Considering a piano?

A Guide

Many beginning pianists, young and old, eventually want an instrument to bring home.  Having a piano in the home encourages practice and the instrument itself stands out as a beautiful centerpiece.  Choosing a “starter piano” can be a daunting task.  Practical considerations must be made, such as size and price, but there are often-overlooked qualities that should be factored in.  An expensive piano is not necessarily a good piano and, conversely, an inexpensive piano is not always junk.  Beyond all other qualities, the mechanical condition of any piano needs to be assessed by a piano technician.  Buying a piano is much like buying a car in this regard -- a very nice broken piano is still a broken piano.  Learning to play on a piano in poor condition will make the process difficult and provide minimal enjoyment.  Playing the piano is rewarding and fun!  Choose a piano that makes you feel excited about playing; that is the point!

Buy a piano that is in tune.  This may seem unimportant, but some older pianos are not tuneable without serious repair work.  Buying a piano that is currently in tune will help eliminate the possibility of bringing home something that you later find is beyond help.  In addition, make sure the sound is one that you enjoy. People prefer different tones or “timbres” from their pianos.  Choose one that you like, since you will be hearing it a lot. Perhaps listen to your favorite piano recordings.  How does the piano sound? Bright or mellow?  Big or intimate?  Try several with different sound qualities and decide which timbre makes the music special to you.  Consider that the sound qualities that a piano can deliver are like a box of crayons: A beginner has no need for a thousand colors.  The high-quality 96-color starter set will be a better choice for a budget.

Buy a piano that is “in regulation.”  Each piano has thousands of moving parts and there are around 37 possible adjustment points per key.  The goal of regulation is evenness, so that each note sounds like one facet of a single instrument.  Playing on a piano that is out of regulation can be frustrating or annoying (like notes that “jump out,” are out of character or even stuck or broken).  Having a piano regulated can also be expensive.  Buying a piano that has consistency and subtlety will prove rewarding as skills improve.

Maintaining the piano regularly is a worthwhile investment.  Think of tuning like an oil change: Delaying service for too long will cause lasting damage to the instrument.  Having your piano tuned regularly will also give your technician a chance to spot and fix problems before they become costly issues.  Remember that a piano is largely wood and, therefore, is sensitive to its environment.  If your piano will be living in a location with drastic temperature or humidity changes, service will need to be performed more often.

While sentimental value is difficult to evaluate, market value is predictable.  Buying a specialty-brand piano does not guarantee that its value will remain stable.  As mentioned earlier, the mechanical condition of the piano is the chief concern.  A worn-out piano still plays poorly regardless of the name on the fall board.  Also, technologies now exist that can add electronic versatility to your acoustic piano.  QRS and other companies offer brilliant upgrades that can make your piano work like a digital keyboard.

The Kalamazoo Piano Company has options ranging in sound, size, appearance and finish, and our inventory is always changing!  Our pianos come with moving and tuning included in the price.  And don’t be afraid of the size!  For skilled piano movers, getting the instrument into and out of rooms and even up and down stairs is a relatively simple matter.  Check out our website or Facebook page for current stock and new arrivals.  Our pianos are eagerly awaiting good homes, so don’t hesitate to call or text to set up an appointment!