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Selecting a Piano

When properly cared for, a piano will last a lifetime. If you buy one that suits your needs and pleases your ear, you’re in for a long, rewarding relationship. But the piano’s longevity, and its cost, also mean it’s an investment you should make with great care. Many people will buy only one piano in their lifetime. Here are some pointers on finding the one for you.

Before venturing into showrooms, set some parameters. Know your budget, and know the dimensions of the space in your home the piano will occupy. Are you looking for an upright, a baby grand, a concert grand or a digital piano? What style and color cabinet will go with your existing decor?

Once you know what you’re shopping for, buying a piano should be a hands-on experience. Every piano is an individual, and that goes for two pianos that have the same manufacturer and model number. Some people find it helpful to play the same brief passage on each piano they examine, or to ask the dealer to play it while they listen. Choose a test piece that makes use of the instrument’s full tonal range, and note the different way each piano responds. Because of the individuality of each instrument, you may even wish to buy the floor model if it is especially pleasing to you.

Above all, make your search into a hands-on experience. Don’t be bashful about touching, playing and examining the pianos you consider. From the feel of the action to the gleam of the cabinet finish, tactile feedback is going to be part of your ownership experience, so it should be part of your shopping experience, too.

Even if you are set on a particular make or model, be sure to visit different dealers. You may be surprised at the variety of deals and terms available; in this respect, buying a piano is similar to other important purchases you make. It’s okay to let dealers know that you are shopping in more than one place, so they’ll “bid” for your business.

Don’t forget to check the details: does the price include a bench? As a separate item, one can cost several hundred dollars. If one is included, is it one you’ll be comfortable using? Does the price include delivery? What about finish tuning, to bring the piano into tune after it’s delivered, or prepaid maintenance and tuning down the road?

It’s important to be clear on the contents of your warranty, which usually comes from the manufacturer, not the dealer. Does it cover the cabinetry, the finish, or the action? How long will the warranty remain in effect?

As with any other significant investment, the purchase of a piano involves a considerable amount of research, legwork and decision-making. There are few investments that will prove as rewarding, however. If you keep these tips in mind, the day your piano arrives in your home and every day afterward will be rich, carefree–and full of music.