What is the first step in purchasing a piano for my family?

The first step in purchasing a piano is to evaluate whether it’s likely be a long-term or a short-term purchase. For example, if there are several potential players in the family, especially if one is a parent who played piano as a child, chances are that at least one family member will play for many […]

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Should I buy an acoustic piano, or will a digital piano do?

A digital piano is fine for beginners. However, it will only take you so far; after a couple of years of lessons, you will likely need a decent acoustic piano to progress. A digital piano is a reasonable alternative if the risk is high that the player will lose interest, or if you move often. […]

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Should I buy a new piano or a used piano?

Pianos can have a life expectancy of 60 years or more if well maintained, and they generally perform well for their first 30 to 40 years. However, due to depreciation, a used piano only a few years old may be much less expensive than a comparable new one. Therefore, under the right circumstances, a used […]

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How much should I spend on a piano? What does spending more get me?

Most new consumer-grade vertical pianos sell in the range of $3,000 to $10,000. Some higher-end ones cost two or three times that, and a few cost less. New entry-level grands generally go for $7,000 to $10,000, mid-range grands from $10,000 to $30,000, and high-end grands for $30,000 to $100,000 or more. Unrestored but playable used […]

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How can I find a good used piano?

Good used pianos can be purchased from piano dealers, piano technicians and rebuilders, and from friends and family members. Online, you can search at Piano Buyer Classifieds, Piano World, eBay, Craigslist, and several online piano dealers. See also our Local Services Directory for sources. Please read “Buying a Used or Restored Piano” for full details. Of course, to […]

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How do I figure the value of a used piano?

The best way to find out the value of a used piano is to have it professionally appraised by an experienced piano technician, whose knowledge of local conditions in the piano market, ability to judge the condition of the piano, and memory of recent similar transactions can probably produce a more accurate estimate of the […]

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How can I find out the age of a used piano I’m thinking of buying?

Each piano is given a serial number at “birth.” It’s usually located somewhere in the tuning pin area of the cast-iron plate, though sometimes it’s elsewhere, or difficult to find. See this illustration for typical locations. (If there appears to be more than one serial number on the piano, usually the longer one is the real serial […]

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How can I tell if a used piano is in good condition?

If a piano is less than 10 or 15 years old and has not been in a high-use situation, chances are good that it doesn’t have any fatal defects, and may only need routine maintenance. Other than that advice, there are only a limited number of things you can do yourself to determine the condition […]

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Would it be out of line to ask the seller for the name of the technician who has been servicing the piano, and ask questions about the piano’s condition and service history?

That’s a great idea. Just be aware that it’s possible the technician may feel some kind of loyalty to the current owner and may not want to tell you the complete truth. Nevertheless, the technician is not likely to out-and-out lie to you, especially if you suggest that you may be calling them to service […]

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If my piano is junk, what should I do with it?

First determine if it might be appropriate for a piano restorer, or for a beginning technician on which to practice repairs. If not, and it really needs to be discarded, then call piano movers or contractors who clean out basements, attics, and the like, and get estimates of how much it would cost to remove […]

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Which type of piano, upright or grand, should I buy?

The most obvious non-technical difference between upright (also known as vertical) pianos and grand pianos is that verticals have a smaller footprint and usually cost less. Grands are more likely to be purchased for their value as room-enhancing furniture, take up more space, and cost more. In fact, many who don’t play or play very little […]

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What size piano should I buy?

All other factors being equal, taller uprights and longer grands sound better, particularly in the bass and mid-range, than smaller or shorter ones. This is due to the physics of piano strings, which dictates that longer strings produce a more harmonious sound. In some cases, the larger pianos may also have better keys and actions. […]

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What is the difference between a “grand” and a “baby grand”?

In the old days, grand pianos of different sizes had cute, romantic names such as “baby grand” or “parlour grand.” These days, piano professionals usually speak of grand pianos simply by their exact size in feet and inches or in centimeters. The term “baby grand” is rarely used. If any names are used at all, […]

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What is a “spinet”?

Spinets are vertical pianos, 35 to 40 inches tall, whose hammer mechanisms are located completely or partially below the level of the keys. This arrangement was invented in the 1930s to satisfy consumer demand for a shorter, more compact piano. Spinet actions (key-and-hammer mechanisms) work less efficiently than other types of action because of the […]

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How important is the furniture style of the piano?

