BBC News – Will your piano end up in the dump?
John Gregory of J Reid pianos in London explains how he disposes of instruments which have reached the end of their natural lives
Many old pianos are now being dumped, abandoned, neglected, smashed – even burnt. Why is this happening, and should we care?
The advert is up, her husband has spread the word at work, but 12 weeks on and Karen Harper from Baltimore, Maryland just can’t find a taker for her piano – not even free of charge.
“I’ve had no calls – nothing whatsoever,” she says matter-of-factly.
But her husband is starting to lose patience, and has threatened to take the thing apart “bit by bit” if they don’t find a new home for it soon.
The piano in question – an upright Wessel, Nickel & Gross built in 1927 – is in good condition, she says, and still plays well.
Karen bought the piano when her children were young, but now she just needs the space.
“My daughter loves it – if she knew it was going to a good home it would be easier.”
The thought of it being destroyed would devastate her, says Karen. “It’s a hard decision to make over a piano.”
Unceremoniously upturned in a rubbish tip, and picked away at for pieces, was the sorry end for the Windsor Baby Grand piano at Sandy Spring Friends School, also in Maryland.
A local piano restorer had hoped to take it, says teacher Cathryn Carnevale, but the cost of repair would have been much greater than its value. It would have been for love not money – and when a big tax bill came in, he just couldn’t afford it.
“It’s like a human, it slowly goes downhill in terms of its health,” says John Gist, of Gist Piano Center in Louisville, Kentucky, which sells and restores pianos.
“There are more and more pianos reaching extinction, needing to go to the graveyard.
“I get 10 to 15 calls a day from people saying ‘So how much is my piano worth?’”
But the reality is, says Gist, sentimental value aside, many old pianos are worthless, though a top-name brand like a Steinway will hold its value well.
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