Purchasing a Piano

A piano purchase is an exciting event when you are beginning piano lessons! Sometimes, students and parents find it difficult to know what type of a piano is suitable to invest in.




Piano vs Keyboard

For beginners, a keyboard is just fine to learn the foundational skills of playing the piano. Keyboards are beneficial because they are inexpensive when compared to their electric and acoustic piano counterparts. For young students in their first 2 years of learning, these are usually just fine.


For students beyond the foundational years of learning (usually with 1-2 years experience), students who are preparing for exams, and adult students, a piano with 88 keys, and weighted keys, is the best fit. Electric pianos are a great option because they are less expensive than an acoustic upright, and they do not require tuning. Volume can be adjusted which allows for more flexibility with practice times (no worries about annoying the neighbors with a nighttime practice session!). Yamaha and Kawai are my favorite brand recommendations for electric pianos.

An upright piano is wonderful to learn on and my ultimate personal preference. Considerations of these are the price, upkeep with tuning, and more complex moving requirements. However, nothing can beat the real feedback and sound of an acoustic piano.


New or second hand?

Whether you decide on upright, electric or keyboard, the next question to ask is where you will purchase the piano from.


Purchasing a new piano is an expensive investment. For an upright Yamaha, you are looking at upwards of $6k. A new electric piano could be $2-3K. I tend to recommend looking into second hand options, especially if you or your child are at the beginning of their musical journey. Second hand pianos can be found on Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, and piano suppliers such as the Australian Piano Warehouse. Second hand can be a cost effective option to begin learning on when the right piano is found.

Second Hand Upright Piano

When purchasing a second hand piano upright (acoustic) that is not from a retailer, ask the following questions of the seller to ensure the piano is of decent quality:

  • Before looking in person, ask the seller to send a video of all the keys being played to ensure good sound, and for the pedals to be pressed while playing notes to ensure proper function

  • When looking at the piano in person, look for general wear and tear - on the exterior this usually isn’t an issue. Open the top lid and look at the strings and hammers - wear and tear here such as rust, misalignment, or hammers not striking strings will mean repair costs down the road

  • Play the piano in all registers (high and low, not just in the middle). Add the pedal. How do the keys function? Are there any clicking or loose keys? Are there any sticky keys? A single loose key, especially if in the upper or lower register, may not be an issue for a beginner student and could be repaired in the future, but anything more may impact usability and require repair. Be aware that sticky keys can be a result of humidity. The wood swells with high humidity over a long period of time, causing the key to get stuck and rebound much slower than normal. This is an issue that a lot of pianos experience, especially in Brisbane with increased rainfall and humidity over an extended period of time,

  • Close and open the lid

  • Confirm whether or not the piano bench comes with the piano




Consider additional costs of purchasing a second hand upright piano, including moving the piano. Quotes to move the piano may range from $300-$500, depending on how far the piano needs to travel and if there are stairs at either location. After moving an upright, the piano will need to be tuned. Finally, consider if there are any repairs that are required on the keys, strings and hammers that may increase the overall cost.


Second Hand Electric

When purchasing a second hand piano electric piano that is not from a retailer, ask the following questions of the seller to ensure the piano is of decent quality:

  • Are the keys weighted? I recommend weighted keys if purchasing an electric piano

  • Before looking in person, ask the seller to send a video of all the keys being pressed to ensure good sound, and for the pedals to be pressed while playing notes to ensure proper function

  • When looking at the piano in person, look for general wear and tear - on the exterior this usually isn’t an issue

  • Play the piano in all registers (high and low, not just in the middle). Add the pedals. How do the keys function? Are there any clicking or loose keys? Are there any sticky keys? A single loose key, especially if in the upper or lower register, may not be an issue for a beginner student and could be repaired in the future, but anything more may impact usability and require repair,

  • Close and open the lid

  • Check all buttons and dials such as volume, metronome, headphone attachment, etc

  • Confirm whether or not the piano bench comes with the piano

Many second hand pianos have a few issues such as loose keys, rusty strings and poor tuning. However, I have had success in finding great quality pianos, both electric and upright, on Facebook Marketplace for lesson than $500. When the moving cost and tuning comes into play, there are still great savings compared to purchasing a new upright!


I hope these tips help to simplify your piano purchase experience. I always welcome questions from students during the process to ensure the best piano option is found!


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