Where pianos go to die

If you ask your piano mover to donate your old, expensive-to-repair piano to a good home, chances are, she or he will reassure that this will come to pass, but chances are that your beloved instrument will be tipped into a trash heap with a tremendous, final crash. There must be something we can do with all these beloved, uneconomical beasts: perhaps we could stage a concert in which they were hurled by trebuchet across a stadium.

34 Responses to “Where pianos go to die”

  1. toythtr says:

    Annea Lockwood has some interesting solutions

  2. simon_elbows says:

    Check out the  Ruined Piano Sanctuary at Wambyn Olive Farm, Western Australia http://www.terrain.org/articles/27/cotter.htm
    Oooh, and here’s a video about it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke9pBRb0bu8

    • carbide73 says:

       Ah, wow, my parents used to have a block of land in York and I went to this place as  a kid, didn’t realise there was a website. Thanks for the good memories Simon!

  3. techbuzz says:

    Light it on fire THEN launch it with a trebuchet.


    /I was there for this in ’07

  4. frrarp says:

    If someone wants to take the stupid piano my foolish housemate brought here for it to never be tuned or played but to take up space that could otherwise be used for keeping bikes, of which there are always many, then be my fucking guest.

  5. pborenstein says:

    Michael Frassinelli, a Boston area artist, uses old piano parts to create artifacts for a fictional tribe named the Pianistas. He describes them as a  “lost culture that used piano parts for all their basic needs, creating tools, ceremonial objects, masks, musical instruments, shelter, weapons and other items, in much the same way tribes from the Great Plains utilized the buffalo”. 


  6. Yup, not unheard of. Unfortunately the price (labor) to fix and restore an old piano is great. And the piano may never sound right. (This is similar to buying a crappy bike at a Walmart vs buying one at a bike store.) Ten years ago my father owned a successful piano tuning business in Texas. People would give  him pianos, he would restore them, and then rent to own them to families.

  7. louisleblanc says:

    It only makes sense, less and less people want pianos and those that do want very high quality ones. 

    As for things to do with old pianos, MIT likes to throw them off roofs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bZwm1jpoeE

  8. Used to be a great project of old pianos in West Oakland: http://www.immortalpiano.com/index.php?page=ancient-history. They make a beautiful wall,

  9. Nick Confer says:

    I know of a few places in northern WI that used to leave an old piano out on the lake in the spring and take bets on what day it would go through the ice, then give half the proceeds to a local charity.  Of course, nowadays you have to convince the local DNR guy that old pianos make excellent fish habitats.

  10. Jay CSC says:

    Here’s a place in the Twin Cities that refurbishes old pianos for kids who want to learn (and sells them at very reasonable prices) 

  11. technogeekagain says:

    Why do some posts not show the comment/share links? I guessed my way to this point… (“If I was a sloppy web designer, where would I put that link?”)

    At the very least,  someone should be rescuing the ivory.

  12. Wreckrob8 says:

    I saw a documentary once about a piano being delivered up the Amazon and through the rainforest to an indigenous tribe. They seem to love Western classical music. All tribes should have a piano. I can’t seem to find much information, however, if I try googling Amazon and pianos (which is all I have to go on)…

    • penguinchris says:

      Was it delivered by a crazy European dude on a steam riverboat?

      • Wreckrob8 says:

        Yes. From a British perspective I’d say an enthusiastic or passionate dude. He seemed quite normal to me.

        • penguinchris says:

          I was making a reference to this film, which is based on a real guy, but I’m glad to know that there was more than one such guy :)

          • Wreckrob8 says:

            The incident I am thinking of happened recently, in the last twenty years or so. A British guy, for some reason or other, was indebted to an Amazonian tribe who were enthralled by what they had heard of classical music. To repay his debt (either at their suggestion or his) he promised that he would get them a piano. The film I saw was his journey accompanied by a camera crew to deliver the piano through the rainforest. Not quite the stuff of legend yet, but fascinating nonetheless.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen the film that Wreckrob is talking about.  And it is all mixed up in my head with Fitzcarraldo.  And Burden of Dreams.

        • penguinchris says:

          That does sound really interesting, do you remember the title of the film?

          • Wreckrob8 says:

            I wish I did, but no. The film was part of a documentary series on TV. I was only able to catch part of it.

  13. Geoffrey Swenson says:

    Let’s face it, a $2,000 (or or less) digital piano is going to sound and play much better than any of these old instruments, even if it doesn’t sound quite as wonderful as a genuine piano in perfect condition.

    But it would be nice to recyle the hardwood rather than throw them out completely.

    • Yacko says:

      Not to mention, with headphones, the digital piano can be silent, a big plus at some locations and time of day.

  14. beemoh says:

    Surely there must be some wily coyote we can sell them to, so he can attempt to drop them on a roadrunner?

  15. weaselspoon says:

    Last year Sarah Nicolls organised a Piano Scrap Heap Challenge https://vimeo.com/24882195 where four teams competed to make the coolest new instrument out of pianos destined to be scrapped.

  16. Palomino says:

    A land reef for homeless cats. 

  17. Play “Piano Smash” You;ll need:

    Two pianos (same style and size)
    Sledgehammers and Cutting torches (enough to equip two equal size teams)
    Two Basketball Hoops

    (Optional but recommended, one large First Aid Kit…)

    First team to get their piano through their basketball hoop wins.

  18. Domenic says:

    Donated an old piano to the Baker House Piano Drop at MIT:
    Each spring, the denizens of Baker House drop an old, irreparable piano off the roof to let it plunge six stories onto the ground, to celebrate Drop Date, the last date one can drop classes at MIT. The resulting noise has spawned a unit of sound volume, known as the Bruno.

  19. Donald Petersen says:

    My wife inherited her grandfather’s piano, an eighty-year-old Steinway that is probably worth a decent amount of money.  But it requires a few thousand bucks’ worth of tuning and restoration, so there it sits at her mother’s house, unplayed.  Then again, it’s a baby grand, and way too big for our smallish house.  Someday we want to get an upright, but we can’t figure out what to do with the Steinway.

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