Buying a piano is a big investment. Approach a piano purchase the way you would approach buying a car. Do research, and plan for the long term.
Why a piano and not a keyboard/ digital piano?
An acoustic piano that produce sound from real strings and wood offers a range of dynamics and timbre, and a level of responsiveness that even the best digital pianos cannot match. As a piano teacher I have seen the benefit of students who practice on acoustic pianos versus students who practice on keyboards. A piano offers the “real experience”, whereas a digital piano offers at best only half the experience. Learning to play the piano is the same as learning to drive: learning to drive manual transmission gives one more control over the vehicle and one can easily switch over to automatic transmission should the need arise, but the opposite is not necessarily true.
A piano is an investment. An expensive piano will be good quality and last a lifetime, but you can also get cheaper great quality second hand pianos. For an upright piano, budget between R12 000 and R80 000, and for a decent grand piano, budget from R70 000 and up. A new German made piano costs over one million rands, because it is made by hand, and no two pianos in the world will sound the same. Cheaper pianos are machine made. For machine made pianos quality of finish can be good, but rarely will it match those of hand made pianos.
A piano (same as a car), needs regular service every year. This includes tuning and cleaning the piano. Use a professional tuner.
What I look for when I buy a second hand piano?
Brand – Read up on the history of the brand you are buying
Look inside the piano
- Check for a cracked soundboard and water damage.
- Are the hammers and dampers in a good condition?
- Do all the keys work?
- Do the pedals work?
Ask questions regarding the history of the piano, maintenance, and warranty.
Sound, and responsiveness of the piano. I prefer a piano with a warm velvet bass sound, and I prefer the more weighted heavy touch responsiveness of a KAWAI or Feurich, but I have colleagues who prefer the light touch sensitivity of a Yamaha or Auto Bach.
This is YOUR choice. Spend time trying out different pianos. Buy the piano that you fall in love with.