Choosing the Right Piano
Pianos generally look alike, have black and white keys, and make a sound, so how do you find the right piano for you?
Though pianos may look alike you will find vast differences in touch, tone, and longevity. Some pianos are built to last for years while others may only last a few years before major work is required to keep them playing correctly. It is important to determine how the piano is going to be used. Is it for casual play? Are there multiple players? Is it a player piano which will afford much more playing time than a non-player piano?
While there are a lot of names on pianos there are not a lot of manufacturers. Many fine companies have come and gone through the years and many of their names live on. When selecting a piano ask who builds the piano. Many pianos are built by generic factories overseas in countries such as China. These pianos may have nothing more than a distributor in the United States. They are commonly referred to as stencil pianos because, while the names change, there are really only subtle differences in cabinetry and nothing unique about the instruments. This means there is not a true manufacturer to fall back on for warranty work or parts.
Some manufacturers rely on a third party manufacturer to build pianos for them in order to reach lower price points. These pianos will often be referred to as “designed by...” instruments. Basically you are buying a piano from a manufacturer who bought the piano from another manufacturer. Most industries have cut out the middle men because no one wants to pay a higher price just because the name has been changed on a product. If there is more than one manufacturer the value is lost. A company cannot and will not build a better piano for a competitor than they will build for themselves.
The company of origin is important so you know that the piano was produced in a factory that is owned and controlled by that company. Quality levels are much higher when a company is putting their own name on an instrument and guaranteeing it.
The Right Piano
While there is not a single piano that is right for everyone there are some basic premises that apply to their purchase. A piano is usually a once in a lifetime purchase. For this reason the purchase should not be based on price alone.
Every piano has a price based on materials, craftsmanship, and design. Inferior materials will limit the longevity of the piano while increasing cost of ownership with more frequent tuning and service needs.
Many used pianos that are imported into the U.S. are not seasoned for our climate and can have severe cracking and warping problems. For more information on this click here.
Craftsmanship varies with each manufacturer. Some have state of the art factories that are always pressing forward to perfect the piano while others rely on old methods and equipment that end up producing inconsistent instruments. Pride and company commitment along with a company's view of what quality level is acceptable goes a long way in producing a fine piano.
You may notice that certain brands, such as Yamaha, are the choice of today's finest artists. They are also used in more recording studios than any other manufacturer. These performance instruments have gained their notoriety through their use of the finest materials, the best craftsmen, and exemplary design.
How strong is the company behind the name? The warranty is only as good as the dealer and the manufacturer who is backing it up. While we can’t predict the future we, at Music City with our long history, have had the luxury of choosing the manufacturers that we work with. Our goal is to make sure your piano purchase is the right one for you and will be the right choice for a lifetime.
Choosing a dealer is almost as important as the manufacturer. If you have any questions, problems, or are in need of service then your first contact should be the dealer where you purchased the piano.
How long has the dealer really been in business? Many company names are old but the businesses have changed hands multiple times. What kind of rating do they have with the Better Business Bureau? Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau?
The support available from the dealer is also important. Do they have a piano service shop? Having their own shop means fast response times and accountability. This also assures the piano is prepared properly before it is delivered to your home or institution.
Are lessons offered? A dealer who invests in teaching studios represents a commitment to support education and a relationship with their clients and the community.