Looking to buy or rent a piano for your child?
I have designed the following post to be of reference predominantly to the parents of my students who are contemplating buying or hiring a new piano or digital keyboard.
I’ve been excited by how many parents have asked me about this in the last 6 months and so I provide this information as a way of helping you get started on this exciting journey!
When is a Digital OK?
As you are no doubt aware, cheaper keyboards with unweighted keys and with no pedals are only suitable for the very first semester’s piano study for a new student (even that’s pushing it!!). After this time, it is vital that students have regular access to either a real piano or a digital piano with fully-weighted keys (keys that feel like a piano to touch and where you can’t fit your finger under the key) and at least one, but preferably three, pedals.
A properly weighted keyboard is absolutely VITAL for a student to learn the correct touch and to practise dynamic changes. In addition, pedals very soon become as important to playing the piano/keyboard as the keys!
PS. As cool as they may be, iPads are not suitable for piano practice!
I realise that purchasing a piano is a considerable investment (second-hand pianos start around $3000-$4000 for reasonable older ones and new or reconditioned ones start around $8000+) so I’ve put together this information for you to consider with your family and to provide some suggestions for keeping costs down as much as possible.
Melbourne piano locations
Without a doubt, my first preference for your child is a real, acoustic piano.
You simply cannot beat the touch, tone and beauty of the real thing, as much as the keyboard companies might try to convince you! For beginner and school students, starting on a real piano that is in tune and in good condition is the best start to successful musical development.
I’ve had a good experience with students buying from Lyra Pianos off Auburn Rd in Burwood and I bought my own Kawai from Ian at Pat’s Music, cnr Centre and Warrigal Road Oakleigh Sth. Another place I’m considering using when we upgrade the piano at school is Melbourne Piano Sales in Richmond.
These guys apparently buy the second-hand stock from the big schools such as MLC, Scotch, etc. after a couple of years and they have a good reputation, although I’m yet to visit. I will update this post when I’ve checked them out!
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There are, of course, many more entirely reputable piano showrooms around Melbourne, but I haven’t had the personal experience with them yet.
For real pianos, I’m a big fan of Kawai (my piano at home is a K3) and Yamaha is what all the schools and universities use because they have great tone and last forever.
The one I teach on at school is a 40-year-old Yamaha U1 and, although it has lost some of its top-end sparkle, it is still a great teaching and practice instrument. Please avoid cheaper brands such as Beale which are particularly poor quality Chinese instruments built very cheaply and with a very bad action (not to mention everything else).
The next best option, if you don’t have the finances or physical space for an acoustic piano, is to purchase a good-quality digital piano with full-size (88 key) keyboard, weighted action and pedals (at least one damper pedal, preferably all three pedals).
For something close to the school, speak to Mike Kelly @ Billy Hydes in Blackburn. Current deals that I believe are good quality are: Kawai KDP80 with Case, Roll Down Lid and 3 pedals: $1499. Roland FP4 stage piano with speakers: $1869.
Or for something cheaper, the Yamaha T95 Stage Piano with speakers $939. The stage pianos are more portable and will need a separate stand.
What about Hire?
If you’re still unsure about buying, you can always hire. Here are some options:
- Piano Hire: Try http://www.melbournepianosales.com.au/ With a $500 deposit, students can hire a Yamaha or Kawai upright piano for $99 per month including a bench. Minimum term 6 months with the option to buy after that time. This is a great offer for a student who is looking to continue for at least a few years.
- Digital Stage Piano Rental. Contact: Mike Kelly @ Billy Hyde Blackburn 9878 8777. Min 6ths months’ rental. Possibility of buying at any stage during the rental – 20% off RRP if you buy within first 6 months, or rental payments taken off final balance if you choose to buy after 6th months, so good deal all round! A good option: KORG SP250 1 pedal DIGITAL STAGE PIANO with stand included – buy new $2300; Rent for $113 per month. Instrument is brand new when you hire it (not ex rental). Payment by Monthly Direct debit off credit card. You’ll need to take in your licence, credit card, etc. or Bank statement for direct debit direct from your account. Digital piano has to be delivered for insurance: $90 to deliver and $90 to collect (if you don’t buy). 1-off fee of $17.95 for direct debit establishment fee.
