The Truth About College Piano Sales

For many students and their families, the purchase of a piano is an important investment in their musical education. However, purchasing a piano can be a daunting task, especially for those who are new to the world of pianos. Many people turn to college piano sales as a way to find a quality instrument at an affordable price. Unfortunately, there are several details left out of the marketing of these sales that when discovered makes many buyers sour on the buying process and reflect poorly on the industry. 

It is important to understand that college piano sales are often conducted by piano manufacturers or retailers, who are looking to sell pianos to students and their families. While these sales may appear to be sponsored by the college or university, they are often just a marketing strategy. Most often, a local piano dealer (who are usually connected to major global manufacturers) has already partnered with the university to provide instruments for their school of music which are replaced every few years. In turn, the university is expected to host an annual sale promoting an “out with the old, in with the new” promotion that boasts a selection of university-level instruments now available for purchase by the public. Unfortunately this marketing strategy is problematic for two reasons.

Reason #1: Pianos in nearly all universities suffer severe wear and tear. By the time a university piano needs to be replaced, it is more or less unplayable and no longer suitable for music study. Normally used pianos that come to dealers from a university are not immediately sellable as they require quite a bit of technical attention if not a complete rebuild. 

So then, where are the used pianos coming from?! This question brings us to:

Reason #2: Many of the piano selection customers see at college sales were never used by the university. They come directly from the local dealer or manufacturer who had an existing relationship with the university. Chances are very high that you will not be purchasing a piano that was actually part of the university’s music program. You are likely purchasing the same piano you could find in a permanent piano retail location.

Another point surrounds the  “significant discounts that only come once a year.” While the discounts may seem attractive, the prices are often inflated to combat the high cost of a pop-up shop (mailers, online ads, moving all the product to a new location, etc.). We’ve seen “discounted” pianos priced higher than in a regular retail store during a sales event or from a private seller. 

In conclusion, purchasing a piano is a big decision and the buying process should be treated as such. We value honest information, and we want all those in the market for a piano to make informed purchases and to remember that there are other options for purchasing a piano, such as local piano retailers and private sellers, that may offer better value for your money. By doing your research and taking your time to make an informed decision, you can find a great piano that meets you or your family's needs

Written by Hannah Bullock

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