Purchasing a piano can be an intimidating and confusing process for a first-time buyer. Pianos are complicated instruments with thousands of mechanical components. The following are a few guidelines to help you with your purchasing decision:
Very specifically, when we speak about fine pianos we are only talking about two things: touch and tone. How does the instrument sound and how does it feel to play? Generally speaking, a larger grand piano or taller upright piano will have a richer tone with more space for expressive shading and nuances in touch.
The brand name of a piano will have a considerable impact on your satisfaction and personal pride in your investment. It speaks to the quality and tradition in the manufacturing process. A new piano contains new component parts which, when properly maintained, contribute to the maximum musical enjoyment of the instrument for years to come.
A reputable, authorised dealer will deliver the piano tuned, voiced, and regulated
. They will also provide an in-home service inspection and tuning 30-60 days after delivery.
Used pianos vary greatly in quality and value. Used pianos sold by reputable dealers should have been serviced and brought up to industry standards.
When considering a used piano in the private marketplace, enlist the services of a qualified piano techician to examine and certify your potential purchase. A quote should also be obtained as to what work should be required.
If the piano is badly out of tune, insist that it be tuned and adjusted to concert pitch (A440) before parting with your money. Many used pianos cannot be tuned in this manner and any repairs to correct this problem is extremely expensive.
Examine the face of the hammers carefully. Deeply-grooved hammer felts indicates heavy use, probably making the piano sound very "harsh" and overly bright. To rectify this, the hammers may need to be reshaped, and the piano re-voiced; or they may require complete replacement. You need to check the cost for reshaping or replacement.
Check the action of the piano (performance of the actual keyboard). It should feel firm yet easy to play, and be uniform from key to key. A "soft", loose action may require major work and could be expensive.