The most important thing when buying or hiring is that the student plays the piano first and is absolutely 100% happy with the sound and feel of the instrument as they’ll be the ones spending all the time with it, regardless of what sales people might say!! It’s also very important to get an adjustable padded bench so that the student is always sitting at the correct height.
I hope this helps get you started. If you would like my guidance, I’m more than happy to meet you and your child at a piano showroom when they have selected a couple of instrument that are their favourites. I can then assess my own ‘feel’ of the instrument and give you guidance on price, etc.
After 2 years of convincing my spouse to move from piano keyboard which does not have a sturdy base & only has a “mouse like” pedal, we have allowances to buy an acoustic piano, yipeee.. (should have watched your YouTube before buying 5 years ago!)
My child is moving on to AMEB grade 5, could I say U1 & K300 are good enough to support us for her entire life music 🎵 interest please?
I am a bit sleepless now & can’t wait to buy a piano which my kid has been longing for a while. I am also excited to get your valuable advice. I have saved enough money to buy a good one.
Thanks a lot for your podcast so far and looking forward to hearing from you.
Hi Lee – congratulations on saving up and looking for an acoustic instrument. Both the K3 and U1 are excellent instruments and would set up your child for the rest of their playing. U1 is one of the most common institutional pianos for good reason – they last a long time, hold their tuning and are high enough quality for exams. I’d say: go for it!
Wonderful and thanks again for the speedy response!
We just came back from 6 piano stores in Sydney and we found several brands whose products have factories in China 🇨🇳 or Indonesia 🇮🇩 or South Korea 🇰🇷 like Kohler & Campbell, Alex Bechstein, Brodmann.
What are your experience with their pianos 🎹 compared with your 40 year old sturdy U1 & K3? The brand new pianos of them are a lot cheaper. Furthermore, U1J Yamaha & ND-21 Kawai pianos 🎹 are also made in Indonesia.
One store even overwhelmingly sells pianos 🎹 by directly importing from Japan by containers. They came with various brands apart from Yamaha & Kawai.
Should I stick with Japanese U1 & K300 pianos to stay safe?
I’m sure those brands are fine, but I don’t have any experience with them so I can’t advise. The best thing to do is play them and do some Googling 🙂 How much are you planning to spend? Personally, I’d stick to Kawai and Yamaha if you can afford it, but if you only have, say, $3000, then you should also consider a great digital instrument. I’ve certainly heard of all three brands and I’m sure for a student, if you’d prefer an acoustic, they’ll be just fine but I”m not a specialist sorry.
Good morning kind Timtopham,
My savings to purchase this time is quite generous (up to the price of new Yamaha U1). The reason behind is because now we realise that a very good piano 🎹 will last as long as the child lives (good financial investment too!) When we bought the keyboard 🎹 back then, we didn’t value music 🎶 education so much that the budget was AU$700.
If I can negotiate to purchase new Yamaha U3, what is your thought on this product?
Thank you very much to answer all these questions. I always value your open letters. For other parent readers, please check out his broadcast!!
I found your post and your guidance really helpful. Thanks a lot. Your reference to lead us how to buy or rent piano for our child was good information. Sometimes we still don’t know which one we should buy, digital or acoustic piano? Or maybe want to rent piano but still unsure to decide this way. Your explanation was such good help.
I have recommendation where we can buy or rent the piano. This may help them that looking for information about this. Could check at clavis.nl for more detail info.
and other good link to check out: http://musicalresources.blogspot.com/2011/06/acoustic-pianos-versus-digital-pianos.html
One of my student’s parents recently also found this link online which may be worth perusing. I’m not sure who it’s by or how they are affiliated with any of the models/makes listed, so please always check with your child’s piano teacher before purchasing!
Just read this from a student on a piano forum about when her parents decided to upgrade her piano. Interesting theory….would certainly encourage some kids to practice!!
My parents’ rules with me was:
a) you start with an electric piano
b) when you practices more than 30-45 min you can have an upright
c) when you practice more than 1.5 hours/day you can have a grand
It was all basically about how dedicated I was. I started at age eight and didn’t get a grand piano until I was about 12…