Updated: Apr 19, 2020
My musical career has certainly had some highs and lows. Who would have thought playing on my Grandma’s old Rogers piano when I could scarcely reach the keyboard would have led to such a powerfully unpredictable but categorically wonderful journey?
However, what has stayed constant throughout my career is people; whether clients, friends or acquaintances, they have always asked about pianos. There is a public fascination with them; a personal connection, a story to tell, an experience to reminisce. I am also flabbergasted by the number of musical prodigies that people have discovered. This is often proved by a YouTube clip on a grubby iPhone at the most inappropriate and agonising moment!
People want advice when they start their musical journeys, upgrade to a better instrument or whilst haphazardly sharing their life-long curiosity of the piano on the 5:20am from Manchester to London!
Music is an investment: an investment for life and not just for Christmas. It takes time, patience and most importantly perseverance. I certainly can’t promise it will be easy but it’s one of the most rewarding vocations to develop your playing and your musical knowledge. When you’re starting out, a good instrument purchase (or savvy searching!) will pay dividends for many, many years to come.
Also, you shouldn’t also have to re-mortgage your house. If you do want to, there’s many I can recommend, how about a gorgeous Steinway & Sons Concert Grand?
There are three basic types of piano. Each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
These have real strings, real hammers, no electronic components and thankfully no ivory (in newer models at least). You can’t beat a good acoustic piano and they are a fantastic investment if money, space and neighbours permit. It can however be more challenging to find a ‘good instrument’.
The 2nd hand piano market can be a real minefield. Look out for my post about 2nd hand pianos in the future. Acoustic pianos also have regular tuning costs (bringing the instrument back up to pitch). In the UK it is normally between £50 and £120 to summon your friendly local tuner.
These sound like a piano but don’t have real strings or hammers. All the sound is produced using electronics. A ‘good’ electronic piano can serve you well for many years and can be more beneficial than a ‘bad’ acoustic piano. They have the advantage of not needing to be tuned, can be ordered more easily and you can wear headphones. Gone are the days of ‘She’ll be Coming Round The Mountain’ irritating you at 10pm!
These are the best of both worlds. These have real strings and real hammers but also the ability to ‘turn off’ the acoustic part; in other words, to silence it. They then transform, with the press of a pedal, *TADAAA* into a digital piano that you can use headphones with. I own a Yamaha B3 Silent Piano and it’s by far the best investment I have made. It has travelled between apartments and houses in Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire. My neighbours hadn’t even realised I was a pianist!
‘So, Jason, if I’m a beginner, what should I get?’
When you’re starting out and a bit unsure about the future (whether you’re going to stick at it or not), it’s best to buy a digital piano. These take up significantly less space, are portable, you can plug headphones in, they don’t need tuning and if you do change your mind you haven’t lost a fortune. There are few important things to ensure your new digital soulmate has:
1. Weighted keys, sometimes called ‘hammer action’ (this is how the keys feel under your hands when playing). This makes the instrument feel as close as possible to an acoustic piano as it’s emulating the piano’s mechanics inside.
2. A full-size 88-note keyboard as this is the same number of keys as an acoustic piano.
3. A reputable brand. Not only do they hold value more respectably, but it also makes technical support much more straight forward.
Some of the best affordable digital pianos that I have personally played include...
Yamaha P45 Digital Piano (have a look on Amazon below)