A piano is an incredible investment that, if you treat it well, will last a lifetime. But it all starts when you make that decision to buy one. Of course, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be easy to get confused by all the considerations you need to factor in – whether you want acoustic or digital, upright or grand, a Yamaha or a Casio. Here we’ve gathered the basics of piano buying so that you can go in feeling confident.
Step One, Decide Which Kind Of Piano You Want
Wouldn’t it be nice if “buying a piano” were literally as simple as just that? The reality is that there are a lot more factors to be taken into consideration, and that will certainly take some research. For example, you will want to decide whether you want to purchase an acoustic or digital piano. Both bring different features to the table, like sound, space, longevity, etc.
It’s important to reflect on what it is you need before you settle firmly on one or the other.
Let’s be honest, acoustic pianos are awesome. They are the classic model, the tried-and-true instrument that has delighted audiences for quite literally generations. Whether you’re seeing concerts, listening to a fair number of soundtracks, or even watching Tom and Jerry in The Cat Concerto, you are swept away in the sound of that acoustic piano.
There are many things which differentiate an acoustic piano from a digital one. The main, obviously, is how it works. While both do sum up to “hit a key, hear a note,” each achieves those ends by much different means.
Whereas the digital piano is programmed to chime when a key is pressed, an acoustic piano’s keys are connected to hammers which, when pressed, strike a taught string. The vibration then produces the note.
There are two main types of acoustic piano: a grand and an upright.
- Grand pianos have a frame that is set horizontally. It takes up much more space than an upright piano and has keys that reset because of gravity.
- Upright pianos are much more compact, which makes them more convenient for enclosed spaces, like medium or smaller homes and apartments. Unlike grand pianos, the keys are not reset by gravity, but instead by a spring mechanism. This does mean that the mechanism can wear over time, which will require replacement.
Thankfully, there’s no shortage of companies who are making acoustic pianos. Below are a few of the big names in this industry, whose high quality workmanship you cannot go wrong with.
Digital pianos are more modern adaptions of the classic acoustic. They can be less expensive (which is a big plus for people), but that’s not to say they’re “cheap knockoffs” of an original. In fact, it’s amazing how well some digital pianos can replicate the sound of an acoustic, and more!
When you play a digital piano, it does away with the strings and hammers. Instead, each key will play a high-quality digital recording of an acoustic piano hitting that same note.
There are three types of digital pianos to choose from, the grand, the upright, and the portable:
- The grand piano is the most high quality of the bunch. It produces better sound and allows for better movements of the keys. The caveat, though, is that it is much more expensive and only a select few makers produce them.
- The upright is very similar to its acoustic counterpart, and is popular in households. Though it is about the same size as its wooden companion, the digital version is significantly lighter in weight.
- Portable digital pianos are by far the lightest and least expensive of the lot, which makes it especially popular for new students on tight budgets. It does not come with “legs” as other pianos do, but instead is set on a collapsable stand.
Like acoustic pianos, digital ones are produced from a variety of brands. Some of the most well known, however, include the following:
The quality of a piano is not simply dependent on parts like hammers and strings. Many components both on the inside and outside of your instrument will have an affect on the overall performance of the instrument. Certainly you should look for high quality soundboards, hammers, and strings. But also it is worth asking an expert about how often the piano should be tuned, or the longevity of the instrument.
In fact, the cabinet (the area where the springs are housed) can have a major impact on the sound of a piano. Low quality wood or craftsmanship will produce a dull sound when the piano is being played, either muffling or just muddying the noise of your instrument.
What Kind Of Sound Are You Looking For?
One would hope that if you’re planning on buying an instrument, you would enjoy the sound of it. But it’s worth mentioning that you should definitely take the time to consider if you like what you hear before you make a purchase, as not all pianos are created equal. In the end it is really a matter of opinion, simply playing around and deciding whether or not you enjoy the sound of the instrument.
Some people prefer a very bright and forward sound when playing their piano. Other people like the deeper, more mellow tones. The happy medium would be finding a nice rich round sound that is not too heavy but not too light either.
Take a moment to play each note. Does the volume differ or is it consistent? Do some keys sound unexpectedly bright or mellow?
Digital pianos get their sound from pre-recorded audio of acoustic pianos. The goal should be that the less “digital” your piano sounds, the better.
