If you’re planning on learning the piano, it’s important to have the right instrument to practise on. A good quality piano is an investment and will provide many years of enjoyment. Indeed, an acoustic piano can last a life time or longer!
If you have the space and the budget a good quality grand or upright piano is certainly the best instrument you can buy. Not only will a real piano have a wonderful sound and feel comfortable to play, but it can also last a lifetime and should hold it’s value fairly well. As a guide, a grand piano is likely to cost £6000 or more and an upright piano £2500 plus. Be careful if you look at any pianos priced for less money than this as they could be very old instruments and not in good condition. It’s best to look for pianos that are 30 years old or less, but there are also some very nice older pianos out there that have been fully restored.
When purchasing a piano it is a very good idea to get independent advice from an expert such as your piano tuner. You may need to pay them for their time but it’s well worth it to ensure you invest in the right instrument. You also need to bear in mind that the piano may sound quite different in your home than it does in the showroom due to the different acoustics. Some piano shops will offer for you to try the piano out at home and it’s worth enquiring about this (you may need to pay for the costs of moving the piano).
After purchasing an acoustic piano, you need to ensure it is well looked after with regular tuning. The first tuning should be around 1 month after the piano has been moved into your home and then you should aim to have it tuned every 6 months. Your piano tuner can also offer advice on whether any additional maintenance is required at any point. It’s important the piano is kept in the right environment. The room shouldn’t be too damp and avoid placing the piano next to a radiator or heating source.
If an acoustic piano is beyond your budget at this stage, you can begin learning the piano using a digital piano. Digital pianos will have a built in stand with pedals and usually come with a piano stool. It’s important the instrument has 88 fully weighted, touch sensitive keys so it replicates the feel of a real piano as closely as possible. Some of the better digital pianos will have graded hammer action. Most digital pianos will have three pedals and ideally this should include a graded damper pedal with half-pedal action. It’s more important to purchase a digital piano that sounds and feels as close to a real piano as possible than one with lots of different sounds and other functions. Decent digital pianos will usually cost £1000 or more. Obviously digital pianos won’t require regular tuning or maintenance in the same way as an acoustic piano. However, they are unlikely to hold their value as well as an acoustic piano and can wear out over time. There are lots of different manufacturers for these instruments but some of the best pianos are made by Yamaha, Roland and Kawai.
A stage piano is basically the same as a digital piano but without a built in frame. You will usually need to purchase a stand and stool separately. Stage pianos are often lighter in weight and designed to be portable so are useful if you plan on moving the piano around a lot. However it is important to invest in a good quality stand and stool so the piano doesn’t rock when you play it and it feels comfortable. Stage pianos often have smaller speakers so the sound quality may not be as good as a digital piano. Some stage pianos don’t have any internal speakers so you would then need an additional amplifier and speakers. Like digital pianos, good quality stage pianos are likely to cost £1000 upwards.
As you learn the piano, you are going to spend many enjoyable hours practising and having a decent instrument will make this time rewarding and satisfying. Think of your purchase as an investment and try to get independent advice from your piano tuner or piano teacher.