Archive for the 'Piano Evaluation' Category

The most frequently asked question that we asked about is whether to purchase an acoustic or a digital piano. The piano has come a long way since it’s invention 500 years ago. The original version has now been replicated and improved countless times, resulting in a large number of different piano styles and with the latest technology, digital pianos have cropped up and become a popular alternative. But which one is right for you? That depends greatly on what you intend to do with your piano playing and what your budget is. However, there are many pros and cons of bpth types of instruments.

The Difference
Digital piano are electronic instruments that have been sampled from an actual acoustic instrument and stored in the memory chips. Some digital pianos have what is called “simulated weighted action touch” or “touch sensitivity”. Simulated weighted action touch is supposed to mimic the weighted sensation on an acoustic piano, where touch sensitivity allows you to alter the sound you hear by how hard the key is played, much like an acoustic piano. Some also comes with pedals which imitate the sustain, soft and sostenuto pedal functions on an acoustic piano. Unlike acoustic pianos, they have no hammers, no strings and no soundboard to produce the sound you hear. Instead, they have electronic sound chips and speakers.

An Acoustic pianos is one that will have either 85 or 88 keys, is made of parts which include moving action components, strings, bridges and a soundboard, which when played, cause strings to vibrate and transmit their energy through bridges to the soundboard. This is how sound is heard on an acoustic piano. The design of an acoustic piano has not changed very much in the last 100 years, and it looks like the current action design is here to stay. An acoustic piano will last a very long time, sometimes as long as 100 years or more. It is a very complicated instrument will over 10,000 parts in it, and all should be in good working order to produce the full acoustic sound. It is built and regulated by skilled craftspeople and can sometimes take over one year to build. It should be tuned at least once a year, and may require regulation from time to time or other minor repair. It is very heavy, up to 1000 pounds and can be difficult and costly to move about, and it will only ever make one sound, that is the sound of an acoustic piano.

Digital Advantages
Digital pianos usually have an array of features that make them an attractive alternative to an acoustic piano, such as:

  • Different types of piano sounds.
  • Other keyboard sounds like harpsichord, organ, etc.
  • Other instrument sounds like strings, flute, percussion etc.
  • Built-in rhythm capabilities to accompany your playing.
  • The ability to interact with other electronic music devices (MIDI).
  • Never a need for tuning.
  • Headphones to practice in private.
  • Easier portability.

Digital Disadvantages
The problem with digital pianos is that they can’t really duplicate the tone and touch of a real piano. Even with today’s sampling technology individual notes may be quite accurately reproduced, but the tone of notes sounding together, as in an acoustic piano with complex harmonics mixing and resonating against a flexible wooden soundboard cannot be matched. As a result, most music sounds rather sterile played on a digital piano.

Digital pianos don’t feel like real pianos. “Touch Sensitivity” and “Weighted Action” is not the same thing as the sophisticated inner mechanism, or “action”, of an acoustic piano. Digital pianos merely simulate the touch of pianos. They don’t provide the same feedback or responsiveness to your playing, so your performance range is limited.

If you are considering buying a piano for your child, consider this: many piano teachers will not teach students who have reached a certain level on anything other than an acoustic piano. Digital pianos are counter-productive when it comes to technique and dynamic performance. These skills cannot be practised on a digital keyboard and then applied to a real piano action. It’s not the same thing. A piano also represents a stronger commitment to a student, as a opposed to a digital keyboard that may represent the same thing to a child as a computer, an electronic game-station or a CD player.

Something else to consider is that an acoustic piano will hold its value far better than a digital. An acoustic piano can last 100 years, while a digital model may be obsolete within a year and might be hard to even give away by then.

Hybrid Digital/Acoustic Pianos
There are hybrid digital/acoustic pianos on the market, like the Yamaha Disklavier that combine the features of both. These are regular acoustic pianos with real piano actions that can be disconnected with the digital sound on demand. Further, they are MIDI capable. These pianos are very expensive and out of the price range of most people. If, however, you can afford one, these pianos are the ultimate in a total piano experience. They are the new generation of pianos: they can record and play back your performance with deadly accuracy; can play a wide selection of pre-recorded music of all styles; can be used in conjunction with piano instruction software; and can be used as a MIDI controller to trigger other electronic tone generating devices like samplers, synthesizers, drum machines or anything with a MIDI interface.

Bottom Line
If you are looking for a keyboard that can be easily transported, or connected to a sound system, or one that can be used to record music using computer software, or has the ability to use headphones for privacy, then a digital piano is the way to go. Otherwise, think very carefully before you decide to buy a digital in place of an acoustic instrument as it will be a lasting decision that you may regret down the road that will be very difficult and costly to undo.

Many people decide to buy an instrument after renting for a while or after deciding that an electronic instrument (digital piano or keyboard) is no longer appropriate. Other folks elect to begin study with a real piano.

Having decided to buy a piano, the next question is whether to buy a new one or a used one. This is such a personal decision!

Cost
The bottom line of a piano purchase usually is cost. Most used pianos are less expensive than most new ones.

What’s involved in setting the price for a piano?

