Whether you’re making a piano purchase for the first time or have plenty of experience with selecting instruments, there are a few important considerations that any acoustic digital piano buyer should keep in mind. Most piano sellers are helpful and honest people with a passion for the instrument, but when buying any expensive item like a piano, a smart buyer doesn’t take anything for granted in making a selection. By taking a few simple steps at the outset, you can help ensure that you end up with the best piano to meet your needs.
Acoustic or Digital – or Both?
The first thing you should consider as a prospective acoustic & digital piano buyer is the particular set of needs your piano should fulfill. Acoustic pianos produce a superior quality of sound, with subtle shades of nuance and individual personality that is unique to each instrument. On the other hand, digital pianos have improved significantly in their ability to deliver an authentic and resonant sound in recent years, and offer a wide range of electronic recording and playback options, including the ability to incorporate the sounds of different instruments into a performance. There are even acoustic-digital hybrid pianos available today that combine the real hammer-on-strings sound of an acoustic piano with the technological advantages of a digital model, allowing you to mute the keyboard for silent practice, bring the sound of woodwinds or strings into your performance, or even have your piano play itself by remote control while you entertain guests or family.
What Should a Buyer Know?
Once you’ve selected the kind of piano you want, the most important thing you can do as an acoustic & digital piano buyer is to familiarize yourself with the various features and components of the instrument. You’ll want to perform a thorough inspection of numerous pianos from several brands, so it’s vital to know what you’re looking for and what questions to ask.
Acoustic pianos are intensely complicated instruments with 7,500 moving parts making up its "action." There are several portions of the piano that you should inspect, or ask a qualified piano tuner or technician to inspect for you, before making any final purchase, including the back, the soundboard, the bass and treble bridges, the plate and strings, the action (including the keys and hammers), and the pedals. You should also consider the piano’s exterior, both from an aesthetic perspective and from a practical one: will the piano match or complement the design of the room it will reside in? Does your keyboard cover need to close and lock?
With digital pianos, the concern for the buyer is less a matter of parts and more a matter of features. One of the most important factors in choosing a digital piano, however, is the instrument’s action: how does it feel to play? There are three types of action in digital pianos, and the best one for your needs is the one that feels right to whoever will be playing the instrument. Action in digital pianos falls into one of these categories:
Weighted Hammer Action – Replicates the feel of the keystroke of an acoustic piano, including the strike and rebound of the hammer on the string.
Weighted Action – The keys are weighted to resemble the way the keys of an acoustic piano return to position with the help of gravity, but does not include the feeling of the hammer strike.
Nonweighted Action – The keys of the digital piano return to position with the help of springs.
In addition to these factors, consider the quality of the piano’s speakers and its technological features when buying a digital piano; MIDI playback ability is a must for modern digital pianos.
When you’ve settled on a piano that’s right for you, check with your dealer about warranties and repairs, tuning, and payment plans. Some dealers offer rental-purchase plans or "trade-up policies" to help buyers upgrade later.