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First piano frustrations
#1230913 07/13/09 12:32 PM
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I've been wanting to take a piano for a little while now...Small problem: it's expensive. Of course I wait until I'm in college to want to do this...

Anyway, I was planning on getting a cheap digital, like one of the Casio Privias, until I starting reading the forums on this site, and learned the rather unfortunate views people have on them in regards to learning how to play a piano.

So, looking at uprights now. Pretty much maxing out at $800. That's probably a little over budget actually, considering all the lovely fees that come along with a piano purchase...

$800 obviously means searching craigslist and hoping that I get lucky. Easy, right? Not so much. I don't even know where to start. I can click on the link and decide whether it looks pretty or not, and that's about it.

Are there any opinions regarding what brands are pretty much guaranteed to be bad/good? For example, I keep hearing to stay away from spinets (no idea why), or should a piano be within a certain age limit?

I'm trying to find a process of elimination here, as I can't afford to drag around a piano tech to try out 10 different instruments.

Thanks everyone.

Oh, and P.S. Living at home while in college. I'm pretty sure my college doesn't have pianos to practice on.

Last edited by Daniel M; 07/13/09 12:33 PM.

"Love is not about what you want. It's about finding happiness for the one you love."
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Re: First piano frustrations
Daniel M #1230922 07/13/09 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel M
I've been wanting to take a piano for a little while now...Small problem: it's expensive. Of course I wait until I'm in college to want to do this...

Anyway, I was planning on getting a cheap digital, like one of the Casio Privias, until I starting reading the forums on this site, and learned the rather unfortunate views people have on them in regards to learning how to play a piano.

So, looking at uprights now. Pretty much maxing out at $800. That's probably a little over budget actually, considering all the lovely fees that come along with a piano purchase...

$800 obviously means searching craigslist and hoping that I get lucky. Easy, right? Not so much. I don't even know where to start. I can click on the link and decide whether it looks pretty or not, and that's about it.

Are there any opinions regarding what brands are pretty much guaranteed to be bad/good? For example, I keep hearing to stay away from spinets (no idea why), or should a piano be within a certain age limit?

I'm trying to find a process of elimination here, as I can't afford to drag around a piano tech to try out 10 different instruments.

Thanks everyone.

Oh, and P.S. Living at home while in college. I'm pretty sure my college doesn't have pianos to practice on.


Go and post this on the Digital Keyboard and Synth forum. You'll get lots of good advice on inexpensive but good Casio/Yamaha/Korg keyboards that are also very portable and can be played with headphones. You can get a 88 key Yamaha or Casio with weighted and graded keys and a really good piano sound for $500-800. I just bought the Yamaha YPG 635 for $739, including headphones, a sustain pedal, the stand, and a free bench from an online seller. The Casio 320 and 120 which sound very good go for $600 or less.

You posted on a forum with a lot of classical players.

By the way, if you check the Music Department at the college where you are enrolled, most likely they offer beginning class piano classes for non-music majors, and if you are enrolled in a music class, they will give you a key to a music piano practice room. I can't imagine any college that doesn't have pianos, but you can practice them unless you are taking a music class.


Re: First piano frustrations
Nikalette #1230923 07/13/09 12:48 PM
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http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...al%20Pianos%20-%20Synths%20&%20.html


Here's the link for you.

If you are going to learn classical piano, eventually you'll want to practice on a good upright or in the upper levels a grand, but I'm an upper intermediate player and I just sent back a vintage grand piano due to "work needed" and decided on a digital for the time being.

Last edited by Nikalette; 07/13/09 12:49 PM.
Re: First piano frustrations
Daniel M #1230927 07/13/09 12:51 PM
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Hi, Daniel,

I have just purchased a piano myself, and know what it's like looking at the Craigslist pianos. Here are my two cents:

--If you are just starting out and plan to buy a better piano some day, when you can afford it, you might not worry about the spinet aspect too much. People recommend not buying spinets because they are not as good as uprights in the sound department, and the way they are built makes it hard to rebuild. But I grew up with a spinet that was surprisingly good. I didn't play, but I wanted to, based on that instrument. If you see a spinet that seems OK, don't strike it off the list just because it's a spinet.

--The newer the piano, the more likely it will have life in it. Spinets die after 40-50 years; other pianos can be rebuilt after that, but not spinets. So don't buy an old spinet.

--Pianos I've seen on Craigslist generally are owned by people who know nothing about pianos. Many people don't know that they need tuning, or they think "well-maintained" means that it was tuned in 2007.

--Don't hire a technician until you have found a piano you are seriously considering buying. You should not be in a position to want 10 pianos checked out.

--Don't be "pretty certain" that your college won't have pianos to practice on. Check it out. And if they do have some to practice on, be sure it is in tune.

--At $800, brand may be less of an issue. And on Craigslist, you may notice that a lot of ads don't even list the brand. You can ask. But at this point I recommend you just play them a little.

--If you don't play piano at all, take a friend who does play. That will be a huge help.

Are you studying on your own, or do you have a teacher? I understand that teachers often will help a student find an instrument.

ETA: Baldwin Acrosonics are among the best spinets ever made, according to a lot of people. You might try to find one of them; $800 is possible.

Last edited by ArpeggioPaola; 07/13/09 12:53 PM.
Re: First piano frustrations
Nikalette #1230936 07/13/09 01:05 PM
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I'm not sure what you have read that is putting you off of digital pianos, but if you are new to the piano, I think you'll find that a digital is just fine. If you're prepping for a conservatory exam, then a quality acoustic is a must, but if you're learning for your own enjoyment, the digital should do you well for at least the first two years. If you're ever going to play in a band, then most likely you'll need a digital anyway, most of the places you'll play won't have an acoustic.

