If you’ve been playing keyboard or piano for a while, you might be wondering when the right time is to upgrade your instrument. Learn how to proceed in this guest post by Saint Augustine, FL piano teacher Heather L…
There comes a point in every pianist’s life when he has to take one very important action: get a better keyboard, or maybe, buy a piano. It’s a special step in your journey that shows how hard you’ve been working and, frankly, how hard you plan on working in the future. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be getting a new instrument. On the other hand, sometimes a family decides to buy a better instrument in the anticipation of a family member’s upcoming piano lessons.
Over the past decade, out of the dozens of times that I’ve walked into a home for a first lesson, I almost always hear, “The piano’s old,” “It needs to be tuned,” or “We’ve had this forever and we know nothing about it.”
The great news is that it’s easier now, more than ever, to find pianos and keyboards online on sites like Craigslist and eBay. If you live near a military installation, you might even find one for free. Families who plan on moving due to military assignment or deployment need someone simply to take the instrument off their hands. If you’re willing to pay to move it, then they’re often willing to hand it over free of charge.
Another option is a brick-and-mortar instrument shop, or even a big box store like Best Buy. One great bonus is that many music instrument retailers will take your old keyboard as a trade-in toward the purchase of a new or used keyboard.
But the question remains: Do you need a better keyboard?
There are two primary reasons why you’d need to upgrade your keyboard:
1. Your keyboard is old, worn out, or both.
If your keyboard’s over five years old, or gets a lot of play, it probably has some evidence of extra wear and tear. Mid-range keyboards are like most washers and dryers nowadays; they’re just not meant to last forever. Look for cracked cables and cords, and if your keyboard has a lighted display, look for a faded or striated appearance. Now, keyboards may not go out of tune, but sometimes the keys’ tones start to sound buzzy or hollow. A piano is a different story. Have a professional like a local piano tuner inspect it. He should look for a sound board without fractures or breaks, and strings and hammers that aren’t overly worn. Do some of your keys stick? Sometimes, a professional repairman will be able to fix the problem, but that depends on the age and current condition of the instrument.
2. Your keyboard doesn’t fit your musical goals.
Let’s say that you’ve been playing keyboard for a year, and now, your new songs have notes that are higher or lower than your keyboard has. You might need a full-sized keyboard. Let’s say that one of your goals is to audition for a magnet arts program for piano studies. You might need a keyboard with better action, a more “piano-like” feeling. Let’s say that your band is beginning to get calls for more and more gigs. You might just need a newer, more portable keyboard.
You can find beautiful, state-of-the-art keyboards for $2,000 to $3,000, but at that price, you could buy a decent piano instead. Go to a local brick-and-mortar piano store, if only to inspect the quality and feel of different brands. Remember, an investment in your instrument is an investment in your future achievements.
Heather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!
Photo by Pink Dispatcher