This fifth part in our Guide to Buying Your First Piano series focuses on choosing the right seller. To see the full article and other criteria, click here.
While people usually begin looking at pianos with some of the criteria discussed in this series already in mind, many overlook this last one: credibility and trustworthiness of seller. We’ll explain why this matters just as much as the others.
The Problem of Unequal Knowledge
The buying and selling of pianos causes a problem you probably learned about in your high school economics class: asymmetric information. Sometimes referred to as information failure, this happens when one party to an economic transaction (often the seller) has greater knowledge and understanding than the other party (often the buyer). Although some people looking to buy a piano have a thorough understanding of the differences in values between pianos, most buyers don’t. Unfortunately, this difference in knowledge means that it can be easy for buyers to get taken advantage of.
How can you be sure this doesn’t happen to you?
- Get prepared first. Read this guide. Then look online for specific information on the brand and price range of pianos you are interested in so you have some idea of what to expect before you begin your search.
- Check the facts. If you find a piano you’re interested in from an individual seller or store, write down the information about it. Ask the seller why he chose the price he did. Then go home and do your own research to see if it makes sense.
- Work with trustworthy, credible people. Even with your reading and research, chances are that a big gap in knowledge will still exist between you and the seller. (Or if it’s an individual person selling their own piano, sometimes neither of you have a good sense of the value of the piano.) Not everything about a piano’s value is evident by looking at it. That’s why it’s so important to buy a piano from someone you can trust.
Finding a Credible Seller
So how do you go about making sure a seller is credible? These steps can help:
- Purchase your piano from a reputable piano dealer. Talk to others in the community, especially those with an understanding of pianos and music, to learn about this dealer’s reputation.
- Spend some time with the seller. Ask questions. Look for a seller that doesn’t rush you but who is interested in making sure you get the piano you want and will take time to explain options.
- Be suspicious of a seller that promises the moon. As the saying goes: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. A credible seller will be transparent about the pros and cons of pianos.
- Finally, have a professional piano technician inspect the piano—particularly when you are purchasing a used piano. This unbiased third party can help identify problems you wouldn’t notice on your own.
Now that you’ve read through all the criteria in our guide, are you ready to jump in? While buying a piano can be overwhelming, it should also be exciting! If you’re still feeling a little muddled, stop by our store. We would be happy to show you lots of possibilities, talk through options, and help you find your perfect piano.