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How To Choose The Right Piano For You & Your Family

Purchasing a new piano is an exciting process for the whole family. But before you embark on such a pilgrimage, it’s important to choose the right piano for you all, and that can present something of a headache, particularly since there are so many pianos out there and all with different factors that must be considered. 

Digital vs Acoustic

The first step is to decide whether you want a digital or acoustic piano

Acoustic Pianos

Sound 

Before purchasing a piano, play it a little to determine how you feel about the sound. Of course, this is entirely subjective;some prefer lighter tones, while others prefer deeper, mellower sounds, so meet somewhere in the middle to please everyone.

Generally sparking, a quality piano tone is deep, well-rounded and full. Listen carefully to the sound; are the volumes of the keys consistent? Play all of the keys and listen for any unexpected changes in the tone and magnitude of the sound. 

Keys

It’s important to ensure that the keys have a smooth surface and are free from blemishes, such as cracks. When you’re playing the piano, the keys should offer some resistance. If the keys are pushed with minimal effort, the keys probably don’t have the best resistance. 

Location 

It’s important to get the exact dimensions of the piano you intend to buy and the area in which you plan to place it. If space is at a premium – which is highly likely if you have little ones – then you might be forced to choose between a traditional upright piano or a spinet piano, which is the smallest of two.

It’s also vital to choose a suitable location for your piano. Acoustic pianos suffer when exposed to fluctuations in temperature and humidity, so they shouldn’t be placed in direct sunlight or in contact with heat sources, such as radiators. 

If not kept in a suitable environment, the components of an acoustic piano, particularly the wooden and felt parts, could suffer. 

Ideally, your acoustic piano should be put within an environment, with humidity ranging from 45% to 70% and at a constant room temperature of around 20˚C.

Warranty

Pianos are huge purchases, which means a warranty is absolutely crucial, particularly with younger children running around. Almost every brand-new piano comes with a guarantee of at least five years but be cautious about purchasing from a private retailer. This is because some of the most prominent piano brands, such as Yamaha and Steinway, don’t provide a warranty for their pianos that are sold by unauthorised private retailers. 

Brands

There are numerous fantastic brands that are well-renowned around the world, to choose from, such as:

What About Second-Hand Acoustic Pianos?

The biggest pro to purchasing pre-owned pianos is the price. Quality acoustic pianos can be incredibly expensive, so a second-hand piano is often a better option for many. 

However, if you don’t undertake the appropriate research, you could end up making a costly mistake. 

Before purchasing the piano, find out when the last repair and maintenance services were undertaken and whether it was stored in an appropriate environment. 

While second-hand pianos are cheaper, it means you will be required to ensure maintenance and tuning is undertaken regularly. 

Overall, a pre-owned piano is a good option assuming the proper research is done beforehand. 

Digital Pianos

There are three kinds of digital piano:

  • Grand Piano
  • Upright Piano
  • Portable Piano

When you’re looking to purchase a digital piano, look for the following:

Sound

Digital pianos produce sound by reproducing the tones of an acoustic piano. The way the sounds are recorded, and the quality of the equipment has a direct impact on the finished sound. 

An excellent digital piano should be enveloping and warm, just like the acoustic piano it imitates. Having said that, everyone prefers a different sound and feel, so it’s essential to choose something that you like.

Aside from the general quality of the sound, you should listen to how the note rises and falls. The digital piano that has the best control over its sound is the one that will naturally resemble an acoustic piano. 

Living in a busy household may mean also wish to consider a silent piano, which allows anyone to practice day or night using a pair of headphones.

Keys

A full-sized piano has 88 keys. Some digital pianos though come with 61, or even fewer keys. For more advanced players, the full 88 keys is a minimal requirement. So, if you’re a novice, really looking to sink their teeth into learning piano, it’s a good idea to purchase a full size.

Polyphony

Polyphony is the maximum amount of sounds that a piano can make at any given time. A piano with 32-note polyphony will be able to produce 32 notes at once. Intermediate piano players will be better off with 64-note polyphony, and advanced pianists should opt for a 128-note polyphony.

Touch Response

​Sensitivity – Touch response refers to how sensitive a piano is when you touch a key with a particular strength. The keyboard is able to sense the pace with which you play the key and is able to offer a sound of the appropriate tone and volume. A touch-sensitive piano gives you better control over the music you’re producing. 

​Key Weight – A digital piano can have keys without added weight, semi-weighted keys or even fully-weighted keys. The weighted keys are designed to mimic the weight of acoustic piano keys.

Brands

The brand of a digital piano is always a good barometer as to its sound quality and longevity. Industry recommendations consistently mention:

Should I Buy a Second-Hand Digital Pianos?

A second-hand digital piano can be a great option due to the lower costs. In fact, digital piano prices will decrease really quickly, since there are newer and more advanced models released each year.

Another advantage is the fact that digital pianos are far more robust than their acoustic cousins. You can pick up a second-hand digital piano on online, from platforms like eBay and any reputable musical instrument supplier. However, if you take this route, keep in mind that you usually won’t have the benefit of any kind of warranty. 

There are so many options to choose from when purchasing a new piano, which is the very reason why it’s so tough to choose.

It’s essential to assess all the pros and cons and choose the piano which fits your skills and lifestyle. Once you’ve made the purchase, you’ll enjoy many years of fulfilment, so long as you take care of your instrument.

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