What Makes Piano Brands Different?  

What Makes Piano Brands Different?  

What Makes Piano Brands Different?  Baldwin
Hamilton
Chickering
Bosendorfer
Haessler
Kawai
Sohmer & Co
Pramberger
Schimmel
Steinway
Wurlitzer
Yamaha

Start searching online to find a good, reputable piano manufacturing company and you’ll quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer number of piano builders to do business with. In fact, in the last 200 years or so, there have been well over 12,000 piano brands in the marketplace. That’s not models … brands.

How do you know which manufacturer to choose?

How do you know which one is best?

And what’s the difference anyway?

Every piano on the market is made in a different way, in its own factory environment, using parts selected by a particular manufacturer. Some are made to be inexpensive alternatives; others are built by hand and designed to be collector’s items; true works of art.

But in all cases, a piano is as unique as the person playing it.

Pianos come in two styles: grands or verticals. Grands can be small to large: a small parlor grand can be 4’5” to a concert grand as large as 10’2”, while a vertical spinet can be 35” in height to a professional vertical at 52”. Choice is usually based on the size of the space you have to place your piano.

When making your selection, you are looking at the touch, or function of the action, and the sound. Each piano creates its own sound; some may be bright with lots of treble, others have lots of bass. Some may sound muffled while others may be vibrant with lots of voice.

It’s a personal preference. What sounds good to you? Because the better your piano sounds, the more likely you are to enjoy making music with it. Testing multiple pianos is the only way you can do that.

Are you ready to see how different piano brands sound?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Digital Piano: Is There A Difference Between Beginner, Intermediate And Advanced Playing Needs?

Digital Piano: Is There A Difference Between Beginner, Intermediate And Advanced Playing Needs?

As a piano dealer, one of the most common questions we receive is “How do I buy a good piano for a beginner?” Do a quick search online, and you’ll find the same question holds true. 

Because when you’re new to an industry, starting up a new hobby, you want to learn what you can before investing in the right equipment. Buying something you’ll outgrow quickly is never a good tactic. Digital Piano: Is There A Difference Between Beginner, Intermediate And Advanced Playing Needs?

And in there lies the problem. If you purchase a good digital piano as a beginner, how long will it last? Will you outgrow the digital piano in just a few short months? 

That could impact your budget big time. Which is why it may be necessary to add more questions as you search for the right piano. Instead of just asking:

  • What’s the best digital piano to buy for a beginner?

Follow it up with:

  • What the best digital piano that will allow me to grow from a beginner to an intermediate or advanced piano player too?

The difference between pianos will provide you with more opportunity not only for playability, but also for sound and function. 

People transition to higher digital piano levels because they have progressed into further understanding of music. They’ve moved beyond basic note letters, chords and compositions and most likely have more general knowledge of music theory. More advanced pianos have a wider range of rhythms and tones, along with more functionality and connectivity options for other platforms. 

By asking the question early in your search process, you can quickly learn what items make the biggest difference. It can also help you choose when to upgrade your requirements to choose a digital piano that can accommodate many of your needs. Possibly for years to come. 

What digital piano is right for you?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Is A Spinet Piano Good Enough?  

Is A Spinet Piano Good Enough?  

Head out to Craigslist, and you’ll find dozens of ads practically giving their pianos away. As you search through the ads, you may see one type appear again and again:

Spinet Piano … as good as new

Do you trust it? Should you move forward and look at it? Should you take it home?

A spinet piano is a very small upright piano, and can be distinguished by their height. Pianos 40” and below are spinets. Compare that with 41 – 44” consoles, or 45” and above as studio uprights. The very tallest – 48” or above – are often thought of as professional or upright grands.

A spinet is different than other pianos because of the way the action is built. The spinet action uses a pull-type drop action rather than the push-type used by other pianos. This makes the action too light and imprecise for students as they learn.Is A Spinet Piano Good Enough?  

A spinet is also has a smaller stature which makes it more difficult to play. Piano players have almost zero dynamic control, which means the effort put into playing it doesn’t result in the right sound or quality.

A young beginner needs a piano with a great sound in order to learn in-tune sound quality and develop ear training. They need a piano that has a good, consistent feel in order to develop proper playing strength and to ensure dynamic control from the moment they touch the keys. Proper feel is needed to improve playing techniques as they learn and grow.

Because spinet pianos are no longer made, the ones you will find on Craigslist or given to you by a family member or a friend are old, worn down, poor quality and inadequate in sound.

When you purchase or are given a spinet as a hand me down, it often sends the wrong message to children. The piano is nothing special, and only there as a temporary item.

