The piano is one of the most popular but also one of the most expensive instruments. Many piano beginners understandably resort to a rental instrument first.
An inexpensive alternative for beginners and advanced players is an electric piano. But here, too, there is a huge selection in different price ranges. Before buying your first piano, you should therefore do extensive research so that the investment pays off.
These questions arise when buying a piano :
- How do you even choose your piano?
- Do you prefer a grand piano, upright piano or electric piano?
- What budget do you have to plan?
- What should you watch out for when buying a used piano?
In this article, we answer these questions and give you advice on making your first piano purchase.
Buying A Piano - A First Orientation
Buying your first piano is like getting your first car. A mixture of excitement, impatience and maybe a little fear of making the wrong choice. Therefore, you should always keep some things in mind and not get stressed. There is no such thing as “the one best piano for beginners”. Which instrument suits you best and will give you the most pleasure depends on various, sometimes very individual, factors.
Before you can even look around for pianos, you have to know what you are looking for and the differences between the different models and price ranges.
You should consider the following points when you buy a piano for the first time:
- Your goals in piano lessons
- Your living situation
- Your budget
- What properties should the instrument have?
The question of the place is quite easy to answer. This is a decisive criterion, which can already considerably limit the selection of the available devices. For example, if you live in a small city apartment, you will probably not buy a grand piano. But an upright piano or electric piano also needs more or less space, depending on the model. So decide before you buy where you want to put it and, based on this, calculate the maximum size your new piano can be.
On the one hand, of course, there must be enough space for the instrument itself (in width and length). On the other hand, you have to consider that you will use a stool for playing that you may not fold up and stow in a cupboard every time after practising want.
In your calculation, you should therefore take into account that you have enough space to sit at a comfortable distance from the piano and that the stool has to stand somewhere when not in use.
Characteristics Of Different Types Of Pianos
The Upright piano
When you hear the word "piano", you probably think of the upright piano first. This is the classic mechanical piano, sometimes referred to as the wall piano. The sound is created when small hammers are hit against the corresponding strings; when the keys are pressed, the sound is created, causing them to vibrate. The large soundbox made of wood amplifies this sound.
A piano should be placed against a wall with a bit of distance and leave about half a meter on both sides and above to be easily accessible for possible maintenance work.
Classic pianos are usually between 140 and 155 centimetres wide and 50 to 70 centimetres deep. The height can vary from 1m to more than 1m30. In a small room of up to 20m², you should opt for a small piano that doesn't sound too powerful. A 120cm high piano is a good choice in rooms larger than 40m².
Due to the complex sound mechanics, an acoustic piano is very heavy and not easy to transport. Since they have to be tuned by a piano tuner from time to time, you also have to expect regular maintenance costs. Acoustic pianos are already quite expensive to buy: for a used beginner's piano, and you have to budget between 400,000 NGN to 700,000 NGN, instruments made in Asia are available from 900,000 NGN, for a new piano made in Germany, you could pay at least 3.6 million NGN.
The Grand Piano
The grand piano is the Rolls Royce of pianos. It not only looks great but also convinces with its sound and feel. For it to be able to develop its sound fully, it must stand freely in a large room.
A grand piano, therefore, not only takes up a lot of space, but it is also significantly more expensive than an acoustic upright piano. Even for the cheapest models from Asia, you usually pay at least 6.8 million NGN. Buying a grand piano is, therefore, not an option for piano beginners.
The Electric Piano or Digital Piano
These pianos are instruments in which the sound is no longer generated mechanically by striking a string but electronically or digitally. The terms electric piano and digital piano are often used synonymously. The umbrella term e-piano usually means a digital piano. Like the acoustic pianos, these instruments have 88 keys that can only be pressed down against slight resistance. The attempt is made to imitate the feel of a classical piano as best as possible.
As you know them from the wall piano or grand piano, the pedals are either permanently attached to a digital piano or can be connected with the help of a cable. In terms of sound, a digital piano can never quite match a mechanical piano, and certainly not a grand piano. Depending on the model, it has different sound settings that allow you to try out different piano sounds. The volume can be adjusted individually, and if you want to practice late at night, you can plug in headphones.
