Most of us love the thrill and excitement we experience from purchasing a brand new luxury item. That same feeling entices people when they walk into a showroom filled with beautiful, new pianos and envision one in their home. However, just because a piano is new, does that mean it’s the best option for beginning music lessons?
New pianos offer peace of mind when you shop, assuming they are free of defects and come with a manufacturer’s warranty. However, used pianos already have depreciation factored in, usually have a more mellow tone, and are considerably less expensive. Let’s look at how choosing a used or even rebuilt piano might be an ideal investment as you select a piano for yourself or contemplate lessons for your child.
Purchasing a used piano can stretch your budget for a better brand and maybe longer soundboard, rather than settling for a smaller, entry-level new piano. In addition to less depreciation, a first-rate used piano brings an opportunity to find unique older styles and wood finishes, plus the possibility of a richer, warmer tone. Ultimately, a good refurbished piano might allow you to get the best piano possible for your price range.
In glancing at a few retailer websites or showrooms, you find that many new pianos made by the top brands start at around $10,000 for consoles and reach considerable amounts for grand pianos. Not only can these instruments be out of budget, but their potential resell price also substantially drops when it reaches your home.
Depreciation is a significant factor when purchasing a new piano, unlike a used one. A new instrument will lose approximately 20% of its value by the end of the first year, then roughly 5% each year after for the next ten years. This aspect of a piano purchase is one of the overriding reasons many people choose a used piano. A refurbished, well-maintained used instrument will retain a more significant portion of its value if you decide to resell it in the future.
Quality refurbished pianos often come with a warranty on parts and labor from a reputable technician, making them a trustworthy purchase. Used pianos are also much less affected by depreciation should you or your child discontinue lessons.
Buying a used piano with a warranty, plus knowing its value will not be entirely lost if you sell your piano, provides a level of confidence in your decision.
At Hulme and Sweeney, our pianos always come with the assurance of a 5-year warranty on parts and labor.
Shopping for a used piano adds a potential element of fun if you like searching for something unique. Good used pianos can offer a greater variety of styles and finishes from years past that may not be found in today’s newest models.
Options and colors of wood finish, such as lacquer, satin, high-gloss, or something natural-looking, might be essential to you as you consider the room’s color schemes, furniture, and the piano you choose. Older pianos may have more exciting cabinet design features, enabling you to find something to match your home furnishings. Some pianos have beautifully carved music stands with ornate legs. In contrast, others offer efficient, industrial-style looks or even smooth, streamlined curves.
One other reason to consider purchasing a used piano is the appeal of its tone, which could significantly differ from newly made pianos. Warmer, more mellow tones were popular in early 20th-century pianos. Instruments built in recent years tend to have an overall brighter tone, as this seems to be what is currently in demand.
You may prefer one type of tone over another, but this is certainly something you should think about before investing in a piano. We suggest playing as many instruments as you can find to understand which one sounds best for your ear.
A similar but more costly option to a refurbished piano is that of a restored piano. The advantage of a fully restored or rebuilt piano is that a trained technician can take an older, high-quality brand piano and recreate the interior with new, modern mechanical parts.
Technology that exists today was not available 100 years ago when piano makers were crafting their premiere instruments. Thanks to innovations in carbon fiber action parts, carbon steel strings, and computer aid to correct design flaws, a skilled technician can bring an old piano to new performance levels. This means if you like the qualities of an older model Steinway, for example, but would like to customize certain features such as tone and action, this option allows you to modify the piano to your preferences.
Rebuilding a premium grand piano, such as Steinway, with all authentic parts in their New York location will cost around 80% of a new Steinway. A more reasonably priced alternative is to choose a skilled, professional independent piano builder who can use premium brand parts to rebuild an exceptional piano for a lower cost. A rebuilt piano from a trusted restoration company also provides protection from hidden defects and unexpected maintenance and will likely come with a warranty on the work.
Learning to play the piano is still essential to many children and adult students and finding a suitable piano within your budget is a vital part of this process. Parents often believe in the approach of buying the cheapest piano they find to see if their child is genuinely interested before investing in a better instrument.
The dilemma with this approach is a piano that has broken parts, fails to hold its tuning, or has terrible action will likely discourage a new student from continuing. Students become frustrated when they cannot duplicate melodies, harmonies, or technical passages they hear from a teacher during lessons. They may blame themselves for lack of progress rather than realizing it could be the piano’s poor condition.
Students learning to play the piano progress more quickly on a quality instrument. A properly working refurbished piano with unchipped keys and uniform action develops better finger strength and dexterity. A piano that stays in tune improves aural skills, while fully working pedals are essential for advancing students. Purchasing an antique instrument or accepting something for free in deplorable conditions will not provide these much-needed features for a student of any level.
Keep in mind certain piano manufacturers and models from particular decades should be avoided in your search. Many old, low-quality spinet and upright pianos are sold or given away by individuals in deteriorated conditions, and we do not recommend purchasing or accepting these instruments.
Finding a vertical console or small grand that was initially built with excellent craftsmanship is a good candidate for refurbishing to like-new conditions. We are happy to discuss the best brands of pianos at Hulme and Sweeney that we feel make excellent used instruments.
Choosing a piano for your child’s music education or your home encompasses a thoughtful search for an instrument that suits your needs and budget.
New pianos are easy to shop for at showrooms and come with the manufacturer’s warranty and no anticipated problems. However, the depreciation factor and immediate loss of financial value spur many piano shoppers to consider a high-quality, affordable, refurbished piano instead.
A restored or rebuilt piano might be an ideal option if you are looking for customized features. A rebuilt instrument is a great way to acquire a premium brand piano at a reduced cost with improvements that could possibly surpass its original condition.
Working with a knowledgeable, capable rebuilder offers a distinct advantage in being able to find or refurbish a piano to fantastic working conditions at a much more affordable price. As you begin your search, we invite you to Hulme and Sweeney Piano Service to discuss our selection of used pianos and restoration services.