  • how good the inside parts are (the inside mechanism is called the “action”)
  • how ornate the cabinetry is
  • the name of the brand (for a new piano, you are shouldering part of the annual marketing costs in your purchase price)
  • for a new piano, the dealer’s costs
  • for a piano, new or used, from a commercial concern: how much it costs to deliver the piano to you (if not charged as a separate fee)

When you go shopping for a new instrument, you will find many pianos with incredibly beautiful cases! The finish is so glossy it’s like a mirror! Wow! (Reality check: Think about rubbing away smudges on a constant basis.)

The mystery to solve is whether the inside of this fantastic-looking piano is as nice as the outside. Usually it isn’t if the price seems “reasonable.”

You pay for what you get and what you want, musically, is a good action. What you want aesthetically is a personal decision. It will be sitting in your home, after all!

New Piano
A new piano has all the benefits of a new item of any kind. It has not been used, however “gently.” It has a full warranty. The casework should be in perfect condition.

Used Piano
Many people, when thinking of a “used” piano, conjure up images of a piano on its last legs, in terrible need of repair. This image is based in part on the incredibly large members of such pianos that actually exist. But “used” can also refer to several other classes of piano:

  • The older piano that still has many years of life ahead.
  • The piano that needs only minor repaid to be in good shape
  • The piano that is only a couple of years old and practically like new that is being sold because the owner is moving or want s to buy a better instrument
  • The piano that has been reconditioned or rebuilt by a competent piano technician and is in excellent condition. Some pianos like this are actually better than new ones, carry a similar guarantee, and cost almost as much.

Many people spend large sums of money on new pianos that are smaller or of lower quality than they would have liked, or that really don’t suit their needs, because they aren’t aware of the used piano option. It’s especially sad when someone buys one of those new, pitifully small grands when they could have spend no more on a used grand of decent size.

There are other good reasons to buy a used piano. Since the average life of a piano is around fifty years, and with proper restoration at least fifty more, recycling older pianos make good ecological sense.

Of course, there’s a trade-off when buying a used piano, you may have to take more time and look harder to find what you want, you’ll take a greater risk, and you may give up warranty and some number if years of a piano’s life in return for paying less money. This means that it’s especially important to have competent piano technician inspect the piano before you buy it. They can give advice and give you about pianos, as well as inspect and maintain your piano. There will be few others who will able to help you, like professional pianists and piano teachers may have opinions about the tone and touch of a piano, they usually know next to nothing about the technical aspects of the instruments.

At some point every piano owner has likely pondered this question; how much is my piano worth? This is usually asked before purchasing the piano but can also be asked either after the purchase is made or prior to reselling a piano. It’s understandable that the piano tuner-technician is most often asked this question since one might expect a relatively unbiased, informed, and accurate answer.

The question usually goes something like this: “I have a such and such brand upright piano about so many years old in great shape. What do you think something like that might be worth?”

While the age and manufacturer are obviously important factors to be considered in appraising an instrument, there is much more that needs to be considered to accurately determine the value of a specific piano.

For example,

  • What is the condition of the pinblock?
  • Are there signs of delamination?
  • Any indications of structural weaknesses in the bridges, aprons, etc?
  • Does the soundboard have sufficient crown?
  • Are the ribs still holding to the soundboard?
  • And the list goes on.

Consequently, it is impossible to affix a truly unbiased, informed, and accurate value of an instrument knowing only the age, manufacturer, and a vague general impression of it’s condition. Such haphazard guesses not based on personal inspection can only yield untrustworthy information which is useless or even harmful to the buyer or the seller, as well as harming the trustworthiness and integrity of the piano technician.

When it comes time to sell your piano, whether you’re trading it in on a new one or selling it outright, there are several things you can do to simplify the process and maximize the piano’s worth.

Here are some tips:
The easiest way to sell a piano is through an acquaintance. Let your friends know that your piano is for sale. Many instruments change hands quickly this way, with no advertising necessary.

Another possibility is selling it to a piano store. If you’re planning to buy a new piano, it’s common to trade in your old instrument. But retailers also buy pianos outright or will sell yours for a consignment fee (usually around 35%).

This saves you the trouble of advertising and showing it to prospective buyers. However, a store can only pay you a wholesale price, since they must pay to pick the piano up, do any necessary repairs, provide service and delivery to the new owner, and still come out with a profit.

If you have the time, energy and skill, you can often get the best price selling a piano yourself. The most common way is through a classified newspaper ad. Word your ad simply, including the brand name, piano type (spinet, console, studio, full sized upright, or grand), age and condition. For grand pianos, specify the length in feet and inches, measured from the cabinet’s front edge (below the players wrists) to the lid overhang at the back of the curved case.

To best determine a fair selling price, hire a professional piano technician for an appraisal. This will give you the most accurate idea of its worth, saving you time and money. If your piano has been recently serviced, an accurate appraisal might be possible over the phone for a lesser fee.

Have the piano tuned. An in-tune piano sounds better, which means it can be sold more quickly and for a higher price. Don’t worry that it may need tuning again after it’s bought and moved.

Take care of minor problems. Piano shoppers are usually wary of instruments with sticking keys, buzzes, or pedals that don’t work. Such problems are usually minor and easily corrected, so the repair cost will be money well spent.

Improve your piano’s appearance as much as possible. Cleaning the keys and cabinet can greatly increase the eye appeal of a used piano.

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