Piano Buying Guide



Buying your first piano or keyboard can be a daunting task. You want to buy a decent instrument, but not pay to much. You also probably don’t know if you (or your child) are really going to like playing, so investing in an expensive instrument could be potentially costly. So here are a few tips to hopefully make the process easier.

1.) You could start on a keyboard first. There are pretty decent keyboards to be had for the £ 200-300 mark. Now these won’t have weighted keys, but they are all touch-sensitive these days, so it gives you a certain feel of realism. Weighted keys are electronic keyboard keys that include a mechanism inside the keyboard that makes it feel more like a real piano. When you hit a key on an upright piano, wood, metal felt and springs all start moving, and that gives it a certain touch, which you don’t get from a keyboard that has no weighted keys.

2.) Yamaha instruments are a safe bet. And that is true for any instrument. Yamaha pianos are ubiquitous. After the 2nd World War, as more and more French, Germand and English piano makers closed down, or had been destroyed during the war, Yamaha started cornering the market in student instruments in a big way. This means that 2nd hand they are also a good bet. The downside with Yamaha pianos is that on the whole they are very bright (not something I personally like), though there are some examples out there that aren’t. Their grand pianos don’t suffer from this exaggerated brightness.

3.) Calvinovas (By Yamana) are also a safe bet. As with upright panos, the digital keyboard market is dominated by Yamaha, and they are genuinely good instruments. On the whole they have weighted keys.

4.) If you have  bit more money to spend, buy a Roland keyboard. If Yamaha are the VW’s of digital pianos (keyboards), then Roland are the BMW’s. They are just a few notches up in quality. But you obviously pay more as well.

5.) As with cars, be careful if buying 2nd hand (piano). It is hard to know what to look for when buying 2nd hand, and I’ve seen some reconditioned pianos sold at dealer’s shops that I wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole. On the whole large dealers can be trusted, but the mark-up can be huge. With pianos if there is a crack in the sound-board, you can still play it , but repairs are costly, as the whole piano has to be taken apart. The analogy in car terms I guess would be a head gasket going. The thing is it is hard for a layman to spot a piano for a cracked sound-baord. Best thing is the find a piano teacher in your area, ask him for advice/pay him to come along to look at the instrument  you are interested in.

6.) Keyboards are easier to buy 2nd hand. As it is easier to work out if something doesn’t work!

7.) Having said all that it makes a lot more sense to buy a piano 2nd hand. As new ones are way more expensive.

8.) Rent to buy schemes can be very useful. Many music-shops offer so called rent to buy schemes. With these you rent the instrument for a set period, say 6 months, and if you decide you don’t want to continue, you hand it back to the shop. If however, you decide you like the instrument, the previous 6 months rental are taken as the first payment. This scheme works well for both customers and retailers.

9.) A good piano will hold its value. So even if you decide not to keep it, you will lose little if you sell (assuming you bought 2nd hand)

10.) At the very least you have to spend £2,000 for a half-decent 2nd hand piano. Ouch.