Choosing a Piano



The piano is among the most versatile of musical instruments, but at the same time one of the most complex and delicate. This finest of instruments needs proper care to give it a long and dependable life. As you may or may not have guessed, there is more to buying and caring for a piano than meets the eye. For most people, this is a big step that requires a considerable capital outlay – and therefore any steps in acquiring a piano “should be taken in the right direction”. We at The Pianoman do not regard pianos for sale as ‘just being another instrument.’ Each piano has a unique feel and sound, giving it its own particular ‘character.’ We deem it important to guide the customer to choose what would best suit his/her needs, in so doing helping to create happy and motivated musicians – and it goes without saying that a happy musician will be far more productive! Herewith a few hints and tips to help you make that important decision correctly and to care for your piano.

Types of Pianos

There are three types of pianos: Upright, Grand and Electronic / Digital pianos. How does one choose?? Upright pianos are the most common acoustic pianos and come in two types: antique over damper and modern under damper.

Over Damper / Antique Pianos

Before the turn of the twentieth century, all pianos were over damper. However although there is no questioning the aesthetical beauty of these instruments, they often lack in quality of tone. Many piano specialists have decided against either repairing or even tuning over damper pianos. This is because even the most expensive repairs will not bring the piano up to modern standards, and tunings often don’t make a substantial difference to the sound. As a general rule, you are therefore advised to avoid ‘over dampers’, even if you are only buying a piano that is just for a beginner. (Over damper pianos were last made in approx.. 1920 and when opening the piano from the top you are unable to see the hammers.)

Modern under Damper Pianos

Most pianos these days are under damper and although manufacturing techniques have improved in general, exactly the same materials are still being used to assemble them. There are many different styles of piano, from Spinet to Upright Grand’s. As a general rule, the higher the piano, the better it’s tonal quality, this is due to the fact that a longer bass string vibrates better and a bigger cabinet resonates better. When choosing a second-hand piano, it is important to choose one that has either been properly restored / maintained, or enlist the help of a tuner / technician who can offer sound advice.

Electronic / Digital Pianos

There are two types of electronic pianos: Those with fully weighted keys and those with spring-loaded keys. The closest to an acoustic piano feel is a fully weighted key action. If portability and/or computer compatibility is a priority, then this is what you should look for. Aesthetically, these pianos are often not as appealing as an acoustic piano, but nevertheless will meet your needs. There are a number of fantastic digital pianos available on the market too. Bear in mind though, that a piano student headed for the classical arena will not be able to achieve his/her maximum potential using a digital piano. Also, a digital piano will not increase in value with age, due to the continual advancements of the technical era in which we live

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