Kato Music Studio
Shopping For A Piano
Grand Piano


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Why A Used Piano Can Be Better Than A New One

In the 1920's there were literally hundreds of piano manufacturers and they had to work much harder to distinguish their products from each other. Many pianists believe, for example, that an old Steinway & Sons grand piano that wasn't too badly abused will sound better than a brand new Steinway. Carefully choosing the right old piano to purchase and refurbish tends to be the route that experienced pianists take, knowing the cost of refurbishing will be well worth it.

Advice For Beginners and Parents of Beginners

If you are not sure that you or your child will really "take" to the piano, the best thing you could do is rent a decent, used upright piano with an option to own it. Make sure payments already made count towards the final price of the piano. Go through a large, reputable piano wholesaler/retailer. $50/month is about the going rate.

As you or your child start to develop technique and facility with the piano, you quickly start to discern the way a better piano sounds and feels. The more your technique develops, the more you can tell which pianos respond better to what you are trying to make them do.

After just a few months of piano lessons, you will be able to tell whether you like the piano you are renting. You will be in a better position to ask to rent or try a different piano, and you will have a much better sense of what to look for.

You can also walk into any large store and just sit down and play the same piece of music on a number of different pianos. You will instantly be able to tell which pianos sound better to you.

Pianos: What To Look For

Some disreputable dealers will give you a cheap "deal" on a used piano. But if the piano needs a lot of extra work, then there are a lot of hidden costs, and suddenly your "deal" is not so hot.

If you are an experienced pianist, then you know that refurbishing an old, well-built grand piano that has not been badly abused is a good way to go. You know what a quality piano feels and sounds like, and you can anticipate the costs associated with properly refurbishing an old piano.

But the hobbyist who is not sure how serious they will be about piano in the future should know a few things when shopping for a piano:

  1. Is there any water damage or warpage? This is the definition of piano abuse! Prolonged exposure to excessive heat, cold, dry weather conditions or moist weather conditions will ruin a piano! Never store your piano next to a heating grate, air-conditioning duct, or a window which is constantly left open.

  2. Does it need to be regulated? Bend down and look at the piano keyboard from eye level. The top ridge of each key should line up perfectly with every other key on the keyboard, forming one straight horizon line.

    If the keys are noticeably uneven (i.e. some keys are higher than others), then the piano needs to be regulated. That would cost another $1,000 or more to fix.

  3. Is the piano noticeably out of tune? Piano tuning tends to cost around $75. A badly out-of-tune piano needs to be tuned twice. Keep in mind that as part of general maintenance, pianos should be tuned at least every couple of years. If you are purchasing a used piano from a dealer, it should be delivered to you already re-tuned.