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Joined: Dec 2021
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Hey

My son wanna start playing the piano, and that's why I need your advice. What to get? Where to get it? And what prices should I expect

P.S. I'm from the US

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It's probably easier to start with a decent digital instrument, and change to some form of acoustic in the future if your son remains keen on playing. There may be lots of old acoustic pianos out there at giveaway prices, but often with those you get what you pay for. I can't comment on models and prices as I'm not from the US.
I did help my sister buy a cheap 100YO upright piano last year, but we didn't expect miracles and we did have to reject most candidates because they were too worn out. She wanted the piano partly for singing practice and partly as furniture, meaning that a digital instrument wasn't suitable.

Last edited by Ben_NZ; 12/19/21 05:25 AM.

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I would look around for a decent used studio upright, made in the past 50 years, about 45" high, and a good technician to take care of it. You can often find Baldwin Hamiltons or Everetts, and a few other brands on Craigslist for very little, so if you decide later that you want a better piano, you can trade up at very little expense.


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As always, a lot depends on your budget and where it will go in the house. Any details possible for that?

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Considering that your son has never played the piano before (right?) and you don't know if he's going to want to continue or not, I recommend a good digital piano. There's no maintenance required, if you decide to sell it, it should be easy to do so. Also, your son can use headphones etc. Also, you didn't ask this, but plan to get piano lessons for him as well.

So what counts as a good digital piano? 88 keys, fully weighted, grand action. The piano should ideally come with a stand, bench and possibly headphones.

For best success, make a dedicated space for it, so that once it's set up, it stays set up and ready to play.

You will need at minimum $1000 probably, closer to $2000 and you'll have more options.

If you want to get an acoustic piano, be aware that you need to budget for tunings (preferably twice a year), also moving it is more expensive and thus if you decide later you want to sell it, it's a little more complicated.

For an acoustic piano, you don't need to buy a new instrument, but you really do get what you pay for, and a "too good to be true" price usually is for a piano that will come with problems.

You don't need a top of the line model (in digital or acoustic) but an instrument that sounds and feels good is more motivating for beginners.

BTW how old is your son?


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One against the digital route.

The action is never as good as an acoustic; personally I found they are more prone to injuring the hand.

Sound wise even the best ones are a very a poor approximation of an acoustic. I've been playing both for many years and I never developed the relationship with a digital as I have with my simple Yamaha U1. That's my suggestion for you, a gently used Yamaha U1 or U3, look at spending anywhere between 5 and 8 K.

The only reason for going the digital route is silent practice if you have that need.

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Originally Posted by Sczerko
Hey

My son wanna start playing the piano, and that's why I need your advice. What to get? Where to get it? And what prices should I expect

P.S. I'm from the US

Is your son serious about this? Have you already found a piano teacher? Do you *really* want a traditional acoustic piano instead of a digital one? If all of these then do go ahead and find one as per the suggestions already given, however I suggest shopping with the mind set that you are intending to buy a decent workable piano that you will upgrade after a few years. That is not only because budget tends to increase along with time and commitment but, even if you have an unlimited budget now, you cannot pick a long term piano because your son will need time to distinguish the touch and feel of different models so as to know which piano he really wants.

If you can't answer positively to those questions above I suggest being really cautious and getting a cheap(ish) 88 key weighted keyboard that will be more than good enough to learn on and also valuable for silent practice and holiday use even after you perhaps subsequently purchase a 'real' piano. Models such as the Casio CDP-S350 or perhaps better Yamaha P1xx models should be perfectly adequate to start with and should be available at around the $500 range (you can spend a lot more on a digital piano but I wouldn't myself, not until/unless I had decided that I actually wanted a really good digital instead of an acoustic).

Last edited by gwing; 12/20/21 07:31 AM.
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a decent upright is the way to go in the beginning

maybe check out a dealer who has some trade-in uprights

another possibility would be a RENTAL Upright with an option to Purchase?

let us know what area of the US you are from and many members can recommend reputable dealers in your area.

How Old is your Son?
What is your Budget?

brdwyguy

Last edited by brdwyguy; 12/20/21 07:32 AM.

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Originally Posted by gwing
Is your son serious about this?

I find this to be an unfair question. What will a kid know about his passions at this early age? don't put too much weight on him. Just give him the chance , maybe he'll develop a true passion or to put it better find the true passion within himself and maybe not. Still it'll be part of his growing up.

