How pianos flooded in…

I’ve just come back from accompanying a very talented young singer, Bronte Turpin, at a charity concert. I’ve made a post to my voice blog about the singers, but here’s some stuff of interest to piano people (do you mind being referred to as ‘piano people?’)

The whole thing was masterfully MC’d by ABC Radio’s Verity James, who donated her time to help raise funds to restore St Mary’s Catholic Parish church in Leederville. They’re aiming at $1 million and so far they’ve raised about $700,000 by various means!

Afterwards I was able to chat with Verity in the ‘green room.’ But I kept getting distracted by an old piano in the corner and just HAD to go and have a look. Quite out of tune, with a beautiful case (although in poor condition). Reminded me a lot of my best piano, my Thurmer, which is covered in Burr Walnut (see pics of three of my pianos here). It’s a real pity that these old piano cases are being lost now, just because the inner workings are too expensive to restore.


This is what happened, as it was told to me many years ago by Dave Carlsen, my piano tuner. Some time ago, I suppose about twenty or thirty years ago, every household in Japan had to have a piano. Does that sound familiar? It would if you were living in the UK, Europe or the USA a hundred years ago. But then something happened to the Japanese economy (does that sound familiar…?). Also, all their kids grew up and left home. So, they wanted to clear their instruments.

At the time I bought my Thurmer from Dave, must have been around 1990, it was worth about $3,000 (that’s a whole story in itself). With the expectation that its value would appreciate, some years later I got a written valuation: can’t remember exactly what it was now, either $4,000 or $4,500. I was pretty pleased with that.

Then the Japanese had their little problem…and started exporting all their secondhand pianos to Australia. They flooded the market. So, now you know why a lovely old European piano is practically worthless, even if it’s in reasonable condition.

However, if you know what to look for, you can pick up a cheap old piano for a few hundred dollars that can be put to good use. You can read all about that process in my article at

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