When it comes to finding the perfect piano for you, we know that a million questions will be running through your mind, which brands are the best? Which tones suit my playing style? Do I need a silent piano?
With so many things to consider, it’s easy to be overwhelmed, so to help clarify and to help you find the right piano for you, we’ve written up a fully comprehensive guide to help answer some of your burning questions and discover the incredible world of acoustic pianos.
Where to start
The absolute first place to start when beginning to find the perfect piano for you is to decide what you ultimately want the piano itself to do and what you intend on getting out of it. Is the piano living in your living room? Or are you planning on using it as some kind of performance space? Have you considered the temperature of the room (as pianos HATE varying temperatures)? Do you need a piano with silent features?
If you are unsure if an acoustic is right for you, check out our Acoustic Piano First Time Buyers Guide first. However, for those of you who know that acoustic is the right piano for you, let’s delve into it!
What’s Are The Differences Between Brands?
The first thing that many acoustic piano players will ask themselves is: What are the differences between the major brands in acoustic pianos?
For example, let’s take a look at two of the most popular acoustic pianos on the market today, the Kawai K Series and Yamaha B series, both are acoustic, both have 88 keys and for the most part, they look nearly identical...So ultimately what is the difference?
Well...A lot of this comes down to personal preference, playing style and alignment with the ways in which the piano itself is manufactured and the philosophy behind each. As soon as you hear these instruments being played, you’ll realise their sound outputs couldn’t really be more different!
The Sound Quality
Being one of the oldest manufacturers around today, Yamaha are notorious for their incredible sounding instruments and the classic ‘Yamaha’ sound that comes with them (they make great motorbikes too!) The B series places a fantastic emphasis on direct, clear speaking sound that really allows you to pull out single notes within your compositions and playing, making it especially popular with early classical players, recording artists and jazz musicians. Due to this well balanced sound and precise top end, each note really is able to sing out as it is intended to, providing a really crisp, crunchy tone to the sound quality.
Equally prestiged, the Kawai matches this incredible quality, but has taken a slightly different approach to get there. For those who perhaps find the sound of the Yamaha a bit too intense and want something mellower, more delicate and a sound that masterfully blends into smooth pianissimo, creating a more atmospheric and all encumbering sound, a K Series piano may be perfect for you.
Still beautiful to the touch, the Kawai places more of an emphasis on holistic sound and through it’s Millenium 3 Action, gives the user slightly more stability and responsiveness in your playing. Overall the sound is darker, especially in the low end, allowing you to create some truly mesmerising soundscapes as you dance across the registers. This is particularly suited for late classical fans.
Whilst we’ve covered the sound that these instruments create, we’ve not yet covered the incredible variance in their touch, which is, arguably the most important part of buying any piano!
Generally speaking the touch of the piano simply means how it feels to you, how much resistance the keys offer and how much they suit your playing style. If a piano doesn’t feel right to the touch, it’s not the one for you, which is why we always encourage booking a viewing of your piano before purchasing.
Of the two examples mentioned above, the Yamaha is slightly heavier to the touch compared with the Kawai. This has made it particularly popular with teachers as many generally recommend their students a heavy touch piano as it’s unlikely you’ll move to something heavier. This means that in exam situations or general practice, you won’t need to overcompensate, particularly in higher end pieces.
Ultimately what makes your piano YOURS are the features included and how you use them to suit your playing. For example, do you need silent playing so as not to disturb the neighbours as your practice? Or would you prefer a muffled playing experience so as to avoid digital features altogether?
Both pianos offer these kinds of features and allow you to play your instrument exactly as you want to.
The Kawai K series for example is integrated with silent technology, meaning that with the exception of the actions being played, the sound is entirely silent so it is suitable for practice any time of the day. Some models in the Yamaha B Series instead opt for a ‘half blow’ pedal designed to still create an acoustic sound, but one that is muffled to allow the user to still play softly so as not to disturb others. Equally however, others in the B series have also updated to include a digital silent feature due to a rise in popularity.
European Sound VS Japanese Sound
Whilst the two pianos highlighted above are both fantastic examples of Japanese manufacturing quality, another point to content with when deciding on the perfect piano for you would be comparing sound qualities to the likes of European sound quality as found on brands such as W.Hoffman and Zimmerman pianos.
Generally speaking, the European sound is slightly lighter, allowing for a beautiful intricacy to be achieved when voicing melody lines. This contrasts slightly with the Japanese sound as generally speaking, the Japanese audience are more accustomed to a brighter, more defined piano tone than in Europe or the States.
This is true of both the pianos themselves, and how pianos are normally mixed in post-production.
Of course this varies dramatically from model to model, however generally speaking, the Japanese brightness is found in both Kawai and Yahmaha pianos, with Kawai offering a more mellow sound and Yamaha opting for a crisp direct.
European pianos however are generally warmer sounding instruments, and the notes interact with each other in a way that they don't generally in Japanese pianos, creating a more rounded impact and more fundamental tone. This too is extended into their touch as European pianos will generally have a lighter touch.
Is Silence Always Golden?
As covered in our Hybrid vs Silent Piano Guide, almost 40% of all acoustic pianos are now built with a silent feature included. The ability to play any time of day without the risk of disturbing others is incredibly popular and many pianists love the idea of being able to maintain the touch of an acoustic with the convenience of a sophisticated digital system.
For example, many Yamaha ranges have also adopted the power of silence through their HiFi system and SILENT Piano™ function. When activated, the hammers will no longer hit the strings and instead, a highly sophisticated sensor-technology captures all movements of the keys and sends them to the digital tone module.
Whilst incredibly convenient it is of course your piano after all and if you don’t quite like the idea of introducing digital aspects into an acoustic instrument, that is your decision! That is why we always want to get to know our customer needs, understand EXACTLY what your dream piano looks like and recommend a handful of pianos from across the range to suit you.
We hope this guide has helped you discover a little more about your dream piano, and when you are ready, we would love to help you find yours! Get in touch today to visit one of our showrooms or book a virtual demonstration.