Tips on Purchasing a Piano

By Crystalyn Snow

Piano CompetitionWhen purchasing a piano or keyboard, there are many factors to consider when making your decision. While many string, woodwind, and brass instrumentalists may start out with a “beginner” model of the instrument, a piano is a very expensive purchase and will often be the one that the student will play on for the rest of his or her life. Space and money are two of the primary factors when deciding what kind of keyboard or piano to purchase.


Digital keyboards are becoming a more popular choice to purchase for beginner students. There are many reasons why this is. These instruments do not have to be tuned, they can be easily moved, and the student can often wear headphones while practicing. However, keyboards lack the feel and the nuances that can be produced when using a real piano. If a family does purchase a keyboard, it is important to make sure it has weighted keys and all of the pedals so that the student can practice what he or she is learning in lessons: not just the notes, but the musicality as well. Personally, I have had the best experiences with Yamaha digital keyboards, but there are other options out there that fit the needs listed above.

Upright Pianos

Grand pianoUpright pianos were once standard in almost every home, but these pianos have lost their popularity due to digital keyboards. When purchasing an upright piano, there are many factors to look for. It is important to check for tone consistency throughout the keyboard. In other words, do all of the notes sound relatively the same, or do some notes tend to stick out? If all of the notes are consistent, you will also want to check that the hammers and strings on the inside of the piano are all intact, and that the pedals are all working properly. A good upright piano generally starts around $3,000 and goes up from there in price. Yamaha and Steinway generally have the best upright pianos, but there are many other models out there that are respected as well.

Grand Pianos

When purchasing a grand piano, it can be easy to want to make a decision based simply off of looks. However, the same general rules when buying an upright piano apply when looking at a grand. The piano that looks the best may not sound the best. The size of the grand can vary greatly, and a larger piano will generally produce a better sound. A grand piano can cost anywhere from $5,000 to upwards of $100,000. Once again, Steinway and Yamaha pianos tend to be the best models for these instruments, but there are many other options for a lesser price.

These are just a few tips on how to purchase a piano! It is always a good idea to take an instructor or piano technician with you to inspect the piano. Especially if you are purchasing an upright or a grand.

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Crystalyn Snow received her Bachelor of Music degree as a double major in piano performance and voice from University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), studying piano with Robert Ruckman. She recently moved to the Chicago area, and will be attending DePaul University School of Music for her master’s degree in piano performance.