You’ve decided you’re ready to take the plunge and buy a piano. Maybe you have children who have started piano lessons, or perhaps you’re interested in learning to play as an adult. Now what? Buying a piano is like buying a house. They’re both sizeable investments and significant financial commitments. Like purchasing a house, you have options when picking out the type of piano you need and determining how to pay for it. I recommend finding a good piano store in your area that specializes in dealing pianos. While the Internet is a great starting point to learn more about piano prices and the purchasing process, it is extremely helpful to have a person weigh in with his or her expertise. Though the prospect of buying a piano is intimidating, it is a once in a lifetime investment with intrinsic value that far outweighs its cost in dollars.
UPRIGHT VERSUS GRAND
You have two style options to consider that impact piano prices: upright pianos and grand pianos. Grand pianos vary in size from baby grands (4.5 feet to 5.5 feet) to professional or parlor grands (6 feet to 7 feet) to full-sized concert grands (9 feet to 10 feet). Brand new upright piano prices vary from $2000 to $9000, depending on the brand and the dealer. Grand pianos are more pricey; they usually range from $9000 to $150,000. If you’re buying your first piano, however, you probably don’t need to buy the most expensive instrument on the market. In terms of choosing between these styles, it’s all about personal preference and the amount of space you have available. As a pianist myself, I adore the extra rich, resonant sound that comes from baby grands and regular sized grands. However, I realize that not everyone has a large living room with the capacity to house such a large instrument. For some, an upright piano is a great instrument for smaller spaces, or for someone who does not want the extra financial burden of buying a grand piano.
LOOKING BEYOND THE PRICE TAG
Don’t fear the sticker piano prices too much—many piano dealers offer trial rental periods and rent to own plans for their instruments. Purchasing a piano is a significant investment, so it is important to find a store whose employees are committed to your satisfaction as a customer and as a musician. Some piano dealers carry used pianos that provide good quality at a fraction of the retail price. If you’re lucky, you might even find a shop that allows a one-month free trial period so that if the instrument just isn’t a good fit, you still have a chance to return it. I highly recommend going in a store so you can sit down and play a bunch of different pianos. Even if you have never played before, you can usually get a sense of how the touch varies from instrument to instrument, and what kind of action suits your fancy.
Don’t forget that piano moving is a necessary expense–trust me, you want to leave that job for the pros. It’s also important to have your piano tuned on a regular basis. Your local music shop can probably refer you to some good piano tuners. Moving and maintenance expenses are only a fraction of the total piano price and are well worth the investment of taking care of your piano.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a piano. Once you choose your instrument, figure out payments, and get it moved in, all that’s left is the fun part: getting to play! Whether you have a child who wants to be the next Billy Joel or Regina Spektor, or if you’re an adult who has always dreamed of tickling the ivories, buying a piano for your home is a smart investment that’s good for the soul.