There are a couple of practical advantages of a digital as well. You can turn the volume down or play through headphones, which is particularly nice when you are repeating a single passage a number of times. You can play at odd hours of the day or night without disturbing anyone, and if you buy a stage piano, you can take it to other locations.

For $800, you are limiting yourself to an older, smallish console or spinet, or an ancient upright. You'll need to have it inspected by a technician and, most likely, professionally moved. It will need to be tuned a couple of times during the first year, then once or twice a year after that.

If I were in your situation, I'd get a "stage" (portable) piano now and use it to learn to play. Then, when you are in a place where you'll be living for at least a few years, you can consider finding yourself a nice upright.


Piano self teaching on and off from 2002-2008. Took piano instruction from Nov 2008- Feb 2011. Took guitar instruction Feb 2011-Jul 2013. Can't play either. Living, breathing proof some people aren't cut out to make music.
Re: First piano frustrations
Daniel M #1230939 07/13/09 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel M

Anyway, I was planning on getting a cheap digital, like one of the Casio Privias, until I starting reading the forums on this site, and learned the rather unfortunate views people have on them in regards to learning how to play a piano.


Welcome to the forum, Daniel. smile

I think you need to take those "unfortunate views" with a grain of salt. I personally think that for people in your circumstances (college student, under <$1K budget, mobile, irregular hours, shared living situation), a digital piano is the much better choice. The Privias are nice digitals and will serve you well for many years. And even if you're living at home now, you may choose to move out in a year or two--and even if not, if you're a typical college student you'll probably be up late at night, when being able to play with headphones will be a major plus.

Keep in mind that even if you can find a decent upright for $800, you need to budget money for moving the piano and having it tuned, ideally twice a year.

In short, if I were you, I'd take another close look at the digitals. They won't be confused for a nice grand, but they'll do the job... and in many cases they'll be better than the low-end acoustics you can find on Craigslist.

Re: First piano frustrations
Monica K. #1230989 07/13/09 03:05 PM
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"Welcome to the forum, Daniel. :)"

Thanks! Odd, I figured out the quote function before, and now I mess it up. Ah well.

Thank you to everyone for your advice.

I was almost at the point at where I was going to buy a PX 120...I found a deal online where I can get it, a three pedal stand, a bench, headphones, and a dust cover for $800. Then, as I have no life, I spent an unhealthy amount of time perusing the piano teacher forums (going through like 50 pages of topics LOL, what can I say, they're interesting) and found that many people considered DPs to limit how quickly a student progresses, and also many comments that they are acceptable for maybe 6 months. $800 for 6 months of lessons is not worth it IMO.

However if one of them can last me for two years before I had to upgrade to an acoustic, then that would be fantastic. All done with school then =-).

I will definitely reconsider looking into digitals...Besides, I'm clueless as to what to look for in an acoustic. I can look at a picture and decide if it's pretty...and that's about it XD.

Oh, and while I would like to become proficient playing a piano (I know, that's very subjective), I'm just planning on playing for me and friends/family occasionally.

Last edited by Daniel M; 07/13/09 03:07 PM.

"Love is not about what you want. It's about finding happiness for the one you love."
Re: First piano frustrations
Daniel M #1230998 07/13/09 03:35 PM
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Daniel,

On a purely practical level the digital piano is great choice simply because of its portability and its size. We simply don't have space in our house for an acoustic piano and I've been able to carve out a little corner for the piano. As a college student, you may move out on your own, and you can actually take the piano with you rather than leaving it because it's too heavy.

What you might want to do is go to a piano store and try out the digital pianos. You'll find that the weighted keys feel very much like the keys of an acoustic piano. That's what I did and I was really impressed (I have a Yamaha). The other benefit that really attracted me is that it's always in tune plus I can practice with headphones which helps me block out all the sports stations of my husband.

A digital piano will take you as far as you want to go. When you know that you're going to play for a lifetime, you're ready to make the investment for a really good acoustic piano.

Re: First piano frustrations
Susan K. #1231087 07/13/09 06:46 PM
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"As a college student, you may move out on your own, and you can actually take the piano with you rather than leaving it because it's too heavy."

This is the only reason I can think of to have a digital piano. We bought a high end "weighted key" Casio to begin learning piano and in very short order decided that we had to have a real piano. After delivery of our beautiful Knabe upright the digital was donated to the local library. Neither of us had any interest in ever playing it again and it was just taking up space.


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Re: First piano frustrations
jshelton #1231149 07/13/09 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by jshelton
"As a college student, you may move out on your own, and you can actually take the piano with you rather than leaving it because it's too heavy."

This is the only reason I can think of to have a digital piano. We bought a high end "weighted key" Casio to begin learning piano and in very short order decided that we had to have a real piano. After delivery of our beautiful Knabe upright the digital was donated to the local library. Neither of us had any interest in ever playing it again and it was just taking up space.


Cost is another reason, as is if you are a gigging musician, or for that matter, wanting to take the piano to Grandma's house for some holiday music. Plus, there's that aspect of being able to turn the volume down. If you can afford a nice quality acoustic and the (fairly limited) maintenance needed to keep it up, there's no substitute. If that's not the case, get a digital and don't look back.


Piano self teaching on and off from 2002-2008. Took piano instruction from Nov 2008- Feb 2011. Took guitar instruction Feb 2011-Jul 2013. Can't play either. Living, breathing proof some people aren't cut out to make music.
Re: First piano frustrations
FormerFF #1231177 07/13/09 10:19 PM
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Daniel, a decent digital will, IMO, be your best buy. No maintenance, totally portable, you can play with headphones, resaleable for a decent price. If you get a touch-sensitive weighted key unit you will be fine for quite some time to come. Yamaha Clavinovas are very nice and can be had sometimes around that price used.


Michael

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He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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