Piano and Keyboard lessons from Glenn Sutton in Poway and San Diego

Don’t Buy a Piano Before Reading This!

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Considering the size of the investment you’re making when buying a piano, you must generally make sure you’re well informed about everything important in that purchase – so it definitely pays to read up on the available materials.

Synthesizer In general terms, when you’re on the lookout for a new piano, you should always make sure to buy the best you can afford with your current budget. The first and most important thing is to figure out how much you can afford to spend on a piano, without exceeding your budget. Keep in mind that a piano is a long-term investment above all else – a high-grade new piano can easily cost more than $2,000 - $3,000 (or even a lot more if you’re willing to spend that kind of money), but it will also last a considerably long time. If it’s taken care of well enough, a good piano will last for about 50 years before needing a rebuilding.

used acoustic piano

Used acoustic piano

If you’re on a tight budget, consider the option of getting a used piano. These can be a very good value in the end – your best bet when purchasing a used piano, is to buy it from a respected dealer so that you don’t get something that needs a lot of work to make it play and sound good in the end. If you’re buying from a private party, consider the option of having a technician inspect the piano before you purchase it. This doesn’t cost a lot in the context of the piano’s actual purchase, and it can save you a lot of headache later on. Remember that a piano may look just great on the outside, while it actually needs a good amount of work internally (you may need to replace strings, or perhaps fix or replace pins, etc) – so it’s a really good idea to have a professional inspect the piano before you purchase it.

If you’re buying a piano for a child who’s just learning how to play, and you aren’t yet ready to invest a great deal of money into a piano, an older used piano in good condition may end up working just fine. Some people prefer to start playing on an older piano in the beginning, for various reasons – it’s a good way to check if you actually have interest in the instrument before proceeding with a costlier purchase, for example. But this doesn’t mean that these first steps should be taken on an old piano that’s falling apart – you must make sure that you buy something quality that will last.

On a tight budget, it can be a good idea that you go with high sound quality over the general looks of the piano – especially if it’s going to be used by someone who’s just learning how to play it. A beautiful piano case can add a great sum of money to the final cost of the instrument, while it still sounds the same as a low-cost piano.

If you feel that you really can’t afford a new or a good used piano immediately, consider renting one rather than purchasing it. It’s a good option – and depending on how you approach it, it may be easy to set up as well. This is particularly true for when you’re doing this for a child, as you can use it to easily test if they actually have a strong interest in the instrument.

When looking at pianos, remember that longer strings in a piano tend to produce a better sound in general – if you’re looking for an upright piano, look for something taller. If you’re looking at a grand piano, on the other hand, the strings there are laid out horizontally, so a longer piano would normally produce a far better sound (but will also take up more space).

Some of the more expensive brands on the market, like Bosendorfer, Steinways and Bechstein (as well as Mason and Hamlin) tend to keep their value better in the long run, compared to a less-expensive piano, even though most pianos retain their value pretty well in general. Some pianos – like Steinways – may even grow in value over time, which is a good reason to consider purchasing the best piano you’ve got access to with your budget. You’ll typically also have fewer repair issues to worry about with a high-grade piano.

What are some of the differences between an expensive piano and a less expensive model? Sometimes it seems that you’re paying more just because of the name of the manufacturer – and while that’s true in some cases, it’s far from the average scenario. Less expensive pianos normally use manufactured wood material underneath the veneer, and the actual veneer is made from less expensive wood. They may also have synthetic materials in the piano action, and high tension stringing scales. Higher quality pianos have hardwood under the cabinet veneer, lower tension stringing scales, wool cloth in the piano actions, and are usually tuned and regulated before they leave the factory. There are instances where the piano might be encapsulated in a fancy high-grade case while its internals are actually of questionable quality.

If you’re not sure about how often you’ll be playing your new piano, you may want to consider a MIDI piano instead. A MIDI piano is a combination between an acoustic piano, and an electronic one – they’re the modern version of the roll player piano. You can play these if you want, but you can also set them up to play music for you if you feel like it.

You should also consider the issue of space when buying a piano – pianos are about five feet wide, and two and a half feet deep. You’ll additionally need an extra two feet of depth so the piano bench can be moved comfortably and allows you to get a good posture. Grand pianos tend to take up most of the room because people like showing them off instead of putting them against a wall like you would with an ordinary vertical piano. This is mostly a question of personal preference though, so just consider it for yourself instead of looking for tips from someone else.

For keyboard and piano lessons contact Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664.

Services include:

  • Keyboard Lessons
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  • Bass Guitar Lessons
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  • Advanced Improv Techniques
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