What is the Real Worth of a Gulbransen Piano?

Wondering how much a Gulbransen piano is worth today? We’ve mapped out everything you need to know in this short article. 

In the world of instrument manufacturing, big names come and go. Sometimes a company rises, conquers, and then disappears. Others manage to stand the test of time. 

Gulbransen is a frail yet remarkable survivor. They were arguably the most influential piano band before the Great Depression. And yet, because they are no longer popular and no longer produced, it can be challenging to evaluate the worth of the remaining Gulbransen pianos scattered across the globe. 

This article helps you understand all the critical factors for determining the value of a Gulbransen piano. 

A brief history of Gulbransen pianos.

The legacy of Gulbransen pianos began with Axel G. Gulbransen himself. The flame was lit in 1904 in Chicago, Illinois, but a few years later moved to Deerfield. Gulbransen only manufactured regular-sized upright pianos for the first decade, focusing on player piano models. They became an official corporation in 1906, under the name “Gulbransen & Dickenson Co.”

Gulbransen revolutionized the industry in 1957 with an electric organ, cleverly marketed with the catchphrase “So easy, a baby could do it!”. It might sound lame now, but it was super hip back then. 

In 1964, they were purchased by Seeburg, and by 1969 they no longer manufactured acoustic pianos. 

Seeburg took the company in an electronic direction, designing and releasing one of the industry’s first rhythm machines. The Seeburg/Gublransen Select-A-Rhythm was a machine that imitated percussive sounds such as a drum kit, cymbals, and other digital beats. 

Gulbransen is famous for several other ‘firsts’ in piano manufacturing, which left their mark on the industry. They included the first transistor organ, the first piano stop, the first chimes stop, the first automatic walking bass, and the first self-contained Leslie speaker system. 

What is the current worth of Gulbransen pianos?

As you can imagine, there is no straightforward answer to this question. The main factors determining the worth of a Gulbransen are the type of piano and whether it has been restored. This could be the difference between a Gulbransen being a relatively low-grade piano and world-class pianos.

Read more about them in The Most Expensive Pianos in the World.

For example, a Gulbransen baby grand piano usually costs around $4000. But if it has undergone restoration, it could be as much as $20,000. 

On the other hand, their player piano models have become significantly less popular in the last few decades. You could find a restored player piano for around $5000. 

The most affordable Gulbransen pianos are the uprights and spinets, which you may come across for a crazy bargain of $500! That is, only if they haven’t been restored. A Gulbransen upright piano in restored, high-quality condition could go for as much as the baby grand at $20,000.

How to determine a Gulbransen’s value? 

Here is a list of all the relevant factors which may influence the value of a Gulbransen:

  • Age: Older pianos are not usually worth more than newer ones. Besides the fact that modern piano manufacturers use better materials, old pianos will often suffer from exposure to sunlight, temperature, and excessive moving. 
  • Restoration: As mentioned earlier, if a piano has been restored, its value can increase by tens of thousands of dollars. 
  • Brand popularity: Gulbransen pianos are no longer famous, especially up against the monsters in the industry like Steinway – this will make them significantly less expensive. However, if the piano was produced during the peak years of Gulbransen’s popularity, this is likely to influence a piano’s value. 
  • Design: Most pianos these days have a shiny black finish – this is the most popular but not the most unique. On the other hand, a piano with a wood veneer finish will be a rare find and probably worth a lot more money. 

Got an ancient Gulbransen collecting dust somewhere in your grandparents’ attic? Here are some ways to figure out the worth of your own Gulbransen:

  • Check the serial number of the instrument. It will usually be somewhere underneath or behind the main surface of the piano – use a flashlight if you’re struggling to locate it. 
  • Use the Bluebook of Pianos to locate the year your piano was manufactured. It’s not always wildly successful or accurate, but it’s worth trying your luck.
  • Search online for similar pianos and see how much they’re going for. Remember to consider all the essential factors mentioned above: age, restoration, design, etc.
  • If you’re serious about it, and these online resources feel unreliable, call in an expert. 

Know your worth.

A piano’s journey through different homes, sometimes even countries, leaves its mark on the instrument’s character and health. Do whatever is in your power to learn the story of your Gulbransen and to give it the value it deserves.