Guide for Buying Your First Piano

Buying a piano for the first time can be a headache. There are many factors to consider before making your selection and you certainly don’t want to spend a lots of money on an instrument that doesn’t suit your needs. There’re so many options in the market for you to choose from: acoustic pianos, second hand, digital or even hybrid pianos. Here are some questions to consider before making your piano purchase. You would only need to find a balance between your goals and your budget.

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:

Why do I want my child to learn music?

  • 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?

How much am I willing to spend?

  • As many things in life, you get what you pay for. There is a huge range of prizes and quality. From the old $40 toy keyboard in the charity shop, to the brand new $200,000 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.

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 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!

Hybrid pianos

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!