A higher quality piano with great sound is more enjoyable to play, more consistent in the feel, and provides dynamic control that can instill a lifetime of enjoyment.

How could your child benefit from playing a high quality instrument?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

What Is A Piano Gray Market?

What Is A Piano Gray Market?

Have you ever heard the term gray market? In the piano industry, it can take on many different situations and circumstances.

Usually, to buy a “new” piano, you must purchase it from an “authorized” dealer. An authorized dealer is one authorized by the manufacturer to sell their brand in your area.

Technically, only an authorized dealer is allowed to sell their brand of piano, offering both warranty and factory support.What Is A Piano Gray Market?

A gray market piano can be new, almost new, or used. It’s a name brand instrument that is being sold in an authorized dealer’s area, but not by the authorized dealer. It may be the piano was not originally intended to be sold in your area, your market, or even in your country.

Piano manufacturers produce pianos in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. They attempt to keep markets separate, wholeselling and retailing them in a variety of ways. For instance, the term gray market has been applied to a large number of used pianos (mostly Yamahas and Kawais) being bought up by wholesalers in Japan and shipped to the United States in freight. While there is little or no market for used Japanese pianos in Japan, there is a larger market for them her in the US. These pianos are often offered at substantial discounts over new pricing, yet there is a discussion over whether these pianos are built for US climate.

In addition, the Internet has caused a great deal of difficulty over territorial agreements. When you advertise online, you may reach into other territories and sell across boundaries. It’s easy to step across the boundaries and sell within another zone.

Gray market is not to be confused with black market. A black market is a piano that is illegally trafficked, and is against the law or government regulations. A black market piano may be one with ivory keys, which is against the law to sell in any state.

The best way to determine if you are fully covered for both warranty and factory parts is to talk with your dealer and ensure your piano meets all requirements. They will be able to provide you with guidance on the right selection for you.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

Why Buy A Digital Piano?

Why Buy A Digital Piano?

There are many arguments both for and against buying a digital piano. Every music teacher has their own preferences. But with the number of technological advancements made over the last few years, it may be time to give digital pianos another look.

The digital piano was first introduced around 1984 by Yamaha. It was designed to improve the traditional acoustic piano, bringing it up to our modern way of life. Yet in many ways it missed the mark. People complained that it didn’t sound like a real piano, nor did it have the right touch and feel. But that didn’t stop people from buying them.Why Buy A Digital Piano?

People bought digital pianos, and continue to do so today, because:

  • They come with a volume button, as well as an option to use headphones to ensure the player can practice whenever they choose without disturbing others in the room.
  • The digital piano is less expensive than their acoustic counterparts.
  • They are not affected by room temperature and environmental conditions in the home.
  • They have many features that allow you to be creative with the way you play, learn and practice.
  • They can record what you do at the touch of a button. They can record to USB stick which can quickly be turned into an MP3 audio file. This brings the art of making music to a different level.
  • Most models are smaller and lighter, so they take up less space and are easier to move around.
  • Most models include a variety of sounds and rhythms beyond just the classic sound of a piano.

Digital pianos make the art of learning to play more fun and less intimidating. Because you can learn in a variety of ways – online or through apps – you can choose to learn how best suits you. It’s no longer a scary process of being intimidated by old-school teachers. If you want to play, simply play anywhere you choose.

If a digital piano is on your wish list, stop by today and learn about all of your options.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

The Most Common Piano Questions We Answer

The Most Common Piano Questions We Answer

I haven’t tuned my piano in years. Can it be tuned now?
In many cases, the answer is yes. But in some cases, pianos that have had years of neglect may need additional tuning – pitch raising – to achieve standard concert pitch. A standard concert pitch ensures that one instrument can play along with another and play in tune. In some cases, if a piano hasn’t been tuned in many years, it may take more than one tuning session to bring the piano back into tune. Adding too much tension at one time can cause the strings to snap. Structural problems may also be identified that can make tuning difficult at best.The Most Common Piano Questions We Answer

When and how often should I tune my piano?
Here in Tennessee, we have a wide variety of weather conditions throughout the year. From cold to hot, with high levels of humidity throughout the year, tuning at least twice a year is usually the best practice. If your piano is brand new, has recently been moved, or has tuning stability problems, more frequent tuning schedule might be needed. The truth is that a piano begins going out of tune from the moment the tuner leaves your home. With rigorous playing, a concert pianist can throw a piano out of tune in one sitting. While the time of year isn’t as important as developing a routine, the change of seasons is often a good time structure to stick with, especially at the end of a particularly brutal season.

