Frequently Asked Questions About Pianos
Do You take Trade-In's towards the purchase of a new piano?
The simple answer to this question is, Yes. Wheather the piano was purchased from us or it is your great grandmothers that was handed down to you, we accept trade-in's pianos. If you decide that you want to trade-in you current piano we will have one of our trained technicians evaluate the piano before the purchase. This will insure that we are compensating you accordingly for the value of your Trade-in. Once this value is determined it will be applied to the purchase of your new piano. When we deliver your new piano we will pick up your trade-in at the same time.
How much does a piano cost?
A piano can cost anywhere from $3,000 to more than $100,000, depending on the brand, size and the age of the piano. A quality digital piano starts around $2,000. Upright pianos start around $3,000 and grand pianos start around $5,000 for quality used pianos. New piano price ranges are slightly higher.
When you consider economizing on a piano because a child is "just starting piano lessons," consider that making music on a quality instrument is one of the best ways to keep a young musician interested. By purchasing the best instrument possible within a comfortable price range, you are encouraging an individual to expect to continue playing and to strive for success. This can make all the difference in the world.
Generally, the larger the piano, the fuller and richer tone it offers. You might be surprised as to amount of space you really do have in your home. Our piano specialists are available for in-home consultations. They can assist you in selecting the ideal piano size & style of a Steinway-designed piano that suits your space, and can provide space planning advice to insure the longevity of your piano investment.
However, primary to your selection of a piano should be the way it pleases your ear -- the tone and sound quality. If you or someone in your home is a player, touch will also be of paramount importance. How the action feels under the fingers can be a determining factor as you choose which piano to invest in.
What is a "Gray Market Piano"?
The worst piano you can buy is a ‘gray market’ piano. In 2005 one in five pianos shipped to the U.S. from Japan was a used piano. Mostly, they are 20 or 30 year old Yamaha U,G and C models, Kawai KG, and a few Young Chang, Atlas and Diapason models. They are almost all black many have only 2 pedals. Sellers will try to pass them off as ordinary used pianos. Almost all the used Yamaha and Kawai pianos you find on the internet are gray market. Sellers often have a great story about how these pianos are restored. The truth is these are worn out, used pianos, mostly from institutions in Japan.
A quick, "gray market piano" search on Google will reveal a plethora of information, but it is easy to be mislead. There is a great deal of focus on the debate over whether or not such pianos are seasoned for the U.S. climate. Yamaha says their pianos are built appropriately for any climate, and we believe them. However, this debate skirts the real issue. Climatically appropriate or not, these pianos are worn out beyond their useful lives. Otherwise, why would they be shipped thousands of miles away from their home in the first place?
Incidentally, the greatest critic of gray market pianos is Yamaha America Corp. which will tell you if a piano is gray market, they disavow all responsibility for it. There are a few conscious sellers who actually rebuild the better grands like C-3's and C-7's, but these pianos are much more expensive. Steinway Hall does not sell Gray Market Pianos.
What maintenance comes with owning a piano?
Every piano is created from many sensitive working parts. The tension of the strings that resonate such a beautiful sound place the infrastructure under enormous pressure. Improper or irregular maintenance can cause problems that will become progressively worse, causing your piano to develop an unpleasant tone and an unresponsive touch even if it sounds in tune.
Like an automobile, your piano requires a routine service and maintenance program to maintain the sound. Three components of musical performance (pitch, tone, and touch) require periodic adjustment. A complete piano service includes tuning to return the piano to pitch, voicing to adjust the tone, and regulating to adjust the action and change the touch of the piano. Read More information to Maintaining your Piano.
How do you choose a Piano Manufacturer and Dealer?
It is said that if you don't know your jewels, know your jeweler. The same is true for pianos-it's always best to rely on a reputable dealer. At Steinway & Sons, we select our dealers with the same care and attention to longevity that we put into our pianos. Authorized Steinway dealers are the leading piano retailers in their markets and are active supporters of music arts and education in their regions. Many Steinway dealers have been representing Steinway for generations.
Steinway & Sons provides a comprehensive dealer training program through its William Steinway University, educating sales representatives and management staff in every aspect of Steinway representation, including sales, customer service, concert and artist activities, institutional sales, and technical service.
And then there's the Steinway Promise - assurance that the full purchase price of the Steinway-designed piano you select can be applied as a credit toward a future purchase of a superior Steinway-designed piano.
Do You Rent Pianos?
Yes, our New Beginners Piano Rental Program gives you the option to rent a Steinway-designed Piano for up to six months. This allows the new beginner to practice on a quality instrument which will inspire the novice, provide reinforcement of technique, and produce greater progress. All of which will motivate the player to continue their education.
