Helpful Hints When Buying a Piano
There are a host of factors to consider when buying a piano, either new or secondhand and the multitude of choices out there can make the whole task rather daunting. The cost of buying a piano is a relative large sum, so we want to ensure you get the best possible advice by providing a guide to buying a piano. Whatever you decide upon it is always advisable you have have played it ( or heard it if you do not play) as no two pianos are the same, even if they are the same make and model.
Buying a new piano
With new upright pianos prices starting around £2500 and going up to £20,000 and more, it’s a good idea to decide on a budget that is going to get you an instrument suitable for your needs.
Generally the amount that you pay for a piano determines the quality of the piano -we recommend that you spend as much as you can afford.
Many factors affect the price; whether it is a grand or upright piano, its size, the style of the case, the quality of the manufacture of the soundboard, the action, the frame design, and the finish.
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 two basic case styles – compact ‘modern’ and traditional. The traditional has a square-fronted cabinet with columns and toes which gives good stability because of its wider base. The compact version has a plain sloping fronted cabinet with the keyboard jutting out from the centre.
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.
Buying a well-known make of piano from a reputable dealer like Suffolk Pianos should be problem free. There should, for example, be a five year guarantee with a new piano.
There are a range of new pianos on the market, and in the lower price range they are likely to have been manufactured in China (also now the world’s largest consumer and manufacturer of pianos) or Korea and Indonesia. Is this a bad thing? No it is not as a) the Chinese piano manufacturing industry has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years and b) many of the important internal parts of the pianos they are putting together come from Europe.
Buying a secondhand piano
Buying a piano from a private household, an auction site or eBay is fraught with problems – here is why:
Sadly, most older pianos are, at best, of mediocre quality even if they have great sentimental value – they are just worthless pieces of furniture. This is because a century ago every home aspired to have a piano – it is what we had in our living rooms rather than a TV. As a result of demand, there were over 300 British piano manufacturers in the 1920s , with not all of them building their instruments to a good standard. There is now a huge glut of these old pianos, even though demand has gone.
However, if you can buy a sought-after piano which has a good name and quality build, and which has been refurbished to a high standard, you are buying a recession-proof investment. At worst they should hold their value, but at the top end you can expect them to rise in price.