Apple Valley Guitar and Piano Academy





Piano Recommendations


Our experiences in purchasing pianos locally has been mixed. 

To maintain a posture of neutrality and eliminate any semblance of personal bias, we do not discuss any of these experiences--positive or negative--with our customers.

Furthermore, we do not wish to identify or comment on dealers we did not transact business with.

In conclusion, we no longer recommend a particular piano brand, model, or dealer, and do not provide any piano selection services. 


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.

Acoustic pianos also have damper pedals that allow many un-struck strings to vibrate along with those that are played with the fingers.  This produces a tremendous enhancement in the beauty of the piano's tone. In addition, the degree 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 with circuitry.   Furthermore, budget electronic keyboards usually don't allow for variable pedaling. This is not a problem until the student has reached an advanced level.


- 88 velocity-sensitive keys, which can be played repeatedly from soft to loud

- weighted (rather than "springy") keys

- an onboard damper pedal, not one attached with a cable
- an attached music stand so the student can easily see their music


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 required onboard damper pedal.

Regarding used electronic keyboards purchased from a private party, there is no warranty, no dealer service, and 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.


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.  Also, this claim usually refers to regulating volume. In contrast, precise control of rhythm or timing on a heavy action is often quite difficult, and frustrating for artistically talented students.


1. An Adjustable Bench


As children grow in height, the standard non-adjustable bench will eventually be too high.  Therefore, an adjustable bench is highly recommend.  In addition, try to find one that adjusts up to 24 inches or more.  This allows the smallest children to sit high enough to keep their elbows level with the tops of the keys--the standard recommendation in most piano methods.


2. Metronome


This is essential to keep a steady beat, and to calculate basic rhythms.  Our recommendation, which we use, is the Korg TM-50.  (This includes a guitar tuner, which you can use to determine when your piano has gone significantly flat and needs to be tuned.)


3. Humidity Control (for acoustic pianos)

In Minnesota, humidity within a home can fluctuate from around 20%-80% throughout the year.  Specifically, it can rise or fall by 10% or more in a very short timeframe.  This causes two major problems for acoustic pianos:

1. The soundboard (a large harp-shaped sheet of wood in a grand, and a rectangle in a vertical) absorbs or loses moisture accordingly. Given a humidity fluctuation 10% or more, the tension on the strings will change radically, thereby throwing the piano badly out of tune in matter of days. 

In particular, most "notes" or keys on the piano are linked to two or three strings tuned exactly alike as unisons. These will go out of tune first, and can sound twangy, metallic, or even buzzy.

2. The wooden parts of the piano that allow the hammers to strike the strings (called the action) also gain or lose moisture.  As a result, they swell or shrink continually throughout the year.  Eventually, the action will not work properly and will need very expensive repairs.  (The minimum fee for a piano technician to come to your home a fix a single key is now around $100.)

Therefore, it is essential that you consult with your piano technician for their advice on how to maintain safe humidity levels for your acoustic piano.

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