How to Buy a Piano – A Buying Guide for First Timers

Buying a piano is a significant investment for most families. How to buy a piano is a question in many prospective purchasers’ minds, especially first-time buyers. We hope to share some insights and demystify a few common perceptions in this article.

Whether you are buying an acoustic piano or a digital piano, taking a thoughtful and informed approach is essential.

Understand the Intention

Before we discuss how to buy a piano, it is essential to understand your intention. You want to ask yourself if you are committed to learning to play piano. What are your objectives for learning piano?

Finding a quality piano and the right teacher is vital if you are fully committed and want to jump in with both feet.

On the other hand, to explore the piano or ignite a child’s passion for it, consider acquiring a more affordable piano and exploring online courses for piano instruction.

In terms of finding the right instrument, it is directly related to your experience level and your objective. For instance, you may not need a super expensive grand piano for your six years old child. However, you also do not want to go too low and get a piano without weighted keys.

At the very minimum, we recommend getting a piano with an 88-key full keyboard with weighted action, either acoustic or digital.

The bottom line is that the right instrument will give the piano learner, an adult, or a child, a positive experience and be successful in learning.

Research and Educate Yourself

If you are new to the piano realm, learn about different piano brands, models, and their characteristics. Understand the terminology related to pianos, such as soundboard, action, and tone.

Not all pianos are created equal; therefore, your research is essential. Reputable piano brands are known for their quality and durability. Established brands often provide better craftsmanship and after-sales support.

Read reviews, visit reputable websites, and consult piano experts or teachers.

What to Look for When Buying a Piano?

Choosing a piano is a challenging task. There are many brands and models across various price points on the market. Below are a few considerations on how to buy a piano. I’d like you to keep them in mind while doing your research.

Type of Piano

Decide whether you want an acoustic piano or a digital piano. Acoustic pianos have traditional sound and require regular maintenance, while digital pianos offer versatility and portability.

There are many types of acoustic and digital pianos, but at a high level, we have four categories:

There are more variations within each category. For example, upright pianos have four styles based on their heights.

We have an Essential Guide to Choosing a Digital Piano.


It is important to determine your budget range beforehand. Pianos can vary significantly in price, so knowing your budget will help you narrow your options.

Additionally, the cost of moving an acoustic piano is relatively high. You’ll need professional piano movers to move the piano. Including the moving cost in your budget is beneficial if you buy an acoustic piano.

It will be a good idea for people who are very budget-conscious to consider digital pianos. They are a great value proposition. We have done a lot of digital piano reviews.

Size and Space

fit a baby grand piano in a room

I’d like to point out that measuring the space you plan to put the piano in your home is a crucial step. Too often, people get pianos that would not fit in the area where they intend to put the piano or could not be moved into the space.

Pianos come in various sizes, and you must ensure they fit comfortably in your chosen location. Moreover, adequate space is required to maneuver the piano into its designated area.

You might like to review Pianos for Small Spaces.

New or Used

Nothing like a new instrument that motivates and inspires anyone to practice or pursue music. Generally, the beautiful brand-new piano is the preferred choice. However, financially it only sometimes works out.

For the used ones, there are different conditions of them. It could be a “grandma” piano that may cost nothing or only a couple hundred dollars, or a Yamaha U1 48″ upright from the 2000s with much life left in it.

Used pianos can be more affordable, but the downside is that you want to ensure the piano functions correctly in tune and action. Hence, it would be best if you had it inspected by a professional.

The new acoustic pianos usually come with a 10-year warranty, which gives peace of mind knowing that someone stands behind it. Of course, the new pianos cost more.

Sound and Tone

piano showroom

It is necessary to visit piano showrooms and test the piano’s sound quality and tone. Selecting the right sound for you is a subjective experience; it is often an emotional bonding. So, I’m hoping you’ll trust your ears. If the sound resonates with you, most likely, it is the right instrument for you.

Additionally, paying attention to the piano’s sound characteristics, such as richness, clarity, and responsiveness across the keyboard range, is essential.

Seek Professional Guidance

If you have access to a pianist friend, a piano technician, or a piano teacher, consult them about brands and models, and better yet, ask them to go with you to a showroom or music store.

However, not everyone has access to piano professionals; you can still get professional guidance from reputable piano showrooms and dealers.

Demystify Common Perceptions

Since buying a piano is a significant investment for many people, there tend to be some common assumptions when discussing it. In this How to Buy a Piano article, we demystify some of the common perceptions.

Presuming Used is Better Value Than New

This presumption is not always true. Generally speaking, you usually get what you pay for. The used piano prices tend to work themselves out in the market for their residual values.

Used pianos are more affordable and at a lower price point because they have a lower value; all pianos degrade and wear out over time. In most cases, pianos have received hundreds and thousands of hours of playing, which wears down the components, such as the action becoming less responsive, the soundboard losing its potential dynamic range, etc.

That is why you’re always getting what you pay for, which means that the used piano is at its value. It isn’t necessarily a better value than getting a well-shopped new piano.

Not Considering the Key Action Sounds of Silent Playing

piano silent system

An acoustic piano is a very powerful instrument that can produce loud sounds. If it is placed in a small home or an apartment, you may get complaints from neighbors or even other family members. In this case, you may want to consider installing a silent system.

Nowadays, many piano manufacturers offer silent play systems or silent pianos, such as Yamaha, Kawai, and Bechstein. These fully acoustic instruments are equipped with digital capability, allowing play day or night without disturbing your neighbors or roommates.

However, silent playing could be misleading because it would not be totally quiet. While you can eliminate the sound produced by the piano from its strings and soundboard, the mechanical sound of a piano’s action is hardly subtle. There is a noticeable clunk sound every time you hit a key.

Consequently, playing silent mode for a long time while others are in the same room could be hard to tolerate. Regardless, your neighbors will not hear your silent playing.

Assuming Grands Are Better Than Uprights

The superiority of grand pianos over upright pianos cannot be assumed. In some instances, the materials used and the design implementation in an upright piano can result in a more desirable musical experience than a grand piano at a similar cost.

Roughly speaking, to acquire a grand piano with identical quality, finishing materials, and design complexity, you should anticipate doubling your budget compared to what you would have considered for an upright piano to achieve the equivalent level.


To conclude our discussion on how to buy a piano, here is a summary:

  • First, decide whether you want an acoustic or digital piano based on your preferences and needs.
  • Next, determine your budget range and stick to it while exploring different options.
  • Consider the available space in your home and choose a piano size that fits comfortably.
  • Test the piano’s sound quality, tone, and critical action to ensure it meets your expectations and resonates with your feelings.
  • Research reputable brands and check their reputation for craftsmanship and after-sales support.
  • Decide whether you want a new or used piano, and if you opt for a used one, have it inspected by a professional.
  • Consider the long-term maintenance requirements and costs associated with your chosen piano type.

Finally, take your time, thoroughly research, and try out multiple pianos before deciding.

Happy piano shopping journey! Do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions!

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