What makes a beginner piano “good” for your little one? It’s a question that confuses a lot of parents, so we’ve created 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?
Our best advice is to buy the best possible piano that you can with the budget that you have. We are not advising this because we offer pianos for sale. We strongly suggest it because purchasing a quality piano gives you the "best bang for your buck" and increases your child's chances of sticking with the instrument.
Here are a few rules-of-thumb that we 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 and some of the keys are sticking while a few others don't work at all. But that’s easy to take care of, right? You call a piano technician to fix it. But then they deliver the bad news. There’s no way that this piano is going to hold a tune. If the piano has not been properly cared for, many of the parts will need to be restored or replaced. Imagine 30 or 40 years of improper humidity levels, direct sunlight, inadequate tunings, dust, cat hair and a host of other piano enemies; it will render any piano UNPLAYABLE.
By the time your "free" piano has been repaired to even a mediocre playing level, you will have paid enough money to have bought a far nicer, newer piano.
Rent-Then-Own will save you if your child gives up
Are you worried that your money will go to waste if you buy a nice piano, and then your child gives up playing? That’s why we offer an easy 6-month payment plan called Rent-Then-Own. The concept is simple. You pay a monthly fee to keep the piano. After six months, if you’re kiddo stops playing, you can return the piano to us. If you wish to keep this piano, all of your payments will go towards the purchase price. If you decide that you want to purchase a piano, but not the one you've been renting, (an upgrade) you may also apply all payments towards a completely different piano. So if your child sticks with it, the piano will eventually be yours. If not, you won't be stuck with a piano you don't want. WIN - WIN.
Kids are less likely to stick with pianos that don’t sound or feel good
We often ask parents questions such as these: Do you think that your child would stick with riding a bike if you bought one that had a flat tire? Of course not. If your child wanted to start tennis lessons, would you buy your child a 35-year old tennis racquet that had broken strings and a warped head? No way! Children can recognize when a piano doesn’t sound good or work properly. 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 function correctly. How can we expect kids to stay with the piano if playing the instrument doesn’t sound right? Don't you want the best for your child?
Digital pianos are fine, but acoustics provide a better experience
If you’re thinking about starting your child off on a digital piano, 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.
Digital pianos have come a long way, but we don’t typically meet players who have played both and want to stick with digital.
What is a hybrid piano you may ask? Well let's take a look at Webster's definition of the word "hybrid."
something (such as a power plant, vehicle, or electronic circuit) that has two different types of components performing essentially the same function.
So in essence, a hybrid piano is a piano that utilizes components from a real, acoustic piano as well as components from a digital piano that work together to serve the same function. They all produce tones. For example, a Yamaha hybrid piano like the N1, N2, N3X or even the NU1, houses a real wooden mechanical action integrated into a digital piano cabinet. Why are Hybrids so popular now? Because they offer benefits from both categories of pianos, digital and acoustic. The benefit of a digital piano are never require tuning, utilize headphones, connectivity to popular devices (i.e iPads, Computers). The benefit of an acoustic component is the control or the real mechanical touch which allows for a higher level of playback.
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 (34"-38")
- Console (39"-43")
- Studio (44"-49")
- Professional upright (50"-54")
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.
It's always better to go Grand.
Yes grand pianos offer the best playing experience. Why? Grand pianos have keys that are longer than keys on an upright, thus providing the ultimate touch control. In addition a properly regulated or adjusted grand piano will almost always offer the benefit of playing very faster repeated notes like "trills" easier. Why? Well to answer this question will require another BLOG. Please stay tuned. ....or pay a personal visit to Grand Piano Haus, and we'll be happy to demonstrate why a grand piano action mechanism is superior to an upright piano action.
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 last longer. Just as a regularly maintained car will last longer. At Grand Piano Haus, we NEVER put a piano on the showroom floor unless it is in excellent working condition.
When you buy from a private owner, you don’t have that luxury. If you do buy from a owner, make sure that they’ve had the piano tuned, voiced and regulated 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 extreme temperature, humidity or dust.
New pianos can be just as affordable as used!
At Grand Piano Haus, you can find a brand new Pearl River studio piano that is about the same price as a 30 to 40-year-old Yamaha studio. How is this possible? Modern computerized technology has made it possible for piano makers to build instruments at a much higher level of quality than decades ago. It also translate into lower prices. Those savings get passed on to you. Now, whether the 30-40 year old Yamaha is a better buy is a matter for intense debate. But a brand new instrument will last quite a long time, regardless. Plus, don't forget about the manufacturer's warranty. Every new Pearl River comes with a 10-year manufacturer warranty including parts and labor.
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 847-679-9160, or contact us online to get more information. Or stop by our showroom and sample our inventory of new and used pianos.