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Buying Your First Piano

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

It is only natural to invest in a piano when you start your piano lesson in the beginning, whether for a child or an adult. The dilemma will lie on the parent's shoulders if it is for a child.

So how do you decide which piano to buy? Most people new to piano lessons usually have no or minimal experience selecting an instrument. Since I have often been asked by students how to go about buying a piano, I decided to write this blog with what I think works for me. There are several considerations, but practically, I think the main factor would still be budget. First, let's start talking about buying a NEW (first-hand) instrument.

If you are not keen to invest too much for a start or are unsure if you or your child would enjoy learning the piano, perhaps the best option would be just getting a 61-key digital keyboard. Price for new in Singapore starts from around $200 onwards. It is something you can tinkle on or at least practice your fingering. It should last you a while before you need to upgrade. The keyboard is also less space-consuming if you can only spare a small area in your home. You can put the keyboard on a desk and eventually put it aside when not used.

Digital Keyboard (61-key)

The next step is to get the actual 88-key piano. If you want a new piano in Singapore, buying a digital piano which can range between $700 - $2000 depending on the brand and features, is more cost-effective. The touch is lighter than an acoustic, but most digital pianos nowadays come with weighted keys that resemble the acoustic but are not 100% similar. There are various types of digital pianos on the market. Getting a digital piano with basic or simpler specs will be good enough. You don't need the frills of all the extras and pay more at the end.

Digital Piano (88-key) - does not need tuning or 24/7 heater and can use headphone when you practice at night

Of course, if you are concerned about the authentic piano touch, you would only consider buying an acoustic piano. Not surprisingly, this is also the most expensive option. There are many makes in the market, from those manufactured in China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, or some European countries. Safer and popular brands in Singapore currently are like Kawai and Yamaha, especially those made in Japan. They are safe buys as they are perceived as having better resale values. The Yamaha U1 and Kawai K300 are extremely popular with first-time buyers wanting the acoustic touch. They are both in the $10k range now. These pianos can last a student easily till Grade 8. If you look at the long term, it may be a good investment.

Upright Acoustic Piano

There are more affordable new acoustics too – usually starting from $3500 onwards for a reasonably good one. During some promotional time, you may get a better deal or extra perks like extra tuning, free delivery, adjustable stool, etc. The brand of the piano, manufactured country, height and size, and material used are some of the factors that determine the price of a new piano. Please do your research and go down to the showrooms to try them out. On a side note, acoustic pianos need regular tuning and maintenance. Do check out my other posts for more information.

Next is getting an instrument from the secondhand market. There are lots to choose from. Again, ask yourself, do you mind having a digital, or do you need an acoustic so that the piano can last you longer and you don't need to upgrade so soon. You can get a secondhand digital for just a few hundred. A secondhand acoustic may be around a thousand onwards. It all depends on the piano's age, brand, manufactured country and condition.

For secondhand, I like scouting around online on resale piano websites unless you know someone who wants to sell. I prefer to buy from a direct buyer, so I know the history of the piano. Factors like age, how it was tuned and maintained, and who and how the piano is used will help determine its condition.

Frankly, it won't be easy to check the exact condition of a secondhand piano if you are unsure where to check. Aesthetically you can probably see the exterior of the piano. If there are scratches, are the keys stained or chipped? Maybe even try every note to make sure there is sound.

Used pianos are generally never going to be better than their new equivalents. The inside of the piano is made up of several thousand parts, which will deteriorate or stop performing over time. You may want to hire a technician to give the piano a more thorough check if you like that piano but are unsure of its condition.

Alternatively, I would recommend getting a younger piano, preferably one to two owners. Some pianos may still be under warranty.

Lastly, always try out the piano that you intend to buy. Be it new or secondhand. The feel of every piano is different. Take your time, research, discuss with your teacher or ask a more well-informed friend and check around. It would help if you liked the touch, the sound, and the overall look as you will be using it for a while.


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