Buying a piano

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Submitted by NicMM on September 1, 2010 - 4:04pm

I started to send my 5 year old son to a piano group lesson. The purpose is just to give him a chance to enjoy music and maybe he will acquire some skill; by no means that I want to make him a pianist or something. The music class uses keyboard in the classroom, so my original thought was to buy a keyboard for him to practice at home and buy a real piano for him in a couple of years when he shows real passion and talent.

But what I learned from the parents of other students shocked me. The piano price goes up every year even in this economy. They tried to organize some group purchasing. According to them, the group price for YAMAHA U1 was around $5000 two years ago, early this year it was $5900 and now $6400. The MRPR is over $8000. Learning this I feel an urge to buy the piano with this group. Putting off the purchase for a couple of years may cost me over $1000. But on the other hand if my son has no interest or talent for it, the piano can end up being just an expensive piece of furniture.

Can any piggs with experience or insight in pianos shed some light?

Thanks in advance,
-NicMM

Submitted by bearishgurl on September 1, 2010 - 4:15pm.

Two of my neighbors bought pianos for $200 and $400 respectively from other neighbors who were moving. Of course, they may have needed tuning service after they got them set up.

Why don't you look through craigslist and e-bay (local-only) to find a piano for your son to practice on? Lots of people have pianos sitting and gathering dust.

Your son is very young and you don't even know how long he will stick with this hobby. These items are heavy and require special handlers and larger trucks to move them in. Therefore, many people sell them instead of move them, if they are not used.

Better yet, just ask around your neighborhood. You would be surprised who has one that is not using it and would be willing to sell it. Then you won't have to move it too far.

Submitted by UCGal on September 1, 2010 - 4:19pm.

When my older son started Piano lessons 2.5 years ago we started with a keyboard. That was fine for the first 9-11 months. (It wasn't a full size keyboard - that was the issue for us.)

When he showed some interest/talent (he's not a prodigy but he's good and he enjoys it)... we decided to buy a used piano.

We just scoured Craigslist and ended up buying a very nice upright from a person in Carmel Valley. $700, had recently been tuned, was in excellent condition. The previous owner had just upgraded to a grand piano... so this worked out for us. It was $125 to have it professionally moved.

Since then our younger son has started playing - so it gets lots of use.

We looked at new pianos but the prices were too high... We got a piano that sounds new, for 20% of the new price.

Submitted by ybitz on September 1, 2010 - 4:30pm.

I've been playing piano for a long time. Personally, I would recommend getting a good keyboard instead of a piano. Buy a keyboard with weighted keys and full-set of keys. Unless you're a audiophile or snob, you can't tell the difference. It'll be cheaper, more portable, and one can wear headphones if practicing at night.
Don't worry about the cost of pianos going up in price every year. Pianos do not really appreciate in price, they get slightly worse overtime as it ages and gets worn down. A 200 year old Stradivarius violin still sounds amazing, but you will never see a concert pianist play an old, old piano.
If you're looking into buying an used piano, make sure it's not so crappy that it's un-tunable.

Submitted by flu on September 1, 2010 - 4:39pm.

What are you, asian or something? You need a violin with that too? I'm just kidding.....

To help with your question....a friend has made the suggestion that a good place to get pianos is call up local schools/universities. They sometimes end up tossing older pianos...If you deal with the moving, it often ends up being free. She got a piano with one of the pedals missing for free. She just had to rent a truck to move it.

You won't find a steinway or something like that, but it should meet your needs.

This might help too..

http://www.pianoadoption.com/free_pianos...

(Don't know if it's fake or real). Check craigslist and/or call your local schools/universities. Also check theaters/etc... (It might be tougher these days due to budget shortfalls in the schools/universities).

In seriousness, look also in the classifieds in Ranch 99 bulletin board outside the main entrance. If can't read the classifieds, find a friend that can. There was some guy that was doing a relocation back to Shanghai that sold his baby grand for like $1k. (corp relo)

Submitted by NicMM on September 1, 2010 - 4:39pm.

