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What sort of piano should I buy?

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Buying a piano can be a daunting experience. Maybe your kids have started learning and their teacher has said they need a ‘real piano’ or perhaps you have wanted to learn all your life and now you’re retired and have the time to start piano lessons. Or maybe you’ve been a student of piano all your life and it’s finally time for that dream piano you’ve always wanted. 

Where do you even start? You hop on Gumtree or Ebay and there’s all these pretty timber pianos that look like your Nan’s for $50 or giveaway. They sound like the answer, right? Sadly, they are like buying your Nan’s old car that’s been under her house for 30 years. Unless you spend lots (and we mean lots) of money, they’re not going to be good, and even if you do spend the money, they’ll still drive like an old car and cost more to maintain. Most pianos of that age can no longer be tuned to A440 concert pitch and may not even be able to be tuned at all. They are a working piece of equipment and sadly, just like people, they wear out as they get older and very often they just can’t be fixed.

So what do you do next? Of course you have the Internet, full of information and cautions about buying a lemon or telling you which brand is the ‘must-have’ even though you’ve never heard of it before. The Internet is great and can give you a lot of really helpful information about the types of pianos available and what might suit you, but as with most things on the Internet it can be information overload and you need someone to help you sort the real from the hype.

Boyds was started in 2006 because we saw the need to provide that service of making buying a piano easy and enjoyable. During that time we have helped hundreds of families find the perfect piano, and as we always say, we think the piano finds you, rather than the other way around. Most people find that one instruments speaks to them more than the others around them and the bond begins to form.

So how do you find ‘the one’?

Inside Boyds

You have a few choices to make before you start. Think about how much room you have for a piano and where you might like to put it in your home. You might want to put your piano somewhere you will see it every day and feel tempted to sit down and have a play, or that your children won’t feel like they’ve been banished to do their practice. Or you may have a dedicated music room that’s just waiting for the perfect piano. Those factors can guide you on whether to buy a small or large upright, or even a grand piano.

Of course another thing to consider is your budget or how much you want to spend on your piano. We sell high-quality pianos to meet most budgets, from $2,000 to $200,000. This can also have an impact on whether you decide to go for a grand or an upright piano, and what brands you might consider. Where the piano is made has a major impact on the quality of the piano, as with cars and other precise pieces of machinery. As expected, German and Japanese pianos are generally always very high quality, sound amazing and are the most reliable for tuning and maintenance. 

The last thing to consider is whether to buy new or second-hand. There are advantages in both. With new pianos, provided you choose a good brand, you know exactly what you’re getting and you know that it should be trouble-free. What many people don’t factor in is the fact that new pianos require extra tunings and maintenance in the first few years while they stabilize and settle in, so that can add about $1000 to the price of any new piano in that first period. 

Be aware that if you are paying less than around $8,000 to $10,000 for a new piano, it is unlikely to be Japanese or German-made. There are certainly good pianos in that price point but just be aware of what you’re buying and make your decisions accordingly.

If you choose to go second-hand, the main thing is to make sure you buy your piano from a reputable source, be it a dealer or a private seller. If you choose to buy a piano privately, it is well worth having a technician inspect the piano prior to purchase, just like an RACQ inspection for a used car. For around $100 you get some peace of mind as to how old the piano is, where it was made, whether the piano has had more use than it should have for its age, whether it needs any repairs or maintenance to make it work properly, whether it has any structural issues that might effect tuning pitch or stability and lastly, a general guide on what you should pay for that piano.

If you choose to buy your piano from a store, it is still important to discuss with the salesperson the origin and age of the piano, whether it has been well-maintained, what the expected lifespan of that instrument might be and whether any warranty period is offered. Most pianos have been numbered by the manufacturer and can be dated with that serial number. Older pianos can be fine but you need to be aware of the age and make sure the piano is priced accordingly. 

Once you’ve satisfied yourself that you’ve answered those questions, then the time has come to start playing and listening.  If your piano is for your children, bring them along! Make sure the potential pianist has had a chance to play and hear the piano. All pianos have different personalities and tone characteristics, and what appeals to one musician may not appeal to another. You will hear terms like bright, warm, mellow, sweet and perhaps you wonder are we talking about pianos or wine? Really it just comes down to what makes you feel good when you hear it. Even if you aren’t a musician you will soon realise you can hear the difference between one piano and another.

It seems like so much information to wade through and so many decisions to make. Here at Boyds we try to make buying a piano as easy as possible. Call or email us to make an obligation-free appointment and come in to see what we offer. You’ll never get the ‘hard sell’ from us and we’re happy just to share our knowledge of pianos. If we have the right piano for you then that’s great for all of us! 

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