Need help choosing a starter piano

Posted by: pjperez20

Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/08/13 01:29 AM

I'm looking to purchase a vertical piano for my five year old who is heading into her 2nd year of lessons. I'd rather go acoustic than digital. Appraiser is charging me $150 to evaluate fair market value of a piano. I just want to make sure they're not going to fall apart. I've found three options, but not sure which I should go for. I'm leaning towards the Yamaha and then the Sohmer Console. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

1. Sohmer & Co. Console - Model 34J (Built in 1978 per bluebookofpianos.com). Ad says piano sounds great. Asking price is $750 OBO
2. Yamaha 45" upright. Price is $325. Ad says plays great and in very good condition.


3. Sohmer upright - FREE. Working condition, a few keys warped.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/08/13 01:52 AM

The Yamaha sounds like a bargain to me, if there is nothing drastically wrong with it.
Posted by: pjperez20

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/10/13 09:00 PM

Thanks BDB. Unfortunately, the Yamaha was taken already. So now it's between the Sohmer Console and this Baldwin Acrosonic I found. Asking price on the Baldwin is $300. I plan on checking both out this weekend and taking whichever is in better condition.

I've been told that Baldwin is a good piano but that the Sohmer is a great piano. Has anyone played both?

Here's two pictures of the Baldwin.



Posted by: BDB

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/10/13 09:58 PM

I think you should wait for something better to show up.
Posted by: pjperez20

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/10/13 10:06 PM

Thanks BDB. What would you recommend as a starter piano for a 5 year old (1 year of lessons) and what price range should I be looking at?
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/10/13 10:39 PM

I appreciate your desire to get an acoustic, but for your approximate budget, a digital is absolutely a better choice for a young beginner. These instruments and others like them will lack the consistent feel and tone that a 5 year old needs. At that age, I place greater emphasis on having an instrument that is easy to use over one with musical potential but that is "hard to drive and hard to steer." It's a better plan until your budget grows to include better acoustic pianos.
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/10/13 10:43 PM

How much are you willing to spend? How much room in the house? Is your house detached? Is she enjoying the lessons and piano?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/10/13 11:20 PM

Look for something about the size, age, and price of the Yamaha.
Posted by: Bob

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/11/13 07:20 AM

A Yamaha for $350 doesn't come by too often. Your budget at about $350 is too low to get a decent quality acoustic piano that feels good. If a piano doesn't feel good, and is difficult to play, children lose the incentive to play it. I like Baldwin Acrosonics. They were quality pianos when first built, and have lasted pretty well thoughout the years. I no longer recommend big old uprights like you have pictured. They are mostly ALL worn out, and the cost to rebuild them exceeds buying a new piano. Don't get a big old upright, unless a technician has approved it.

The Baldwin Acrosonic spinet from the 1960's and later is a pretty safe bet - open the lid and the bottom piano and make sure it's doesn't have rust or water stains. A musty smell is a bad sign. Check that each key plays several times quickly. If it passes those, you are probably ok.

Baldwin Acrosonics from the 1950's are a bit more iffy, and the 40's are pretty worn at this point.

In my market, a Baldwin Acrosonic in good shape is a $700-900 piano. At $350, your budget is very low to get a decent piano.
Posted by: Nash. Piano Rescue

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/11/13 03:02 PM

See now in my area teachers don't care for young kids on digital pianos for two reasons. One is all the other buttons and switches that distract young players and the other is lag, a young kid may not notice that but it drives some people nuts depending on type. Also don't let your teacher over-spend your budget, you are buying this for your son not someone else.



J C
Nashville Piano Rescue
Since 1918
Lascassas TN
Posted by: Nash. Piano Rescue

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/11/13 03:06 PM

One more thing you are forgetting is getting the piano moved to your location. Maybe try to find something with delivery included especially in NY. It could easily be another 300 or more if there are stairs involved.

J C

Nashville Piano Rescue
Since 1918
Lascassas TN
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/11/13 07:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
See now in my area teachers don't care for young kids on digital pianos for two reasons. One is all the other buttons and switches that distract young players and the other is lag....
For one, except for perhaps a few poorly thought out off brands, digitals don't lag. Actually, they program the same real world delay that it takes for the hammer to reach the string and have the sound travel 4 feet or so to your ears, just like the real thing. That's maybe a couple of milliseconds, but Casio, Yamaha, Roland, Kawai, Korg & Kurzweil all do that correctly to make it behave as a real piano does.