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Originally Posted by marklings
One against the digital route.

The action is never as good as an acoustic; personally I found they are more prone to injuring the hand.

I would modify this statement. The better digital pianos, like the Clavinova line, are far better and more consistent actions than just about any 35 to 40 year old Baldwin Hamilton or Everett available privately (2 brands mentioned by BDB). Yes, the actions in these older pianos can be worked on and they can be tuned and improved at an expense, but an easy solution that requires no remedial work and can be traded up to a better action later is a positive step IMHO. It will likely be cheaper in the long run as well.

This does not mean that I disapprove of an acoustic piano for a beginner. But if the OP goes that route, he should be prepared for spending additional funds getting the action regulated, the piano tuned, and hoping that there is no other issue that will increase his initial investment, like a few loose tuning pins, damper issues, action bushing issues, etc., etc. Problems like these happen with older pianos.

The alternative is for the OP to go to a dealer who spends time reconditioning acoustic pianos and gives a warranty. Then the dad and child can compare the options and choose what works best for them.

My 2 cents,


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Originally Posted by marklings
One against the digital route.

The action is never as good as an acoustic; personally I found they are more prone to injuring the hand.

Sound wise even the best ones are a very a poor approximation of an acoustic. I've been playing both for many years and I never developed the relationship with a digital as I have with my simple Yamaha U1. That's my suggestion for you, a gently used Yamaha U1 or U3, look at spending anywhere between 5 and 8 K.

The only reason for going the digital route is silent practice if you have that need.

My 2 c.
I can't agree with much of the above. The action on a good digital will generally be better than on an old upright. The sound on the best digitals are almost indistinguishable from an excellent new piano and far better than many old inexpensive acoustics. There is no evidence that that digitals are more prone to injuring the hand.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
There is no evidence that that digitals are more prone to injuring the hand.

Actually, if we go back a couple of decades we will see rudimentary actions that were spring loaded, had no feel of escapement, and had a "hard stop" at the bottom of the key when attacking a note. They were less like an acoustic piano feel then.

To be clear, these characteristics should not cause injury, but if a player was used to pounding the snot out of an acoustic action and did not change that manner of play on a digital of the time, I could see where there might be an issue. But they would have to play for a very long time on that digital that way for any negative issues. However, I can't fault the action for that. To be clear, the better digital pianos on the market (my personal preference would be the Clavinova) have no such issues today.

As an example of players using them today, our own Joseph Fleetwood owns a Yamaha digital piano for practice. (I hope that was ok to say, Joe) Colleges and Universities buy Clavinovas and Avantgrand Hybrids in increasing numbers all the time.

I am happy to hear other viewpoints.


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Sczerko

You just got expert advice from one of the very best in the country.
Rich G. (the member who just commented above) at Cunningham Piano Co in Philadelphia PA

Advice: maybe call and talk to him directly with your needs/concerns/etc

Many members on here will agree with me on this - he is extremely reliable & trustworthy

brdwyguy


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
There is no evidence that that digitals are more prone to injuring the hand.

But on the other hand this would be very difficult to prove, because it would involve long-term studies involving twins, or involving huge groups of people huge studies with matched controls etc. No one does such studies. Such evidence does not exists, but then again, no one looked, as far as I am aware.

There is certainly some anecdotal evidence that IMO should be a consideration to people who are more likely to sustain injury (older beginners, or family history of (osteo)arthritis). Several contributors on this forum have reported to suffer problems when using a digital action, which disappeared when they switched to an acoustic. This could be just coincidental, but I haven't seen any spontaneous reports of the opposite yet.

A mechanistic explanation for this could be the lack of escapement on a digital (at least real escapement, some have fake escapement which may make things even worse). This could lead to a relative higher weight when holding keys down, or to the full mass of the key rebounding into your fingers when hitting the key bed, or both.

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Originally Posted by pianogabe
[quote=pianoloverus]
A mechanistic explanation for this could be the lack of escapement on a digital (at least real escapement, some have fake escapement which may make things even worse). This could lead to a relative higher weight when holding keys down, or to the full mass of the key rebounding into your fingers when hitting the key bed, or both.

I bet also for this. On acoustic after hitting the key, you need much less force to hold they key, while on digital the whole mass is always against your finger. Escapement feature on digital action works as a road bumper - just an obstacle to fell that it is.