I just inherited an old piano. Is it worth fixing up?
To begin, you have to define what it will take to fix up your piano. Was it well taken care of? Was it sitting in a cold, dark, damp basement for the last thirty years? Most pianos can be restored to working condition, and fully restored if it’s of the highest quality workmanship or a beloved family heirloom. Tuning is the best place to start. A reputable tuner will tell you where improvements should be made to bring your piano back into good working condition.

My keys don’t work the way they should. They seem sticky. Some are cracked and chipped, and they don’t seem to play right.
If a key makes a tone when played, the problem is usually minor. If it produces a sound, the parts are in place, they may just need modification to bring them into tune. If it doesn’t make a sound, the problem could be deeper. If you can pinpoint the problem by lifting the lid and peering inside, it can help the tuner understand the problem before he arrives. If keys are chipped, the tops can be replaced. Depending on the age of your piano, it may be made of ivory, in which case replacement of the entire keyboard may be necessary. Ivory can no longer be used, and key tops will be replaced with modern key top material.

What questions do you have about your piano?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

How Digital Pianos Have Changed

How Digital Pianos Have Changed

It’s the event of a lifetime. It’s just the singer and piano player up on stage in front of thousands of people. Then something happens. The microphone inside the piano fall and begin vibrating on the strings.

For many performers, nothing compares to an acoustic piano. They love the sound. But when you’re performing in front of thousands, clarity and amplification are necessary.How Digital Pianos Have Changed

When digital pianos were first introduced in the 1980s, they offered solutions to all of the things that could potentially go wrong in a performance. With digital, there is no tuning before a show, no mics to connect and hook up, no risk of mics falling on the strings. But until recently, digital also meant sounding … electronic.

Acoustic pianos have a large soundboard that measures several feet in diameter. Their keys are weighted and provide a proper feel.

Digital pianos, however, had nothing more than a couple of speakers no more than six inches in diameter. The keys didn’t have the bounce or feel we’ve come to accept through years of practice.

And if it doesn’t feel or sound right, we can’t use it in the best of circumstances. Like performances in front of thousands of listeners.

But digital pianos have gotten better. They’ve taken a hybrid approach to offer the best of both worlds – the rich smell of wood and the feel of traditional spring steel piano strings – with the power of technology.

Today’s digital pianos come in simplest form – a digital version of an acoustic piano – up to one of the most sophisticated instruments that offer everything you could want from technology. You can get all the sound a traditional acoustic piano can produce, but with digital components that can give it an even better sound.

Is a digital piano in your future?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

The 5 Most Popular Piano Styles

The 5 Most Popular Piano Styles

Let’s face it, we don’t all like the same kinds of music in the world today. And with so many different varieties available, why limit yourself to one or two genres?

Unfortunately, many piano teachers approach learning in this manner. They start with the basics and push for the classics. If you’ve been bored in the past, there are different ways to learn. Learning to play the piano should provide you with music you enjoy playing right from the beginning. Overall, there are five different piano styles that top the list.The 5 Most Popular Piano Styles

And when you know the composers, the performers, the style and the sounds, it assists you in your ability to play.

Classics
Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, classical piano was performed for royalty and the upper class throughout Europe. Bach, Beethoven and Mozart led the way. Over time, this music was transformed by other great composers, including Chopin, Handel, Wagner and Tchaikovsky.

Classical piano is where most people start because it forces them to gain a strong technique and knowledge of music theory. And with this in hand, it’s easy to pick up other piano styles.

Jazz
In the early 20th century, pianists such as Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller influenced the music scene throughout the United States. Jazz was a rebellious type of music, as it deviated from the classical rules of play. It incorporated swing, improvisation, ragtime, boogie woogie and bee bop to create new and interesting patterns.

Musical Theater
Broadway composers and lyricists are the foundation for many of the songs we know and love today. Where would we be without greats like Rodgers and Hammerstein, or Gershwin? Today we can also add popular composers like Andrew Lloyd Webber to the list. In all cases, piano is the foundation of what makes live theater as exciting and memorable as it is. And with this type of musical training, it makes very good sight readers and versatility in playing.

Pop Rock
Of course, pop rock is probably the most well loved music of our generation. It’s where most of us migrate to early in our playing process. And with famous piano players like Elton John and Billy Joel, that can be a very good thing. Pop rock allows you to explore new sounds and be able to hum the tune as you play. It’s often easier to pick up because you already know the tunes.

Religious
Religious music is found in all religious practices, bringing their own unique sounding music to the culture. In many cases, it has been passed on from generation to generation, with songs still being an important part of ceremonies today.

