Pianos are among the most beautiful instruments in the world. Purchasing a piano should provide musical enjoyment for many years and be a fun, rewarding experience. Start by selecting one of the pictures below to help you select the best product for your home.
The following will answer many questions about purchasing a quality piano.
“Aren’t older pianos are better than new ones?”
In the piano world, older is not better. In fact, pianos are at their peak performance during their first 10 years. The only people who make this claim are people who sell or rebuild older pianos, those who can’t afford a new piano and those who aren’t well informed. Older pianos do not measure up to new pianos in two important areas: their tone does not have as great of a dynamic range and the action is not as responsive. While it is possible for older pianos to be acceptable to some players, the piano never plays or sounds as good as it did when it was new. The evidence is irrefutable. Whenever a performing arts center or music institution needs a new piano, they always look for a new one first. If older pianos were better, why would they not save money and buy a used piano instead? Every year there are over 500 major piano concerts in the United States. Over 95% of them are played on Steinway & Sons pianos that are 10 years of age or NEWER.
“Can’t I save a lot by purchasing a better quality piano that is 5-10 years old? I just have to be patient.”
Most performance quality pianos are bought by those who play the piano. They are not purchased as a starting instrument. These pianos are purchased by individuals who know they will be playing it for many, many years. If ever sold, they typically do not show up on the open market. They tend to be passed down or sold to friends or family. The idea of finding a better quality piano slightly used can have you searching for years only to be missing out on the enjoyment of playing the piano. Even if all the stars were to align and you found a good quality used grand piano under 10 years old, it would be sold at market value. This is usually a couple thousand less than a new piano and many times don’t include any warranty. Not a huge savings. Not to mention you don’t get to pick the size or color. Almost always, you’ll have to pay significantly to bring the piano up to the maintenance level neglected by the last owner. This just cuts into that “savings” a little more.
“Is acoustic always better than digital?”
Yes! • A HIGH QUALITY acoustic piano provides an experience that even a quality digital piano has difficulty reproducing. These are rarely found used on the market. They are purchase by those that play or are committed to playing the piano for a long time. If found, they are generally quite old and may not be the best value/option or if newer will not fall in the lower-end price range.
No! • An ENTRY LEVEL acoustic piano may have limited sound quality and limited action play-ability and at the very most be equal to buying a quality digital piano.
No! • A POOR QUALITY acoustic piano can be more of a detriment than a help and in most cases a worse choice than a quality digital piano.
1.) The feel and sound of a quality digital piano is above that of older, poor quality pianos and many times equal to or above new entry level pianos.
2.) If budget/investment is a concern, poor quality pianos and lower entry level pianos usually require more tuning and upkeep. This is a cost that many first time buyers may not understand nor desire to commit to. Without this CONSTANT ATTENTION, a quality digital piano is a much better choice because it requires little to no maintenance.
3.) Quality digital pianos also provide the added benefit of using headphones.
4.) A quality digital piano is much different than a keyboard. Just because it has weighted keys does not mean it is quality. Quality digital pianos are not sold at big box stores and are reserved to be sold at piano stores by the manufacturer.
“Can’t I just find a fixer upper or an older piano? Pianos last forever.”
Pianos have over 12,000 parts and most all wear out over time. Pianos DO NOT get better with age. The finish, alone, on a piano can be several thousands of dollars to restore. (Storage units, garages and even summer/winter cabins are often the cause of this abuse.) Unfortunately, even pianos kept under ideal conditions wear out. Felts deteriorate and weaken – soundboards expand, contract, crack and lose their crown – strings lose their vibrancy. Most all these are costly to fix and are usually not worth the effort and money. And, even after all that was completed it will never sound as good as a new piano.
Think of it this way – if a Steinway & Sons grand piano, believed by most to be the best piano in the world, needs to be rebuilt every 40-50 years or less, how could a lessor quality piano not need this? The answer is they do. No one restores them because they won’t have enough value after the cost of a restoration. The mass majority of pianos were NEVER intended to be rebuilt or last forever. Most all of them had a life expectancy of about 50 years or less. It is time for them to retire. This is why they were LESS EXPENSIVE in the first place. Even the old handmade uprights are well past their musical life. These types of pianos are inevitably going to hinder one’s ability to achieve success.
Just because it makes a sound, does not make it a good, reliable piano. It’s a little like buying a car with 200,000 miles on it and expect it to be good for the next 5-10 years.
“Where is the best source for information about purchasing a piano?”
While the internet can be a source of information, it can also be a source of mis-information. On internet forums people who give advice typically have their own agendas. Their goal is to discredit other brands and to create doubt in the mind of the consumer. It is an amazing fact that often a consumer will visit a piano showroom in person, play or hear a piano, talk face-to-face with someone who knows a great deal about pianos, then go home and put more credence in the opinion of a self-proclaimed expert on the internet whom they have never met. These so-called experts talk about the benefits of purchasing a piano which they have never heard or played!
You local, educated piano dealer, is the best place for information.
However, they should SHOW YOU THE DIFFERENCES. Dont just take their word for it. Have the sales person show you (physically on the piano) why something is better on their product.
“Can I get a good quality name brand grand piano for around $10,000?”
It is true that there are new, name brand grand pianos for around $10,000, but these pianos are built far inferior to the rest of their piano line. These pianos are used as promotional models and are not built to the same standard/quality level as their full-featured pianos. They used different materials and eliminate many features that attract musicians to a piano. They are usually used as bait, hoping you’ll move up to a much more expensive, better built model.
“What about the so-called “Golden Age” of Steinway?”
Be wary of anyone who uses this term. There is no such thing as the “Golden-Age of Steinway”. It is a term made up by rebuilders who want to glorify the piano they rebuilt. If you google the term you will find that the dates vary from 1876 to 1955 depending on whose website you visit and their respective agenda. Beware- it is rebuilder’s hyperbole. The greatest players and the best performance halls in the world today would proclaim that the Steinway pianos being built today are the finest pianos Steinway has ever produced. Henry Z. Steinway, at a luncheon he attended at the age of 91 in 2007, commented that the one constant in the piano business since he started in his family’s business in the 1920’s was that he was told that the best Steinway pianos were the ones built 10 years previously… and he was told this year after year for over 70 years. In other words, there has always been a segment in the piano world, primarily non-Steinway piano dealers and rebuilders who want to discredit new Steinway pianos. This is nothing new. It is an easy statement for a salesperson/rebuilder to make in order to give credence to their product. Thirty years from now the same salesperson/rebuilder will be telling their clients that new Steinways aren’t as good as the ones built today.
CHECKLIST FOR BUYING A USED STEINWAY
Before purchasing a used or rebuilt Steinway piano you should answer affirmatively to all of the following questions:
□ Does the piano consist of 100% genuine Steinway parts?
□ If the piano was rebuilt, has the rebuilder been to the Steinway factory for training within the last 5 years?
□ If the piano is older than 20 years, has the action been completely regulated by a Steinway factory trained technician and have the worn parts been replaced with genuine Steinway parts?
□ Will the rebuilder provide a signed statement that all parts are genuine Steinway parts?
□ If the piano was built between 1962-1982, have the teflon bushings been replaced by genuine Steinway action parts?
□ Is the dynamic range of tone as wide as a new Steinway?
ADVANTAGES OF A QUALITY NEW PIANO
- You don’t inherit problems
- The piano feels better
- The piano sounds better
- The piano has a larger dynamic range
- The piano looks better
- You can pick the size
- You can pick the color/finish
- You receive a warranty
- Better investment
- Better gift to pass on
- You’ll be more satisfied with you choice