Apple Valley Guitar and Piano Academy
Piano Buying Guide
PIANO BRANDS, MODELS AND DEALERS
To maintain a neutrality and eliminate any semblance of personal bias, we do not endorse or criticize any piano brand, model or dealer.
KEYBOARD INSTRUMENT TYPES
There are two of keyboard instruments used for piano lessons/study: ACOUSTIC and ELECTRONIC.
There are also two types of acoustic pianos: vertical and grand. Both produce sound with hammers that strike metal strings, causing a wooden soundboard to vibrate.
The soundboard of a vertical piano is perpendicular to the floor; grand piano soundboards are horizontal, which is an acoustically superior configuration. Thus, grand pianos are preferred over verticals in all conceivable performance or recording applications unless limited space is a factor.
Acoustic pianos also have a damper pedal that allows many un-struck strings to vibrate along with notes played with the fingers. This produces a considerable enhancement in the beauty of the piano's tone. In addition, the amount or intensity of this effect can be altered by how far the pedal is pressed downward (variable pedaling).
Electronic keyboards, sometimes called "digital pianos", produce sound by playing recordings or synthesized notes through speakers as each key is pressed. Since they have no strings, the damper pedal effect is simulated to a disappointing extent with circuitry.
Furthermore, budget electronic keyboards usually don't allow for variable pedaling. This is not a problem until the student has reached an intermediate level. At that point, however, lack of variable pedaling capability will be a significant impediment to their artistic development.
IF YOU BUY AN ELECTRONIC KEYBOARD, IT SHOULD HAVE:
1. 88 keys
2. Keys that be played repeatedly from soft to loud (velocity sensitive keys)
3. Weighted (rather than "springy") keys
4. A damper
pedal. Those built into the piano console are greatly preferred
because the reside in the same stable position as those on acoustic pianos.
Pedals attached with cables to the keyboard are acceptable, but easily move
around the floor, causing problems with pedaling technique.
5. An attached music stand so the student can easily see their music
IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: After the first year of lessons, we will no longer teach a student who has an electronic keyboard without features 1-4 above.
Electronic keyboards with a "console" configuration (legs or vertical supports attached directly to the keyboard) are preferred over those that sit on a separate stand. In particular, the latter are easy to knock over, and can cause injury to others in the vicinity. Also, consoles are typically the only type that have the preferred onboard damper pedal.
USED electronic keyboards purchased from a private party
Be advised that there is no warranty or dealer service available for these instruments.
In terms of features and performance, they are usually significantly out-of-date.
Also, electronic keyboards can fail abruptly, or give no indication before purchase that a defect is developing. Non-warranty repairs may exceed the cost of the used instrument itself.
As a result, we don't evaluate used electronic keyboards for customers, or correspond with sellers of these instruments on various websites.
PIANO ACTION "WEIGHT"
No matter what type of piano you buy, avoid one whose keys are heavy or difficult to press. A child whose family who recently ignored this advice now has chronic pain in their right arm.
The claim that heavy keys improve "control" is irrelevant if you can't play due to injuries or chronic discomfort. Also, this control claim usually refers to regulating volume/tone. In contrast, precise control of rhythm or timing on a heavy action is often quite difficult.
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