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CHOOSING AN ACOUSTIC PIANO

Purchasing an acoustic piano is a better instrument choice (than a keyboard) to improve a student’s progress and enjoyment. Below is some information to help you locate your piano.


DECIDE ON THE STYLE AND SIZE


VERTICAL PIANOS (upright) have a variety of heights according to model but their widths are all 58”.  Depth tends to slightly vary. 

 

Spinet  36” to 38” tall

Console 40” to 43” tall

Studio  45” to 48” tall

Upright  50” to 60” tall


HORIZONTAL PIANOS lie flat and take up more space than a vertical piano. 

Petite Grand 4’ 5” to 4’ 10”

Baby Grand 4’ 11” to 5’ 6”

Medium Grand 5’ 7”

Parlor Grand  5’ 9” to 6’ 1”

Ballroom Grand 6’ 2” to 7’

Concert Grand 9’


Once you have decided on the style, decide on a color choice. There are woodgrain finishes (dark, light, cherry, etc…) or an enamel finish like glossy black, matte black, or white. For some people, the color is not a decision factor.


PRICE:

Set a maximum price that you desire to spend. That could be as little as $200 to thousands. Consider the cost of moving, repairs, tuning. 


FIND YOUR PIANO:


NEW or USED? Purchasing a new or used piano from a dealer or piano store, will give you confidence. Sometimes they provide a tuning and include delivery in their final price. Below are the only two stores that I know of in our area: 

· Playground Music Store, in Mary Esther

· Tadlock Piano in Panama City, FL

· There are dealers in the Pensacola FL and Mobile AL area who deliver to this area. Check reviews and ask others where they purchased.


USED PIANO PRIVATELY:

You will see many used pianos for sale. Which one do you choose? Models that I recommend are:  Steinway, Yamaha, Kawai, Young Chang, Baldwin, Kimball


Pianos that are more than 30 years old, are too old (unless it is a Steinway). Antique pianos are not special, just old, worn out, and usually not able to be tuned to pitch or hold the tuning.  Some owners personalize with their piano due to it being “in the family” for many years and feel that the value is far more than the actual book value. There is a blue book of pianos which you can look up on line, or merely visit a piano store to get a feel for pricing.   If you desire to have an appraisal done on a piano, you may contact a piano tuner before purchasing.   Some sellers will have an appraisal done for you. 


There are a variety of on-line used places to search. Free piano ads can be a scam so be careful. The rule is: “if it is too good to be true, then it is”. Never pay for shipping ahead of time for a privately used piano. Below are some pointers to look for when shopping for a used piano:

· Get the manufacturer’s name, model number, and approximate age

· Ask if the bench is included (should have a matching bench)

· Try every key on the piano (should be 88) to make sure they work

· Sticky keys are a sign of excessive humidity or damage

· Broken keys can be expensive to fix (make sure the one’s in the middle work well)

· Finish: Look for dents, scratches, broken legs (blemishes reduce value, or can signal mishandling)

· If several of the piano keys are chipped, that is a bad sign

· Look inside the piano (on a vertical piano, the cover below the keyboard opens down like a cabinet door). Rusted strings, broken strings, broken hammers, cracks in the backboard of a piano are not desirable. A cracked sound board means the piano can not be tuned.  Use a flash light to see the cracks. The model number is usually inside the piano on the harp.


Moving the piano. If you move it yourself  be careful of the legs.  If the piano has spindle like legs, do not pick the piano up by those legs or they will break, nor roll them on the wheels on the spindles which can also cause breakage)  Studio and Upright pianos have stronger reinforced legs and are made to be more mobile with larger rollers on the legs. It takes 3 strong persons to move a piano. Or call a moving company such as Big Foot Movers out of Crestview, FL.  


Factor in the cost of moving and repair into your offer for the piano. 


If you are spending thousands of dollars for a piano, call a piano tuner and ask them to evaluate the piano for you. It will be worth the extra cost. 


Once moved, let your piano sit for several weeks before having it tuned. A piano should be tuned once a year to maintain its integrity and value. Practicing on an out of tune piano causes a student to develop a poor sense of pitch and feel.