Gulbransen pianos were a popular instrument during their peak years of production, and many still exist to this day. And if you own one and are looking to sell (or maybe you’re in the market to buy one), you’ll definitely want to know what these pianos are worth.
In this article, you will learn how much Gulbransen pianos are selling for, which factors determine their value, and learn about the history of the company. Gulbransen piano value is a nuanced subject, and here we will break down how to determine your instrument’s true worth!
What Is the Value of a Gulbransen Piano?
The answer to this question depends on the type of piano. The value is also significantly increased if the piano has undergone restoration. Gulbransen baby grands are usually worth between $3500 and $5000. If restored, however, they are worth upwards of $20,000. This baby grand, sold at the Antique Piano Shop, was priced at $25,000 once the restoration was complete—and it was successfully sold.
Gulbransen was known for their innovations in making player pianos. Their player pianos housed the mechanism for the “player” in the same casing as the piano itself. As such, their player pianos are still highly valued today, despite player pianos decreasing in popularity in the last several decades. This player piano, from 1907 and restored in 1989, is listed at $5,489.00 on Piano Mart.
Upright pianos and spinets are the most affordable Gulbransen pianos. They tend to be valued between $300 and $600, unless they have undergone restoration. If an upright has been restored, it can also go for $20,000 or higher, much like the Gulbransen baby grands. This Gulbransen spinet, from 1963, has not been restored. It is being sold for $500.
How Is a Piano’s Value Determined?
There are many factors that determine a piano’s value. Unlike vehicles, there is no standardized resource to look up how much a particular piano is worth. However, these are some of the most important factors that are used to determine the instrument’s value.
Among the most important factors for determining a piano’s value are the instrument’s age and condition. Contrary to the popular myth, older pianos are typically not more valuable than newer pianos. The materials used to create pianos have improved over time, and newer pianos have had fewer years of exposure to sunlight, temperature locations, and being moved from location to location.
For these reasons, older pianos are typically not as valuable as newer ones. The exception is when older pianos have been restored. Pianos that have undergone restoration often increase in value by tens of thousands of dollars.
The brand that created the piano is another important factor when considering an instrument’s value. The biggest brands, like Steinway & Sons, often have the best-valued older instruments, as they are a brand that is still popular and creating high-quality instruments to this day. Brands that are no longer as popular, like Gulbransen, will not fetch the same prices as Steinway & Sons.
However, the quality and popularity of a brand during its peak years will have an effect on the instrument’s value. Because Gulbransen was a popular and well-regarded brand, this reputation works in their instrument’s favor when they are being valued today.
The style and design of the instrument is another key factor in determining its value. In today’s market, pianos with a black finish are more popular, and considered more valuable, than pianos with a wood veneer finish. That being said, of all of the factors we have learned about, this one is the most subjective.
While black finishes may be more popular today, people have varying tastes. For this reason, the design and style of the piano are among the most flexible factors used to determine an instrument’s value. If your Gulbransen piano has a wood veneer finish, this may somewhat affect the value, but always remember that taste is in the eye of the beholder.
Determining Your Own Gulbransen’s Value
Whether you are trying to assess your own instrument, or trying to assess one you are interested in buying, the above factors can be used to determine the worth of a Gulbransen piano. When trying to determine the piano’s age, try to locate its serial number. The serial number can be in various places on the instrument, and you may need the use of a flashlight to locate it.
Once you find it, use Bluebook of Pianos to find out the year the piano was manufactured. While we cannot determine the piano’s age down to the month, it is possible to determine its age down to the year.
You can also search for similar pianos online to see how much they are worth. This might give you an idea of the value of your own instrument. Again, be careful to keep factors like the age of the instrument in mind, as well as the color, design, and style. If you are seeing instruments that are selling for tens of thousands, remember that these instruments have been restored. Otherwise, they would not be listed at such a high price.
If you use the factors above and are still unsure of how much the piano is worth, you can also have the instrument appraised. A piano technician can appraise the instrument for you. Piano technicians are trained professionals who tune and repair pianos for a living. Their experience and depth of knowledge make them a great resource for appraising a Gulbransen piano. Use this resource from Piano Acoustics to find a qualified piano technician in your area.
Gulbransen Pianos: A Brief History
Finally, here is some brief background information on the history of Gulbransen pianos. Alex Gulbransen founded the Gulbransen Piano Company in 1904. Originally a local business in Chicago, the company ascended to become the world’s largest manufacturer of player pianos by 1917.
As mentioned earlier, Gulbransen player pianos were notable because of their design innovation – the mechanism for the “player” was in the same casing as the instrument. This unique future, as well as the quality of the instrument, made it a hugely popular seller.
In addition to player pianos, Gulbransen also sold upright and grand pianos. Their instruments were of higher quality than other contemporary American piano manufacturers. Such high quality, in fact, that they were the only piano brand besides Steinway & Sons to be approved for government use during World War II.
Gulbransen was also known for their innovations in electronic organs. These innovations included a walking bass accompaniment function, a drum machine, and a built-in Leslie speaker. These features made Gulbransen electronic organs a popular option for home organ use.
Gulbransen has undergone several changes in ownership during its century-plus history. In 1950, Gulbransen was sold to CBS, and then later merged with the Seeburg Corporation in 1964. Production on Gulbransen pianos came to an end in 1969. The brand laid dormant until being acquired by Mission Bay Investments in 1985.
The company produced Elka digital organs under the Gulbransen name. In the early 2000s, the Gulbransen brand was taken over by QRS Music Technologies, who used Samick Musical Instruments Company to manufacture Gulbransen instruments. Production ceased in 2010, and now the Gulbransen brand is only associated with creating organs and digital keyboards.
Now we have learned all about Gulbransen pianos! We have learned how much they typically sell for, what factors determine Gulbransen piano value, and learned a brief overview of the company’s history. You now have all the information needed to determine your instrument’s value!
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