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Thinking of buying a piano – where to start? (Updated Aug 2019)

Congratulations on your decision to buy a piano! Investing in a piano can be one of the most pleasurable and rewarding things you can do. It can however be difficult to decide how to go about the purchase process given that it's such an infrequent event. Who should you consult? What should you consider when making your decision? Luckily, we have lots of experience advising customers through the process and can help you arrive at the right decision. We value being part of your musical journey, making sure you have the right instrument as you progress in your piano playing. We love nothing more than customers returning their pianos as and when they need to upgrade to match their increased level of skill and musical expectations.

Typically our customers fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Parents purchasing a piano for their children

  2. Adults who may have played the piano in their younger days and who have decided to start playing again

  3. Professional musicians and music teachers

  4. Active amateur pianists needing to upgrade or downgrade their piano

  5. Institutions - schools, universities and music schools

  6. Music venues and hotels

  7. Buyers looking for a piano as a decor item

Our job is made a lot easier if you have a definite idea about the type of piano you want or need. You will however be in the minority as most people tend to decide through a process of discussion and experimentation. Understanding what factors matter to you is as essential part of the process. We focus on the the following questions to get a sense of where to direct you:

1) Who is going to play the piano?

  • Are you buying the piano for a child beginner pianist?

  • What level of player are they?

  • What sort of repertoire do they intend to play?

  • How important is the musical quality of the piano you buy?

2) Have you considered a digital piano or are you focused on acoustic?

  • How important are non-traditional piano features like recording and having access to different instrument voices?

  • Will the piano be played late at night or in close proximity to neighbours or unimpressed family members?

3) What size of piano are you considering?

  • Do you have space constraints?

4) What is your view on pre-owned vs new pianos?

5) Do you have a particular style of acoustic piano in mind?

  • Grand piano vs upright piano?

  • Classic design vs modern design?

  • Colour and finish of the piano.

6) Do you have particular brands in mind and if so why?

7) Have you considered renting a piano? What are the pros and cons.

9) What is your budget?

After discussing these points, we should have answers to the big questions; acoustic or digital, new or pre-owned, grand or upright (if you're leaning towards an acoustic piano). We should also have a sense of how you prioritize cost, musicality and looks and can then advise further.

As mentioned above deciding between an acoustic, digital or hybrid piano is usually the first big decision. The following articles are useful resources to help make this decision:

There is a lot of information available on the internet but much of it is difficult to digest and contradictory. We would advise visiting a piano showroom, hopefully Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos, to discuss the points listed above. Once you’ve done so, we can then help identify pianos that adequately matches your unique requirements.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article, please give us a call on 021 788 9389 in Cape Town and 011 234 7555 in Johannesburg. For any other enquiries please email Kim


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