the height of the keyboard. If you have caster cups under the wheels, this too can change the height.

Nevertheless, there are varying heights of keyboards on pianos. Many older uprights have higher keyboards than smaller uprights.

The best solution is to have an adjustable artist bench so you can sit at the ideal position. Thanks for the interesting observation!
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