We finally got around to signing DC1 up for piano lessons this past fall, about a year after we meant to.
Ze really really likes it. The first things ze does when ze gets home is hir piano practicing, and sometimes if ze gets up early enough, ze’ll practice piano before going to school.
Unfortunately, the $100 keyboard hir grandparents got hir doesn’t have weighted keys, so you can’t do piano or forte, just one volume. And there’s no pedals for sustained sound. Since it seems like DC1 is going to stick with it, we really need to get hir a real piano to practice on.
Well, almost a real piano.
Looking up how to buy a used piano online is terrifying. Page after page talking about how you need to have a trusted professional with you at point of purchase or you may end up with something that’s only good for hauling to the dump (something you will, of course, have to pay for yourself). New pianos are confusing as well, though the only terrifying thing about them is the price point.
So… on the advice of one our readers (I think chacha, but maybe it was Ms. PoP), we looked into digital pianos. They’re new and under warranty. They don’t have to be tuned every year. They cost a fraction of what a low grade real piano costs. And… they don’t sound too bad.
After reading tons of reviews and scouring the piano forum, we decided to get a low-mid-level Casio for $1099. Specifically the Casio PX850 BK 88-Key Touch Sensitive Privia Digital Piano. This piano is on all of the top 10 digital piano lists that I found. Although it was only #1 on one of those lists, the #1s on the other lists weren’t even listed on many of the lists (if that makes sense). The only detracting thing on the Amazon reviews is that some people find that after several weeks of intense playing, the keys start to clack a little because the pads wear thin (they should be wool, complains one reviewer), but that seems to be a potential problem across our price range, and probably isn’t one our 7 year old will encounter for a few years. The piano forums recommend this one as a good learning piano, and while some people have preferred digital pianos, nobody really says anything bad about this piano (while those “preferred” pianos all have detractors). Everyone seems to agree that this piano is pretty good and is a good value.
We tried to find a place in town that carried it that we could listen and then buy from, but the place in town that said they had it turned out to be out of stock. They did have the $1699 Yamaha that some people prefer to the Casio (and many people do not), and we weren’t that impressed with it. We talked about trying to find a place in the city that has a bunch of pianos we could listen to, but it seems like all the shops in the city have a monopoly of one brand– they just carry Yamaha or just Roland etc. And we didn’t really want to go into the city this weekend anyway.
So we ended up getting it without listening to it from Amazon. I splurged and got the recommended bench for $44 instead of a slightly less expensive one because someone in the reviews said that one of the settings fit hir 4 year old.
The Casio came in less than a week. DH spent the evening putting it together, mostly after DC1 slept. At 10-something, he got DC2 and me to look at and listen to the finished product. It’s beautiful. It looks like a real piano, but it’s slimmer. It feels like a real piano. It sounds like a real piano. Plus, unlike that $1700 Yamaha, it didn’t have tons of confusing controls. Its controls are even more intuitive than the controls on DC1′s old $100 keyboard. It probably has fewer features, but we don’t need a keyboard that can bark like a dog, we need a keyboard that mimics a regular piano.
We congratulated ourselves on doing a good job picking a piano out (and thanked our lucky stars), even if we weren’t able to check out the piano in person first. It’s exactly what we need and it’s much nicer than the ones we saw at the local store, even the equally and more expensive ones. So we’re very happy with our purchase. DC1 loves it too. It’s scary spending $1000+ on something you’re not sure about. Getting it wrong is an expensive and/or annoying proposition (depending on if you return the purchase or not).
So yay for top 10 lists and yay for piano forums and amazon and satisficing.
Have you ever made a big purchase partly-blind like this? How did it work out? How do you decide on big purchases?