Furniture style is entirely a matter of personal taste and has no effect on the quality or functioning of the instrument. One caveat, however: Free-standing legs on smaller vertical pianos are prone to breakage if the instrument is moved often. Legs attached to the instrument sides with toe blocks, common on medium-size and larger verticals, […]

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Does the kind of wood a piano is made of make a difference?

Different parts of a piano are made of different materials. For some parts, the type of wood used strongly affects the quality and musical character of the instrument. In today’s global economy, most manufacturers have access to and use materials that are appropriate for the level of quality and musical characteristics they are seeking. Note […]

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What do the pedals do?

The right pedal is called the sustain or damper pedal. Its function is to lift all the dampers off the strings so that any notes played thereafter will sustain (continue to sound), and all other notes will ring sympathetically. The left pedal is called the soft pedal (vertical) or una corda pedal (grand). Its function is to […]

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I don’t play, so how do I know if a piano plays well or feels right?

As with tone quality, this is a matter of personal preference, but only within certain limits. If the touch is too light, your fingers will get weak and lazy; if too heavy, you can injure yourself over time. This is not usually a problem with new pianos; all manufacturers’ instruments, when properly regulated, are within […]

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What brands should I consider?

For new pianos, this is a complicated and potentially controversial subject because every brand has its enthusiastic promoters and detractors. The best we can do is to refer you to the article “The New-Piano Market Today,” and specifically the section “A Map of the Market For New Pianos,” for a run-down and comparison of pianos […]

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How do I know if a piano dealer is reputable?

This depends in part on what you mean by “reputable.” It would be very rare, for example, for a dealer to take your money and not deliver the piano, so I wouldn’t worry about that. On the other hand, dealerships and individual salespeople do differ in how helpful they are in selecting an instrument, handling […]

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What does a piano warranty cover?

Most manufacturers’ new-piano warranties cover any defect in materials or workmanship for a specified length of time, ranging from 5 to 15 years. Besides the length of the warranty, the major difference between them is whether or not the warranty is transferable to future owners within the warranty period. A few are; most are not. […]

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What should be included in a piano purchase?

What is included in a purchase from a commercial seller is a matter of negotiation and should be clearly noted on the sales agreement. Typically included are a matching bench, pre-delivery preparation of the instrument (unpacking, tuning, and adjustments), tuning in the home at least a few weeks after delivery (giving the piano time to […]

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How long do pianos last?

That depend a great deal on how much the piano is used, how well it’s maintained, and on the climate in which it resides. A piano played 16 hours a day in a school practice room in a cold climate might be “dead” in ten years or less, whereas one pampered in a living room […]

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Are pianos a good investment? Do they depreciate or appreciate?

Pianos are, unequivocally, a great investment. However, the return on the investment is the joy of making music, having a hobby that will give pleasure for a lifetime, and other advantages of ownership. From a financial perspective (excluding instruments with special historical or artistic value), pianos are a depreciating asset. They depreciate quickly for the […]

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Is it wise to buy a piano made in China?

Until 15 years ago, it was not. However, virtually all the pianos being made in China today and sold in the West are competently made and suitable, at least, for beginning and intermediate-level players. Some are better than merely competent and are suitable for more advanced players. Due to the low labor costs, they can […]

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Can I put a piano on an outside wall?

There was a time when people were advised not to put a piano against an outside wall. Today, however, most homes are insulated well enough that that advice no longer holds. That said, I would suggest allowing an air space of a few inches between an outside wall and an upright piano. Note: Sometimes heating […]

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Can I put a piano next to our fireplace?

Not if you ever use the fireplace. The heat would likely do significant damage to the instrument, and the change in temperature and humidity from times of fireplace use to times of non-use would make it difficult to keep the piano in tune. For more information, see the Piano Maintenance FAQs and read Not if […]

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How much will it cost to maintain an acoustic piano?

It depends on how much you play and on how conscientious you want to be about piano maintenance. Typically a piano will be tuned twice a year at a cost of $100 to $200 per tuning, depending on geographic region and the experience and reputation of the tuner. Some tuners in high demand charge more. […]

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How much room do I need for the piano?

Basically, if it physically fits and is aesthetically pleasing to you, you have enough room. Most vertical (upright) pianos are about five feet wide and about two feet deep. Most grands are about five feet wide, and the length varies by model from around five to nine feet. Be sure to add a couple of […]

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What features should I look for in a digital piano?

That depends on what your long-term musical goals are. If you’re aiming to be a pianist, you’ll need only basic features, such as an 88-note weighted keyboard, a few different piano sounds, perhaps an organ or two, and a harpsichord. Transposition and the ability to record while practicing would be nice. If you plan on […]

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