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The Parent’s Guide to Buying a Piano

What makes a beginner piano “good” for your little one? It’s a question that confuses a lot of parents, so we’ve made this guide to help you out.

For many parents, buying a piano involves many questions. Can I afford a piano? Can a piano fit in our house? Will my child keep playing the piano?

My best advice is to buy the best possible piano that you can with the budget that you have. And I’m not just saying that because I sell pianos. I’m saying it because buying a quality piano gives you the best bang for your buck, and it makes your child more likely to stick with the instrument.

Here are a few rules-of-thumb that I offer parents when they’re looking for a new piano.

“Free” pianos are often the most expensive pianos

You will be tempted by the free piano. It happens every time. Yes, it is too good to be true. That free piano on Craigslist is almost always a trap, because free pianos turn out to be the most expensive in the end.

Here’s what happens. You pick up a free upright on Craigslist. It sounds out of tune, but that’s easy to take care of, right? You call us over and we deliver some bad news. There’s no way that this piano is going to hold a tune. It’s been sitting in a garage getting pounded by the elements, and many of the parts need to be restored or replaced.

By the time we’ve fixed your free piano, you’ve paid enough money to have bought a far nicer piano.

Rent-to-own will save you if your child gives up

You’re worried that your money will go to waste if you buy a nice piano and your child gives up playing? That’s why we offer rent-to-own pianos. The concept is simple. You pay a monthly fee to keep the piano. If you’re kiddo stops playing, you can return it to us and stop paying. But your payments go toward the cost of the instrument. So if your child sticks with it, the piano will eventually be yours.

Kids are less likely to stick with pianos that don’t sound good

I often end up asking parents the following question. Do you think that your child would stick with riding a bike if you bought one that had a flat tire? Of course not. Children can recognize when a piano doesn’t sound good. They may not be able to put it into words like a virtuoso might, but they can tell when the tuning is off or the keys don’t play correctly. How can we expect kids to stay with the piano if playing the instrument doesn’t sound right?

Digital pianos are fine, but acoustics provide a better experience

If you’re thinking about starting your child off on digital pianos, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Most music teachers are going to look for a few must-have features before they’ll teach on a digital. You want to make sure that the piano has 88 keys, weighted keys, and a sustain pedal. This will give your child the closest experience to playing an acoustic.

That said, digital pianos can’t perfectly replicate the sound of felt hammers striking strings. Digital piano keys can’t fully replicate the weight and action of a mechanical key. And while an acoustic console piano can last 60 years, your average digital will last 10 to 15 years.

Digitals are okay, but we don’t typically meet players who have played both and want to stick with digital.

Taller upright pianos with longer keys are easier for kids to play

An upright piano makes the most sense for a beginner pianos. But what makes these uprights different? Everything changes with height. Taller pianos have a larger soundboard, longer strings, and longer keys. That means a couple of things.

First, it means that taller pianos generally sound better than shorter ones. Second, it means that they are easier to play. A longer key causes less finger fatigue because it takes less effort to play each note.

Here are the types of upright pianos in order from shortest to tallest:

  • Spinet
  • Console
  • Studio
  • Professional upright

Most of the pianos we sell to parents fall in the first three categories. Professional uprights are typically made to provide the same quality as a grand piano. So they’re often as expensive as a grand piano.

Regularly maintained pianos are a better buy

For the most part, a well-built piano can last a long time. How long depends on how well its cared for. Pianos that are kept in decent climate conditions and regularly maintained are going to be a better buy. At Bruce Piano, we don’t put a piano on the showroom floor unless it is in good working condition.

When you buy from a private owner, you don’t have that luxury. If you’re buying from a owner, make sure that they’ve had the piano tuned regularly. Try to find out if it has spent time in a garage, storage locker, or other places where it may have been exposed to weather extremes.

New pianos are sometimes as affordable as used

At Bruce Piano, you may find a brand new Hallet, Davis & Co. studio that is about the same price as a 30-year-old Yamaha studio. Modern technology has made it possible for piano makers to build instruments at a far lower price than in days gone by. Those savings get passed on to you. Now, whether the Yamaha is a better buy is a matter for intense debate. But a brand new instrument will last quite a long time, regardless.

Still have questions? Get in touch!

We’re happy to answer any questions that you might have about buying your first piano. Give us a call at 405-749-3540, or contact us online to get more information. Or stop by our showroom and sample our inventory of new and used pianos.

Highly recommend. Online scheduling was easy, Gary arrived exactly on time, was professional and did excellent work on a piano that was in bad need of tuning. I will be using Bruce Piano next year, as well. Leslie Reid
Edmond, OK