So you are keen to learn to play piano. You will not get far without said instrument to play and practice on. If you are on a tight budget then a cheap keyboard might be your best option. A synthesizer is a great option and allows you to practice getting your fingering right, but few will deny you can’t beat the the experience of playing the real thing, so here are a few tips on buying your first real piano.
When shopping for a new instrument, it’s important to bear a few things in mind. The two main disadvantages of acoustic pianos are:
- They are expensive
- They are cumbersome to move from point A to point B; and
- They take up a lot of space in a house!
Point c is particularly true if you’re considering a genuine grand piano. For convenience of storage most people purchase upright pianos, but if you are serious about getting a grand (and grand pianos are lovely instruments to behold, don’t get me wrong!) then first factor in the available space in your house and where you plan to keep it. Also factor in that it will be more difficult to move and you may need to hire a piano mover to relocate your article to the desired location. While a smaller, upright piano is a far easier proposition to deal with, it is still heavy and bulky and so you will need to factor in transportation.
When buying a piano, you can often save a lot of money by buying second hand, but if you do you should be particularly wary that your purchase is up to par. You should at least tinker with the keys and ensure they are in the right pitch. A piano can be tuned if it is not perfectly tuned, but if it is out of key because of abuse by the previous owner or lack of care and maintenance, then you need to consider what you are getting yourself into. At the very least a piano you plan to buy from a previous owner should sound good to you and have a nice action that feels good to play. Pianos can vary a bit. Some have key strengths like a stronger touch which some people like, but others don’t. Those who prefer to play softer classical music and slower ballads will often prefer a softer touch on the keys. Ensure that you are happy with the way the instrument performs.A popular choice for beginners is a Spinet Piano, that is about half the height of a standard sized upright version. These are less bulky, cheaper, yet still offer a high quality tone. One of the obvious benefits of this type of instrument is that it is much easier to relocate and you may even be able to move your new piano yourself.
A final word on purchasing an electronic keyboard. While this may be an excellent instrument for a serious musician, for a beginner who is interested in playing a real piano, the two are definitely not the same thing. While the keyboard will be identical, you lose the foot pedals (although some digital instruments offer electronic pedals), but there is also a loss of the complete, “full” sound that only an acoustic piano can deliver. Generally electronic keyboards and synthesizers merely mimic the sound of a real piano, but are no substitution for the sound and feel of the real instrument.