I have spent sometime on learning from websites such as Bluebook of Piano. I often encounter the message like "buy the best piano you can afford"...Also I heard that because the mechanical difference between the keyboard and piano, playing the keyboard actually can do bad to the hands of piano playing in a long run.

I have to admit, if it is for myself, I can easily put off such expensive purchase. But since it is for son, I kind of feeling guilty if I could afford it but didn't buy.

Submitted by flu on September 1, 2010 - 4:46pm.

NicMM wrote:
I have spent sometime on learning from websites such as Bluebook of Piano. I often encounter the message like "buy the best piano you can afford"...Also I heard that because the mechanical difference between the keyboard and piano, playing the keyboard actually can do bad to the hands of piano playing in a long run.

I have to admit, if it is for myself, I can easily put off such expensive purchase. But since it is for son, I kind of feeling guilty if I could afford it but didn't buy.

Um, if your son doesn't like it, you're really screwed because you'll probably be in a predicament in which you'll offer the piano free to anyone else that can move it themselves :) Seriously, my parents were lucky that I wasn't the first kid and that my sibling loved the piano. I played it a total of 2 years and hated it. My sibling played a total of 15 years, so it worked out for my parents.

you shouldn't care about the first piano, unless you like to play yourself. Also, as a boy, I'm sure he probably will end up liking the outdoors more than playing the piano the at his age.

You don't want to be that person that is selling the piano to some other person for 50-70% off of what you paid for...Because there are a lot of people in that category :)

Submitted by NicMM on September 1, 2010 - 5:03pm.

Flu,

Thanks a lot for the information!

NicMM

flu wrote:
What are you, asian or something? You need a violin with that too? I'm just kidding.....

To help with your question....a friend has made the suggestion that a good place to get pianos is call up local schools/universities. They sometimes end up tossing older pianos...If you deal with the moving, it often ends up being free. She got a piano with one of the pedals missing for free. She just had to rent a truck to move it.

You won't find a steinway or something like that, but it should meet your needs.

This might help too..

http://www.pianoadoption.com/free_pianos...

(Don't know if it's fake or real). Check craigslist and/or call your local schools/universities. Also check theaters/etc... (It might be tougher these days due to budget shortfalls in the schools/universities).

In seriousness, look also in the classifieds in Ranch 99 bulletin board outside the main entrance. If can't read the classifieds, find a friend that can. There was some guy that was doing a relocation back to Shanghai that sold his baby grand for like $1k. (corp relo)

Submitted by NicMM on September 1, 2010 - 5:08pm.

Flu,

Your experience as a son really assured me a lot. So I will feel no guilty now :).

NicMM

flu wrote:
NicMM wrote:
I have spent sometime on learning from websites such as Bluebook of Piano. I often encounter the message like "buy the best piano you can afford"...Also I heard that because the mechanical difference between the keyboard and piano, playing the keyboard actually can do bad to the hands of piano playing in a long run.

I have to admit, if it is for myself, I can easily put off such expensive purchase. But since it is for son, I kind of feeling guilty if I could afford it but didn't buy.

Um, if your son doesn't like it, you're really screwed because you'll probably be in a predicament in which you'll offer the piano free to anyone else that can move it themselves :) Seriously, my parents were lucky that I wasn't the first kid and that my sibling loved the piano. I played it a total of 2 years and hated it. My sibling played a total of 15 years, so it worked out for my parents.

you shouldn't care about the first piano, unless you like to play yourself. Also, as a boy, I'm sure he probably will end up liking the outdoors more than playing the piano the at his age.

You don't want to be that person that is selling the piano to some other person for 50-70% off of what you paid for...Because there are a lot of people in that category :)

Submitted by TemekuT on September 1, 2010 - 5:16pm.

