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How to Buy a Piano: Tips & Tricks

Buying a piano can be an intimidating prospect.  If you’re an experienced player, you know how important a high-quality instrument is; if you’re just starting out, you may not be sure what to look for.  We've assembled some tips to help you get started.    

Renting vs. Buying   

Even if your long-term plans include purchasing, rental can be a great option.   It gives you the opportunity to try out an instrument before committing to purchase, and some dealers will allow you to apply some or all “rental credit” towards purchase.  Rental is very popular for parents whose kids are starting lessons, too.     

Piano Type   

Your first decision in choosing a piano is the type: vertical, grand, or digital

Vertical PianoVertical pianos get their name from the fact that their strings run vertically: if you open the top you’ll see the strings running from top to bottom. Vertical pianos are designed to fit compactly against a wall. 

Grand PianoThe classic shape and efficient design of grand pianos make them the most prized of all pianos. Grand pianos have several inherent advantages over vertical pianos. Their horizontal, gravity-assisted actions allow them better control and faster repetition of notes. Their open tops allow more efficient tone escapement. And their large, shaped soundboards produce fuller and clearer tone. 

Many people who don’t play piano at all purchase grand pianos for a variety of reasons, including decorating, entertaining (particularly when outfitted with a player system), investment, and prestige. 

Digital PianoA digital piano plays and sounds a lot like an acoustic piano. The primary difference is that the sound is generated electronically instead of with felt hammers, strings, and a soundboard. 

While serious players tend to prefer acoustic pianos, beginners may have fun imitating such sounds as whistles, drums, and guitars on the digital piano.  Meanwhile, headphones prevent beginners from interfering the others’ activities in the home. Digitals tend not to go out of tune, and they may be connected to computers to allow use of musical software. 

Pianists who play in rock bands often prefer digitals because of their capacity for sound boosting through separate, large speakers. 

Piano Brands

It’s difficult to shop for pianos simply by brand names.  The main reason is that most manufacturers make pianos with several different levels of quality.    

To be sure this practice is not unique to the piano market. General Motors, for example, has built a wide variety of vehicles, from the Corvair, Vega, and Chevette, to the Corvette, Cadillac, and Hummer. They are all GM products, but there are significant differences in quality between them. 

Likewise most piano manufacturers, including Baldwin, Yamaha, Young Chang, and Kawai, build a variety of qualities. When considering pianos from any of these manufacturers, it’s important to know which quality level a model is.  Ask the salesperson and stop to research the models you’re considering online.   

Where to Buy   

To make a wise piano selection you need to see and compare a broad selection of pianos. Good piano dealers know this and provide a big display of piano models to choose from. 

Pianos must be close to one another for you to hear the differences between them. It’s virtually impossible to compare the sound and touch of pianos that are in different stores. Consequently you’ll find it easier to make your choice from a store with a large selection.   

The most reputable piano dealer in each market… ·        
  • is usually chosen to represent the best brands in each price range;
  • will be careful in helping you choose an appropriate piano because you and your piano will reflect on his reputation for a long time;      
  • has the experience and resources to make your purchase smooth and as-promised; 
  • is financially strong enough to stand behind his products with integrity; 
  • has the technical expertise, service facilities, parts and tools to prepare your piano properly and to insure it continues to perform as intended; 
  • is likely to be there if you have a problem during your (usually long) warranty period; 
  • does not resort to questionable or unethical sales practices.   

The old saying, “You can judge a man by the company he keeps,” adapts well to the piano market:  “You can judge a piano dealer by the brands he keeps,” and “You can judge a brand by the dealer who keeps it.” 

Your sales person should always start by asking you questions. He or she can’t make an appropriate recommendation unless he/she finds out about your intended use for the piano, your tastes, and your budget for the purchase. Beware of any sales person who recommends a piano to you without asking you about these things. No piano is right for every buyer.

Posted by Amro Music at 4:00 AM
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