Why are pianos so cheap?!

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by CajunJ, Jun 27, 2020.

  1. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

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    My parents in law back in the early 70s went in to town to buy their first TV but came home with a piano. Neither of them learned to play it but my wife took a few lessons on it when she was a kid and hasnt been used since. They finally got rid of it a few months ago; nobody would take it so the father in law smashed it up and burned the timber.
     
  2. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    For a time, families were intact, living in houses, making music as a past-time (particularly daughters), a middle class income could afford one, and music literacy was part of schooling. Sheet music was cheap and plentiful.

    Then things changed, my guess is the late Fifties. First, piano music went out of fashion. Guitars took the lead, and the DIY folk ethic made literacy less important. Then the middle class started to shrink, family structures changed, and digital technology started to put pianos (big, cumbersome, one tonality only) ever more firmly in the shade.

    If you've ever played a Steinway grand in a good music hall, even just to dink around, you will never forget it. You want bass? Those bass strings are INCREDIBLE to sit next to. Everything else is an approximation.

    Delivery is relatively cheap. Tuning is around $80.

    I've seen nice baby grands in good condition for $5,000 in my area. A friend of mine restores pianos in our region. His shop is like something out of Star Wars.

    Amazing machines.
     
  3. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Also- I wouldn’t go digital when you can get a great piano for free or close to it. Sure, you have to move it and have it tuned. And really my advice would be to pay a tech to look at it before you move it and pay for it, and make sure that it still can be tuned. Some are shot.

    I think digital pianos and keyboards are great live performance tools. They’re easy, and portable. But in my house? I want a real instrument. I want a nice piece of furniture. Not more plastic and wires. But that’s just me.
     
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  4. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    It's simple supply and demand. Few people want one and lots of people are trying to unload them, hence the price is low.
     
  5. Lonn

    Lonn Friend of Leo's

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    There's also the noise factor. You can't practice a piano without everyone in the house hearing it. I've wanted one for ages if only for looks.
     
  6. dconeill

    dconeill Tele-Afflicted

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    Former acoustic piano owner here.

    They're big. They're difficult to move. Most acoustic pianos are out of tune (unless you pay to have them tuned) or in need of mechanical repair. If they're not in tiptop shape they don't sound all that good.

    Granted that playing a full-sized grand in a proper room is a revelatory experience. You're not going to get that kind of experience very often from a piano in a home.

    My acoustic piano is long gone. I now have a MIDI controller and PianoTeq VST software instead and am perfectly happy with it. I didn't feel that I needed it to feel entirely like an acoustic grand, so I didn't have to spend so much on the keyboard.

    So here's what I suggest:
    - set a budget range
    - decide what's important to you about a piano
    - decide what compromises you can accept given your budget
    - if you decide you want a digital piano, decide whether you want a single-case, dedicated digital instrument, a multi-purpose keyboard, or a MIDI controller and VST software.

    Once you've decided on a budget, your choices will narrow and your decision will be somewhat easier. But there are zillions of electronic pianos around in various packagings, so you'll still have many to choose from.

    But the budget is the first choice you have to make.
     
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  7. RobDaglish

    RobDaglish TDPRI Member

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    There’s nothing quite like playing a proper acoustic piano. They are, however, big, heavy and awkward to move, although I have moved a cottage piano upstairs before (UK readers, remember the PG tips advert? The piano really was on my foot and i didn’t appreciate Dad joking about it)

    If you can get a decent one for next to nothing, get it home and get it tuned, great. Otherwise the best digital piano I’ve come across is a Kawai - it’s so good, my wife will even consent to play it, and she won’t even play a baby grand!
     
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  8. Hari Seldon

    Hari Seldon Tele-Meister

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    That's right. Digital pianos are ok, but they can't match the 3-D-sound, dynamics and the projection of a decent real piano.
    I use a digital piano, but I always feel the shortcomings.
    I have an acoustic one, too.
     
  9. CajunJ

    CajunJ Tele-Meister

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    Wow, I could never do that!
     
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  10. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    I'd say you have to get a piano better than a cheap spinet (what my parents bought when I was a kid). The massive grand pianos at church were wonderful but I didn't get to play them that often.

