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MMD > Archives > December 2007 > 2007.12.03 > 03Prev  Next

Value of Old Player Pianos
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  In response to Donald Barton's comments about my previous
posting, all I can say is what Craig Brougher told me years ago.
"If it isn't fun, challenging, and profitable, you're doing something

In this case, I would say that what Donald is doing wrong is storing
old plain-jane upright players.  Why?  It's not fun, challenging, or
profitable.  But he's not the only person in that boat.  There are many
others and I have no pity or sympathy for any of them.

It took me only four years to learn that doing restoration work in the
hope of making a profit was a ridiculous waste of my time, talents, and
tokens (money).  For 31 years I've worked for the public.  I have three
"queens" in my little shed that get used for various spare parts (that
I almost never need).  After they've served their intended purpose, they
go to the junk yard and are replaced with another completely intact
unit within days.  (They're free for the taking seven days a week.)

The "value" of a player piano is of no concern to me.  I only care
if the unit is 'valued' by the customer.  And you can be certain that
each customer has their own idea of how much they value the instrument.
I tell them straight out that the typical return on any money they spend
is 33 cents on the dollar.  So, what's the value of a player piano that
no one wants?  It's _zilch, nada, wallenpoop!_  And, as I've said here
repeatedly, that's not going to change until players start getting more
rare -- in about 20 more years if people in the industry tell the truth.

So, if you want to pay to store the beasts for another 20 years in the
hope that thousands of other units are thrown out, you _might_ (with a
capital "M") start to recoup the money you spent storing them...  But
I doubt it!  At the cost of storage space, you'll probably break even
if you wait 40-50 years.

Do yourself and the industry a favor: dump the beasts and work on the
ones that other people love.  Okay, keep a couple of really nice ones,
in case someone comes up to you and asks to buy one <snicker>.  And, if
you own a store and feel the need to prove to the public that you're
capable of rebuilding a player piano, rebuild _one,_ and do a really
nice job.  That way you can offer the public the best work you can do,
or you can offer them something that fits their pocketbook.  However,
storing pianos only prolongs the period of time that you, and others
like you, will have to wait until player pianos become 'more valuable'.

The question that to me seems more relevant is: Will player pianos ever
be "worth" restoring?  In my opinion, that time is something like 100
years away.  And, as we have just about all seen over the past 10 years,
look what happens when a player piano technician dies and leaves behind
a garage full of non-working players...  Does it get any more obvious?

Stop beating your head against the wall and waiting for a miracle to
happen.  Stop wasting your time and your money.  Work only for the
public and watch your profits increase.  Leave the selling of player
pianos to the starving salesmen who don't have the talent or skills to
rebuild or repair them.

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Mon 3 Dec 2007, 22:11:10 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Old, Pianos, Player, Value

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