If you are desiring to purchase a piano or keyboard for your family please read the following on some helpful hints on what to look for with purchasing your next investment.
Buying a Digital Piano:
If you are not ready to commit to a real piano a digital piano is the next best thing. Keep in mind that playing on a digital piano compared to a real piano is somewhat different such as key weight, pedaling and artistic enhancements. At some point in the future a real piano might be worth the purchase to continue and enhance the student's playing ability. There are so many different brands and types of keyboards or Digital Pianos to purchase out there that it can be a daunting task. You can purchase them at Walmart, Amazon or even Best Buy, but are they really the "best buy"?
Sound Effects: Not needed
When looking for a keyboard you don't need all the bells and whistles that many come with. Sound effects are cool and fun to play with but when practicing at home they can be distracting and take away from the actual "learning process". Some kids might prefer to only use the sound effects when they play and can therefore become bored with the real sound of the piano.
Back Lit Keys: Not needed
Lit keys again are a neat feature for an early beginning student but I recommend that the student learn the keys based on the original look of the piano. There is already an easy way to teach your child which key is what just by the natural pattern of the white and the black keys on the piano.
Metronome: Great to have
Most digital pianos come with a metronome, which is a great thing to have for your child. Especially as they get more advanced and will require something to keep the beat for them when they are practicing, as it is something that I do in lessons
Pedal: Must have
Pedals are necessary when learning to play the piano. Even if it is on a digital piano having the pedal attachment on the piano helps to mimic the natural movement that the foot makes when using the pedal on a real piano. It helps the body and mind learn the sounds it makes and the multitasking ability of pumping the pedal while playing a song.
How Many Keys: 88 keys are a must:
If you are going to invest in a digital piano for your child or yourself please purchase one with the full keyboard of 88 keys. Some keyboards come with 61 keys or 54 keys but they will not grow with the child. At some point their ability to play will surpass the ability of the shortened keyboard and then a new piano will need to be purchased to continue their learning.
Buying A Real Piano:
Purchasing a real piano is a huge step for any family. It is an investment that will grow with you and your family and many fond memories can be made around the instrument. It is an investment and as any investment there is some research that you should do prior to your first purchase.
You don't have to buy an extra large 7 foot grand piano as your first piano. I don't even have that. I would love to have that but I don't have the space for one. Many people don't. Determine where you are going to place the instrument first and take the measurements and then look for that size. Also it is best to keep the piano on an interior wall not exterior wall and away from a wood stove to keep the temperature more consistent for the wood in the piano. There are 4.5 food baby grands to 9 foot grand pianos. There are upright studio pianos which have a high back and longer string lengths (That is what I have) and spinet pianos which are short backs and shorter string lengths. Figure out what works best for you on size then go from there as to what kind you want.
Mint Condition or Gently Used:
My piano is a Kawai Studio Upright piano. I purchased it as a mint condition piano from a local piano store. It is not brand new. It has some scratches on it. It plays beautifully! And I LOVE IT! I have always wanted a Kawai piano because it is what my church always used and I enjoyed playing on it. My dream piano is a Steinway Grand piano but until I have unlimited funds I got what I enjoy playing.
There are so many places where you can purchase a used piano. Local piano stores have both new and used pianos. The used pianos are cleaned, checked and restrung if needed to make them in a "like new" condition. Plus they are generally warranties against any malfunctions since they are the ones who did the repair/restore work on the piano. Craigslist also will have some used pianos on them. Keep in mind that the piano might not and more than likely will not be in perfect working order and might needs some work done on it to make all the keys work or correct the pitch or any number of things.
When looking at any piano, new or used, treat it like you would when buying a car.
Look at the instrument. Are there any scratches, dings, nicks or any damage on the instrument? If so, find out how they got there or what caused them. Ask if there has been any repair work done on the instrument. What was it, and when was it done?
Look under the hood. Lift up the lid or open the piano and look for any damage on the inside. You don't have to be a piano tech to notice a bird nest or strings missing. If it doesn't look right, more than likely it isn't.
Take it for a test drive. Play every single key on the piano. Even if you just use your pointer finger and press down every key one by one, play every key. Listen to the sound. Does it make a sound when pressed? Does it sound funny? Is there any clicking or anything that doesn't sound quite right?
Get a professional to check it out. If you have any concerns or even if you don't it still might be best to get a piano technician to look at the piano because they will be able to tell if there is something wrong with the piano, and also give an estimate on how much it will take to fix the problem.
If you have done all of this and you decide to purchase the piano, GREAT! Congratulations! But there are still some things that need to be done with the piano.
Hire professional piano moves. Pianos are heavy. They have experience with moving them safely for you and the instrument. It does cost some money but the piano will be safely tied in the back of their enclosed truck, away from the elements and delivered and placed inside of your home with little stress to you and your body. Worth the price, in my opinion.
Just like with a car, a piano needs regular maintenance. Dusting and cleaning are obvious ones, but also tuning the piano. If you purchased a piano from someone and not a piano store chances are that you will need to get it tuned. How to know if it needs to be tuned? Play 2 notes relatively close to each other and if it just doesn't sound quite right, it needs to be turned. Also the piano tuner tech will also check for any maintenance issues on the piano. If a toddler sticks a piece of a sword in between 2 keys and it is stuck, they can get that out without possibly damaging the piano. Or if a key stops playing or the pedal stops working they will fix all of that. Piano tuning and maintenance needs to be done every 6 months to a year.
I have a humidifier/dehumidifier system in my piano to prolong its life as best as possible. It keeps the inside of my piano just right and happy so that the wood doesn't swell or contract too much and keeps it healthy. I love to say, I have to water my piano now. I get a lot of funny looks about that. Your piano tuner can suggest different systems to use on your piano but I have the Life Saver System for my piano and have noticed that it keeps my piano in tune longer than without. You can read about the benefits at their website here: http://www.pianolifesaver.com/english/home.php.
I purchased my piano at Charlottesville Piano off Rio road. They also have a piano restoration service and moving service. I get my piano tuned through them as well with their qualified technicians. Check them out here: http://www.charlottesvillepiano.com.
If you have any other questions about purchasing a piano please contact me and I would be happy to assist in any way I can.