    Today, I 'cheat' by using a MIDI controller and VSTs.
     
  11. drf64

    drf64 Poster Extraordinaire

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    accordians are cheaper
     
  12. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Same reason that Hammond Organs are almost free.
     
  13. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Watto's shop.
    Aah .... and the smell of old wood and paint stripper.
     
  14. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    My daughter has a Casio PX730, sounds amazing IMG_20200628_082754.jpg
     
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  15. CajunJ

    CajunJ Tele-Meister

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    That’s something like I’m looking for. I’m probably going to go the digital route. Pretty good used prices on FBM.
     
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  16. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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    Most cheap pianos can’t be tuned or have lost their tone due to compressed hammers, gunky strings or cracked soundboards. If it will hold a tune and you just want to bang around on it then a cheap one will be just fine. However, there’s a reason a new Steinway can push close to six figures.
     
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  17. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    Love the sound of a real acoustic piano the old upright ones made out of real wood
    a midi keyboard with 88 keys is a fraction of the weight plus the software today sounds real close the real thing
     
  18. slauson slim

    slauson slim Friend of Leo's

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    My late mother-in-law owned a high quality Yamaha baby grand - a good one made in Japan. Beautifully figured satin finish mahogany case, played well, sounded good, well maintained. No bites on Craigslist when we tried to sell it - asking price based on ebay and what sale prices I could find online. I talked to a couple of piano stores about consignment and they told me there was no market for quality baby grands because nearly all baby grand sales were for decorative purposes and quality did not matter. And, their stores were full of new non-name brand or used lower end name brand instruments. On consignment I would have cleared $1,500 or less. They would not buy the piano outright either. We decided to donate the instrument to a church - several refused, an assisted living center - had one or did not want to deal with it. The piano got donated to a college for use in a common room, where we have been told that students and faculty regularly play it.

     
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  19. bettyseldest

    bettyseldest Friend of Leo's

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    We bought our first one about 30 years ago for £20. It was about a quarter of a mile from our house and a couple of farmer friends who knew both vendor and purchaser helped me with the delivery in their trailer. Cost of delivery a couple of pints in the pub the following night. A week or so later we were relieved to find it tuned up nicely.

    My ex-wife played pretty well and five year old daughter was interested. So when my daughter completed a couple of years of lessons we decided it was time to upgrade. We sold the old piano to a guy in the next town who ran a removal business. Our piano tuner had a sideline in reconditioning used pianos so we took a look at his selection. We spent a day playing all the pianos in his workshop then bought an nice Yamaha upright from him. For £750 he delivered it, tuned it, then came back about six months later to tweak the tuning. She sold it back to him a few years ago for a little less than we had paid for it it twenty five years earlier. The piano tuner had someone in mind and took it straight round to their house. He knew the piano having tuned it every year since before we bought it from him.

    Before we bought the piano from him, the piano tuner told us that if he had nothing that interested us he would check over any piano that we wanted to buy. He knew that we would need it tuning every year, and that my wife and daughter would only keep playing if it played well and could be tuned.
     
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  20. Jimclarke100

    Jimclarke100 Tele-Afflicted

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    When I was born, other that their bed and a small sofa the only bit of furniture my parents owned Was my dad’s baby grand, and that has been a fixture in their house to this day.

    Some of my earliest memories are dad doing his five finger exercises, practicing fiendishly difficult classical pieces and the family singing folk songs round the piano. I started to learn Piano for a while but at the time piano tracing was very formulaic - lots of scales and boring simplified classical pieces. My sister learned some, then later my niece (who actually got to quite a respectable grade).

    Dad passed 11 years ago now but mum still keeps the piano tuned and maintained even though it is barely used now. My daughter plays a little bit when we visit but I think that’s pretty much it.

    The piano itself is a lovely instrument. I remember going with dad to try some others in a local piano emporium, and he reckoned to get a similar tone and action to his he’d need to spend over £5000. Trouble is it’s a niche instrument now - not many houses would have the space and the volume would be too much for many situations....
     
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