How do I know a good used piano vs. a bad used piano?
When looking at used pianos, consider that the materials in even the best older pianos are subject to wear, humidity changes and inconsistent service or neglect. Better modern pianos are improvements over the older counterparts in materials and design. While the cost of a new piano is generally a fair prediction of quality, the price of a used piano is dependent upon an individual's assessment of condition. Don't be tricked by the appearce of the ouside of the piano because sometimes the outside appearance of a piano does not reflect the condition of the interior mechanisms.
When choosing a used piano, note the following definitions provided by the Piano Technicians Guild, Inc. to categorize the level of repairs on a piano: "A used piano that has been disassembled, inspected, repaired as necessary with replacement of all worn or deteriorated parts, reassembled, tested and approved to at least the tolerances of a new piano of like manufacture is said to have been rebuilt. A used piano that has been put back in good condition by cleaning, repairing and adjusting for maximum performance with replacement parts where specifically indicated is said to have been reconditioned." A rebuilt piano should be purchased because of its merits, rather than an attempt to economize.
Why does a piano require regular tuning?
A piano is built largely out of wood. Slight changes in temperature and humidity can affect a wooden structure considerably because wood absorbs moisture and swells. When this occurs, the relationship of steel wire strings to the bridges and sounding board of your instrument is changed. As a result, the piano goes slightly out of tune. This is entirely normal – it is not a fault in your instrument. Excessive exposure of your piano to rapid changes in temperature and humidity can have serious affect and damage the piano.
Why does a piano go out of tune?
The piano strings are under a great deal of tension that is supported by the piano rim, plate, pinblock, tuning pins, bridges, and soundboard. Anything that affects the position of any of these parts will cause a change in tension and make the piano go out of tune.
Humidity Changes - Although a soundboard has a coating of carnish or lacquer, moisture from the air can seep into and out of the wood, mainly through the end grain, causing the crown to increase and diminish. This is the most important fator that causes a good piano with tight tuning pins to go our of tune. A piano goes flat, particularly in the midrange, in the early winter when the dry heat of the furnance draws moisture out of the soundboard. It goes sharp again in the spring when you turn the air conditioning on for the season.
Temperature Changes - Fluctuations in room temperature surronding a piano cause less of a change in tuning than humidity changes do. However, direct sunlight or heat from stage lights is so intense that it can cause rapid changes in the tuning.
Stretching of the Strings - Piano wire has a lot of elasticity, and is begins to stretch as soon as you pull it up to pitch. New strings strethch the most during their first few years in a piano. Because of this stretching, many new pianos sink a quarter step flat within a few months after delivery, thus the importance of the complimentary piano tuning 90 days after the piano is delivered to the new home or venue. Some piano tuners and rebuilders stretch their new strings with a small roller immediatly after pulling a piano up to pitch. This procedure helps, but if overdone it is harmful to the strings. The louder and more frequently you play a newly-strung piano, the faster the strings will stretch, and the sooner the piano strings will stabilize.
Slipping Tuning Pins - This factor doesn't enter into the tuning of a good quality new piano, in which the pins should be so tight that the string tension doesn't cause them to turn. In an older piano that has been exposed to regular seasonal humidity changes for many years, however, the pin block loses its tight grip on the pins. When the pins get loose, string tension causes them to rotate slowly, over a period of months, allowing the pitch to go flat.
Playing the Piano - The louder and more often you play the piano, the faster it goes out of tune by a small amount. This is due to equalization of tension along the length of the strings. The better the piano tuner "sets the strings" during tuning, the less this happens.
How often should a piano be tuned?
We usually recommend our customers at least 2 or 3 piano tunings per year for a piano getting average use in the home. Ideally 4 piano tunings spaced through the year to cover the seasonal changes would be best. A new piano settling into a new environment may need more regular tuning for the first year or two. These suggestions only apply to pianos in the average home. Pianos in music schools and teacher’s pianos should be tuned more frequently as they receive heavy use. Studio and concert pianos are tuned before every concert or recording.
What is a Pitch Raise?
If the pitch of your piano has slipped below that of concert pitch (A440) you may wish to consider having the pitch raised. This may happen if you have not had your instrument tuned regularly or in conditions of extreme temperature or humidity. It is particularly recommended to keep your piano at concert pitch if you are using it for chamber music (ie. with any other instruments or singers). A pitch raise can be carried out by a piano tuner, and constitutes a very rough overall piano tuning to pull the piano up to pitch. It would then be necessary to have another fine-tuning at the new pitch to obtain an even and stable tuning. If the pitch has to be changed considerably it may be necessary to have another tuning fairly shortly afterwards.