Whenever a digital piano either breaks or malfunctions, it’s always a sad time - for many these instruments are often either the first instrument that helped them fall in love with playing, or perhaps it’s been a trusty companion for many years and helped inspire a lifetime of play.
However, nothing (and particularly in the world of consumer electronics!) lasts forever and after plenty of playing or generally standing the test of time, components do wear out, short circuit or simply stop working.
Today we’re going to be discussing whether or not it is worth getting digital pianos repaired, when you should, when you’re likely best not to and ultimately how we can keep you playing as soon again as possible.
How Long Do Digital Pianos Last?
Unlike their acoustic cousins, digital pianos have a significantly shorter lifespan. An acoustic instrument may last between 50 to 100 years and longer with restoration, a digital piano is likely to last 5-15 years. This difference is reflected in the price of purchase and the residual value, whilst acoustic pianos generally hold their notional value you can expect a digital piano to have lost 60-70% of its initial value after 5 years.
For the most part, a well kept and high quality digital piano from major brands such as Casio, Kawai, or Yamaha will generally last 8-15 years on average. During this time, small issues may be repairable such as failing sensors, speakers buzzing, or issue with broken sockets such as the power jack or headphones. That being said, we have seen digital pianos 25 years and older that are still in full working order.
The good news is the manufacturers know this shelf life and as such, most digital pianos are given warranties of 2-5 years. After this time, you may still be able to get the instrument repaired if you can get the spare parts and find an electronics engineer who can service it for you. It then becomes a matter of deciding on the economics of repair.
Cost v Value
New digital models are being released all of the time so it’s not uncommon for digital instruments to lose their value quite quickly, even if it’s brand new and barely played. Our estimate is that electronic items will lose approximately 60-70% of their value in the first 4-5 years, even selling privately you won't necessarily achieve a high value because warranties aren't usually transferrable - one to watch if you're a private buyer.
For instruments not from the major manufacturers this can be even worse, you may not be able to sell your instrument at all. As an example, a Gear4Music Portable Piano at £229 has a Trade-in price with Gear4Music of £76.20 in excellent condition and full working order*. This means it loses 67% of its value almost immediately.
An electronic engineer call-out can cost £100-180 depend on where you live plus parts if it can be fixed. You need to careful assess this cost against the cost of replacement. At Millers we want to try and avoid waste where possible so we will take instruments, even those not working and try to repair and recycle them as part of our Sustainability programs
Diagnosing The Problem
If your digital piano has stopped working, the first step is to try to rule out obvious issues yourself. This may be as simple as the fuse in the power supply going, or a cable breaking, but could equally as easily be a software corruption, or small component failure.
If the instrument is still under warranty and is a genuine manufacturing error, even if you can’t diagnose the problem, we would ALWAYS recommend contacting the retailer who you purchased from first as they are the best placed to help answer the problem. Registering a warranty repair is a pretty straightforward task and the manufacturer will likely either send a replacement instrument or the component needed to fix the issue as soon as possible.
One thing that is often overlooked or misunderstood here however is that regardless of the age or condition of the instrument, warranties are usually not transferable, so even if you’ve brought the instrument brand new from a friend or second hand seller, if the warranty has already been registered to someone else, you won’t be able to claim it.
Should I Get The Piano Repaired Privately?
Now, if the instrument is either out of warranty or the manufacturer won’t fix it due to user error such as spilling a drink on the instrument or dropping it, then going to a private digital piano repairer may be worthwhile.
The second point to be made here is that piano tuners and technicians are very different from those who repair digital pianos. Generally speaking, most piano tuners and technicians only focus on acoustic instruments. Digital pianos have specialist components and often require specialist tools to diagnose and repair This is a specialist job that a specialist company will have to undertake. We recommend our friends at Puretech Solutions.
If the issue is relatively simple to fix and you believe may be either a case of just gluing, soldering or replacing an easy to access component, then based on the company and query, this can be relatively inexpensive and quickly turned around. Something that can occur here however is that the repairer may be able to easily fix one component, but in doing so, may need to replace another…Suddenly the cost of this repair will begin adding up against the current value of the instrument. (Remember earlier how we said instruments can lose up to 70% of their value in the first few years? - Worth thinking about!)
For the same reason, when it comes to complex repairs, they are rarely worth the value of the instrument unless it is the highest quality of digital piano or a hybrid instrument. For complex repairs, you’ll be easily looking at multiple hundreds, even thousands so as much as it may pain you to do so, either buying a new instrument or laying the old one to rest may be the best option.
As a general rule, it’s not really economical to repair a digital piano after 10-12 years, manufacturers only legally need to keep parts for 5 after end of production but most do for 10 years.
What Are My Options?
Just because your instrument may not be playable, that’s no reason to stop your playing! There are plenty of options available to keep yourself playing and music in your life.
The first and perhaps most apparent is to purchase a new instrument, if you’ve been playing on the same instrument for a long time, then perhaps it’s time for an upgrade anyway! We’ve written before about the signs you may have outgrown your instrument here. At Millers we try to reuse and revive instruments where we can so even broken instruments can be put to use rather than going to waste.
If you are looking for longevity with your next instrument, an acoustic piano is a far more lifelong purchase. Offering stability and a general better playing experience, for any seasoned player, there’s nothing quite like playing on a real acoustic instrument. Another option that many digital piano players are unaware of is the development of silent technologies on acoustic pianos. For those who love the compatibility and digital functions of digital pianos, look into our guide to silent systems here.
Likewise, for those who perhaps don’t have the budget at the moment for a brand new instrument, either going secondhand or renting a piano could be a fantastic option to keep you playing in the interim.
Need more advice, our piano experts would love to help find the right instrument for you! Visit our showroom, or contact us today!
* Survey date 1st October 2023 09:45