Choosing a Piano or Keyboard for the Beginning Student

Take the mystery out of buying a piano!

How to buy a piano that's perfect for you?

Like any other big investment, it's important that you take your time.

Play a lot of pianos.

Save your pennies - a better instrument is always a better choice.

Your piano will be your companion for many years!

Really think about what you would love to have in your home.

Don't settle for less, and don't buy under pressure.

How To Buy A Piano: Start At Home!

Look at your house.

The first step in the process of buying a piano is to look at your house. Where will your piano live? Will you rearrange furniture? Do you want it to be in your main living area, or somewhere that has a door? How much room do you have?

What kind of piano do you want? A showpiece grand piano? A high-back antique? A small console or spinet? What kinds of pianos have you admired in others' homes?

Think about how you want your piano practice room to look and feel.

Look at your style.

Is your decor contemporary and modern? If so, you might like a glossy black finish on your piano. Have rooms full of antiques? A more ornate, carved piano might be just the thing. upright piano

Take measurements.

Even uprights and consoles vary in height, width, and depth. Take measurements of your available space. Also, measure your doorways, including your front door. When you go shopping, you'll know without a doubt that the piano you fall in love with will fit perfectly.

And the movers will be able to get it in the door! ;-)

How To Buy A Piano: Go Shopping!

Find a local dealer.

Think about it: your piano can be a lifetime investment. Buying locally will begin a relationship that will help you maintain your piano for as long as you own it. You can research online, but resist the temptation to buy that way.

If you take lessons, ask your teacher for advice on how to buy a piano. Ask if you can pay for an extra "lesson" and have her join you as you shop. It will be well worth the money!

When you are greeted at the local piano shop, ask for credentials. You want to work with an expert. Most local stores are owned by pianists, many of whom branch out into tuning and repair.

An expert will play pianos for you, tell you about the manufacturer of the piano you like, and give you insider secrets on how to buy a piano.

Play, play, play.

Plan a few hours and go to the local piano shop. Play every piano they have of the style you've chosen - and a few others. Play the best, most expensive piano in the store. You will find that you develop a liking for a certain sound.

Some people like a brighter, edgier piano sound. Some like a more mellow voice.

Pay attention to the touch, or the feel of the keys as you press them down. Is the touch stiff, or easy? The more you play, the more you'll discover.

Make sure that the piano has a good sound all the way up and down. Poor quality instruments will get muddy in the low register, and the high notes will make you flinch. Play loudly - don't be embarrassed! This is your chance to really "test drive" a piano.

The more you play, the better decision you can make.

New or Used?

A good question. Unlike a new car, a piano doesn't depreciate the moment you take it home. A well-cared-for used piano can be sold for nearly as much as it cost new.

The decision to buy a new piano or a used piano comes down to your budget and your senses. How much do you have to spend? What piano sounds breathtakingly lovely to you? What piano feels good under your fingers? What finish and cabinetry looks beautiful to your eyes?

If you fall in love with a used piano, play every key to make sure all the action (the internal mechanisms) are solid. Does the shop inspect and repair pianos before putting them out for sale? Are basic repairs included in the price? Inspect the cabinetry for obvious neglect: bowing, water stains, damage.

How To Buy A Piano: What Should I Spend?

Short answer: as much as you can afford. I have discussions with parents and students all the time about how to buy a piano, and usually I hear, "I just want to get a starter piano, since I'm just a beginner." This is really the wrong approach!

Buying a poor-quality instrument will bring you nothing but heartache, endless repairs and tuning bills. I can't tell you how often a student has said, "Oh, this song just sounds so much better on your piano than on mine."

What a tragedy! My teaching piano is just a mid-range used console, nothing fancy. I chose it for the sound and the touch, and under the recommendation of my local piano expert.

samick console piano

A well-maintained used instrument with a sound that makes your heart happy will be a joy to practice on. Your piano should inspire you to greater heights, not frustrate you every time you sit down.

Realistically, you can find good used pianos for $1500. You will see many that are less expensive. Be wary. If a piano is priced that low by a dealer, it is either an off-brand, is very old, or needs a lot of repair work.

If you were my student, I would tell you to budget at least $2500. In that price range, you can find a good, well-made piano that will last long enough to become a family heirloom.

In the end,

the best advice I can give you on how to buy a piano is very simple. Decide on your budget, consult a local expert, play a lot of pianos. And then…

...follow your heart. A piano is an investment, but it is a very personal one. It should make you smile every time you walk by, and invite you to sit and play.


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