Before the invention of the radio and television, pianos were the center of entertainment in many American living rooms. Families and friends would gather around the instrument, taking turns playing the keys and singing tunes. Today pianos remain an instrument at the center of many households and bring their owners delight and entertainment through the music that they produce.
Aside from the beautiful melodies, pianos are an elegant piece of decor that elevates any living space. Some companies have even made a name for themselves by renting out pianos solely for staging purposes for people selling homes!
Pianos, especially grand and baby grand, command the attention of any room. But before you head down to your local music store to make your piano purchase, take a look at this handy guide. Hopefully, it will answer some of the most common piano ownership questions.
What Type of Piano Is Right for My Home?
When you think of owning a piano, your mind might automatically conjure images of a large grand piano sitting in the middle of your living room. While this is certainly a possibility, it’s not your only option. Pianos come in a variety of shapes and sizes and make great additions to even smaller areas. The most common types of pianos are:
- Grand and Baby Grand. These two styles are what most people think of when they think of a piano. Grands are easily the largest of the various styles. A horizontal soundboard and strings characterize their construction.
- Upright Piano. These pianos are closest to offering the grand piano sound without taking up nearly as much space. These are apart of the vertical piano family, so they are not as wide as grands, but stand around 48 to 52 inches tall.
- Spinet. Though this is the smallest type of acoustic piano at less than 40 inches tall, it is often the most difficult and expensive to repair due to their size and configuration. Spinets are no longer in production, but you can find used ones on the market.
- Console Piano. Console pianos are the next size up from a spinet. Usually standing between 40 and 44 inches tall, these pianos are known for their furniture value.
- Digital Piano. Digital pianos differ from acoustic ones because they don’t have physical parts like strings or hammers. They produce sounds electronically, giving users control over volume, customizable sounds, and more. This type of piano does not need to be tuned.
Costs of Pianos
The price of a piano can vary greatly and depends on the type and the piano manufacturer.
Grand pianos are by far the most expensive on the market. The largest concert grands can cost around $210,000! Of course, you probably wouldn’t be playing a concert grand in your home, but parlor and baby grand pianos will still cost a pretty penny.
Six- to seven-foot grand pianos can cost anywhere between $39,000 to $142,000 for a top of the line Steinway. As for baby grands, expect to pay between $22,000-$35,000 for a brand like Baldwin or around $34,000 for an entry-level Yamaha.
Uprights are more affordable than grands, typically starting at $4,400 for name-brand Yamahas and $9,000 for entry-level Baldwins. If you want to own a coveted Steinway, their uprights begin at around $32,300.
Unless you have the right equipment and people to help move a piano to your home, you’ll also need to factor in shipping and delivery fees. These will, of course, affect your total price.
Buying a Used Piano
Purchasing a used piano may be a good option if you aren’t looking to commit to a full-priced brand new one just yet. However, keep in mind that pianos depreciate slowly. Many people sell their pianos at more-or-less the purchase price. If you’re in the market, it may take a while for you to find the kind of deal you want.
How Much Does It Cost to Maintain a Piano?
The cost of owning a piano doesn’t end after the initial purchase. The instrument requires regular maintenance to keep it sounding and looking good. With proper care, pianos can last decades and are often passed down through generations. Left alone, though, and a neglected piano can become little more than an expensive centerpiece.
Piano Tuning Costs
The task you’ll have to have done most frequently is a tuning. Over time, the strings inside a piano stretch, causing them to change in pitch and frequency.
Regular tuning is essential for the health of your piano and is cheaper in the long run. Pianos that go untuned are more susceptible to damage and are harder to get back into shape. Strings can deteriorate if not properly taken care of, and the only solution then is to restring the instrument.
Typically, most piano tuners charge by the hour, but $100 to $200 every 6-12 months is much cheaper than having the piano restrung. This process can sometimes cost nearly as much as a piano itself.
Regular tuning will also ensure that the instrument sounds its best and that people can successfully play it. An out of tune piano can be more challenging to play since the sounds of each key aren’t what they should be.
Other Maintenance Costs
Sometimes a maintenance visit will require more than the average tuning. Over time, strings can wear out, tuning pins can loosen, and soundboards can get damaged. Technicians can repair these to get your piano back in working order, but it’ll add more to the bill.
Can You Safely Transport a Piano When Moving?
Pianos are large, heavy, and relatively fragile— three qualities that make moving them to a new location difficult. However, it can be done with a few strong extra hands, a few moving supplies, and some preparation and measuring beforehand.
There are also specialized moving companies out there that work only in piano transport. If you don’t have the manpower, trailer space, or confidence to undertake the task, hiring a professional is a reliable option.
Becoming a piano owner is a rewarding experience. They’re beautifully crafted instruments that bring people the gift of music and will be enjoyed for years to come by all that come into your home. Because of this, pianos of all types can be a worthwhile investment for you and your home!