Whether you have a piano at home, you are looking to purchase a piano, or you are trying to sell an old piano, you no doubt have a good reason to wonder what your instrument is worth. And this can be a tricky task, especially when it comes to older brands like Kimball, who began making pianos in the 1800s but were discontinued in the 1990s.
So in this article, we will focus on the history of Kimball pianos, what factors determine a piano’s worth, and how to determine a piano’s age. Determining a Kimball piano value is a bit of a multi-layered topic, so we will break down the process of determining the instrument’s true worth!
How Much Is My Kimball Piano Worth?
Let’s begin by outlining the rough estimate of what a Kimball piano is worth, and then after that, we can work backwards a bit by helping you understand the basis behind the piano’s estimated value.
So in today’s market, some Kimball baby grand pianos are selling for anywhere between $500 and $3,000. Kimball upright pianos (and Kimball spinets) typically sell for between $500 and $1,500 on average. Keep in mind, too, that if a piano has been kept in immaculate condition, or perhaps if the instrument has undergone a piano restoration, the value of the piano can increase significantly.
But, of course, these pries are just an average. For example, a retailer like Vincitore (Hudson Valley Piano Center) is selling a working upright Kimball piano from 1981 (and featuring Harmi-Tone action) for just under $1,000.
Then again, there are cases where a piano might be in such a great condition, it can sell for more than you’d immediately expect. Take A440 Pianos, for instance, who is selling an upright Kimball piano from 1946 for $3,495.00.
And then there’s Jim Laabs Music, who is selling a Kimball grand piano (walnut finish) for just under $4,000.
And a fourth example is Graves Piano Co., who is selling a beautiful Kimball Petite Grand piano in gorgeous satin oak finish for $4,700.
What Factors Determine a Piano’s Value?
There are several factors that determine the value of a piano. These factors include the brand of the piano, its age and condition, and the design style of the instrument.
The piano’s age and condition are incredibly important factors in determining value. Despite the somewhat popular belief, a decades-old piano is not necessarily worth a lot of money. In fact, most pianos over forty years old are not appraised at high values. Among the reasons why is the materials used to make the instrument and how those materials have held up in the varying conditions in which they have lived over the decades.
The piano’s brand is another key factor in assessing the instrument’s value. Big name brands like Steinway & Sons have the most name recognition in today’s market, and therefore can go for a higher price than other brands. Kimball pianos, while popular in their day, were of mid-level quality in comparison to brands such as Steinway & Sons. As a result, they will not fetch as high of a price as an instrument made by a brand such as Steinway.
A third factor to consider is the style and design of the instrument. Pianos with a black, glossy finish are much more popular in today’s market than those with a wood veneer finish. Of the factors we have discussed, this is of course one is the most flexible, as it ultimately just comes down to personal taste. However, as many Kimball pianos have the wood veneer finish, they are overall considered to be less valuable—or perhaps, a bit less desired by the masses—than those with a black, glossy finish.
How Old Is My Kimball?
The age of your Kimball piano can be determined by locating the serial number. The serial number can be located in a variety of places, such as the back edge of the keybed. Finding your piano’s serial number may require the use of a flashlight as you search around on the instrument.
Once you have located the number, you can look it up on Bluebook of Pianos. While it is not possible to determine the piano’s age down to the month, Bluebook of Pianos can help you narrow it down to the year it was manufactured.
Should I Get My Kimball Appraised?
There are a few ways to determine your Kimball piano’s selling price. The above figures, as well as the aforementioned factors that determine a piano’s worth, are a great starting point when trying to figure out how much to ask when selling the instrument.
Another easy way to estimate its value is to look at how much similar Kimball pianos are going for online in places like Ebay or Heritage Auctions or various piano retailers selling used Kimball pianos (like I’ve showcased earlier). If you see prices in the thousands, or even tens of thousands, remember that these pianos have likely either been restored or have been kept in such utterly pristine condition, it’s almost as if they were transported from the past via a time machine. Otherwise, quite frankly, they would not be fetching such a high price.
But if you are seeking a more definitive answer, you can also have the instrument appraised. The best way to go about this is to contact a local piano technician. A piano technician is a professional who tunes and repairs pianos. Due to their frequent proximity to pianos, a piano technician is qualified to give you an appraisal of the piano’s value. If you are unsure of who to contact, Piano Acoustics is a great resource for looking up piano technicians to contact in your area.
Kimball Pianos: A Brief History
Finally, I thought it would be fun to dive a little bit into the history of Kimball pianos, in order for you to have better context into why these pianos, in some cases, are able to hold onto a decent amount of their value given their age.
In 1857, William Wallace Kimball founded W.W. Kimball and Company, which was a piano and organ dealer. Kimball sold several brands of pianos, and started making reed organs in 1877. As the piano grew in popularity as the instrument of choice for domestic music-making at the end of the nineteenth century, Kimball and Company began making their own pianos, opening a five-story warehouse to accomplish the goal in 1887.
While Kimball’s initial forays into making pianos were of low quality, the company was smart enough to seek expert advice from people who worked at companies like Steinway & Sons to give suggestions for quality improvement. Kimball pianos were quite popular in the Midwest, utilizing door-to-door salesmen to sell their instruments. At one time the best-selling piano company in the country, Kimball fell into decline due to poor business decisions.
A new piano factory, built in the 1950s in Melrose Park, Illinois, faced issues of high costs and poor performance.
In 1959, W.W. Kimball and Company was bought out by The Jasper Corporation, a furniture company based in Indiana. The Jasper Corporation’s initial Kimball pianos were of varying quality, but they soon returned the brand to its glory, as it once again became the best-selling piano brand in the country.
Kimball pianos became so successful that The Jasper Corporation changed its name to Kimball International. With the decline of piano sales in the late twentieth century, Kimball International made the decision to cease production of the pianos in 1996. Alamo Music Center has even more details about the history of Kimball pianos.
We have now learned all about Kimball pianos! We have learned the broad strokes of the W.W. Kimball and Company’s history, as well as information about some broader topics, including which factors are used to determine a piano’s worth in today’s market.
We also learned how to determine a Kimball piano’s age, and discovered some strategies to determine the instrument’s worth. Hopefully, this Kimball piano value article has proved to be a helpful resource to aid you in better determining how much to buy, or sell, your Kimball piano.
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