When it comes to pianos, the owner of Cooper Piano in Atlanta has a belief that since buying a piano is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the process should be easy, careful and consumers should be educated. This is why consumers should be cautious when piano sales events arise, since it can be tempting to jump at what seems like a good price for a piano but may not be quite as good of a deal as you might think until you know a little more about pianos and their components.
Understand the Basics
When piano sales come along, potential consumers should first educate themselves about the basics of a piano. A good diagram and explaination of a piano’s components is available on PianoBuyer.com. Terms such as ‘soundboard’ and ‘pinblock’ will make more sense once you see what and where they are.
When a piano sales representative talks to you about soundboards, note that there are generally two types of soundboards – solid spruce or laminated. Solid spruce soundboards are made from planks of spruce that are glued and formed together to create a slightly convex shape to create a better sounding tone. In very dry climates, it is possible for the soundboard to flatten out or crack eventually, affecting the tone, although most pianos have a warranty to protect against this type of problem.
Avoid soundboards that have purely laminated soundboards, as these soundboards vibrate differently and cheaper wood is used, creating poor tone. If you are seeking to save money, look for a piano with a veneer-laminated soundboard or a surface-tension soundboard. These soundboards use spruce with a spruce laminate, resist cracking and changing shape and maintain good tone. A veneer-laminated soundboard may be a good choice in dry climates and if you are choosing between a veneer-laminated or a solid spruce soundboard, both should provide a beautiful tone, although a veneer-laminated soundboard may be slightly cheaper than a solid spruce soundboard.
The plates are the framework where the strings on the piano cross. For years, plates have been made using something called the wet-sand method, where the mold sits in a tray of wet sand, clamping the plates together and then creating a molted iron mold.
Yamaha created a variation of the wet-sand method in the 1960s, called the V-Pro method that uses dry sand and plastic film and pressure instead of a molten iron mold. While there is a great amount of debate about wet sand versus V-pro plates and the resulting tone, variations in the manufacturing method mean that one type of plate is not necessarily better or worse than the other kind and should not necessarily be a determining factor in purchase.
Vertical Piano or Grand Piano
Next, potential consumers should consider the type of piano they desire during piano sales. A vertical piano takes up less room, costs less and is easier to move. However, a vertical piano has more limited sound acoustics than a grand piano.
A grand piano allows sound to bounce off nearby walls and surfaces, creating a more sophisticated sound with better musical expression. A grand piano is larger than a vertical piano, even a baby grand piano, tends to be at a higher cost and is more difficult to move.
Now that you know a little more about the types and terms of pianos available, check out local piano sales.
Measure the space in which the piano will stand so that you have an idea of the size necessary and think about the different colors, woods and styles that you might prefer.
Ask the salesperson plenty of questions, get their opinion on the piano best suited for you, based on your budget, your size constraints and your purpose in having a piano. In the end, you should end up with a piano that is just right for you and your family.