Choosing a piano can be a very confusing process. There seems to be so many manufacturers, so many models and so much conflicting information from various sources. To help buyers make the decision that's right for them, here is some 'buying a piano' advice and tips we think might be helpful.
Don't be tempted to buy a $200 banger for a beginner. It is extremely unlikely that it is going to perform well and because it won't respond and feel the same as the teacher's piano, will cause much frustration. You could be left with a disheartened would-be Chopin and a $200 pile of firewood. That's not a bargain.
Because taller upright models (4ft or 120cm plus) have longer bass strings and larger soundboard, they will produce a richer, sustained bass tone. The taller the piano, the bigger the sound. If budget allows, try to buy a piano which is at least 120 cm tall.
When trying out a piano, play quietly and slowly. Listen to how the tone develops under long, sustained passages. When playing softly, the true tone, sustain and balance can be more accurately judged.
The keyboard should offer some resistance to the fingers, but not so much that it feels uncomfortable and difficult to play.
Touch and tone are individual preferences. Don't be swayed by pushy salespeople. Follow your instinct and choose the piano which you enjoy playing and listening to.
Cheaply priced instruments with german sounding names are unlikely to be manufactured in Germany. Make sure you specifically ask where the piano is made. For example, Otto Meister pianos are manufactured in China, whilst Steinbach pianos come from Korea and Indonesia.
There are new, Asian made pianos on the market which allegedly have "german parts" - be aware that this doesn't mean all the parts are german made. Even if only one cheap component is from Germany, retailers are allowed to market the piano as having 'german parts'. Very misleading. To be honest, you cannot buy a german piano for around $3000 - be suspicious if told otherwise.
Don't get too hung up on a piano's age. The more relevant issue is how much use the piano has had. For example, if a piano is 10 years old and has been in a music school, being played for 40 hours a week - that's nearly 21,000 hours of use. A 30 year old piano, which has only been played for 4 hours a week during it's lifetime will only have had 6,240 hours usage! Signs of a well used piano include worn and deeply grooved hammer heads.
If you are buying a piano privately, get a technician to check it out before parting with your hard earned cash. People like to unload their 'lemons' - make sure you're not buying it!!
Many retailers give a bad press to older, traditional pianos (mainly because they only sell cheap, modern instruments themselves!) In my opinion this is unfair. A well maintained, top brand older piano is still a better buy than a new cheap one. Build quality has not improved over the years. To keep costs down, pianos are now manufactured on assembly lines with parts of questionable quality, kilns are used to artificially season wood and soundboards are sometimes made from multi-laminated wood.
Having said that, if you are interested in an older, traditional piano, make sure it is an underdamper. Overdampers should be avoided. If there is any doubt, call in a tuner/technician to make sure.
Try to buy from a retailer with an 'in-house' technician. At the moment, the market is very competitive and retailers are looking to cut costs wherever they can. Obviously they can't skimp on the way a piano looks on the outside - cleaning that is easy (some shops are even respraying older pianos in China!). However, the inside of the piano is a totally different issue. Understandably, most customers don't really know what to look for when they lift the top lid up and can't judge a well serviced piano from an untouched one. Having a technician service the piano costs the retailer money and cuts into their profit. If they can avoid it, they will!! NB. Regarding the pianos which we have for sale - because we do our servicing in-house, it doesn't cost us anything to get our pianos performing to their full potential. We pass the savings on to you and you get maximum value for your money.
Try to buy the best quality instrument you can afford. At the very least, buy a piano which is a little better in quality than the demands that are likely to be made on it. You get what you pay for!
Finally, it's an old saying but it is still extremely relevant - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
When you get your new piano home, here's some tips on the best position and maintenance for it. Try to place the piano away from damp areas - an inside wall is better than an outside. Try to keep temperature changes to a minimum - don't put the piano in a sunroom or in direct sunlight (in front of a window). Also keep it away from draughty doors and windows, heaters, radiators and airconditioners. It's not a good idea to leave pencils, paperclips etc on top of the piano - these can drop inside and cause annoying problems for you. Don't put drinks or vases of flowers on top either (water is the natural enemy of pianos). When cleaning, use a very slightly damp rag - don't use polishes which contain silicon. Silicon build up will dull the shine on the finish and make it look cloudy and dull. Autosol metal polish can be used to keep the brass looking spiffy.
Although there is absolutely no obligation to do so, if you would like to take a look at the pianos we currently have for sale, please click here.