How To Buy A Used Piano For Beginners
You want your children to take piano lessons, and you need to buy a piano. How to buy a used piano for beginners and what type of piano should you get? These are good questions, and here are the answers:
When a child is an absolute beginner, you may be tempted to get just a keyboard. After all, it’s the same as a piano, right?
The way you play a piano is very different from the way you play a keyboard. If you can’t afford an Upright Piano at least you should go for a digital piano. Make sure it has at least 88 keys or more as your children need the range if they are to get good at this piano thing. The reason I prefer a digital piano over a keyboard, is because it plays almost the same. A keyboard is easy to touch, and you just need to play the key softly. With a piano you need more pressure, and need to use the muscles in your fingers to hit the keys quite hard. If you start off on a keyboard, you may struggle later to get the technique of playing a piano right.
With a keyboard and digital piano, you can’t really go wrong. It is easy to buy: Choose one with 88 keys or more, and buy it.
It is different with a “real” piano, whether upright or grand. There are a couple of things you need to look at. Let’s assume you want an upright piano: You may want to buy a piano online as it is usually cheaper than going to the store. If you see a good picture of the piano, it looks good, and it says: “Recently Restored” on the listing, it should be okay to buy. Ask the following questions: What is the condition of the felt on the hammers? What is the condition of the strings? Are the pedals working well? How old is the piano? Does it need to be restored? (if it doesn’t say “Recently restored” on the listing) Could they post a sound clip of someone playing the piano so you can hear the sound?
How to make sure you’re not buying a lemon
If the piano is old, and it hasn’t been restored, you really need to go and have a look and listen to the sound of the piano. Ask the person to play you something. If they can’t, just start playing the piano from bottom to top. Play every single key. Yes, the black ones too. You are listening for a lovely clear sound. If you hear a “tinny” or an “echo-ey” sound, the piano may need to be restored.
Sometimes one or two of the keys have a terrible sound. This is okay if the keys are located at either end of the keyboard, and the rest of the keys make a good sound.
Next, you need to open up the top of the piano. You can also open up the top front by taking the lid off the keys and then the wooden front. Look to see if it has a steel frame, or a wooden frame. If it has a wooden frame, you don’t want to buy it. Unless you have as much money to spend on fixing it as it will cost to buy a new one. If a steel frame, you need to see if the little pegs that tune the strings are all an equal distance from the frame. If not, you would have heard it because the sound would not have been good or equal on all the keys. If you can see the distances are different, don’t buy the piano.
Then you need to look at the hammers. They have felt on them, and you will see there are lines in the felt from having hit the strings. This is fine. What you are looking for is wear and tear on the felts: If the felts are almost worn through, it is best not to buy the piano as it will cost a lot to replace the felt. There is also a long strip of felt at the back end of the keys. Check that as well to see the wear and tear.
The pedals need checking too. When you hit the right pedal, the dampers will lift. The dampers fall back on the string after the note has been played, to dampen the sound. The right hand pedal lifts the dampers so that the strings are free to vibrate for as long as the dampers are lifted. You just need to see if it does its job and makes all the dampers lift.
The left hand pedal moves the hammers closer to the keys so that the striking distance is closer. This makes for a quieter sound. You need to check that it is doing its job too. If you want, you can lift the wood panel off the bottom front as well. Just to check if something is loose or if you can spot trouble. You should be able to spot trouble easily.
A grand piano is easier to check. You just open the top (like in the pictures) and you can see everything beautifully. Make sure it has a steel frame.
While I’m talking about different types of pianos; I often get asked which is better to buy, the upright or the grand. Well, the grand is obvious because it has longer strings. This makes for better sound. However, it is not necessary to buy a grand until you know you have a little Mozart on your hands. And don’t go for a baby grand because it is really the same as an upright as the strings aren’t all that much longer.
Now that you know what to look for, go for it! Buy that piano.
If you have questions or need help, please contact me.