Learn to Play The Piano On a Keyboard
A keyboard is usually a little cheaper than a piano (whether mechanical or digital). It looks very similar to it at first glance due to the black and white keys arranged in the same way. Therefore, it is not surprising that many people wonder whether you can learn to play the piano with a keyboard.
A few piano basics can be learned on a keyboard, e.g. which notes have to be played for which chord or how to play a melody and an accompaniment at the same time. However, you cannot learn to play the piano properly on a keyboard because, strictly speaking, it is not the same instrument. A keyboard has a significantly smaller range (only 49, 61 or 76 keys), the keys are much easier to press down, and the tone sounds even as long as the corresponding key is pressed.
Keyboards are designed to imitate various instruments and often have an automatic accompaniment that makes them a popular instrument for solo entertainers.
Buying a Piano - What to Look For?
An essential point in searching for the best piano for you is the goals you are pursuing with piano lessons. Anyone who “only” wants to learn the basics of playing the piano to play their favourite songs from time to time is well served with a well-built entry-level model.
Suppose you are sure that you will practice intensively over a long period and perhaps even aim for professional piano training. In that case, it is worth investing in a high-quality piano right from the start. Of course, the final choice also depends on the budget you have available. It is best to make a list with all the important points (space, sound, functions, etc.) to find the right mix of quality and price when buying a piano.
A quality characteristic of a good piano is its sound properties. Ideally, you should try out different pianos and compare the sound and feel. If you cannot play the piano well enough yourself, you can ask someone you know or your piano teacher to accompany you to make the purchase.
It is also worth trying out pianos in the price range you have set in various shops. Not all dealers have the same models on offer. That takes some time and patience; Since you will be spending a lot of money on your new piano, this effort is worthwhile not to make a bad buy.
If you want to buy a new acoustic piano for a maximum of 2 million NGN, it is best to look around at the manufacturers Yamaha and Kawai. Both have been known for their value for money for many years.
What Piano is Best For Beginners?
Starting to play the piano doesn't necessarily mean spending a fortune. A massive selection of electric pianos that sound very good conveys an authentic feel and is affordable even for a smaller budget. Another advantage is that they take up less space, are easier to transport and do not need to be tuned. A digital piano will not be a burden for you and, with good quality, will still give you a lot of pleasure even after years and thus motivate you to practice.
Depending on the price range, an electric piano has different functions. It is not always easy to maintain an overview and judge which of them need to be taken as a beginner. When buying your first digital piano, you should make sure that it meets at least the following requirements :
- 88 weighted keys
- high-quality samples of acoustic pianos with a wide dynamic range (loudest to quietest sound) and good sustain (long-lasting sound that dies evenly)
- Quality of the speakers (balanced sound, neither bass nor treble heavy)
- built-in metronome
- Polyphony (multiple voices); at least 64, better still 128 votes
- Clarity (rather fewer functions that you can specifically use than a forest of buttons that you don't know what to do with)
Depending on your personal needs and wishes, you can filter the selection according to the following criteria:
- USB or Bluetooth connection
- Recorder (you can record yourself while playing and playback the recording afterwards)
- Song database
- Accompanying function
- Transpose (allows you to change the key without playing other chords)
- Control via an app
- Dual-mode (when a key is pressed, two different sounds are heard)
- Split mode (the keyboard is split in half, and each half plays a different sound)
- Duo mode (the keyboard is halved; both halves reproduce the same tones and the same sound. This function is suitable for practising with two people.)
To give you an initial overview, we introduce three digital pianos that you, as a beginner, cannot go wrong with. It is best to try them out for yourself because, in the end, your taste will also decide.
Roland FP 10
The Roland FP 10 stage piano has everything you would expect from an excellent entry-level instrument. At 12kg, it is very light and easy to transport. The 88 keys are equipped with a fully weighted hammer mechanism and, thanks to the imitation ivory surface, give a very pleasant and authentic feel.
The Roland stage piano has 15 sounds that can be further refined with surround sound and brilliance settings. The sound is clean and differentiated both through the speakers and with headphones. With a 96-part polyphony, it has a full sound for an entry-level piano.