You don’t want to play a digital piano that sounds fuzzy, like you’re listening to a song over a staticky radio.
And not just clarity, you should also listen for how much you like the “articulation” and “fade” – the start and end – of each sound. The ones that sound closest to an acoustic piano are the ones that have the greatest consistency over their articulation and decay.
Finding Your Keys
The keys on your piano are aptly named, for they are truly the keys for unlocking amazing music. That’s why you should always make sure, when shopping for a piano, that the keys the best that they can be.
Make sure to do a sweep of your potential instrument and make sure that there is no cracking or chipping. Look for any warping or damage. And especially check for the resistance of the keys as you press them. Liberty Park Music recommends that if the keys are as easy to press as typing on a computer key, then there is not enough resistance.
A full-sized piano has around 88 keys. The standard size for a digital piano is approximately 61. What this means is that if you are really serious about learning the piano and want to go far, make sure that you are taking the number of keys into account.
The touch-sensitivity of a digital piano refers to how responsive it is when you play different keys with varying strengths. The keyboard can sense your velocity, which then produces an appropriate sound level for each note played in order that they are all heard equally well without too much emphasis on any one area above another (for example: loudness). This helps give more control over music’s dynamics; allowing players like yourself who enjoy expressiveness through their performance voice have even greater potential than before!
Digital piano keys come in a variety of different styles and weights. Some have keys without added weight, semi-weighted ones, or fully weighted ones; the latter being considered best for those who want an even sound from their instrument because it most closely resembles that produced by acoustic grand pianos.
Location, Location, Location
It wouldn’t do to buy a great piano and then find out that you’ve got absolutely no space for it. Especially when there’s an equally great piano that would fit perfectly where you need it too.
Find the exact measurements where you can fit a piano and make sure that the instruments you browse will fit right in. If there’s not enough space for a grand piano then it would be best to browse uprights or a portable keyboard.
And don’t forget, the location of your piano is very important to preserving it for the long haul. Acoustic pianos are particularly susceptible to heat and moisture.
- Don’t place your piano near windows or anywhere that would put it in direct sunlight. Keys have been known to yellow under constant exposure to natural light.
- Avoid placing your piano near the furnace or a heater as the heat could cause damage to the wood exterior.
Polyphony refers to the maximum number of sounds that can be made by an instrument at one time. A piano with 32-note polyphony is capable of producing up to thirty two notes simultaneously, while 64 and 128 are recommended for advanced pianists who want more responsiveness from their keyboards or synthesizers respectively.
A full-sized piano has 88 keys, but a piano can have up to a 128-note polyphony. This is because the sustain pedal increases the amount of notes you are able to play, in some cases, more than 88.
Deciding On A Budget
The cost of a piano is determined by its quality and size. A higher-quality instrument may be more costly, but it also has durable materials that lead to longer life span; while less costly models are available for those on smaller budgets who want an equally enjoyable experience without breaking the bank at once.
Giving It A Go
When it comes to buying a piano, the recommendation is not to do your shopping online. Just like a large part of picking a car or a chair is to find the one that feels comfortable to you, the same goes for buying a piano. Take a test drive before you make up your mind, play it a couple of times and decide if it feels like a good fit for you.
A large part of doing your research is listening to what other people have to say about different pianos.
- Look at online stores and read the reviews there. Look at the 1 star reviews as well as the 5 star ones.
- If you have friends with pianos, ask them what they think
- Find what professionals recommend. Often experts and teachers will be able to offer advice over where you should look and what you should be looking for.
What Are Your Intentions?
If this is just a hobby for fun, or if you are a new student and haven’t yet decided if you want to go terribly far, then don’t shell out big bucks for the most expensive instrument on the market. If you’re wanting to make the piano a major part of your life, then you should consider spending more on a higher quality instrument that will last.
Find Your New Piano With The Ogden Piano Gallery
There’s nothing quite like having a piano in the home. It becomes a treasure for the family that appreciates it, a place where memories are made, and a source of happiness for loved ones to share. Many people have stories of their parents or grandparents playing the family piano, and are so excited when that gift is passed on to them.
But today is the day to acquire a piano of your own, and turn it into that treasure which your family will cherish. It will only get better with time and is an investment worth its weight in gold.
So find your new piano today with the Ogden Piano Gallery. You can contact an experienced professional with any questions you have by calling us at 801.779.9700 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.