Buying a New Piano

BUYING A NEW PIANO


Buying a new piano from a reputable piano retailer should be straightforward as a good retailer will be able to discuss your requirements and suggest suitable instruments. Generally the amount that you pay for a piano is determined by the quality of the instrument. Be sure to purchase the one that you have tried as no two instruments are the same, even if they are the same make and model.


We recommend that you spend as much as you can afford as many factors affect the price; whether it is a grand or upright piano, its size, the style of the case, its finish and colour, the make of the action, the frame design, key covering material and number and type of pedals.

 

The first decision is whether you want a grand or an upright piano and often the size and cost are determining factors in this choice. In general, a larger piano with longer strings will sound better than a smaller instrument.

Grand pianos come in a wide variety of sizes and styles and your choice of a particular instrument can often be down to individual taste.

Upright pianos come in Traditional and Modern case styles with the Modern usually being less expensive. The Traditional has a square-fronted cabinet with columns and toes which gives good stability because of its wider base. The Modern has a plain sloping fronted cabinet with the keyboard jutting out from the centre. Traditional style uprights can be greater than 52” tall and with their longer strings and a greater area of soundboard these give a richer and fuller sound. They tend to have a greater choice of case finish, decoration and size than the Modern style.

 

The usual finishes are Satin and High Gloss which are durable when looked after carefully. These finishes should simply be wiped with a clean damp cloth — never use a spray polish on this type of surface. Some wood finishes are very expensive and are only available as a special order. Real wood veneer finishes are expensive because choosing the wood, matching it and applying it to the case takes time and skill.

In addition to the usual Piano Black, common colours are Walnut, Mahogany, Cherry and Beech.

 

Pianos with actions made using better quality parts and hammer felts cost more but these improve the sound of the instrument and how it feels to play.

A good frame design can also have a beneficial effect.

Plastic key covers are standard nowadays but mammoth ivory and ivory substitutes can be alternatives to improve the feel of the keys.

 

The number and type of pedals may also influence your choice of instrument and consequently, the price. A grand piano may have 2, 3 or even 4 pedals. Depending on the make, the third (middle) pedal may be a sostenuto pedal which holds the dampers of the played notes off the strings when the pedal is depressed. Alternatively it may just raise the bass hammers towards the strings, reducing the bass volume. Generally on an upright piano, the middle pedal operates a 'celeste' felt which comes down between the hammers and the strings to reduce the volume of playing. This is sometimes called a Practice pedal or Mute. Some more expensive upright pianos have a sostenuto pedal instead of the ‘celeste’ as the middle pedal.

 

Buying a well-known make of piano from a reputable dealer should be problem free. However buyers should be aware that many old piano maker’s names (particularly German) are being revived and are now found on pianos which bear no relation to the original manufacturer. It is important to remember that a piano which looks similar to a more expensive one may not simply be a cheaper version of the same instrument. As pianos have so many moving parts, a more expensive piano usually suggests that more time has gone into the design, manufacture and set-up of the instrument. Cost usually indicates quality.

 

It is always advisable to take your tuner with you when you have found a piano that you are thinking of buying, particularly where it is a make of which you are unsure. 


PTA ADVICE

 

When you are thinking of buying a piano, it is worth visiting two or three dealers (if you have the time and choice of dealers) to get an idea of what is in the market place and to get an idea of prices.

 

It is always advisable to take your tuner with you for an expert opinion when you have found a piano that you are thinking of buying.