Your choice in piano is very important: If you choose the right instrument, it will make you love playing and draw you back to the keyboard again and again. On the other hand, if you buy the wrong instrument, it could reduce your enjoyment of playing and make you play less and less. So it’s a very important decision, and you shouldn’t rush it; take your time.
Here are the main points to consider:
#1. TRY THE PIANO OUT This may be obvious, but make sure you test the piano out. Don’t ever buy anything from Ebay or Gumtree without testing it yourself. Play, or listen to someone playing the instrument, for a long time: at the very least 25 minutes (but preferably longer). Come back to the piano again and again, if possible. Does the piano still sound good in a week or two week’s time? Take several weeks, or even months, making your decision. Ask the advice of a respected local tuner/technician. The good news is that YOU are the best person to decide which piano is right for you, and no one else. Here’s why:
#2. TRUST YOUR INSTINCT When making big buying decisions, I’ve never gone wrong when I’ve followed my own instinct. The times I’ve gone against my instinct however, when I’ve been swayed by other people’s input, I’ve always regretted it. I can think of all the items I’ve regretted – glasses, clothing, my high-school backpack – and in each case I was swayed by other people’s advice, instead of listening to my own gut. The last time I was deciding which piano to buy, my mum gave me some great advice:
“Go with the piano that you LOVE to play”
…which again means ‘trust your intuition’.
#3. GADGETS GET OLD FAST : Don’t be distracted by how many buttons, how many sounds, or effects it has. In my experience, all of these things get old fast, within a couple of months (and I’m someone who’s into music technology and synthesizers). All you want is a really great piano sound (or two), and great weighted keys. If you’re buying a Synthesizer, then that’s a different matter (I’m just talking pianos right now). But remember, you can always connect an electric piano to a computer, and use it as a MIDI controller. That way you can open up a sequencer on the computer (like Logic or Pro Tools) and play the software based synthesizers from your electric piano. Plus it looks cool when you play a gig with a laptop sitting on your keyboard – even though it’s really quite simple. So when you buy an electric PIANO, really the sky is the limit if you want to connect it to a computer, and access all of the computer’s sounds as well.
#4. ACOUSTIC PIANO vs ELECTRIC? Personally, I will always prefer a real piano (acoustic), to an electric one. Even if the acoustic piano isn’t the best piano, or it’s out of tune, it’s far more special for me to play than an electric piano. It feels like the piano is a living thing (and this is the mindset I have when I play piano – that the instrument IS a living thing and should be treated lovingly).
I never get the same feeling when playing an electric piano, and never will – no matter how advanced the technology gets. So if you’re looking for a piano just for playing at home, then I would seriously recommend a ‘real’ acoustic piano. I’ve found that I develop much more of a relationship with the instrument, than with any electric piano. I was heartbroken when my parents got rid of the acoustic piano that I grew up with – even though it was just a cheap second hand piano. That said, I do have an electric piano (in addition to my acoustic piano), which I use when performing live in different venues that are unlikely to have a serviceable acoustic. But, given the choice, I’ll always play an acoustic piano over an electric one.
#5. WHEN BUYING ELECTRIC PIANOS… Of course if you’re playing gigs then you’ll probably be looking for an electric piano that you can transport easily, so here are my thoughts: THE ELECTRIC PIANO I USE is a Kawai ES3 (no longer manufactured, but the ‘ES8’ is the latest model). This piano has a very good touch, doesn’t weigh too much, and fits along the back seat of my car! The Kawai has lasted me very well; I’ve had it for over 10 years and it’s still as good as new. The components have lasted very well, and it has hardly any scratches.
OTHER BRANDS : The other brand I would look into is Nord. I know a lot of great piano players who love Nord, and if Kawai hadn’t won my heart, I might well be playing a Nord myself (plus I love bright colors, so the distinctive red appeals to me). But again, if you’re set on an electric piano, don’t get distracted by buttons and gadgets, or even brand name (or even colours). All you’re looking for is a beautiful piano sound that you LOVE to play; something that you know will draw you back to play every day, for a very long time. I hope this helps with your decision. Take your time, and only buy the piano that you LOVE to play.
(adapted from an article by Julian Bradley)