For budding pianists, access to an acoustic piano becomes increasingly crucial as they grow as musicians. Families often start with a digital keyboard/piano for their kids as they are usually smaller and more affordable. However, if your child starts to advance as a pianist and shows interest in continuing the instrument for a long time, you may want to consider getting an acoustic piano instead as it will affect their techniques in the future.

Unlike other instruments, acoustic pianos are often a big investment. New pianos can often cost more than $4000, depending on their origins and quality. Pianos are costly due to the amount of work and craftsmanship that goes into producing such amazing instruments that can often last for decades. However, despite the piano’s long lifespan, many people who own pianos often end up selling their instruments after only several years of playing. Hence, second-hand pianos are often excellent choices for lower cost pianos.

At Presto Studios, we collaborate with second-hand piano retailers so that we can offer quality selections for any of our students who need them. Here are some things to look out for while you are selecting your very own second-hand piano:

  1. Brand of the pianoDepending on the brand of the piano, you will be able to access if the instrument was made by a reputable and quality manufacturer. In Singapore, common reputable brands that you might see will include Yamaha, Kawai and Steinways and Sons, just to name a few. While there are other brands that you may encounter, it is always good to do some research about the manufacturer’s reputation.

    Furthermore, as different brands have different feels and characteristics, you may also want to consider the tones of different models from different brands. (This may include things like whether the piano sounds bright, resounding, warm or softer, etc) Simply put, you should like the way the instrument sounds.

    At Presto Studios, we have screened through and collaborated with second-hand piano retailers that offer these quality acoustic pianos. These retailers mainly offer Yamaha and Kawai pianos that not only offer good quality, but also good resale value. Through this service, parents who go through us will also be offered an additional 3% discount on top of the price offered at the shop.

  2. Age of PianoDepending on the brand and manufacturer, a piano’s lifespan can vary from 20 to 100 years. For some of the finest pianos, they can perform well even after 70 years. However, for most of the mass-produced pianos that we will more likely encounter, they can still last for 50-65 years.

    Of course, while the condition of the piano will still be subject to the care that it had in its use, the overall age can still be a good determinant of how the natural elements (humidity, temperature, etc) may have impacted the instrument.

    As price depreciation also comes into play, older pianos will also fetch more affordable prices. Hence, price will affect several factors in your purchase.

  3. Listen for sonoric issuesWhile you are viewing a piano, it is important to listen for auditory abnormalities. If the piano is slightly out of tune, that is usually not a cause for concern as it can be solved by hiring a piano tuner. However, if a note is severely out of tune (sounding very off in comparison to the notes around it, or sounding two notes at once), then this could raise some concerns. Additionally, buzzing or rattling noises would also signal a potential bigger issue in the instrument.
  4. Inspect for physical issuesWith normal wear and tear, it’s possible that the piano may have certain blemishes, like mild scratches. However, there are often other details that buyers should pay attention to:
      • Keyboard and PedalsAll the notes of the keyboard should be played to check for normal action (the key must able to return when depressed) and all pedals should be tested to ensure their working condition
      • StringsYou should check if there are any missing, broken or rusty strings. While strings can sometimes be replaced, they can end up going out of tune more easily and result in a tone that does not match the other strings.
      • Hammer FeltYou should look for deep grooves on the felt. If it has been heavily worn out, there will eventually be little felt to work with and this is an element that can’t be easily replaced
      • FrameYou should check that the frame is intact and looking stable. As the piano strings are supported by this metal frame, it must be able to continue withstanding the tension of the strings. If you notice cracks in the frame, do not purchase the instrument
      • SoundboardYou should check for any cracks in the soundboard. Climate fluctuations can often negatively impact the soundboard. Especially due to the hot and humid climate in Singapore, it makes the soundboard more susceptible to cracking. Hence, this should be inspected and avoided.Second-hand pianos are excellent choices to provide your child a new instrument that will propel themselves forward in their piano learning and also a great opportunity to provide a new life for a once-loved instrument. It is also an excellent selection for a more affordable investment.