We frequently get emails from people looking to buy a used piano they found on Craigslist. It's usually around the $100 price range, and it seems to them to be a great deal, but, they wanted to know what we thought.
The short answer is we don't recommend buying pianos from Craigslist - nothing against Craigslist - you can often find great deals, but pianos usually aren't one of them. Remember, in the piano world, cheap or free does not mean it's a good deal. Cheap or free pianos are like anything else that is free or cheap; it is usually something the owner needs to get rid of ASAP.
We have come across many pianos purchased from Craigslist or similar sites or were given away for free. Some were okay, but most weren't. The top two problems we see with these types of pianos are:
1. The piano was not tuned regularly.
2. The piano was kept in garage or basement.
Pianos that are not tuned regularly or that are stored in rooms or areas where there is no temperature or humidity control will be difficult and costly to repair. And, keep in mind, free or inexpensive pianos typically don't come with a warranty, in fact, most manufacturer warranties expire after ten years, so any repairs are going to be additional. And, the chances are good that you will have to spend a lot of money to get the piano back in playable condition.
OUR TIP . . . If you are in the market for a used piano, go to a reputable dealer. Your local dealer will usually have a specific line of new pianos th
ey sell, but also sell used pianos. These used pianos are typically in pristine condition because the previous owners kept up with regular maintenance and had it in a temperature controlled environment. If you do decide to buy a piano off of Craigslist, make sure you enlist the help of your local Registered Piano Technician. He will know for sure if the piano is truly a good deal!