Why Tone Quality Matters When Buying A New Piano

Why Tone Quality Matters When Buying A New Piano

Are you thinking of buying a new piano? What should you look for?

If this is your first purchase, it’s easy to start with the basics. Things like:

Location – where you’ll place the piano determines how large the piano can be

Color – piano color or stain will ultimately match your decor

Cost – price is always a factor

But to a pianist, there is one more thing you should consider when starting the hunt for the right piano for you … tone quality. 

Tone is how your piano sounds. It’s the voice of the instrument. It’s the sound that the piano makes every time you strike the keys. 

Even the most accomplished musician in the world can’t create beautiful music if the instrument doesn’t cooperate. Imagine sitting in one of the greatest music halls in the world and the pianist strikes a key horribly out of tune. You’d notice it immediately. The same applies to tone. Why play something that sounds tinny instead of robust? 

Tone quality is impacted ultimately by three things:

Physical factors

This includes everything your piano is made from. The wood used for the soundboard. The quality of the strings. How the action was designed. The quality of the wood on everything from hammers to the body of the piano. It also depends on the make and model, and how much care was put into it at the time of production. An upright will sound differently than a grand. A mass production will sound differently than a hand built piano. 


Have you ever wondered why concert halls are built the way they are? It’s to maximize the musical experience. If you’ve ever noticed your favorite song sounds different in your car versus on your stereo at home, you’ve also seen placement at work. When you shop for a new piano, they will ask you where you’ll place it once it arrives at your home. A small alcove will keep the tone smaller compared with placing a piano in a large music room. Furniture, drapery, wall coverings, artwork – it all can impact the sound. And that can give you a richer experience while you play. 


Tone quality is also impacted by the way you care for your piano over the years. Do you tune it regularly? Is the room properly conditioned? Is there enough humidity? Is it impacted by drafts or heated air? Pianos aren’t like other pieces of furniture. Because of the thousands of tiny parts inside, it’s important to ensure it’s cared for properly from the moment it’s delivered to your home. 

Are you in the market for a new piano? Pay attention to tone quality. It will ensure you enjoy playing for years to come. 

10 Tips For Buying An Acoustic Piano

10 Tips For Buying An Acoustic Piano

1. Sample as many pianos as you can

Pianos are not a one-size-fits-all instrument. Each piano has its own unique features, which is impossible to determine simply by looking at it or studying it from an online site. Its important to sit down and play it to see how the keys feel to the touch, and how the overall piano sounds to your ear. With so many different brands, styles, sizes and options, playing is the only way to decide. Even if you have never played before, you can tell a lot simply by sitting in front of it and touching the keys.

2. Look at new and used10 Tips For Buying An Acoustic Piano

Don’t be intimidated by used pianos. The quality from brand names that have been around for decades in some cases is easily matched to today’s new pianos. However, it is important to understand the history if you are considering used. A used piano sitting for decades in a dark, humid basement could be more trouble than its worth.

3. Test out every key and pedal

Especially on a used piano, make sure every key and pedal is in good working condition. Sit at the piano and start at the bottom working your way up. Even if you’ve never played before, you can still hear if notes are out of tune, or determine which keys are sticking or don’t play properly.

4. Keep in mind where your piano will reside

Nothing can be more frustrating than loving the sound of a piano where you purchased it, only to be disappointed with the sound at home. Room size, ceiling height, ceiling material, flooring, window coverings – all of it impacts the overall sound quality your piano will have.

5. Who is moving your piano?

When you purchase a piano from a dealer, they will usually be able to accommodate your moving needs. But if you buy from a private seller, you will be fully responsible for moving your piano. Keep in mind that a piano is a delicate instrument. It can’t be jostled and thrown into the back of a truck the way you would move a couch or a table. And try getting a grand piano up five flights of stairs; difficult for even the professionals. For the safety of the movers and the piano, its best to have it professionally moved.

6. Do your homework first

Buying a piano can be a big investment. Rather than purchasing the first one you find, shop around and do a little research online. You’ll find many articles on this site, and with a quick Google search you can read more about major manufacturers and the quality of individual brands.

7. Restoration isn’t a bad thing

In some cases, the word restoration can bring suspicion into the equation. If someone tells you a used car has been restored, it may signal a major accident, which could cause more problems down the road. Not so with a piano. Pianos from yesteryear often were built with the highest quality. Restoration is usually performed because the piano still has value, and with certain parts, such as strings and hammers replaced or reconditioned, it continues to increase the value of the instrument. Restored pianos can be a great investment.

8.Tuning is a part of the process

New pianos must be tuned several times in the first year as the piano settles into its new home. Over the years, a piano needs to be tuned on a regular basis to continue working at its peak level. Numbers of hours played does not signify how often a piano must be tuned. Outside conditions continue to impact a piano whether its being played regularly or not.

9. Quality sound can help with longevity

I hear parents all the time say they want an inexpensive piano to start, with the intention of upgrading if their child sticks with it. Instead of starting with a low quality piano, think longevity instead. If you purchase a low quality, out of tune piano just for start up purposes, your child will have trouble “hearing” the sounds of the piano. It won’t sound the same from your home to the instructors room, and its easy to get frustrated and abandon the practice. Quality matters, even to a beginner.

10. Trust a professional

When buying from a private seller, they have one goal in mind: get the piano out of their home. They will do and say anything to make the sale. A professional takes a different approach. A professional wants you to be well informed about your options, and make the best choice for your situation. They want you to be happy with your final selection and have years of enjoyment from your purchase. And if they have been in business for decades, reputation matters, so you can rest assured you won’t be pushed into a quick sale for the money alone.