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How to...
Buy a Piano

If you are like most people who buy a piano, you could end up keeping your piano for 40-50 years. Your piano will be an important part of the decor of your house and one which will reflect your sense of taste and culture. So it makes sense to take a lot of care when buying your piano.

If someone in your family is learning to play the piano, they will enjoy the experience a lot more if they are practicing on a good quality piano with a pleasant tone and a responsive touch.

Your piano is an investment. Unlike many other purchases such as cars or appliances, a good piano will keep its value over the next ten years or more. So study up on the subject of pianos and shop around.

Major Piano Brands

Major brands of traditional acoustic pianos include:
(United States) Steinway & Sons; Baldwin; Wurlitzer; Chickering; Mason and Rich; Cable; Winter.
(Asia) Yamaha; Kawai; Pearl River; Samick; Young Chang; Nordiska; Carl Ebel; Richter; Daewoo; Hyundai.
(Germany/Austria) Bechstein; Ibich; Blüthner; Feurich; Pfeiffer; Hupfeld; Rönisch; Wilh. Steinberg; Steingraeber; Brückner; Solton; Stenmann; Haessler; Steinway Haus; Bösendorfer; Schimmel.
(Czech Republic) Petrof; Scholze; Förster; Rösler; Bohemia; Rieger-Kloss.
(France) Pleyel; Gaveau; Rameau; Erard.
(UK) Kemble; Chappell; Collard and Collard; Whelpdale; Knight; Bentley; Welmar; Marshal & Rose; Broadwood; Woodchester.

Major brands of digital pianos include:
Alesis; Casio; Daewoo; Bohm; Ensonio; Farfisa; Gem; Hammond; Kawai; Korg; Kurzweil; Orla; Roland; Solton; Suzuki; Technics; Viscount; Wersi; and Yamaha.

Click here for more on piano brands .

New or Secondhand?

Some people are tempted to buy a secondhand piano in order to save money. But if you are buying a secondhand piano, be very careful. Pianos deteriorate over time. Many pianos will not have been maintained regularly and will cost a lot more to fix than it could to just buy a new piano to start with. If you are going to buy a secondhand piano, take your time, take an experienced piano player with you to try the piano out for you and finally employ a piano tuner to give their professional opinion in one or two of the nicest pianos you find.

If you can possibly afford it, buy a new piano (and the most expensive piano you can afford). Buy from a reputable dealer who has been in business for a long time and who will offer you a manufacturer-backed warranty. Finally, ask local music teachers or piano technicians what piano brands and models are, in their opinion, the best quality and most-trouble free.

Traditional Acoustic Piano or Digital Piano?

Digital pianos are electronic devices that use sound chips and speakers to reproduce piano sounds.

Digital pianos have some advantages such as being able to make other keyboard sounds (such as the organ, harpsichord, etc.) and background rhythm ( eg drum sounds) to accompany your playing, and the ability to record your performance. You do not need to tune digital pianos and they are lighter and easier to move than traditional acoustic pianos.

On the negative side, digital pianos still cannot match the tone and touch of acoustic pianos. Some music teachers require their students to practice on acoustic pianos as there are techniques that cannot be practiced on digital pianos; other teachers are perfectly at ease with digital pianos -- so if you already have a teacher, check out their preferences.

Acoustic pianos have a great number of black and white keys -- up to eight octaves of them (by way of definition, an octave is the number of keys from middle C to the next C along the piano keyboard); whereas many digital pianos have only six or even just four octaves. Four octaves will be fine for playing simple tunes but you will need six octaves or more if you want to study music at all seriously.

Rent or Buy?

Renting a piano avoids spending a big sum of money upfront and, if you change your mind, you can just return the piano to the rental company without a big capital loss.

Remember, however, that the monthly rental fee will not be your only expense. You have to pay the piano moving charges at the beginning and end of your rental and most people pay for periodical visits from the piano tuner.

Buying a piano means that your money is not going into the purchase of an asset which will finally belong to you. And if you are buying a new piano, you get a brand-new instrument, not a piano that has been used and possibly abused by other people before you.

Recommended Book

The Piano Book: Buying & Owning a New or Used Piano
by Larry Fine

If you are buying a new or used acoustic piano (that is, a piano with strings rather than a digital piano or electric keyboard), this book is a "must buy"!

Reading this easy-to-understand book's detailed descriptions and recommendations will make you more much better-informed and knowledgeable. It will allow you to choose a piano based on the facts instead of relying on the pitches of sweet-talking salespeople.

The Piano Book has chapters on How a Piano Works, Buying a New Piano, Buying a Used Piano, Piano Moving and Piano Care. It also has Consumer Guide to New and Recently Made Pianos which lists pianos listed by brand and ranked according to various important categories.

This book is truly the Bible for people buying new and used pianos.

Along with this book, you should also buy the "Supplement" (Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer: Supplement to The Piano Book [Fall 2010 edition]) which gives the official list prices for almost every piano manufacturer and model (both acoustic AND digital -- that is, prices for more than 4,000 currently manufactured acoustic and digital piano brands and models), along with recommendations on the "street prices", that is, the lower prices you can get after discounts (average 15-25% discount!) you can get if you just ask.

Click here to buy The Piano Book

Click here to buy Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer: Supplement to The Piano Book (Fall 2010 edition)

Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)

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See also:
Middle Ages Music
Renaissance Music
Baroque Era Music
Classical Era Music
Romantic Era Music
Nationalist Era Music
Turn of Century Music

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