Guide to Purchasing an Acoustic Piano

The piano – it’s that one instrument that all the kids have tried playing.  Already, they are building their own musical foundation while they’re still young.

It’s never an easy decision when you’re looking to buy an acoustic piano; there are so many factors that you have to think about. Maybe it’s not that complex in your head, but when you go to your local music store and look at the pianos, you’re dumbfounded.

There’s a huge collection of pianos. Just how are you going to choose? Well, before even visiting the piano shops, there are some key things that you should consider.

Some Considerations to Purchasing an Acoustic Piano

The Size

The size? Yes, the size. For pianos, size does indeed matter. In general, the larger the piano, the better the tone quality. This won’t apply for all pianos, but it will for most.

The piano comes in two general styles: the upright and the grand. The upright or vertical piano is the much smaller one, as all the strings are lined vertically rather than horizontally.

They come in four basic sizes (from smallest to largest respectively): spinet, console, studio, and full size. The minimum height is 36 inches while the maximum is 60 inches, and this is the measurement from the floor to the top of the piano.

There’s some controversy on the qualifications, but even so, if you’re planning to study piano seriously, at least get a full size upright. Since the variation is by height rather than length, it doesn’t make too much of a difference space-wise. Anything less is going to produce a pretty dull sound.

The grand is one of those larger pianos with the strings lined out horizontally. It comes in three general sizes: the baby grand, medium grand, and the concert grand.

From the keyboard to the very end of the piano, the baby grand is under 6 feet; the medium grand ranges between 6 and 7 feet; and the large concert grand can be anywhere from 7 feet to 9 feet.

Again, these sizes may differ depending on the person’s point of view, but generally, these are good approximate measures.

The Space

The length of the keyboard itself is about 5 feet, so that gives a pretty good estimate of the amount of room needed. At least, if you’re planning to get an upright, you need at least 5 ft by 5 ft of room, including the bench and other materials. It’d be an extremely tight fit, so a bit of extra space would definitely be appreciated. If you have more room, then that’s even better.

Grand pianos will need much more room, and they’re not exactly easy to move around either. Make sure that your designated piano area has enough space to fit both the piano and the bench. A minimum of 5 ft by 8 ft would be needed even for a small grand.

The Price

Of course, we can’t go through pianos without looking at the costs. Depending on the brand and size, the price will change. The large grand pianos from the more famous brands like Steinway or Mason and Hamlin can cost even 6 figures. Yes, you heard that right. Some pianos are definitely not cheap. You might want to consider buying these prestigious European brands in the future…probably not now.

For the regular pianist, you could try looking at Asian brands like Yamaha or Kawai. They’re cheaper, but the tone quality is still excellent. Naturally, you can find it for even cheaper if they’re used.

The uprights are the least expensive. Most will remain under five digits, but Steinways may tip over that just a bit. In addition to that, you can always bargain down the price. This is a must. You can always bargain them down. If not, you can purchase a used one for even less.

Overall, you can expect to pay a couple of thousand dollars for a nice, new vertical piano. If your budget is a serious problem though, I’d recommend getting a digital piano.

These are much cheaper, and you can get a really good one. There are some good entry-level ones, but if you’re serious about playing the piano, I’d go for the more higher-end digital pianos. You can always buy an acoustic piano later.

The Tone

I’ve mentioned Steinway a couple times now. They’re expensive for a reason. The tone of a well-made Steinway medium grand is incredibly gorgeous even without comparing it to some nameless console vertical piano.

There are several tone qualities that can change within the various piano makers. Some pianos of the same size may produce a deeper, richer tone, while others are built for sharp, clear playing. Still, if you’re a talented pianist, you yourself will be able to shape the music into what you desire, regardless of the untouched sounds.

The Purchasing Point

Be frank and open with the salesman. You’ll want to be able to communicate with them as much as possible. However, if they see that you lack knowledge on pianos, they won’t be as tempted to try and trick you into purchasing a $5,000 piano at a much more expensive price. Be direct, firm, and straightforward.

Take your time during the choosing process since this decision will stick with you in the future. After visiting several stores and looking at multiple pianos, narrow down your choices to the top few. Try them again, and listen for the tone and quality. Make sure that the piano is your absolute favorite before finally purchasing it. With that, bargain a little (a lot) with the salesman, and you’re on your way with a nice piano.


Those are the few basic things you’ll need to think about before purchasing a piano. The size, tone and price are all somewhat connected actually. Space will be an issue, so make sure you have an ample amount of room before even buying the instrument.

Be sure to make some preparations beforehand as well. Consider the placement of the piano or the furniture around it. The piano is a truly beautiful object so always take care of this valuable instrument.

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