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Acoustic Piano Quick Buying Guide
We are proud of the superb range of acoustic pianos we stock, these are carefully selected by us to represent both quality and value. Our shop has been here for over a hundred years and we have great faith in the quality of the instruments we sell and the service we provide.
We have four spacious rooms containing grand pianos and upright pianos by Bechstein, Hoffmann, Zimmermann, Yamaha and Kawai. Increasingly popular are ‘silent pianos’. These allow you to play an acoustic piano but the only sound heard is through headphones. We have a number of these from different manufacturers on show to audition alongside the traditional acoustics.
Which one do I buy?
Try for yourself. This is very important. What does it feel like? How does it sound to you? Compare it to others. People often compare new pianos with older instruments. It’s worth remembering that it’s not always love at first sight (or sound!). Often if the instrument feels and sounds different, usually better, to what we are used to it can take a while to fall in love, but it will be a deep, long-lasting love for a piano you will surely keep for decades.
Don’t be shy!
We are used to hearing musicians at all kinds of levels here so play away. Even beginners and non-players can tell the difference between the different instruments we have available.
They all sound different
There are lots of aspects of a piano that influence its sound; there are thousands of individual parts that have a bearing on this. Firstly, the physical size of the instrument is important. Broadly speaking, the bigger the piano - the richer the tone. This is due to the resonances produced by a larger cabinet and the longer strings that are used.
Uprights generally range from a height of 108cm to 134cm. Grand pianos range from 150cm to 275cm in length.
Secondly, the soundboard is a crucial element of the instrument; it is often referred to as the heart of the piano. This is the large piece of wood that transforms the vibrations of the strings, via the bridge, into the rich tone we all know and love. Spruce is nearly always used for the soundboard. Some pianos use solid spruce, others use laminated soundboards. There have been many opinions (often stated as fact) over the years that laminated soundboards are, by definition, inferior to solid ones. This really is an over-simplification and in fact there are some advantages of a piano having a laminated soundboard.
As always, the important consideration is what the instrument sounds like to you. There are so many other things that influence the sound: hammers, felts, bridges, back-posts, tone-collectors and more besides. It’s easy to get bogged down in making comparisons on paper but we cannot stress enough that the best way to decide what suits you is to touch and listen.
Playing the piano is a physical activity and how it feels to play is your physical connection to making music. Again, the important thing here is to try for yourself. Manufacturers strive to make pianos that are very responsive. This may well be in contrast to pianos you’ve played before that may have needed to be ‘hammered’. Try out dynamic contrasts – try playing loudly, but it’s also important to experience how much control you feel you have when playing delicately. How responsive is a piano to fast repetition? How does the response at the front of the keys compare to the response at the back? Some use ABS-carbon for the moving parts; this has an impact on the response when playing. How do the keys feel to the touch? Ivory is no longer used but most pianos use a semi-porous material on the keys to absorb moisture and oils from the skin, so giving a firm and satisfying grip on the keys when playing.
A piano is an object that we’re sure will take pride of place in your home, so what it looks like is important. You might have aesthetic reasons for wanting a small upright piano or you might think a large grand would look better in the space you have. Will you want to move your piano often? Some pianos have casters and some don’t. Are you wanting to play long pieces of music with the pages stretched out in front of you? Some pianos have wide music racks whilst others don’t. Have you got children who might get their fingers trapped in the lid? Then you might benefit from a piano with a soft-fall closing system on the lid; this allows the lid to gently glide rather than slam shut. What about other little details? Manufacturers offer a choice of chrome fittings instead of brass on selected models. Does the piano look sleek and modern or does it have a more classic look? Whichever instrument you choose, one thing is certain, a piano will undoubtedly add style and elegance to your home.
Are they all black?
We hear this comment a lot! Most of the time all the pianos we have on display are a polished ebony finish and they look stunning. This is a luxurious finish that will not only match, but also reflect the furniture in your room. It is a classic look that will never date. However, a variety of other finishes are available to order if you so wish, usually costing slightly more.
We sell a lot of pianos! We can’t stock every model from every manufacturer, but over the years we’ve become skilled at selecting which pianos represent good quality and good value. We have a fine selection to choose from. Now there was a time when every household in the land had a piano. This led to an increase in the number of piano manufacturers and the number being produced. Some were excellent but many were just produced at speed to meet high demand so quality was often compromised. Many older pianos are now reaching the end of their lifespan. Nowadays there are less piano manufacturers around the world but technological improvements mean they are making very high quality instruments using materials that will last a lifetime and provide a reliable playing experience day after day, year after year. Pay a visit to our showrooms and see our fantastic range for yourself.