This post was originally published on 6/24/2015.
"Mom, I want to learn how to ski." "Okay, let me see if I can find you some used skis online." The mother then proceeds to browse online where she finds some very aged, antique wooden skis with rusted metal straps. "Found 'em," she says.
This may seem absurd, but the truth is, parents do this all the time. Maybe not with skis, but with pianos. Many times I have been called to a home to service a newly acquired piano and I am told by my client that they bought the piano for their child who wants to take piano lessons. The piano is ancient. It is way out of tune, the action is sluggish at best, and some of the white keytops have fallen off. "I figure if they like playing, then we'll get them a better one down the road."
What are the chances a child will enjoy playing the piano when given such an instrument? How well would a child enjoy skiing if they were shoved down a slope on some old wooden skis? Hopefully you get the point.
Please, do not get your beginner an old, beat up piano. The best answer to the title question is this: the very best that you can afford. This does not mean they need a $120K Steinway. It means they need a clean, properly working piano with all of its parts and is able to hold a tune. There are plenty of relatively inexpensive pianos out there that are in perfect working order, but will not break the bank.
Music stores are a good place to look for used pianos. They have a reputation to uphold and generally service used pianos before selling them. They also send the used pianos to the dump when that is where they belong. Please exercise great caution when buying used pianos from private sellers. Many sellers do not know anything about pianos and will list something suitable for the dump with a title like "Beautiful Old Piano - Great for Beginners." The only thing you will be saving if you buy such a piano is a trip to the dump for the seller.
If you do find a piano online that you are interested in, I recommend that you have it looked at by a qualified technician before purchase to make sure you aren't buying junk for yourself or your child.
If you live in the Boise, Idaho area and are considering purchasing a piano, contact me and I would be happy to offer you some advice or arrange to complete a pre-purchase inspection for you.