Use the following tips when shopping for a new or used acoustic piano:
- Sample As Many Pianos As You Can
One piano does not fit all! You need to discover your own musical preferences before deciding on a piano; test out different piano brands, styles, sizes, and ages to appreciate the different timbres, key weights, and levels of quality among them.
Don’t settle for the first piano available; give yourself enough time to visit at least five pianos before deciding on one, and never buy a piano without first having played and inspected it.
- Understand the Importance of Room Acoustics
Factors such as room size, carpeting, and ceiling materials all affect room acoustics, so a piano could have a completely different character in your house than it does in your neighbor’s. When buying a piano, be conscious of how the piano’s current location differs from its destination.
A piano’s space should complement its sound. A piano with a bright, crisp tone will sound best in a small, carpeted room, because the sometimes overbearing treble is balanced by soft, absorbent surroundings. Learn about the best and worst environments for piano health and acoustics.
- Find Out Who’s Responsible for Moving the Piano
Piano manufacturers (and some music retailers) can usually accommodate your moving needs … oftentimes for an extra fee. But, if you’re buying from a private seller, you’ll most likely bear the responsibility of moving your piano.
It’s extremely important to have your piano moved by professionals – both for the sake of the instrument and for the safety of the movers. Under “normal” circumstances (i.e., you don’t need to move a full grand piano up five flights of stairs or through a window), moving a piano can cost anywhere from $75 to $600.
- Hire a Pro to Help You
Having a professional help you choose, inspect, or move a piano is a wise choice that could save you hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. The average piano shopper – however versed in detecting common piano damage – won’t have the expertise to foresee future problems or gauge the cost of necessary repairs.
Don’t let the extra cost prevent you from hiring a pro; if you buy a musical lemon, you’ll end up paying for either repairs or a costly disposal. Otherwise, you’ll have to accept the loss of 15+ square feet in your living space! Consult the World-Wide List of Piano Technician Associations to find a pro near you.
- Test out every piano key. Don’t be embarrassed to play each key at different volumes and lengths, and test the foot pedals on different octaves.
- When buying a used piano, you have a few additional questions to ask. Learn what you must find out about a pre-owned piano before bringing it home.
- Don’t be intimidated by a piano’s age; a healthy piano has a life span of 30-60 years, so don’t be shocked to learn that the owner purchased the instrument 20 years ago.
- Be suspicious if a seller tries to force your focus on recent upgrades to the piano exterior. Dressing up a low-quality piano with a shiny finish is just one of the sneaky sales tactics of the piano trade used by pros and private sellers alike.
- Save time searching by checking out a piano before a visit. Phone or email current owners to obtain some basic info, and find the value of the piano.
- Plan to spend at least $100 each on moving and tuning costs. Exact pricing is based on location, distances traveled, piano style and health; and the cost of moving also depends on how easily the instrument is moved, and whether you choose to purchase insurance.