Do you need some tips on buying a piano? Has your child just started piano lessons and you are unsure which piano to buy?
As buying a piano for the first time can be a headache, we have created this how-to guide to help you decide what piano you should buy. There will be so many options in the market for you to choose from: acoustic pianos, second hand, digital or even hybrid pianos.
You would only need to find a balance between your goals and your budget. Let´s get started!
How to buy your first piano
There are three main characteristics that define the quality of a piano: sound, touch and tone.
The three of them should be directly related to the way the pianist plays, and provide an accurate feedback of his/her actions.
Only with a good response from the instrument, the performer is able to develop his/her expressivity and creativity.
But what is the meaning of all this?
The sounds produced by a piano should be directly related to the weight the student applies when playing, and the piano must be able to transform effectively those efforts into music, with certain tone and shape.
Which piano is better for a beginner?
If you are wondering which piano to buy for a beginner, remember that the weight of the keys and their touch-sensitivity will affect the learning progress.
If the keys are too light, students will struggle when playing in a better piano (either in exams, concerts or at the teacher’s studio).
On the other hand, if the keys are too heavy, they will have difficulties producing the sound or even damage their fingers’ little muscles.
If a student practices in a good quality piano with weighted keys, there will be more chances of achieving musical success.
Should I buy a piano?
Before your decide to buy a piano, ask yourself:
- Are my children just trying out a new activity or are they committed to learning the piano?
- Do I wish them to reach a high standard in the future?
- Do I consider this purchase as a lifetime investment in my children’s education?
- Is there enough space for a piano at home? Will the music disturb my neighbors?
- As many things in life, you get what you pay for. There is a huge range of prizes and quality. From the old £ 30 toy keyboard in the charity shop, to the brand new £ 160,000 grand piano in the greatest concert halls.
- Think about those questions and decide your budget. According to your answers, consider a suitable budget that seems reasonable and appropriate, not only for your pocket but also for your needs, plans and expectations for the future.
Fortunately, the market is not small and it is not impossible to find the best piano for each pianist. What is the best piano for you?
Cheap pianos for young beginners: digital pianos and keyboards.
If the idea of an acoustic piano is beyond your budget or you are just not sure yet, you could consider to buy a digital piano or keyboard.
It would be the easiest, quickest and hassle-free option when buying a piano for young learners.
However, do digital pianos sound like real pianos? Even though they will never be a perfect substitute of the acoustic sound and mechanism, it is true that digital pianos have some advantages.
Easy to move around, fits in a small room, could be played with headphones if needed and they do not need to be tuned!
In this case, we would highly recommend that you give your children the chance to play in a acoustic piano at least once a week, either in a practice room, at school or in their piano lessons at the teacher’s studio.
To choose a digital piano you need to think of the qualities we have mentioned before.
Please, do get one with touch-sensitivity. Otherwise, you will waste your kid’s time and also your money.
Our recommendations on digital pianos and keyboards!
If your budget allows, a Casio digital piano or keyboard will be the best option.
Casio Celviano is a highly refined line of instruments for those in search of a truly authentic piano experience.
The sound delivers a superior dynamic range and level of realism and captures every nuance of your playing.
Depending on the model, Casio pianos offer an advanced technology from LCD display, to 16 track recorder, USB storage and dual headphone outputs. Their mighty 30W-speakers and its class compliant USB connectivity will make the Celviano the perfect addition to your home.
For the best price-quality digital pianos in the market, we could mention the examples of Casio Celviano AP 650BK and the Casio Celviano AP-470.
They are robust pieces of furniture and the action of the keys has a responsive feedback to touch. Their speakers are clear and of the finest sound quality. Value for money is excellent and will look gorgeous in your living room!
Hesitating? Of course there are others.
A Yamaha keyboard could be an affordable solution for piano players who are just getting started. It feels just like an acoustic piano!
There are different instruments for different needs. From the basic 88-keys e-piano with metronome and recorder to the graded hammer keyboard that reproduces the real touch.
If you are a lover of the powerful sound of the Yamaha concert grand piano, a good example is the Yamaha Arius YDP-144. It is the perfect compact home piano for beginners or hobbyists.
On the other hand, The Yamaha Arius YDP-144 88 is a win-win. The package comes with the following items/accessories: X stand, headphones, X piano stool, Music stand, Pedal/Footswitch AC Adaptor: PA-150B or other Yamaha-preferred parts. It also includes a metronome.
For a better experience for making music with Yamaha, you can also use the app Smart Pianist.
Acoustic pianos: new, second hand or rented?
In other words, acoustic pianos are the real pianos; the instruments that better respond to the fingers’ touch.
However… Don’t buy it if you can’t try it!
It is very important to compare and play many different models and to take your kids with you to let them try all. When they hear the sound they like, they will feel which piano is the right for them.
Buying a new acoustic piano
If you are ready to buy a brand new piano, you will make no mistake. You will be investing in your family’s enjoyment and your children’s intellectual stimulation.
Moreover, an acoustic new piano has a much longer lifespan and holds its value better than a digital piano, the latter built to have a turnover and become obsolete after a while. Just like Iphones!
When buying a real piano, you should bear in mind that no two pianos will ever be exactly the same. Even if they are the same model and brand, so we always recommend to try it in situ instead of buying online.
The best acoustic piano brands are Steinway, Fazioli or Bosendorfer but also the most expensive. There are more affordable models from brands such as Yamaha or Kawai, or second hand pianos.
How to find a second hand acoustic piano
Used pianos are also an option, but it may be more difficult to find “a healthy one”.
You will need to travel around to play each of them and then pay for the delivery to your home.
In addition to all the things covered so far in this piano buying guide, there will be more checks needed: equal quality, sound and response throughout the whole keyboard, strings, hammers, dampers, pedals, buzzes, distortions…
Although they will be cheaper than new, be careful, bargains could be deceptive and you might end up paying more for restoration, extra tuning or other issues.
If you would like to give this option a try, bring a professional along with you to tell you the real condition and value of the piano.
If it needs any work, ask for a quote and be realistic about numbers.
Renting an acoustic piano
If you are not sure if your little Mozart will quit next year or lose interest rapidly, do not take the risk and rent a piano instead of buying it.
This option will allow you to see how much it is being used and enjoyed before paying a notable amount of money. It will give you more time to decide.
Or you could also opt for the “home rental with purchase option”, where the monthly rent will be reduced from the total prize if you eventually decide to buy.
Otherwise, the instrument can be easily returned!
Last but not least, ask the piano retailer for some hybrid models. They are a combination of acoustic and digital, combining the advantages of both. While these instruments work and sound as real pianos, they also offer the possibility to plug in your headphones and practice silently at any time. Available in grand and upright size, what else!
Where to buy a piano
Some piano stores in London, not too far from Hampstead and St John’s Wood, are Hampstead Pianos, Jaques Samuel Pianos and Markson Pianos Ltd.