- Split mode
- Duo mode
- built-in metronome
- Bluetooth and USB connection
- Apps for fine adjustment and with learning functions
The Roland FP-10 is currently available for just under 300,000 NGN. If you want a more extensive selection of sounds, you can buy the Roland FP-30 for around 60,000 NGN more.
At the Japanese manufacturer Yamaha, you can find all kinds of good quality and affordable musical instruments, including digital pianos. They are one of the most popular piano brands in Nigeria.
This electric piano is also a stage piano that can be converted into a home piano with the appropriate piano accessories, such as a solid piano stand. At 11.5kg, it is even a little lighter than the model presented by Roland. The 88 weighted keys with hammer mechanism are very easy to control and easy to play. The touch dynamics can be set in three stages.
The 10 sounds are expressive and versatile and are appropriately reproduced by the built-in speakers. The sound is a little more differentiated with high-quality headphones. The 64-note polyphony is sufficient for most applications for beginners, but at this point, the Yamaha P-45 does a little worse than other entry-level pianos. With the dual-mode, duo mode and built-in metronome, the most important additional functions are on board, and you can connect the electric piano to a computer via USB.
At the price of 200,000 NGN, you get everything an entry-level piano needs. If you want to buy a better equipped Yamaha instrument in every area, you can take a look at the model P-125, which is sold from 250,000 NGN.
This digital piano is also easy to transport (10.5kg) and can be converted into a home piano in no time with the matching stand. Should it not be possible to connect the electric piano to the mains, it can be operated with 6 AA batteries, which will give you more than 10 hours of playing pleasure.
The fully weighted hammer keyboard with 88 keys has a slightly roughened surface that gives an authentic feel and prevents it from slipping. The polyphony is relatively modest with 64 voices but is entirely sufficient for piano beginners.
The Casio CDP-S100 is equipped with 10 different sounds that are very well sampled and sound balanced and brilliant. This is supported by the powerful speakers, which still sound undistorted even at full volume. When headphones are connected, the loudspeakers are automatically muted.
The additional functions include the layer function, in which two different sounds can be superimposed, a transposer for changing the pitch and reverb and chorus effects. This entry-level piano also has a built-in metronome and a USB port. Operation is very clear and becomes even easier if you connect a smartphone or tablet to the piano and control it via the app.
The Casio CDP-S100 is available from 160,000 NGN and is the cheapest of the models presented here. If you are looking for a richer electric piano from Casio, you will find it with the PX-S1000 (from 265,000 NGN).
Buying a Used Piano
Would you prefer to buy an acoustic piano, but your budget is not enough for a new instrument? Then it can be worthwhile to look out for a used piano. However, when buying a used piano, a few things must be considered so that you do not end up having to pay high repair and maintenance costs. Most pianos sold very cheaply via private classifieds can often no longer be saved even with complex and expensive repairs.
In general, we do not recommend buying old pianos with upper damper mechanisms (the dampers are above the hammerheads on the strings), as these are very fragile. If you open the lid and look into the piano, you can see this very quickly. First of all, you should get an overall impression of the instrument on offer: Can you see any external damage, signs of moisture or even mould?
The keys should be evenly next to each other, without gaps and height differences. Hit each one individually; they should neither sit too loosely nor be too clumsy. Of course, every time you hit each key, a tone must sound, which should also fall silent when you let go. The pedals must also not be too worn out, let alone move sideways.
In a second step, a look inside is essential. Here, too, the first impression counts. If you discover rust on any metal part, that is an absolute exclusion criterion. Take a good look at the hammerheads and felts. Slight signs of wear are normal, but the hammerheads must not be deeply notched, and the felts must not be broken. Replacing them is possible, but very expensive.
Even the soundboard and the cast plate must not be cracked, and the vertebrae must be firm in soundpost sit. This must neither be torn nor worn out. If, after careful consideration, you cannot find any serious deficiencies, you can move on to playing. Take your time for this step. In the end, you have to feel comfortable with the instrument and like its very own sound.
Even when buying a used instrument, it is advisable to try out different copies on offer. In this way, you practice assessing the condition on the one hand and sensitise your hearing to the different sound characteristics on the other hand. If you want to be on the safe side, you can also buy a used piano from specialist retailers.
We hope these tips help!