Piano Buyer’s Guide – Steps to Finding the Perfect Piano

Purchasing a piano is a major investment and the selection decision can result in a lifetime of enjoyment or unfortunate disappointment. The following steps in evaluating pianos for sale should greatly increase the probability of success while making for a fun process that can be otherwise daunting.

Step 1: Determine a Budget

When considering a piano budget a key factor is how long the piano may be kept for.  Most people expect to enjoy their piano for many years, if not decades, and find that ‘stretching’ a bit upfront is well rewarded over time.  Alternatively, a more modest budget may be employed if there is the near term possibility that the piano may not be used after a period (for example, if piano-playing children will be moving out of home).

TIP: Consider the resale value of a piano better known and higher-quality brands last decades and generally maintain their values much more than lesser brands of pianos for sale.

 Step 2: Choose the Right Size

The two model types of acoustic pianos for sale are upright pianos and grand pianos. Upright piano models are designed for apartments and smaller homes with limited space. Grand pianos require more space but offer a more elegant appearance and larger sound.

TIP: Remember that how a piano appears in a large showroom may look quite differently when situated in a smaller room. Measure the location where the piano will be placed to determine which sizes would fit best. Some piano dealers will supply paper ‘cut-outs’ that replicate different sized pianos, which can be placed on the floor where a piano is intended to go.

Step 3: Learn about Components

Pianos contain innumerous parts and materials, including the keyboard, action, pin block, soundboard, strings, hammers, dampers, tuning pins, and much more.  Different components gives a pianos their distinctiveness including varying sounds and feel. Components also affect a piano’s longevity

TIP: Focus first on a piano’s ‘innards’ before focusing on its ‘look’.  Only once the most suitable components are identified, turn then to the piano’s style and finish.

Step 4: Play, Play, Play

The sound and feel of a piano are paramount.  Take as much time as needed to play many different pianos for sale.  Most piano stores are quite accommodating and will invite you to play as much as you’d like; salespeople will also offer to play pianos for you.

TIP: Don’t be shy about playing pianos in a piano store. While customers may be unaccustomed to playing within earshot of others, no one is judging piano playing skills.

TIP: Be aware when buying a piano from an online piano store. How a piano sounds in videos is quite different from how it sounds in person.

Step 5: Consider the Acoustics

A piano that is played in a piano store may sound somewhat different that when it is played in its ultimate residence. Inform your piano dealer the piano’s designated room size, ceiling height, flooring type, and number of windows. These details will provide insights as to how the sound might change and which piano models would sound best for the acoustics of the room.

TIP: In case the purchased piano does not sound right in its new home, learn the return and exchange policy of the piano store.

Step 6: New or Used Pianos?

Used pianos cost significantly less than comparable new pianos.  Furthermore, many pianists prefer the sound and feel of well-maintained vintage pianos that were made during the “Golden Age” of piano construction.

TIP: When evaluating used pianos for sale, consider engaging a professional piano tuner or technician to fully evaluate the piano. Also, consider fully rebuilt pianos- these instruments offer very compelling values; for example, expertly restored Steinway & Sons pianos built over a century ago play, sound and look as beautifully as they initially did at a fraction of the cost of a new Steinway piano.

Step 7: Inquire about Warranties, Maintenance, and Repair Services

Understand a piano’s expected maintenance schedules and a piano’s manufacturer warranty.

TIP:  For all piano maintenance issues, from simple piano tunings to more extensive piano repairs, ascertain if your piano dealer provides in-house the full spectrum of services (where a high and consistent level of quality can be expected), or if they are outsourced (where quality may be less predictable and accountable).

Step 8: Select the Right Piano Dealer

The piano dealer you work with empowers you to select the perfect piano for your home, and there are real differences between piano stores.  The foremost ones:

  • Stock a sizable piano inventory from a variety of manufacturers (TIP: ensure the piano store carries the two piano “bellwethers”, Steinway & Sons and Yamaha).
  • Offer fair prices (TIP: a leading indicator of reasonable pricing is the size of the piano dealership… generally, the larger the piano store the more fair the prices will likely be, as the piano stores volume enables it to earn a lower profit on each piano for sale).
  • Provide objective information and guidance without high-pressure sales tactics (TIP: check if a piano store’s salespeople are professionally trained pianists… these musicians care- they have a wealth of piano knowledge and also focus on finding the right piano ‘fit’ for a client versus simply pushing to make a sale).
  • Maintain their pianos in the best possible condition (TIP: if a piano store employs its own piano tuners and technicians its pianos for sale will generally be in great shape).
  • Provide post-sales support to keep your piano properly maintained (TIP: learn if your piano dealer has its own in-house piano repair shop, as occasionally piano maintenance requires the piano to be worked on off-site)
  • Provide attractive trade-in policies in the event you may want to trade your piano at a future date

TIP:  Read independent customers reviews on Social Media, such as these: