Beyond the Price Tag
A piano is an investment in a lifetime of musical learning. No matter what type of piano you choose, you should get enjoyment and fulfillment from playing the instrument! As with any big investment, there are some costs to consider beyond the ticket price: Delivery/moving: Digitals and keyboards can often be moved in your own vehicle, but an acoustic requires extra care! A professional piano mover can work wonders, fitting a piano through tight spaces to get it into your home. A true pro will even know how to disassemble a piano if necessary. Some general moving companies offer piano moving as a service. Expect to pay around $150-200 USD as a base price. As we discussed in our Where to Buy Your Piano post, some piano dealers will include the cost of the initial moving and tuning in the ticket price. This is not so for private or online sellers.
Don’t forget the accessories!
Digital pianos in particular require more “extras” than acoustics do when you first purchase. Many of these items can be bought off-brand for much lower prices than their on-brand versions, though some are worth the extra bucks.
- Bench: Benches are often sold separately for any type of piano. They start around $20 for a basic stool. Adjustable benches are great for growing musicians or families with multiple players! We found a few on Amazon for about $50-70.
- Stand: Some digital pianos come with an attached stand or “cabinet,” but many do not. Stands start at about $25 for the most basic, though we recommend going a little higher for quality and sturdiness. Also, this is one item you may want to get from the same brand as your instrument to get the best fit.
- Music rest: If your instrument doesn’t come with a place to rest your sheet music or tablet, you’ll need to get one! Music rests start at about $15. This is another item you might want to buy from your piano’s brand, since it’s more likely to fit properly.
- Headphones: One of the points of having an electronic piano is that you can practice with headphones! You can get a decent set for around $20. Some keyboards/digitals require a special “headphone jack” that’s larger than the typical plug. These run for about $5 a piece; some headphones will come with them.
- Note: We do NOT recommend using Bluetooth headphones, even if your instrument is Bluetooth-enabled. There’s a sound delay that can be quite frustrating!
Broken parts. Natural disasters. Moving. Upgrading. Whatever instrument you choose, there are some down-the-road costs to know about. The one factor that will help keep them low? Quality. Really, we can’t emphasize this enough: The better quality the instrument, the fewer headaches you’ll have later on! Some expected future costs can include:
- Tuning about twice a year for acoustics. According to Thumbtack, the average cost of tuning for an upright piano is between $100-120. See our posts on Piano Care and How to Get Your Piano Tuned for more info!
- Other maintenance for acoustics, such as regulation and voicing, may be advisable every few years. This would be done by your tuner. The better the instrument’s quality, the less maintenance it will need.
- Repairs: It’s much easier to get replacement parts for acoustic pianos since they haven’t changed a whole lot in the last century. Still, repairs can range from double to triple digits.
- Upgrading: If you start out on a basic keyboard, you will want to upgrade to at least a good digital piano as soon as possible – possibly within the first year of lessons.
Also keep in mind that digital pianos and keyboards generally have shorter life spans than acoustics. A good quality digital can easily last a decade (mine has!), but some will wear out after a couple years. Also, digital technology changes fast! An app that works with your keyboard this year might not be supported two years from now.
The Bottom Line
Now you have a better picture of what to expect in your piano shopping experience! You know what to look for (88 keys weighted keys), where to shop, and what to expect as far as costs. Next time, it’s our long-awaited 2019 update of our favorite piano picks! We’ve tested, researched, and number-crunched many acoustic, digital, and keyboard instruments to help narrow the field for you, so stay tuned!