New or Second Hand?
If the budget allows, go for a new piano
. Source this from a reputable piano retailer
, where you can go and play the piano
prior to purchasing it. No two pianos are ever the same, even if they are from the same manufacturer and are the same model. All pianos
differ in terms of touch and tone. The choice of piano
from here is yours.
If a new acoustic piano
falls outside your budget you may consider a second hand one. Again your local reputable piano retailer
will probably have some good examples to show you. However, be careful when chosing a second hand piano
. Many are very old and will be more susceptible to tuning issues. The action may we worn, hammers and dampers may need attention. Whilst these pianos
may claim to have been 'restored', invariably corners are sometimes cut, which will be at your cost. Avoid imports, as these pianos
are not manufactured and acclimatised for this country. There are many pitfalls to be wary of if you are purchasing second hand. It is therefore advisable to take someone knowledgable on such matters along with you. At this stage, also consider a digital piano
Upright Or Grand?
An upright piano
has strings running vertically, whilst the grand piano has strings running horizontally. Generally, due to space limitations, there is a maximum height that upright pianos
can go to. Grand pianos
on the other hand face no real restriction in this sense and can therefore produce a much longer string length, a great desirability factor in an acoustic piano
. The choice for you is simply down to a matter of space and budget. If you have both, then a grand piano
will make a superb investment.
(complex system of levers and links connecting the keyboard to the hammers) in an upright piano
is above the keyboard, whilst on a grand piano
the action is behind the keyboard. Both types of action are mechanically different due to this placement and string direction difference, giving quite a different feel to the piano
, so again make sure you play any piano
prior to purchasing it.
Overstrung Or Straight Strung?
In an overstrung piano
, the strings run diagonally in two sections across the piano
The bass string section crosses over the treble strings, which are in turn running diagonally behind the bass strings. A straight strung piano
on the other hand simply has all of the strings running parallel to one another, in a vertical line, with no crossing over. Due to the increased string length, it is desirable
to have an overstrung piano
. All new piano
designs now incorporate overstrung strings.
Overdamped or Underdamped?
An overdamped piano
has the string dampers placed above the hammers, whereas an underdamped piano
places the dampers beneath the hammers. Due to their more centralised position on the strings, an underdamper
action is usually the more effective system and is indeed the system used on all new upright pianos
More Money Buys What?
The bigger the budget, the greater the choice. You will generally find that as you go up the range, the piano
will get bigger, giving a longer string length, greatly enhancing the tonal
qualities of the piano
. The finish of the piano
, traditional or modern, whether satin or polished and the colour, will all play a part in the price too.
Your ultimate aim here is to purchase a digital piano
which feels and sounds as close to an acoustic piano
as possible, whilst fitting your budget.
Generally there are three types of digital piano
: Digital Piano; Ensemble Piano; Stage Piano
A digital piano
built into a cabinet with a full 88 note keyboard, a small palette of sounds and usually a built in metronome. Some basic recording features may also be found.
Ensemble Digital Piano
A digital piano
build into a cabinet with a full 88 note keyboard, a large selection of sounds with an auto accompaniment
section similar to that of a keyboard. As well as a metronome, there will be a vast recording
section allowing for compositions and arrangements to be undertaken.
Similar to the digital piano
but without the cabinet. This allows for greater portability, should the piano
need to be gigged with or moved/stored around the home.
As a pure alternative to an acoustic piano
, consider the digital
or stage piano
. Only consider the stage piano
if portability is a requirement. The downside to a stage piano
is that they don't look as attractive in the home and with the pedals being free standing, they tend to move around, which can be awkward for the uninitiated.
If you have a desire to explore other aspects of music rather than solo piano
playing alone, then consider the ensemble digital piano
. This will give you access to a vast palette of sounds and rhythms, along with auto accompaniments, allowing many varied styles
of music to be played. The onboard recording
is also very useful for working on compositions and arrangements.
With all types of digital piano
, you also have access to MIDI
(Musical Instrument Digital Interface) - allowing connection to a computer, opening up a whole new world of music technology.
More Money Buys What?
The greater the budget, the further up the range you will be able to purchase. This will see improvements
in the following key areas:
- Amplifier & Speakers
- Quality of Keyboard Action
- Main Piano Sample Memory Size
Other bells and whistles will also be encountered, but these are the key
elements which you want to pay your money for.