Piano Buyers Guide

What to look out for: There is a vast difference in quality of instrument across the different brands, however two popular choices amongst teachers, pupils and professionals alike are Yamaha or Kawai, whether they be a digital, acoustic or grand piano. For digital and acoustic instruments alike the majority of brands have a budget friendly end of the spectrum to a more expensive end of the spectrum. For example Kawai have a ‘K’ series (upright pianos) with the higher the number equivalent to the better quality instrument. A quick google search will show you how each brand of piano label their instruments.

It’s also important to note that should space be an issue Yamaha (and many other makes) have begun to produce space friendly digital models noted in the name with YDP-S##, giving the same quality instrument as the non-space friendly equivalent with a much smaller footprint. Of course, should your budget allow, a Steinway or Bossendorfer instrument will allow you the best quality of instrument in materials, tone, dynamic range and longevity. Even Steinway run a budget friendly range to look out for that goes under the name of ‘Boston’.

Priority features: No matter the level of player it is essential that you are practising and playing on an instrument that has weighted keys if you are looking at a digital instrument.

Nice to have features: If your budget can stretch it is also a huge benefit to have an instrument with ‘hammer action’ that replicates the hammer action found in an acoustic instrument. For some people with an acoustic instrument you may find that a ‘practise’ pedal will be good so that you can practise away into the evening without disturbing people. For some who want that extra security to play late at night it may be worth exploring the silent piano systems that can be added to instruments.

Play test: Always play the instrument before purchasing it, and always play as many instruments as possible when doing so. There are many piano stores out there that have similarly priced instruments stored near each other to help you shop according to your budget and play similar instruments. If in doubt you can always take a piano technician with you to look at the instrument if you are unsure of its quality.

Common Problems: If you are buying second hand or not from a reputable dealer there are many parts of a piano that could have well faced plenty of wear and tear, most of which will be straightforward and fairly inexpensive to repair.

  • Check that key tops are firmly on the keys and have not broken
  • Make sure all notes on the piano sound
  • Make sure each of the pedals work (if in doubt what each pedal does take someone with you who does)
  • Check that the casing is in good condition
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