How to Choose a Good Piano?

~ By Jin Loh

Good Quality Acoustic Piano/Grand Piano

How to choose a good piano? How to buy good quality piano? How to choose/buy good quality acoustic piano/grand piano?

There are many things one needs to consider or check in order to know if a piano is good or not. For example, good qualities piano should have beautiful, warm & round piano tone/sound. The piano sound should not sound sharp or small, tiny. Good piano sound is able to last long or 'ring' long. The piano keys should also have good and responsive piano touch.

Tips to choose/buy good quality piano are explain below.

How to Choose a Good Quality Acoustic Piano/Grand Piano (Video)

Try to feel the piano touch of the keys. 

Piano touch means how piano key feels like when we pressed down the key with our finger. Some piano keys are stiffer, harder to press down while some piano keys are looser, lighter to press.

When we pressed down a piano key, we should feel that the finger is able to sink quite deep, down into the piano key bed.

If our finger feels good when we pressed down on the piano and you like the piano sound, most probably that maybe your piano. :) But you still need to check on other areas before deciding which piano to buy.

Try to Play on Different Brands' Pianos

There are many different piano brands in the market. Some pianos are specially handcrafted and very unique. For example, some piano brands have extra 9 - 14 keys than a classic piano (88 keys), allowing pianists to play extra higher and lower notes on the piano.

Piano with 97 keys

Piano with 102 keys

Special Piano: Art Case Piano or Art Deco Piano

Some piano manufacturers may provide art case piano or art deco piano special service. If you want or are looking for a very special, unique piano as a piece of art to decorate your house, you may look for art case piano.

For example, you may custom made a special piano with hand-painted art on the piano, have special piano shape/design or have gold embellished on your piano case. :)

What to Look For/Check when Buying a Good Piano (Acoustic/Grand Piano)?

♪   piano's physical appearance/design, 

♪   piano's wood quality, 

♪   piano's craftsmanship, 

♪   piano's key touch and response, 

♪   piano sound (eg. mellow, sweet, bright piano sound) 

♪   Piano pedals

Different brands' pianos are made from different piano manufacturers from various countries. In general, the lifespan of some Japanese pianos are shorter compared to some America or Europe handcrafted pianos. 

However, if you are buying a piano mainly because you need a piano to practise to sit for piano exams, I would suggest to just buy the same exam piano brand and model. In this way, you would be used to the same piano's touch during piano exams. You would know how much strength to use to play a soft and loud passages during your piano exams just like how you have been practising at home.

Tips to Buy/Choose Good Quality Piano   

♪  Try to play on all the pianos in a piano shop or music shop.

Even if the pianos are from the same piano brand, piano can sound quite different from piano to piano. So try to play out all the pianos that are available in a piano shop/music shop. Listen to the individual's piano sound (eg. sweet, mellow or bright sound) and try to feel its piano's key touch when you play.

♪   Try playing very loudly and very softly on a piano key, to hear and test how well a piano key response according to your strength or touch. You may know how loud or how soft, or the dynamic limits of a piano. How much strength you need to achieve certain volumes or dynamics.

♪  Try playing on low notes, middle notes and high notes on a piano. Listen to how the bass and treble sound like on a piano, see if you like the piano sound.

♪   Try playing repeatedly , rapidly, fast on a same piano key to see how well or how fast a piano key is able to react or response according to your strength. Find out how sensitive or good is a piano's key touch.

♪    Try to sit on a piano's bench to feel if its comfortable.

If you are buying grand piano, the piano bench is nicer to sit on and adjustable according to your height. If you are buying upright piano, check if the piano bench is adjustable. It is better to get a adjustable piano bench because if a piano bench is too high or too low, it is uncomfortable to play.  

♪   If you can't decide between for example, 2 or 3 pianos that you like, try to write down the piano's model and its serial number.

Take a break, rest for a while and try playing on those pianos again to decide. You may also want to consider coming back on another day to try out on these pianos again, when your ears and hands feel 'fresh' again.

♪   After testing or playing on the piano by yourself, you may also want to ask someone else to play the piano for you to listen. Try to move back further from the piano, close your eyes and listen. Try listening from different distances and angles from the piano. Then ask yourself if you like the piano sound?

♪   To be safe, it is always better to buy piano from a reputable, bigger piano company. 

♪   Try to find out about a piano's manufacturer-backed warranty. How many years of warranty are given for the piano? For example, 10 years warranty?

  Try to find out about a piano shop/music shop's trade up policy, for example, 1 year or 2 years? It is also better to buy piano from a piano shop that offer trade up service.

Good Piano's Pedals

3 Piano Pedals

2 Piano Pedals

♪  Normally new, modern pianos have 3 pedals. Older pianos may have only 2 pedals, with no middle pedal - Sostenuto Pedal.

The left pedal is the Una Coda Pedal (Soft Pedal), the middle pedal is the Sostenuto Pedal,  the right pedal is the Damper Pedal (Sustaining Pedal).

♪  When piano pedal is depressed, it should have at least 1 1/2 inches or about 3.8cm of depth.

♪  When we pressed down the pedal with our foot, we should feel some resistance with the press and release foot action.

♪  Try to feel the height of piano pedals if its comfortable to depress.

I came across a piano's pedals which are very high up. My heel could not rest comfortably flat on the floor when I depressed the piano pedals. I am an average height adult, not very tall nor short, yet I could not rest my foot flat on the floor comfortably to depress that piano pedals! :O

So please just take note of piano pedals height too..

♪  Try to check if there's any funny, squeaky piano pedal sound by pressing up and down on a piano pedal. Try testing all 3 piano pedals with the foot for a couple of times.  Try to feel if the foot depressing action is smooth, easy and quiet.