What are the Best Tips to Buy a Piano?

Dee S.
Dee S.

The decision to buy a piano cannot be taken lightly. There are many factors to consider before the actual purchase is made. For example, the piano may be purchased new or used. It can be inexpensive or quite pricey. It can be a vertical or horizontal and it can be purchased in almost any color. It can be treated as a family heirloom and passed on from generation to generation or it can be treated like a piece of furniture that will be sold when it no longer fits the needs and likes of the owner.

Pianos should be played before purchased.
Pianos should be played before purchased.

One of the first factors that must be decided is where the consumer should purchase the piano. There are piano stores that only sell new pianos and stores that sell both new and used pianos. Those stores often have policies that enable consumers to purchase a piano that fits their budget and gives them the option to upgrade to a better, more expensive piano when they can afford it.

Consumers can also buy a piano through estate sales, garage sales, and on the Internet. Although the pianos sold through these venues may be less expensive than those sold through stores, it is often difficult for the untrained eye to determine whether a particular piano is in good condition. For example, if it had been stored in an extremely damp or overly dry environment, this may lead to problems. Regardless of where the piano is purchased, the consumer should actually play it, notice the weight of its keys, and listen to its tone.

There are pianos in nearly every price range. For someone wanting to buy a piano to simply play occasionally, an inexpensive piano may be the best option. Alternatively, if someone wants to buy a piano that will become a family heirloom, there are certain brands that cost more than many people’s homes.

It is important to consider the area where the piano will be located, as well. Some areas are perfect for a vertical piano, such as an upright, spinet, console, or studio piano. Each variety offers the consumer a different height, width, and tone. There are also horizontal pianos, such as the petite grand, baby grand, parlor grand, medium grand, and concert grand pianos, that are great for rooms with a large amount of empty space. The horizontal pianos also vary in size and tone.

For some people, color may be an issue. Although most people choose to buy a piano that is classic in color, such as black, brown, or white, others prefer to have a more unique finish. It is possible to pick a custom finish in nearly any color, from blue to green to red to yellow. Although it may cost more to purchase such a brightly colored piano, the resale value may be less. Consequently, it is important to consider whether the piano will be sold or kept in the family before choosing a colored finish for the piano.

Dee S.
Dee S.

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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Discussion Comments


I still have the piano my mother bought when I was a child, and I keep it professionally tuned. But if someone is in the market for a piano these days, I'd tell them to put it through a lot of tests before buying one. The previous owners may have had light touches or heavy hands. The tone could be bright or dull. Someone may have kept up with tunings and cleanings, or it may have been sitting in a basement for years. Don't be afraid to play the piano in the store or at the garage sale the same way you plan on playing it at home or on the road.


My personal advice is to consider not buying a piano at all. Traditional pianos are bulky pieces of furniture that require a fair amount of maintenance, and piano technicians capable of that maintenance are getting harder to find.

I strongly encourage people to consider buying a modern electronic keyboard with piano voices, instead. Some modern keyboards have weighted keys which feel exactly like the keys on a traditional piano, so a serious performer isn't going to lose his or her touch. Sustain pedals can also be installed to duplicate the effects of traditional piano pedals.

A traditional piano is a beautiful instrument, but is also limited to one particular sound. An electronic keyboard can also simulated the voices of organs, woodwinds, brass and string instruments.

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