4 tips to help you buy the right piano

I invited Mark Goodwin to write an article for this blog on choosing the right piano. A lot of my pupils start off learning on keyboards, but soon find that the limitations of these combined with their enthusiasm to play on a real piano brings up the question of buying an acoustic piano. My piano is a Yamaha U1 and I really do recommend this piano as an affordable piano that will last you a lifetime.  Mark deals in secondhand Yamaha pianos and has showrooms in London, Manchester and Glasgow. He has given some advice on things to consider before buying a piano which is one of the biggest and most important investments you will make  in your piano playing career.

Mark writes:

I’ve seen a lot of pianos come through my piano shop since opening for business in 2002 and I’ve discovered that there are just 2 questions which you, the customer, should ask yourself whilst choosing a new piano for your family. If you make a sensible choice at each junction you’ll end up with a really great piano for a very sensible price.

That might seem a bit of a puerile question but you’ll find that a high quality piano sparks an emotional response from inside your belly. If the piano doesn’t do that to you, close the lid and walk away. So that’s the first question out of the way.

New pianos are typically twice the price of a similar used model but so long as you source a properly reconditioned used piano you will find no musical disadvantage with choosing a used one over a new one. So the 2nd question is something along the lines of “do I really need a new one?”. My recommendation is that a high quality used piano is better and cheaper than a medium quality brand new piano. Moving on to
the next question…

The best advice anyone can give you here is that you should visit as many piano shops as you can find. Don’t just go to the nearest one, don’t just go to the one your friend bought her piano from, make sure you visit at least 3 or 4 different piano shops to get a feel for who is going to provide the best piano, the best service, for the best price and (crucially), who will treat you right in the event of any problems arising with the piano. I think it is very important that you test the patience of the dealer. If that means asking him 20 questions via email then you should go ahead and do that and see how long it takes him to reply and how much detail he goes into. You should also consider keeping him on the phone for a good 5-10 minutes asking all of the basic questions that you can think of. This simple exercise will show you who is prepared to be patient and helpful to you and who
will try to hurry you into getting your cheque book out.

Mark Goodwin’s showroom:

Whether you are buying for a grade 1 student or a grade 8 student, you can be equally confident that the pianist will know which piano is best for them. Many parents worry that their child is not qualified to make such an important decision but I’ve learned that if you just stand back and give young students lots of time and space they will be very capable of making a good choice of piano. They can feel the difference and they can hear the difference. And that’s all you need to make the right choice. Just cross your fingers they don’t choose the new Steinway in the window!

So with those 4 questions questions answered, you can be very confident that you will be able to make the correct choice for you and your family. To make your decision even more airtight see if your piano tuner will come along with you. Your piano teacher may also be
able to help but it is your piano tuner who can help you the most.

I trust this information will help you in your search for your next piano.


About Lorraine

Head Teacher at the SE22 Piano School, a private piano teaching practice in East Dulwich, South London. I work with a fantastic team of teachers offering piano, harpsichord & music theory lessons to adults and children from the age of 4. www.se22piano.co.uk
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