My 2 cents as a piano hobbyist: rent a piano for the first year! Later, if your child is progressing and wants to continue, shop for a used piano. Be sure to pay a piano tuner to assess any used piano you are considering so you know the extent of the work required to bring it to good condition. Pianos are complicated instruments and although you the parent may think one sounds "fine", there may be annoying mechanical issues that I, the pianist, can feel and that detract from the overall nuance of the performance.

...loving my Yamaha C2 Grand but lusting after a Bechstein...

Submitted by NicMM on September 1, 2010 - 5:50pm.

TemekuT,

Thanks for your suggestion. Yes, I have learned from internet that pianos have 7000~10000 parts and need professional tuning twice a year. They also need to be moved professionally.

I know a layman would often seems stupid in professional eyes. A pianist probably would not compromise the finest quality to save a few bucks.

Renting is a good option. I have contacted some rental company. Renting a Yamaha U1 is $89 per month. Shipping and delivery is $135 each time.

If my son can learn and make good progress on playing piano, I will pay happily.

-NicMM

Submitted by sdrealtor on September 1, 2010 - 6:46pm.

We just rented one for my daughter and I think it was a lot cheaper. I think we got from some guy who buys and restores/tunes pianos. If you want to got he rental route PM me and I will get the information for you.

Submitted by mike92104 on September 1, 2010 - 7:13pm.

UCSD has a big piano sale every year.

Submitted by joec on September 1, 2010 - 7:18pm.

ybitz, do you have a quick link of some of those weighed key keyboards with full keys? I remember maybe 10 years ago checking a piano store out and seeing them and couldn't tell the difference from a regular piano. I think back then, it was like 2-3k or something though.

I definitely wouldn't mind having something like that around the house to screw around with (hated practicing, probably played for 5-7 years, but glad I learned since I can still read music) and would love to play again...

Submitted by TemekuT on September 1, 2010 - 9:54pm.

Quick comment here - although keyboards with full size, weighted keys are dramatically improved from years ago, there is a HUGE difference in the "action" between a keyboard and a console or upright piano, just as there is a HUGE difference between console or upright and a grand piano, just as there is a HUGE difference between a Yamaha or Kawai and what I affectionately refer to as the 3 B's = Bechstein, Bluthner, and Bosendorfer. Like everything else that can be purchased (think autos) the great divider is money, and you have recognizable quality differences for a more finely engineered piano (or car).

...restarted piano in 2006 after a 35 year hiatus...

...practiced excessively at times between 2006 and 2009...

Submitted by KIBU on September 1, 2010 - 10:28pm.

It's a good idea to buy your child a keyboard for the first couple years.

1000 dollars can get you a good keyboard that mimics the feel of piano keys. They are getting very good now with this, so the huge difference between the keys feel that used to be is now only a small difference.

The idea of getting the keyboard first has many advantages and you are not losing out on much, absolutely not the key feel as your child is beginning and won't be affected. Make sure to get a good keyboard though.

Submitted by NicMM on September 1, 2010 - 10:38pm.

I found some one local in the piano adapt website FLU sent. I contacted the owner and explained my situation, and only got the answer that:

The piano needs some work so I don't think it is very playable yet so probably wouldn't suit your needs.

I guess there is no free lunch there.

-NicMM

Submitted by NicMM on September 1, 2010 - 10:40pm.

mike92104 wrote:
UCSD has a big piano sale every year.

Mike,

Do you know about when this event happens each year?

-NicMM

Submitted by KIBU on September 1, 2010 - 11:12pm.

UCSD piano sale does not mean you go there for the pianos from UCSD.

They are transported from elsewhere with sales man from elsewhere and the price is nothing special.

Perhaps, you could find 1 piano from the school, hidden behind a curtain, if you ask. They will show you. Pianos from school to be sold are craps anyway since they are played a million times.

If you are going to buy a used piano, unless you know a lot about piano, my opinion is to get someone who is a pianist to go with you or just buy the brand new keyboard.

In order to get a pianist, just wave the next asian you see on the street!

