There are a host of factors to consider when buying a piano, either new or secondhand or even digital, and the multitude of choices out there can make the whole task rather daunting.
For many families this will be a first piano for the children, or maybe a return to learning piano for the parents (sometimes a mixture of both!). Naturally, for most of us, the cost of buying a piano is a relative large sum, but we hope to allay those fears by providing a broad and realistic guide to buying a piano.
This is a very subjective question – it stands to reason, for example, that a professional accomplished pianist is going to be more demanding and discerning and would ideally need to have a larger budget than a beginner to get an instrument that would meet their higher standard of playing. As with most things in life you get what you pay for!
With new upright pianos prices starting around £2000 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.
As a general guide you should look at spending at least £1500 on a real second hand piano in order to have a full-size instrument that is in proper working order, with a proper touch and tone. And remember beware as there are many old second hand pianos out there that are over 80 years old at very low prices and its easy to think that they might do the job, but that is unlikely if for example it doesn’t stay in tune or work properly its not a bargain!
There are also lots of digital pianos on the market of all types with all sorts of obscure brand names which attempt to replicate a real acoustic piano through electronic means. However beware of the cheap (in all senses) brands as they rarely live up to expectation. Ideally to get a digital piano that offers a reasonable approximation of a real piano in terms of touch and sound you would need to spend upwards of £800 and always try to buy recognized international brands like Yamaha Clavinova and Roland.
And remember if you are looking for a piano for beginners then there is always Home Home Rental with Purchase Option. This will give you a real acoustic piano to learn on with no commitment and allow you to asses how much it is being enjoyed before buying.
“Select the piano that sounds and feels right to you”
Again, a subjective question, as some people prefer different piano manufacturers for different reasons, just as manufacturers have different strengths and weaknesses, different touch and sound. For the majority of us the worlds top brands like Steinway, Bechstein, Bosendorfer and Bluthner are beyond our budget.
However there are plenty of amazing pianos within a reasonable budget, these days companies like Yamaha make a fantastic range of pianos to suite most budgets. The most affordable pianos come from the far east, with countries like China (also now the world’s largest consumer and manufacturer of pianos) and Indonesia being the most significant. Makes like Steinmayer having been voted the best selling Chinese piano in the UK are an example of the popularity of this type of piano. In the end, though, it is more important to play, compare and select the piano that sounds and feels right to you; after all you are the one that is going to play it!
Pianos have the advantage of a long lifespan – usually at least 50 to 80 years – so they hold their value relatively well, especially compared to digital pianos, which have a “high tech” turnover and are rendered “obsolete” relatively quickly and consequently are built with a limited lifespan in mind. For example a ten year old real piano is viewed by the trade as nearly new which is what you would expect from a product that has such a long lifespan. Values will always depend, in the end, on the relative price of new pianos and the general health of the market.