Buying A Child’s First Piano

Buying A Child’s First Piano

How do you buy a child’s first piano if you aren’t a musician yourself?

For many parents, doing a little research only confuses the situation. 

The child’s piano teacher may offer advice: “Make sure the piano has full size, weighted keys.” What does that mean?Buying A Child’s First Piano

Searching the Internet makes a case for both acoustic and digital pianos. What’s the difference?

And in the back of your mind is a little voice that says: “How long will she even play?”

These questions are all valid questions that every parent faces when pushing their child into music. 

Let’s start with the basic setup of a piano. Pianos are either acoustic or digital. Think of acoustic as the more traditional piano, with keys attached to strings, and an action that moves to create the sounds. Digital technology has come a long ways over the past decade to where a high quality digital piano can closely mimic a traditional feel and sound. 

Whichever piano you choose – acoustic or digital – the most important aspect is the sound it makes and the way it feels underneath your fingers. If it sounds good, your child will naturally want to play more. And if they have the right touch, they’ll better understand how to play the instrument. Both will make the entire process a more enjoyable experience. 

Now let’s talk about the keys. A full size piano has a full set of keys with 88 notes. Smaller keyboards may have 61 notes or 76 notes, and in most cases, these smaller keyboards have unweighted keys. Beginners start off only needing a few notes. But that quickly progresses as they begin improving their musical skills. Having fewer notes means your child will quickly outgrow the smaller keyboard. And if you haven’t ever felt the difference between a weighted and unweighted key, try it the next time you stop by our shop. You will feel a significant difference between the two responses. If a child starts with unweighted keys, they will find moving to weighted keys more of a struggle and will have a harder time transitioning to the next level of playing. Which means they will be more inclined to give up. 

If you want your child to play, you have to give her the proper tools to put into action. That doesn’t mean you’ll have to break the bank; it simply means selecting the right tools for the right time. We can help you do that, no matter what your budget or at what level your child is currently playing. 


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

Tips For Buying A Child’s First Piano

Tips For Buying A Child’s First Piano

One of the most daunting tasks to help your child appreciate music is to buy your child her first piano. If you are not a pianist or musician yourself, where do you start? What should you buy?

There are many choices available in the marketplace today, with an equal number of sources to purchase from. Where do you start? Who do you trust?Tips For Buying A Child’s First Piano

After several decades in the business, I have helped many families face this task. And with my experience, I know there are a few things that will make the process even easier. Most people start the process with three questions in mind.

1. My child’s piano teacher recommended getting a piano with full size weighted keys. How do I know if the piano I’m selecting has this in place?

2. Should I buy an acoustic or a digital piano? Is there a difference? How will it impact playability?

3. I’m not sure if my child will continue playing the piano. This may be a six month process like many other things we’ve tried. Should I start with a small keyboard and upgrade when my child shows interest?

Here’s how I answer all three.

1. What is full size weighted keys?
A full size piano has a full set of keys in place. Smaller keyboards come with a more compact size, offering 61 or 72 note keyboards. Beginners start off playing simpler music, and therefore don’t have a full range of playability, so in many cases people settle for smaller keyboards. Yet nothing can be more frustrating than reaching your limit quickly, and not being able to find the proper notes because they simply aren’t there.

If you’ve ever touched the notes on a well built piano, you’ve probably noticed that the keys have a certain touch and feel to them. The keys on a traditional acoustic piano have a weighted action because of the playing process. When a key is pressed, it triggers the hammer into action to hit the string and create sound. Some digital pianos have weighted keys to simulate this hammer action. This is required to help a child build strength in their fingers, and understand how to make music from heavier keys. If they learn on a non-weighted piano, they may have trouble transferring this skill to other pianos, and reduce their chances of playing for the long term.

2. Is there a difference between acoustic and digital?
Some teachers are adamant that their students learn on acoustic. Other teachers concern themselves with how a child once to play. Because digital technology can emulate acoustic piano playing effectively, it’s more important that you choose a quality piano that helps keep the desire high for what your child has in mind. If they want portability and want to play in a band, you may be better investing in a high quality digital piano that allows flexibility.

3. Should I stay with an inexpensive piano until my child has a proven track record and I know she’ll continue playing?
We hear this concern a lot. A piano can be a large expense, depending on the piano you select. And if your child moves on to another interest after only a few months of playing, it can leave you frustrated. Which is why many turn to finding inexpensive models through family, friends, or an Internet search.

There is a difference between pianos. A digital piano without weighted keys has a different feel and sound than a higher end digital piano. An acoustic piano that has sat in a garage for years without tuning and without proper maintenance will never be able to produce the same sound as one well cared for.

The quality of a piano has every impact on a child’s enthusiasm to play. You can’t expect a child to love soccer if they play with a flat ball. You can’t expect a child to love music if you give them an inferior instrument to make music with. The only way to build proper skills and a love for playing is to do so with a quality piano.

If you have any further questions, please stop by our retail location any time.


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