We have a good range of second hand upright and grand pianos here at the Piano Shop Bath, so we thought it might be useful to provide a brief guide on buying one. Get in touch if you have any other queries!
This will obviously be your primary concern, but you should also be aware of what kind of piano you can buy for that money. Check how much a new piano costs and a good pre owned one. If they are way over your budget, you may need to consider saving a bit more to get the instrument you really want.
This will also in some ways be linked to your budget, and as a general rule grand pianos are more expensive than upright pianos. However, a very cheap grand piano may have poor tone and a poor keyboard action, and if this is the case you would be better off getting a good quality upright piano that does not have such defects.
A grand piano also takes up more space, and you will need to consider the space in your home. With the lid open, most grand pianos are quite imposing objects, so be sure that you will be able to live with that on a day to day basis. Grand pianos are also quite a bit louder, and seldom have practice pedal options, although some manufacturers like Kawai and Yamaha do sell models with ‘silent piano’ features. Having said that, if you have the space for one a grand piano is one of the best options, and most grand pianos when set up correctly will have a richer tone than an upright piano.
Check out online what is available and try to get familiar with the main piano manufacturers. If you are looking at second hand pianos, there is a good resource for lesser known makes in Larry Fine’s book, ‘The Piano Book’. Keep an open mind and be aware that the internet has many opinions, especially on forums! However not all of these opinions may necessarily be correct. Try to ask the same question from different sources and take it from there. If you know any experienced piano players or teachers, ask them, and if you can get in touch with a piano technician, that will also be very useful.
Visit your local showrooms and try out as many pianos as possible. A good showroom will give you the space and time to try out every piano if needs be. Even if you can only play a little, try out a few simple chords at different velocities, loud and soft. Listen to the sound you are making; do you like the sound? It is too bright or too dull? How do the piano keys feel? Do they feel heavy or light? The sound of the piano and heaviness of the keys is very much a subjective thing, do don’t be afraid to create an opinion based on this.
That’s what we are here for! A good showroom should be offering you good technical support and a comprehensive after sales support. Here at the Piano Shop Bath, the price of every piano includes ground floor delivery nationwide, first tuning for free and at least 1 year guarantee. Especially in the case of second hand pianos, it is worth asking what kind of work has been done to the piano before putting it on the showroom floor. Some of our traditional uprights that are well over 70 years old have been completely rebuilt by our expert technicians, with full restring and re-felting of hammers and dampers.
Be prepared to do a couple of visits if you’re not entirely sure. A piano is a big financial commitment, so be sure in your mind that you are happy with the chosen model. As mentioned before, if you know anyone that plays piano or teaches, ask if they can come along to check out the piano you are interested in. If you can get hold of a piano technician, that is also helpful. Most days of the week, we have our own piano technician working on site who is more than happy to give you some technical advice on pianos.
If you have made it this far and answered all the questions in your mind, buy with confidence! Enjoy your instrument and the pleasure you’ll have through years of playing.