Are you in the market for a piano to learn on (or for your child to learn on)? Then this is the blog post for you.
It may seem a bit obvious, but you can’t learn to play the piano unless you have one to practice on.
Ideally, every beginner pianist should be able to practice at home on a regular acoustic piano from day one. But in the real world, this is not always a realistic option.
While an acoustic piano is my preferred answer to the question “which piano should I buy”, it’s not the only option. So if you want to know what to look for when choosing a beginner keyboard, an electric piano, or an acoustic piano, read on.
(Please note: these recommendations are for beginners only. They do not apply to late-intermediate and advanced students.)
If you can’t afford a piano just yet, then a beginner keyboard is still an acceptable option. When you go out shopping, be sure to choose a beginner keyboard with the following features:
- 61 keys (not 49)
- Touch response
- Piano key width that matches the width of an acoustic piano’s keys (some toy keyboards have narrower keys, which means students will learn to play on the wrong-sized instrument)
If you’re getting a beginner keyboard, I recommend buying a Yamaha or Casio, and spending no more than $200-300. Salespeople may try to talk you up, but there’s no point spending more on bells and whistles like light-up keys. If you’re going to spend more, spend it on an electric piano instead.
Photo Credit: Casio
A beginner keyboard will keep you or your child going for about a year of learning. After that, you’ll need to upgrade your instrument in order to continue to progress. However, thanks to its cheaper price, a beginner keyboard may be a better option for families with beginner children, as the drop-out rates for kids learning the piano is 80% after 2 years of lessons. And a keyboard is certainly more disposable than a grand piano!
If you’re after an electric piano, I recommend the Casio “Privia” range. Yamaha, Roland and Korg aren’t bad brands either, but in my opinion, Casio is the best.
My favourite Casio piano is the PX-750, which I tend to recommend to my beginner adult students if they can’t afford an acoustic. Despite being electronic, it sounds almost the same as a real piano, and the touch is better than most other electric pianos. (However, despite all the advances in technology, no electric piano is yet to match an acoustic for sound or touch.)
Photo Credit: Casio
A Casio electric piano will set you back around $800-1200, and has a lifespan up to about AMEB Grade 2. After that, you will need to upgrade.
Acoustic (Regular) Pianos
I always suggest that new students buy a second-hand piano. If that’s what you want to do, then I recommend the Yamaha U-series or Kawai K-series – in particular, the U1 and K3.
When choosing an acoustic piano, make sure it’s at least 121cms tall. The reason for this is that the greater the piano’s height, the longer the strings. And the longer the strings, the better the sound. 121cm+ is considered a “professional” height.
It’s also a good idea to choose a piano that’s ebony or black in colour, simply because that’s the easiest colour to re-sell. And be sure to buy a second-hand piano from a reputable piano store. This way you’ll get a safer deal.
Photo Credit: Yamaha
You can expect to spend anywhere between $3000-5000 on a good second-hand acoustic piano. This is definitely a worthwhile investment if you can afford to make it, because a good second-hand acoustic piano will keep you or your child going until AMEB Grade 7.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I haven’t suggested that you buy a new piano? The main reason I advise against buying a new piano if you’re a beginner is that new pianos take two or three years to settle, and you’ll lose a lot of money if you choose to re-sell one. Second-hand pianos are already a big enough investment, and will keep you going for years, so there’s really no point in buying a brand new piano if you’re a beginner.
The Best Way to Buy an Acoustic Piano
If you’re going to buy an acoustic piano – new or old – then my top tip is to go to the music store with a piano teacher.
Going with a piano teacher help ensure that you’re taken seriously, and that you’re not taken advantage of. Your piano teacher can also advise you on what instrument to choose, and may even be able to help secure you a preferential deal. That’s certainly what I do! I love helping my students choose a new piano.
Now you’re ready to go out and get piano shopping. But before you do, don’t forget to give this post a share on Facebook or Twitter, so all your friends can learn which piano they should buy.
Got more questions about choosing a piano to buy? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
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