My Vintage Upright Piano (It Was Free!)

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I took piano lessons for a few years as a kid and really liked it, but after my piano teacher moved away I pretty much stopped playing. It was always something I enjoyed, so flash forward over 20 years to my early 30s where I am, once again, learning to play piano. So I thought I’d share my vintage upright piano that I play on that I got for free.

I recently had someone come in and tune it and I was lucky to find it’s in pretty good shape on the inside. No major rusting, and the hammers aren’t worn to the point of needing replacement anytime soon. The biggest issue is that as a mid-range piano, it doesn’t do a great job of allowing a variety of tone.

We also didn’t tune it quite to concert pitch so that it would be more gentle on the strings.

That being said, I love that it’s from the early 70s – it really shows that off in the design. The thin legs match my vintage-inspired dining room and they look wonderful.

There are some small imperfections with this free piano, though. There’s a broken d# key (actually, there were two, but the repair guy fixed one) that we still need to replace. There are also a few scruffs where it’s been damaged, and a spot where some of the finishing has come off and it’s been coloured in.

We can easily repair or restore these minor imperfections, but at the moment I haven’t put the time in because it’s not our forever piece. One day, and once I have the abilities to go with it, we’ll probably upgrade to a baby grand or something like that.

Pictures of My Vintage Upright Piano

My old vintage piano up close - you can see some wear like a missing key, but it's in good shape
Close-ish up of our upright piano

I keep my piano in the dining room. I try and avoid putting too many things on top so it’s accessible to open, and also because I’m not a fan of piano clutter. Since there’s a plug in nearby it has become the best place for our record player. But I think it looks fine on top anyway.

Vintage piano in the dining room with posters advertising alcohol from the 60s and 70s above
Piano with the lid open

Above the piano we have some vintage alcohol advertisements that I got off Etsy and stuck into dollar store frames. I’ll probably swap the frames at some point, but we’re on a budget so it’s not a top priority.

Piano with the lid closed
With the lid closed

Are Free Pianos Worth It?

You always see this question around, mostly because these things pop up all the time. Free piano, all you have to do is move it out of wherever it is located. Usually the place is somewhere weird like the 2nd story or basement. How did all these people get their pianos to these spots in the first place?

“Free” pianos are almost never free. There are two big costs associated with free pianos: moving it and tuning or repair.

The first, moving a piano, can really range depending on your situation. I have a friend who successfully moved a free piano but getting a bunch of guys together and just straight up lifting it. They used this method again to move it to their new home.

If you hire a moving company you’re looking at several hundred dollars. I believe we were quoted $400, but that can really range depending on where you live, where it is/going, and mileage.

Once the piano is moved there’s the issue of tuning or repair. If you’re getting a free piano, try your best to make sure it’s free of any major repairs that will cost hundreds (or sometimes thousands). Moving will almost always put a piano out of tune, so you will need to factor in tuning costs regardless of how it starts out.

Tuning again ranges in prices. We live rurally and employ a “small city” tuner whose rates I found very inexpensive. We paid about $120 to have our piano tuned, and that’s partially because it required two passes.

Moving Our Free Piano

To move our free piano, and seriously I cannot make this up, we carried it over in the bucket of skid steer. The kind folks who gave us the piano lived about a km away so it wasn’t too bad.

Then we lifted it up into our side door that opens to the living room and four of us moved it over the doorway lip inside. It’s on wheels so we just have it situated quite near that spot.

For us, the free piano was definitely worth it.

How Much Does an Upright Piano Weigh?

They can range anywhere from 200 to 1000 pounds, with most being around 300-500lbs. If you’re thinking about moving one yourself, keep in mind that this weight is distributed more to one side (the back). The piano will feel heavy even with several people lifting it at once.

See this guide for how to move a piano.

Are Old Upright Pianos Still Good?

Not everything that’s old is still worth using, and the same can sometimes be said for musical instruments. As they age, instruments wear down and need increasingly costly repairs. In some cases you may even need to replace a large portion of strings or hammers just to get an old piano working again.\

If cared for properly, old upright pianos can last decades. Some people are even playing ones that have been around for a century or more! Assuming all is good with the piano don’t hesitate to grab an old piano if that’s all you have access to.

Sometimes a high quality old piano can be even better than a newer, cheaper model.

How Does my Old Vintage Piano that I Got For Free Sound?

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