Second, while crappy toy keyboards have all kinds of deficiencies for learning, most starter digital pianos have a minimum of distractions. For example, Yamaha recently introduced a model P35B. It's the same action as their super popular P85, P95, P105, DGX-640, YDP-141 etc. It's $449 everywhere (and a little less in some places) and it has only a power button and a single function button. Without blinking, I know of at least 6 models that have no more than 7 buttons. If they can't handle 7, how are they ever going to handle 88?? And those distractions...most often that's the metronome.

I know this is the piano forum, but logic should hit you like a baseball bat when you are talking about the moving cost + first tuning cost being more that 30% of the value of the instrument, that it's not "a deal". It's not a good plan.

If your student is a born pianist, you can give them anything to learn on and they'll thrive. 99% of us may learn to like piano but only 1% are born to do it. Give the advantages you can and don't torment the student by asking them learn on the equivalent of a car without first gear and a flat tire. It's like taking expired medicine...it probably won't hurt you but it probably won't help you either. If you don't think it is that bad, I'm here to tell you that it often is.

If you are an experienced pianist, you can easily ride rough over the bumps and play a song, but to a beginner, those are big potholes, loose gravel, and confusing street signs.

If you have a family piano with lots of sentiment, I can understand spending money to keep it going, but at some point and if there is no sentiment, you are not buying someone else's piano, you're buying someone else's problem. Make your first piano a positive thing and take the savings from service and put it towards a better acoustic.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/11/13 07:16 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoWorksATL
[quote=Nash. Piano Rescue]Without blinking, I know of at least 6 models that have no more than 7 buttons. If they can't handle 7, how are they ever going to handle 88??...

I think you need at least 8 buttons for a full octave. I have a keyboard necktie with that many. It cannot play a lot of tunes, I am afraid! smile
Posted by: pjperez20

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/15/13 07:24 PM

Thank you for all your help. I ended up buying the Yamaha P105B for $599. Unfortunately, none of the pianos I looked at were in good condition (the Baldwin Acrosonic had 18 keys stick). This should do for now and if my daughter is still interested in a few years, we can then upgrade to an upright.
Posted by: woodfab

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/15/13 09:11 PM

There are what I would call some decent pianos out there for cheep money even free.

Yes it dose take some effort to find them.

I set my home page for (craigslist search piano) so every time I opened my browser it showed me the latest ads.

Having a tech look at five or more pianos can get quite expensive. If you had a friend who plays could be a real help on weeding out the bad ones. Then when you find one you like then maybe get a tech.

If your looking for a decent one for less than $700 then it could take awhile.

Two of the nicest pianos I owned were the ones I got for free.

Don't rush into it. Spend a little time learning what to look for.

Oops, sound like you already found a nice one.
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/17/13 08:47 PM

i have been using a 20-yr-old yamaha console (cost apx $2000) many years ago when i started to play piano from Grade 12 (which i didnt really like).
I just bought a yamaha-p105 digital keyboard few months ago (apx $750 in Canada, if include peddle probably close to 1k), i must say at it exceed my expectation in almost everyway (for the money). It is better than the yamaha, actions, tones.

But it is not better than U1. for the money u may want consider the keyboard. And leave the option to upgrade to a better piano later. while you can always keep the keyboard to replace the silent mode (play at night).
Posted by: Amaruk

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/17/13 09:10 PM

Originally Posted By: pjperez20
Thank you for all your help. I ended up buying the Yamaha P105B for $599. Unfortunately, none of the pianos I looked at were in good condition (the Baldwin Acrosonic had 18 keys stick). This should do for now and if my daughter is still interested in a few years, we can then upgrade to an upright.


Great choice!! I suspected that the pianos above were not described accurately (very common). Even if you buy and acoustic piano later your P105B will be perfect for silent practice. I have two digitals and a grand piano myself. Please let us know how she likes it when you get it. It is so great that you let her start piano this young!!
Posted by: leokatero

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/17/13 09:29 PM

I just bought a yamaha-p105 digital keyboard few months ago
Posted by: Amaruk

Re: Need help choosing a starter piano - 01/17/13 09:33 PM

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