Submitted by CBad on September 1, 2010 - 11:11pm.

Do any adults in the house play or plan on learning? If not, for a 5yo child, definitely rent or buy a decent full sized keyboard. You just have no idea if they are going to be playing in a few years. Decide later what to do when you have an idea of how serious they are about it.

I play and bought a used upright about 8-9 years ago after looking for over a year. I got a total steal. Like cars, I'm really not sure why you'd buy a brand new piano. My 3 kids all play now and I don't plan on ever upgrading to a baby grand/grand. Yes, I can tell the difference and grew up playing on a Baldwin grand (my mom plays as well and is a total piano snob) but there's just not enough of a difference that I can justify the $ and household space for it unless one of the kiddos got very serious about it (and I don't see that happening so far).

We have a keyboard as well which let me tell ya, that has the advantage of HEADPHONES my friend! Sometimes after hearing 3 sets of piano practice I send them to their room to go goof off on the keyboard instead for my own sanity.

Submitted by flyer on September 2, 2010 - 4:16am.

So great to read a thread about children taking piano lessons!

We raised our, now grown, children with music lessons of many types, and they still thank us for it.

We inherited two Steinway Grands when they were young, and our entire family has enjoyed playing them for years.

As many here have suggested, if you do not currently have a piano in your home, definitely rent one, and see how it goes. You will find many reasonable opportunities to buy in the future, if it seems appropriate.

Enjoy!

Submitted by NicMM on September 2, 2010 - 9:58am.

Not having anyone in the house playing piano is part of the problem. But I do have a relative who is a piano teacher in SD. In case of piano shopping, I guess I could borrow some of her time to verify a piano when we find one we like.

CBad, what kind of keyboard do you have? Do you recommend it?

-NicMM

CBad wrote:
Do any adults in the house play or plan on learning? If not, for a 5yo child, definitely rent or buy a decent full sized keyboard. You just have no idea if they are going to be playing in a few years. Decide later what to do when you have an idea of how serious they are about it.

I play and bought a used upright about 8-9 years ago after looking for over a year. I got a total steal. Like cars, I'm really not sure why you'd buy a brand new piano. My 3 kids all play now and I don't plan on ever upgrading to a baby grand/grand. Yes, I can tell the difference and grew up playing on a Baldwin grand (my mom plays as well and is a total piano snob) but there's just not enough of a difference that I can justify the $ and household space for it unless one of the kiddos got very serious about it (and I don't see that happening so far).

We have a keyboard as well which let me tell ya, that has the advantage of HEADPHONES my friend! Sometimes after hearing 3 sets of piano practice I send them to their room to go goof off on the keyboard instead for my own sanity.

Submitted by NicMM on September 2, 2010 - 10:02am.

Flyer,

What a fortune it is that you inherited two Steinway Grands! I encountered a 30 year old Steinway Upright (re-tuned and repaired by seller), it was still priced at several thousand dollars.

-NicMM

flyer wrote:
So great to read a thread about children taking piano lessons!

We raised our, now grown, children with music lessons of many types, and they still thank us for it.

We inherited two Steinway Grands when they were young, and our entire family has enjoyed playing them for years.

As many here have suggested, if you do not currently have a piano in your home, definitely rent one, and see how it goes. You will find many reasonable opportunities to buy in the future, if it seems appropriate.

Enjoy!

Submitted by briansd1 on September 2, 2010 - 10:02am.

Great thread. Good to know that there's musical talent around.

I wish I played the piano.

Submitted by UCGal on September 2, 2010 - 10:30am.

NicMM - can you hire your kid's piano instructor to inspect potential piano's? That's what we did. We sent her the craigslist ads - some she could look at the picture and reject outright based on something she saw. She came out with us when we bought the piano in Carmel Valley - she played it, made sure it was in good shape, well tuned, etc.

Submitted by CBad on September 2, 2010 - 10:50am.

NicMM wrote:
CBad, what kind of keyboard do you have? Do you recommend it?

