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10 Tips for Buying an Acoustic Piano

What You Have to Know Before Buying a New or Used Piano

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Use the following tips when shopping for a new or used acoustic piano:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.


  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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