Another thing is - people usually learn to play on digital, so thier technique may not be there to properly withstand the sort-of diffuculties of action in DP.

But Yes I agree that middle class digital is just better instrument than worn our cheap acoustic. That thinking may have been valid 15 or even 10 years ago, and is definitely valid for cheap digital. BUT good digital cost like CA99 CLP785 the same as slightly used good acoustic like Kawai K-2, K-3 or similar

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
Sczerko

You just got expert advice from one of the very best in the country.
Rich G. (the member who just commented above) at Cunningham Piano Co in Philadelphia PA

Advice: maybe call and talk to him directly with your needs/concerns/etc

Many members on here will agree with me on this - he is extremely reliable & trustworthy

brdwyguy

Sadly, the OP has not returned to this thread to answer any questions. There doesn’t appear to be continued interest.


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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
To be clear, the better digital pianos on the market (my personal preference would be the Clavinova) have no such issues today.

I am happy to hear other viewpoints.

Should have included you in my post above, but saw it too late. In any case, the digital piano I had problems with was very new and recent, a Kawai CA58. Almost 100% sure it was the piano (and I say 'almost' because I am a scientist, so 100% sure doesn't exist, but I am as sure as I can be). If I stopped playing for a few days, problems (joint inflammation) would go away, if I started playing again they would come back. Have tried this over the course of half a year. Tried this many times, because I couldn't believe it myself (I guess I also didn't want to believe it). Problems have been confirmed by X-ray of hand and radiologist: reduction of cartilage in DIP joints (which is permanent, doesn't grow back). I almost stopped playing piano, if it weren't for a forum member here who suggested that an acoustic might be better (although heavy acoustics are also a no-go for me).

So it is just an example, but my digital was modern and not the cheapest. This is only 1.5 years ago.

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Originally Posted by pianogabe
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
There is no evidence that that digitals are more prone to injuring the hand.

But on the other hand this would be very difficult to prove, because it would involve long-term studies involving twins, or involving huge groups of people huge studies with matched controls etc. No one does such studies. Such evidence does not exists, but then again, no one looked, as far as I am aware.

There is certainly some anecdotal evidence that IMO should be a consideration to people who are more likely to sustain injury (older beginners, or family history of (osteo)arthritis). Several contributors on this forum have reported to suffer problems when using a digital action, which disappeared when they switched to an acoustic. This could be just coincidental, but I haven't seen any spontaneous reports of the opposite yet.

A mechanistic explanation for this could be the lack of escapement on a digital (at least real escapement, some have fake escapement which may make things even worse). This could lead to a relative higher weight when holding keys down, or to the full mass of the key rebounding into your fingers when hitting the key bed, or both.
I think the evidence that reasonably new digitals don't cause injury is the simple fact that this issue virtually never comes up. I think digitals are the most popular keyboard in today's market, so if injury was a problem, this would be extremely well documented. A poster mentioned that there were a few PW posts where the poster indicated a problem with digitals but my guess is the number of those posts is miniscule.

In fair minded articles giving the pros and cons of acoustics and digitals, I have never seen the slightest mention of digitals causing injury. I personally played on ancient digitals(much worse than the new ones) a lot as a musical accompanist and had no problem.

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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Considering that your son has never played the piano before (right?) and you don't know if he's going to want to continue or not, I recommend a good digital piano. There's no maintenance required, if you decide to sell it, it should be easy to do so. Also, your son can use headphones etc. Also, you didn't ask this, but plan to get piano lessons for him as well.

So what counts as a good digital piano? 88 keys, fully weighted, grand action. The piano should ideally come with a stand, bench and possibly headphones.

For best success, make a dedicated space for it, so that once it's set up, it stays set up and ready to play.

You will need at minimum $1000 probably, closer to $2000 and you'll have more options.....
Agree. A digital is a good route to go in this instance, especially for a child whose interest is not guaranteed. If the child's interest 'takes,' then that's the time to consider an acoustic. Playing on a digital for a year or two will give you and your child time to learn what they want in an acoustic and to consider if they are ready for the added costs and responsibilities that come with an acoustic.

P.S. Thumbs up for lessons. From the very start.


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I also agree with ShiroKuro's posting about a digital piano, but I think you can get a decent digital piano for less than $1000. Just make sure it has weighted keys. If you have a higher budget, you can spend the remaining money on lessons.


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