Secondhand Piano Shop

Guide to the Piano World


Released: 11/10/2009 12:06:25 PM    Source: Singapore Piano Shop

Many people, as they start shopping for a piano, soon find themselves overwhelmed by all the different styles, models, sizes, finishes, and brands available. Often, they end up in a high-pressure sales situation where they are encouraged to make a quick decision without having all the necessary facts. And even when the decision is finally reached, the purchase made, and the piano moved into the home, many people wonder afterward if they really made the best choice.

In the many years I have been in the piano business, I have noticed that piano buyers often ask the same questions. Questions like:

What kind of piano should I buy for myself, or for my son/daughter who is just starting lessons?

How much should I expect to spend?

Should I get a lower quality, less expensive piano for now, and then trade up if we need to later, or should I start out with the best quality, even if it stretches my budget?

What are the significant differences I will be paying extra for?

Should I buy a vertical, or a grand? Should I get a new, used, rebuilt, or reconditioned piano?

Should I consider restoring a family heirloom, or is it best to just start with a brand new instrument?

Should I consider buying used from a private party? What are the risks?

Is it true what they say about new pianos not being as good as the older ones?

How do I know if a used piano is in good shape, or worth rebuilding or refinishing?

What about the different brands? Is one really better than another, or am I paying extra just for a recognized name?

Should I buy an American-made piano? European? Japanese? Korean? Chinese? What are the differences I need to be concerned with?

What about the new electronic, or digital pianos?

    Although there are books written on the subject of buying a piano, many of our customers have expressed a desire for shorter, simpler, and less confusing explanations of the issues involved. After working with hundreds of different piano buyers over the years, I, too, felt a need to set down in writing some answers to those most-oft asked questions, as well as to provide a summary of what people looking for a piano can expect to find today. Hopefully what follows will at least help you get some bearings.

    One thing to bear in mind is that the piano world is always changing. The moment someone publishes a book or an article that reveals how the industry operates, it changes, often as a result of that disclosure, and then new material has to be written to keep consumers up-to-date. Realizing that things do change very quickly, one of my major efforts in this article was to describe general issues and trends that consumers can recognize and identify; patterns which tend to repeat over and over again, just as history repeats itself.

    In order to simplify things, I have made some generalizations about the piano industry that should be considered as a starting point, or point of departure. The piano world, like the real one, is necessarily very complex, dynamic, and ever-changing, and only experience and exposure to it will reveal all the exceptions and fine nuances to what I have presented here.

    There are many different ways to classify pianos. One way is by country of origin: i.e. Korean, Japanese, U.S., European, Chinese, etc. Each country tends to build pianos differently, and as a result they respond and sound differently. Another way to classify pianos is by price, which often (but not always) relates directly to quality. Still another way is by features: type of materials, design, and quality of construction. Yet another is by intended use: furniture, casual, beginner, intermediate, advanced, professional or concert. You will find all of those methods used in this article.

    In many cases U.S. piano companies are now putting their names on instruments made in other countries, including Japan, Korea, Poland, China, or Indonesia. Included in this article are discussions of who's making what for whom, along with what it means for piano buyers.