Whether you’re looking for an old upright or a sleek baby grand, knowledge is power when it comes to buying a piano. I recently bought a little Heintzman upright and thought I’d share a few things I learned while shopping. I know lots about playing pianos, but felt like a newbie when it came to choosing my own instrument.
Before you give Tom Lee Music your credit card, consider these pointers:
1. What kind of piano do you need? The two basic choices are upright pianos and grand pianos. After that, there are a multitude of sizes and styles to choose from. Find out what will fit your space, and what will also look good. Pianos are functional furniture. Style is important!
If you are a professional player, consider that studio-sized upright pianos (44″ or taller) are thought of as the place to start in terms of quality. Your expressive needs are probably beyond the average 8-year-old piano student who will probably be just fine on an piano of any size or make.
2. What is your budget? Stick to something reasonable and comfortable for you. In a private sale, anticipate a $300 fee for moving and tuning. (At least that’s the going rate in Victoria, BC.) If you buy retail, they may include the move and tune, but you’ll pay tax.
3. Selling a piano is an emotional decision. As a buyer, be aware of that. It’s usually easy to tell if someone is really attached to their instrument or just not in a hurry to sell it. In that case they may not be flexible on price. On the other hand, some people are moving soon and need it sold right away. Always ask why they’re getting rid of it!
4. Almost no one knows what their piano is really worth until they sell it. Consult a pro. In a private sale, ask for the serial number and if necessary, have the piano appraised. I called a local shop with piano technicians and they estimated the value of a piano right over the phone. They also offered to do an inspection for a small fee.
5. You can break any rule. Go with your gut. Go with what feels right for your home, your wallet, and your music. At least one of those three might have to compromise, but only you know the right decision.
I hope this list made you a more informed buyer. Do you have any advice to add?
ps – Here’s the piano I bought!