When it comes to buying your first upright piano, there are a number of things to consider in order to find the right instrument for you, your home and your family. Especially for those who are perhaps new to piano, non musical themselves or are unsure what makes a quality piano, things can seem a little overwhelming at first.
This article is designed to help guide you through the piano selection process and help offer an indication of the kinds of upright pianos that we generally recommend to beginners who are looking for quality upright acoustic pianos that will help encourage yours or your child’s learning.
We will be walking through not only the things to consider with upright pianos, but also the key features and properties that are essential in helping you make the right decision. We hope that by the end of this article you will have the knowledge to approach your piano dealer with a far deeper understanding of the kind of instruments that might be suitable for you.
So without further delay, let’s jump in to taking the first step to finding the perfect upright piano for your home!
What Do You Want To Achieve From The Piano?
This is often one of the first questions that we ask during our piano consultations, for beginner players or progressing players the answer here is usually either to find an instrument that will help: ‘to start learning the piano’ or ‘to get back into playing after a long hiatus’ or to find an instrument that is suitable for the whole family to learn on.
This is a fantastic place to begin and often sets the premise for your decision. Alternatively, many may want to invest in a piano that will last a lifetime even if the possibilities of the piano may be out of reach for the moment, it gives you something to aspire for.
Where Is The Piano Going?
Now you have determined what you are looking to achieve from the piano, it is important to consider where the instrument is going to live.
Pianos, and particularly acoustic pianos are not easy to move, so one of the most crucial features of deciding on the right piano for you is making sure the piano is the right size for the room it is going in and that it is even possible to get the piano in place. For example some may want the instrument in a ground floor living room, others may want it in a dedicated music room and others may want the piano in a second floor small music room.
Whilst all of these options are doable, they can influence which kinds of piano may be more suitable for you. For example, it is worth noting that if the piano is going up a flight of stairs, it is essential that there is enough room for the piano couriers to be able to lift the piano upstairs, the issue here is typically staircases with sharp or narrow corners, it is also worth noting that this will likely increase the cost of delivery by a few hundred pounds than a ground floor level as this is a specialist job that requires a minimum of three or four people to do.
For those looking to put an upright piano in a designated small alcove, most upright pianos pianos are around 150-160cm wide and can vary in height from anywhere between 110-125cm so it is worth measuring the width of the location where you are intending to put the piano to see if it will fit. When it comes to the height, the taller a piano is typically means the louder it will be so depending on the size of the room it is going in, you may want something more compact or larger based on your space. For more information on this, we would recommend reading our guide on where to position your piano here.
Similar to where the piano is going is a question on aesthetic and how you would like the piano to look. As well as being instruments, pianos are also rather large pieces of furniture so can influence the feel and look of a room, this can be something that is very important to you all the way through to not important at all based on your requirements. For example, those looking for a modern shiny black new piano to hit in their living room will likely have more luck when buying a new piano over a secondhand instrument, however for those who are less fussed about how the piano looks, there may be a secondhand piano that is perfect for you.
Of course however, pianos come in a vast array of finishes such as black, white and wood as well as different coloured fittings such as brass or chrome, so it is worth noting if you have a preference here or not and how the piano will look in your home or asking options on availability when visiting your dealer.
Touch and Tone
The next thing to consider is how you want the piano to ‘feel’ and sound. Tone and touch are very subjective matters and is the reason we highly recommend booking a dedicated piano demonstration so you are able to hear and feel the instruments in person before buying.
Even at a beginner level where your ear may not have yet developed to be able to extract subtle nuances within sound, if a piano doesn’t feel or sound as you would like it to, it isn’t the right piano for you!
You may think that all pianos are made to sound the same, but in reality each manufacturer injects their own unique philosophy into the instrument to make it sound a particular way, for example the likes of C.Bechstein and their W.Hoffmann and Zimmermann ranges, are traditional European toned instruments, so offer a warmer tone that is ideally suited to classical music. You can learn more about what this means and how it affects a piano in our article all about piano tones here.
The final question to ask yourself when considering upright pianos is any additional features that you may be interested in adding to the piano, for example many starter pianists want an acoustic piano but opt for digital pianos because of their ability to be played silently, however few are aware that acoustic pianos can be fitted or retro-fitted with silent systems. These revolutionary pieces of technology have proven incredibly popular because they combine the best of acoustic touch with the convenience of silent play. You can learn more about silent technology here.
Upright Piano Brands We Recommend For Beginners
Whilst this list does not cover everyone’s requirements, for those looking for a few quick suggestions on piano models that we would recommend, the following have all been incredibly popular with our clients who are just beginning their piano journey or those who are upgrading from digital instruments to acoustic instruments for a more authentic piano playing experience.
Produced in the state of the art Pearl River factory in China with a German sound design team, the Ritmüller range offers not only incredible quality but also sensational value for those looking for a flexible piano that suits learning through the beginner to intermediate stages.
These instruments are profoundly ‘warm’ and offer a truly unique sound and feel at this price point. The quality in their production is sensational and features components such as German wire strings to offer an excellent tonal palette.
Where the EU (or European) series offers a modern design and smaller cabinets, the RS (or superior) series, brings out the best in Ritmüller and adds a further level of sophistication and height to the instrument that is ideal for those looking for a piano that will carry along their learning as you develop.
Learn More About The Ritmüller Series Here
The entry level into the C.Bechstein family, Zimmermann offers all of the expertise and prestige of the C.Bechstein name at an affordable price. Ideal for those looking for a sleek, sophisticated instrument that exudes elegance. We often refer to these instruments as ‘family pianos’ due to their vast flexibility and versatility for all styles of learning.
Offering a typical European sound but also produced through high quality Chinese manufacturing, Zimmermann pianos also undergo the same level of quality control and care that C.Bechstein are famous for, creating highly consistent instruments that truly stand the test of time. These instruments can also be fitted with the C.Bechstein Vario Studio Silent System, which is in our opinion one of the leading silent systems out there.
Ideal for family learning, or those looking for a guaranteed instrument that will help you advance your playing potential, Zimmermann are a great choice.
Whilst generally suited to more seasoned players, it is still worth noting that the W.Hoffmann series by C.Bechstein and in particular the Vision series also offer an excellent option for those looking to invest in a piano for life. These instruments are European made in the Czech Republic and with this integrate further use of German components and philosophy from the C.Bechstein range. For those looking to truly invest in their future learning, W.Hoffmann are certainly worth investigating further.
For those restricted by either budget or lack of preference in colour, secondhand pianos are a fantastic option to begin your playing journey. Whilst these instruments may be a little older, they are still great learning tools for beginning your piano journey and offer an affordable option to the acoustic piano world. It is worth bearing in mind that the lifespan of these instruments is likely less than that of a new one and depending on the condition, may require some refurbishment work in the future. If you are considering a secondhand piano there are a few crucial things to note, which we have covered in this guide here.
The same can be said for pianos that have been ‘reconditioned’ - the most common example of this is the Recon U Series by Yamaha, which whilst are still sensational instruments, most are pushing 40-50 years old, which is typically around the time when major refurbishment work is needed to restore the instrument. We have also written a guide on the questions to ask when considering a reconditioned instrument here.
So there you have it! A very rough introduction to the kinds of upright pianos out there that we believe are ideal for beginner players, as mentioned, of course this does not cover every requirement and there are a plethora of other options out there for new players to sink their teeth into and fall in love with playing.
If you would like to learn more about any of the pianos mentioned above or would like to visit our piano showroom, contact our experts here or book your piano demonstration in our Cambridge showroom today!