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Buying a Piano / Keyboard

There are many considerations to make before buying an instrument.   But the basic choices are to buy a real piano, or a piano keyboard.

Buying a piano

For piano students, the best instrument to have is a real acoustic piano.   There are many brands and models to choose from, and the price you pay depends on the quality of the instrument.   Be aware that some pianos look beautiful, but the instrument may be of a lower quality.   You should have a piano tuner/technician evaluate any used instrument before you buy.   We recommend that our students contact Steve Huie, our piano tuner (see his page on our site).

  • Buying a used instrument can save you hundreds or thousands.
  • Black goes with any furniture style, and is easier to sell for that reason.
  • If you are a beginner, just starting out - buy a keyboard.   You can buy a piano later if you like lessons and want to continue.
  • Stick with well known brands such as Schimmel and Yamaha (better quality and holds value).
  • Don't buy the cheapest models (they use lesser quality parts and craftmanship).
  • Try out any piano before you buy it - two identical models will look and sound different.   All pianos are unique.

Buying a keyboard / electric piano

This is the least expensive option overall.  There are basically two groups.   The first group would be an inexpensive ($150 - $300) keyboard with less than the 88 keys on a piano.  Don't buy one with less than 61 keys. There are so many models to choose from, and they keep making more.   We have found that a beginner's keyboard (Yamaha has the best piano sounds) from Costco is fine for new students who are just trying piano lessons for the first time.  

The next step up is a piano keyboard with weighted keys.   Weighted keys feel like a real piano, with resistance when pressed.    Cheaper keyboards don't have this, and the keys are springy, with no resistance.   It is best to have weighted keys if you don't have a real piano.  If you are going to buy a weighted keyboard, be sure to buy one with the full 88 keys.   Weighted keyboards start around $500 or so.   They can get very expensive on the higher end (Yamaha Clavinovas) and we feel that it is better to spend the money on a good piano rather than spend thousands for a keyboard.

GST - graded soft touch - keys lighter than real piano - DON'T BUY this as it is inadequate.
GHS - graded hammer standard - various hammer sizes (metal weights) for gradation effect - GOOD BUY
GHE - graded hammer effect - upgrade from GHS with less action noise - more sensitivity to play faster and more advanced pieces - BEST ACTION
      • Stick with well known brands.   Yamaha keyboards have the best piano sounds and action.
      • Be certain that the keyboard has full MIDI functionality.   MIDI allows you to use your keyboard to interface with your computer.
      • Be sure that the keyboard has a sustain pedal (may be an add-on).
      • You will need a piano bench and possibly a music rack add-on (to place music books for reading notes).
      • Play the keyboard and notice the feel of the action (the way the keys feel) and the sound.   You should love the sound before you buy.
      • Polyphony is a term for how many notes can be played at the same time.   Higher numbers are better.

      Keyboards with good reviews (this list is a work in progress)

      Sweetwater Instruments and Pro Audio - the musical instrument store we like best.

      We have been buying music and recording equipment from Sweetwater for several years.   They  have consistently given us great and courteous service and prices, along with free shipping.   On the odd occasion when something needed to be returned - there were no problems.   

      We have cultivated a relationship with David Means at Sweetwater.   If you decide to buy something or need a question answered, please contact David Means directly.  He is committed to giving our students great service and will "sweeten the deal" whenever possible.   

      Make sure to tell David that you study at the Metropolitan Academy of Music and send David an email BEFORE you call.  That will ensure that David will be your direct contact at Sweetwater.