Purchasing a piano is a major investment and one needs to be wisely armed with information before going shopping. Think of buying a piano in the same way you would think of buying a car. The more you know about a car and what type you want, and what is available the better able you will be to make an informed decision.
The first decision to make is what size of piano. The two categories are upright and grand. The upright piano comes in a range of sizes from 36″- 60″, with the spinet being the smallest upright, next is the console, and finally the studio upright. I would recommend the studio size as the length of string will be longer and thus produce a better tone quality. The grand model of pianos comes in a range of sizes between 5 ft. and 7 ft. and then there is the concert grand which is 9 ft. in length. Again, the longer the string length, the better the tone quality, but a good size for a home would be from 5′ 4″- 7 ft.
The next decision to be made is whether to buy new or used. The advantages of buying a new piano is that there will be a warranty, a one time tuning and free moving of the piano to your home. But with those advantages comes a higher price. Used pianos are generally less expensive and sometimes one can come across some amazing pianos for an amazing price. However, it is in this area of used pianos that one has to be especially careful and well-informed. If you buy used, there will be no warranty, you will pay for the cost of moving it, and it will need to be tuned once it has been moved. Here are some questions to ask when evaluating a used piano: Where has the piano been housed? Because the piano is primarily made of wood it is especially susceptible to changes in temperature and moisture. Ask if the piano has spent any time outside or in an unheated/cooled structure. Has any liquid been spilled on the sounding board? How often has the piano been tuned? If the piano is badly out of tune it is difficult to know if it will ever hold a tune well in the future. Look to see if there is any rust around the tuning pins of the strings and if there are any missing strings. What is the condition of the keys? Any cracks or missing keys? Are the pedals all functioning? If after playing the instrument, you are serious about buying it, I highly recommend that you hire a trained piano technician to come and assess it. They are trained to know what are serious problems and what can be easily fixed without too much expense. The cost of this advice will be around $120- $150 depending on the distance that the technician has to travel to give the evaluation, but it is well worth the money as you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on an instrument that may not be worth it. A number of years ago, one of my students came across a 7 ft. Steinway for an incredibly low price. I went and played it and looked at, it and it seemed like an excellent instrument, for an excellent price. However, I had this student contact my technician who came and evaluated it. He found a crack in the sounding board and some other well-hidden problems that would have surfaced in the near future and have been costly to fix. I was so glad that I had insisted on calling him for his advice!
Another good way to be prepared to purchase a piano, whether new or used, is to go and play on new instruments in a piano store. Play the best piano in the store, not because you plan to buy it but because it will help you to know what a really fine instrument sounds and feels like. There are three music stores in Walnut Creek and you can learn a lot just by going in and having them show you around and listen and play on their instruments. The stores are: Sherman & Clay located at 1605 Bonanza St. Walnut Creek. Justin Levitt, the manager, is very helpful and knowledgeable and not “pushy”. His stores sells Steinways, Boston and Essex pianos. The Music Exchange is located at 1501 N.Main St. also in Walnut Creek. They sell primarily Yamaha pianos. And finally the Colton Piano Store is located at 1539 N. Main St. in Walnut Creek and they sell a variety of brands. I also recommend the reading The Piano Book by Larry Fine. It has a wealth of information about pianos and what goes into making them and what to look for in buying one. It is available on Amazon
Results for February Frenzy
This past month the students have been keeping track of their practicing with prizes to be awarded for their efforts. Hopefully, the habits created or more firmly established, will continue throughout the remainder of the year. I realize that for some of you, February had quite a few long week-ends where you were away on previously scheduled vacations which affected the points earned. This month is just one snapshot and may or may not reflect the usual practice habits. Remember parents, that one of your jobs is to help your student create and keep a regular practice time, have a quiet environment in which to practice, and encourage the practicing process. Thank you for your help and support!
550-600 points earned
*indicates higest number of points possible earned
500-550 points earned
Under 500 points