Which popular piano style is right for you? Explore your options and find a piano teacher that can help you achieve your music goals.


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

What Do Piano Tuners Do?

What Do Piano Tuners Do?

Piano tuning may seem to be a fairly straightforward process; a tuner simply brings the piano back into tune. And if you watch any do it yourself instruction videos online, it can seem like anyone can do it. If you’re mechanically inclined, have the right tools, it should be a simple process, right? While the process may be simple, mastering it is actually quite difficult. Professional tuners spend their entire careers perfecting their skills. If you get it wrong, the outcome will be noticeable in the way your piano sounds.

Most people don’t understand the reason you tune a piano.What Do Piano Tuners Do?

Tuning a piano is a specific process of setting the tension of the strings using a special tool. They are stretched to a specific point so they will vibrate in harmony. However, tuning is never performed one key at a time. Instead, all keys are used in the process, keeping harmonious sound from all keys. If you were only to tune the pure intervals, the notes would not be the same pitch. Because you must be allowed to play in all keys and octaves, tempering is also required. Equal temperament is used to produce out of tune intervals to make sure the piano sounds right when all notes are played.

A piano tuner’s most important tool is the lever, or hammer, that acts as a key or wrench. It is a specially designed tool that fits piano pins, which are tapered and square. Using a standard socket wrench is not recommended because of the tapering, it will likely slip the tool off the pin and damage the corners. It will also be too short to control tuning and will risk loosening or damaging the pins along the way.

Most piano tuners today use tuning hardware and software to help them through the process. There are many applications available; it’s important to be able to move around as the tuning process takes place. These programs actually hear the tone being played and will automatically display how close you are to the appropriate tune. You can then tighten or loosen the string until you get the appropriate sound from the string.

With the proper tools in place, the tuner begins working on the piano one string at a time. He ensures the string is in place, and provides the proper tune for the note being played. He then continues working on the other strings in the set, which is call tuning unisons. This will set the temperament and allow tuning by octive comparison. This is a process of continuously checking the tuning of each key and using them as a reference to ensure the sound is correct.

Using an electronic tuner for all keys is not a good idea. Each string is a different length, made differently, and has altering resonant characteristics that make it unique. Pitch can be wildly off, something that might not be noticed with electronic tools, but can easily be heard by the human ear. This is where experience comes into play. This is what gives a tuner their unique approach to the process.

When was the last time your piano was tuned?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172

How To Hunt For A Good Used Piano

How To Hunt For A Good Used Piano

You can’t tell how good a piano is just by looking at it. You have to look inside. You have to listen to it.

Because many pianos may give the appearance they are in decent condition from the outside. The wood may be polished and sparkling. The keys may be shiny and ready to play. The outside is kept in good condition because that’s what the world sees.How To Hunt For A Good Used Piano

But when people stop playing the piano and begin ignoring them, they often don’t pay attention to the inside. They don’t dust the insides of the piano. They don’t tune it. They don’t repair it. And that’s what really matters when creating music.

What should you check for?

Play each note. Start at the left and strike each key – white and black – and listen to the tone. Listen for any buzzing or clicking sounds. Pay attention to any keys that stick or won’t create a sound.

Check all tuning pins to see if they have been set into the pinblock. If the pin is set into the pinblock, the string coil may be all the way against the plate, and no longer be able to hold a tune. If you notice any damage around the pins – water marks, moisture stains – it can indicate rust and corrosion, meaning the only way to continue to tune the piano is after a restoration process is completed.

Check both the bass and treble bridges for cracks along the pin line. If cracks exist, it needs restoring before it will produce quality sound. If the piano is a major manufacturer and has high value in the marketplace, it may be worth the process.

If you are looking at a grand piano, get underneath the piano and look across the soundboard for visible cracks. A small amount of pressure against each rib will ensure they are properly adhered to the soundboard and in working condition.

If you are looking at an upright piano, carefully remove the bottom cover to look inside at the soundboard. Inspect the bridge for cracks.

Lift the lid and play each note, one at a time. Watch the hammers in action to determine if the process is smooth and to determine if everything is functioning as it should. Make a note of any problems that will prohibit the piano from creating beautiful sound.

With so many pianos on the market today, it may seem easy to find one to learn on. Don’t be fooled and bring one into your home that is anything less than high quality. A high quality piano creates beautiful music. Anything less will be difficult to play, difficult to learn on, and not provide an experience that encourages growth and longevity.

What experiences have you had when looking for a good used piano?


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172