It's a Yamaha YPG535 and yes I would recommend it. I inherited this from my brother (bought it for his daughter who ended up quitting). From my perspective it sounds great and has a pretty decent feel. The keys are semi weighted so it's not as much like an acoustic as the pricier keyboards with fully weighted keys. It has a ton of features that I never use but my kids like playing around with them. The one feature I like is recording songs. My kids are good at learning by ear so they like me to play and record a song to help them learn it. Since this was given to me, I didn't shop around and compare so I don't know if I would have bought this particular one or not. But for what you need it for it will do the job.

Submitted by TemekuT on September 2, 2010 - 10:56am.

briansd1 wrote:
Great thread. Good to know that there's musical talent around.

I wish I played the piano.

Never too late. My 50th birthday gift to myself was a grand piano and lessons.

Submitted by ybitz on September 2, 2010 - 2:45pm.

joec wrote:
ybitz, do you have a quick link of some of those weighed key keyboards with full keys? I remember maybe 10 years ago checking a piano store out and seeing them and couldn't tell the difference from a regular piano. I think back then, it was like 2-3k or something though.

I definitely wouldn't mind having something like that around the house to screw around with (hated practicing, probably played for 5-7 years, but glad I learned since I can still read music) and would love to play again...

I haven't done research into specific models. But just doing a quick search i think something like the Yamaha P80 would be pretty good.
http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-88-Key-Grad...
Disclaimer...I have not used this keyboard and can't vouch for it. Just listing it as an example.
You don't need a keyboard with lots of bell and whistles (for mimicking other instruments). Just a normal keyboard with good weighted keys would be sufficient to practice on.
I think weighted keys on modern keyboard have come a long ways. I can tell if a keyboard has good keys or not in seconds just by playing trills on it; any decent pianist should be able to do the same. Yes, there is a difference between keyboard and upright and grand piano, but the difference is small and will not affect the way you practice or your enjoyment. Weighted keys on keyboards are often better than cheap used upright's, in my opinion.

Submitted by sdrealtor on September 2, 2010 - 11:34pm.

NIc
Just sent you a PM with the scoop. Anyone looking to rent a piano reasonably here is the companies website. He's located in Encinitas.

www.pitchperfectpiano.com

Submitted by dbapig on September 3, 2010 - 1:38am.

You can always try craigslist. If you have just one child, yes maybe try renting. But if you have 2 or more, I think buying one (used or new) is fine as you have higher chance of someone actually spending time with the piano.

Lastly, I was told group piano lesson isn't really worth it... You really need one on one attention with something like piano. I wish I had a chance to learn piano when I was young.

Submitted by MANmom on September 3, 2010 - 7:01am.

I am a piano/guitar/voice teacher, he is still quite young. Most of my students quit when it gets hard, around year 2. Do you play? Buying a piano is a good investment if you enjoy it. I have a Yamaha G5, I only tune it every year to year and a half, and it gets a lot of play. Depending on where you live you can tune every year or so. More moisture in the air, the more it will go out of tune. Moving it will also affect the tuning, so "recently tuned" doesn't mean a whole lot. Most people can't really hear it when the piano is out of tune anyway. Have you tried Piano Warehouse in San Marcos? Last time I was there they had several good used pianos. The suggestion of renting a piano is also a good one, if he quits in a year or so, you are not bound to the instrument. But having one in the house even if he is has stopped lessons is a good thing. I have a son who loves to play piano but has never taken a lesson. He asks me how to play his favorite songs, I show him and he plays it. You can also look up how to play songs on Youtube, he has learned several from there. Also if your son ever wants to pick up guitar or another instrument, it is useful to have a keyboard or piano in the house to tune things with. I suggest you either rent for a while and keep looking. Times are tough right now, you might come across a great used Yamaha U that someone needs to get rid of...also, Encore Piano movers are the movers I use, I just moved to my new house with my G5 and it is perfect.

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