Piano Buying

If you live near southwest Florida and seek a good value, you have a unique opportunity with The Piano Guys.  They offer balanced advice to the critical question of how to buy a piano, with many of the benefits of  a retail store, along with the unique perspective of piano technicians.


Factors To Consider When Buying A Piano

Studies show that one or more of seven factors are the most important to different families looking to buy a piano, and particularly to buy a grand piano.  These factors are Tone, Touch, Name, Appearance, Reliability, Price, and Value.  Touch and Tone are quite subjective and most players can only discern these by listening and trying out the piano before buying.

If your chief concerns are Name or Appearance, and Price is not a great concern, find a good retail Piano Store.  But if your chief concerns are Price and everything else is secondary, shop from a private party or find a craigslist piano.  And if you seek a balance between Price and the elements that define quality, including Touch, Tone, Name, Appearance, and Reliability, you probably put a lot of stock in the Value of your purchase. In that case, buying from reliable Piano Technicians may be the best option for you.

This last category is what drove The Piano Guys to open a Piano Showroom and Warehouse in Port Charlotte, Florida, which has become the largest selection of its kind for many miles, and this provides a unique opportunity for the residents of Florida looking for a piano to buy. Many drive an hour or often two or three to check out what these technicians offer in Port Charlotte, since their approach is so unique in Florida.

As a company started by people who were music educators before becoming piano technicians, The Piano Guys have some specific advice for parents who want to improve their children’s lives by getting them piano lessons.  For parents considering how to buy a piano, you do well to put a premium on Touch, Tone, Reliability, and Value, so that you give your child the best chance to succeed.  Many times that will mean you buy one of the better known Names too, such as Baldwin, or maybe Yamaha, Young Chang, Weber, Wurlitzer, or Kawai.  But the Touch and Tone give value to the Name; with pianos it doesn’t always work the other way around.

Buying A New Piano From A Piano Store.

Retail stores that specialize in pianos are very unique.  These stores normally specialize in a few names and manufacturers whom they represent, and the manufacturers usually hold them to pretty high standards.  They are a good place to find a piano with a long warranty, often 10 or 15 years or even more.  However, since production costs remain high, even with most of it moving to cheaper Asian factories, the downside of a retail store is the prices. Even in a competitive economy, you are likely to pay over $3500 for a new vertical piano and over $6000 for a new grand piano.  A local retailer recently told us they really don’t sell new pianos for less than $4000 and new grand pianos for less than $8000.  The known name brands tend to be considerably higher than that, particularly the models made anywhere other than China or Indonesia.  And you will have a hard time finding what is an appropriate price, because list prices often vary from store to store.

For people with expendable income who wish to remove all questions about what they are getting, however, this can be a good option, and most articles you will find online about how to buy a piano promote this approach, since many are attached to a particular manufacturer. Technician-based businesses like The Piano Guys want to see retail stores do well, since they are the life-blood of the piano industry.

Buying A Used Piano From A Private Party.

Obtaining a piano from a private individual who advertises on craigslist or in a classified ad is a much cheaper option, and occasionally you can find a real steal.  Most people feel they are getting a good deal when they find a vertical piano for less than $500 or $700 and a baby grand piano for less than $1000 or $1500.  If you are an excellent player, you may be able to tell by playing it whether you have found a quality piano or not. If it is close enough for a visit it can be worth your time to try one.  Many shoppers drive an hour or more, in the hopes of saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  Be sure to call ahead, so it’s not a wasted trip.  And most shoppers like to take a traveling companion, so they are not entering the homes of strangers by themselves.

However, there are some hidden costs to many of these pianos.  Most have not been tuned for years and will only hold their tune after several tunings, often 2, 3 or 4 in our experience. Be sure to factor those costs in.  Frequently, other things need to be fixed too, especially among the hundreds of moving parts that make up the piano action, or system of keys, levers, and hardware that activate the hammers.  Actions that have not had adequate care often need regulation in order to operate effectively, and this will keep a good piano technician in business for a while too.  In addition, don’t forget about the cost of moving the piano.  Most pianos weigh over 300 pounds, and a baby grand piano usually weighs over 500 pounds.  Don’t spoil your investment by trying to move it yourself and then damaging it!  Many have found they did not save money at all by trying such a move themselves.

Buying A Used Or Refurbished Piano From A Piano Technician.

Some piano technicians like to tinker.  You’ll frequently find one who restores or refurbishes used pianos.  A certified piano technician with experience servicing pianos often knows more about pianos than those who manufacture or sell them, because he has had to rectify the problems of each piano.  Occasionally, a technician may even offer several refurbished pianos to choose from, and he (or she) will know which pianos excel in touch, in tone that will last, and which have a lasting value.  Pianos restored by a piano technician often cost a little more than one purchased from a private party, but in the long run your costs may be less, since he or she will already have done the work of bringing a piano up to an acceptable playing condition.  You will know exactly what you are getting, although you may still pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars less than typical retail pricing.

Many older pianos actually play quite well and have a beautiful tone, and the only way to find a decent piano made by American workers will be to buy a used piano, since every manufacturer today has a portion or all of their production done in the cheaper Asian factories.  For many people, buying from a technician can often provide the best balance between shopping for quality and shopping for the best price.  Some technicians, like The Piano Guys, offer new piano options as well, including the respected American piano company, Baldwin, among other carefully selected options.  The experience of a technician in learning how to buy a piano that is new can be a helpful protection for the buyer.  Nothing could be more disappointing than giving someone a piano, only to discover it really didn’t work properly.