Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/buying a piano off of craigslist


Hi Ralph,

I noticed a couple of pianos on Craigslist at what seems to be a really good price (perhaps too good?).  My 5 year old daughter has expressed an interest in the piano, and my husband and I both like the thougth of having a piano in the house to tinker on.  So we would like to find a decent piano to have for now, with the intentions of getting a better quality one down the road if anyone in the family developes any real intentions to play. I'm still at home with the littlest one, so we don't have a large budget right now.  I plan on bringing along someone who knows more about pianos than I do when I go to see them, but would like some imput to hopefully avoid wasting everyone's time.

Here are the pianos I found:

1971 Wurlitzer upright piano Model #2616, serial number 1452366 for $250.  The post says that the family is the sole owner, and that it was not played much.  Should I be concerned about the age?

A Janssen with a serial number of 167703 for 250.  It is 3 feet high, which makes me think it might be a spinet, which I am given to understand should be avoided.  Is this correct?

A Melville Clark (Apollo) Upright which was converted from an auto player for $200.  I know you don't answer questions about player pianos, but is a conversion possible, or something to be weary of?

The last is a Jessie French and Sons for $200, but I don't know a serial number or any other info, so I guess I can't ask you anything specific.

I know this is lenghty, but any insight you can share is greatly appreciated!!  Thanks so much!


Hi Sally:

The Wurlitzer upright in 1971 is not that old for pianos. I'm going to guess it's about 42 inches high and a console. At that serial number the manufacturing date shows up as 1977. And at the price...I'm guessing it's a good buy as long as there are no major problems.

The Janssen was made in the 60's. Between a console in the 70's and a spinet in the 60's...I would go with the console.

The Melville Clark was part of Story and Clark. when you say converted from...do you mean the player stuff was removed????

The French piano could go back as far as 1953 and beyond.

So far, the Wurlitzer is winning.

Are these pianos local???

Don't take a piano teacher with you to look at them, take a registered member of the Piano Technicians Guild. You would have verified the status of the piano AND found a tech to take care of it.

Go to http://www.ptg.org to find a tech in your area.

Let me know how you do and if I can help further.

Oh...if none of these pianos pan out, chances are that registered technician has clients willing to sell pianos they no longer use and the tech will already know the condition!

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Ralph Onesti


I am a Registered/tested member of the Piano Technicians Guild (RPT) with 49 years of experience in all phases and levels of the acoustic piano. I will answer any questions regarding acoustic pianos only. All questions and answers are to remain public. Please to not include sensitive material! If they are marked private, I will change them to public. My answers may be of assistance to others. If privacy is an issue, please contact me through my web site: http://www.onestipiano.com Electronic keyboards, organs, and player/reproducing piano mechanisms are outside of my expertise. Anything to do with: Construction, Service, Tuning, Climate Control Systems, Piano Disc, Purchasing, Selling, Insurance Appraisal, Rebuilding, Repairs, Legal issues, Maintenance, Environmental issues, Finish issues with acoustic pianos. My full resume can be found at: http://onestipiano.com/pages/history.html You can like us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/onestipianoservice


In business since 1964, Extensive Rebuilding/Repair/Service facility. A certified, tested, member of the Piano Technicians Guild, Member of the Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. Have performed piano service on Concert Stage, Recording Studios, and in the home. Http://www.onestipiano.com. The shop's work comes from all over the world from private clients or other techncians.

The Piano Technicians Guild, Master Piano Technicians of America, Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. (TASA), IAPBT. The Piano Technicians Guild is the only organization in the US that offers a certification test to become Registered. There are no "factory authorized techncians".

The Piano Technicians Journal

Attented Temple University, Drexel University, Philadelphia Community college all in the areas of engineering and Music. I taught a two semester course in Piano Technology and the related acoustical physics at Temple University. I have taught extensively for the Piano Technicians Guild and the Master Piano Technicians of America.

Awards and Honors
Service Award for the Rose Tree Media School District in Pennsylvania. Chapter Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild.

Past/Present Clients
The list is rather extensive. I would suggest you go http://onestipiano.com/pages/testimonials.html where there is a comprehensive list of clients past and present.

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