To Buy or Not To Buy

 

The three questions New Yorker’s need to ask themselves before purchasing a piano or keyboard.

There are many people who are really truly interested in finally learning to play the piano but the problem is that in order to get better quickly you need to be able to practice, which brings up the question of where.

The Good news is that in New York City there are a number of ways to get around this lack of having a piano.

If you already have a piano or good keyboard then you are all set, however, if you don’t…then read on and take a gander at all of the possibilities.

There are 3 main questions that you have to ask yourself to help you figure out what you should do.

Where, What and How…

1. Where do you keep it? At home – Away from home

2. What kind of instrument? Acoustic Piano or Electric Keyboard

3. How you pay for it? Rent or Purchase

Now you may think the answer will be obvious, but there are more possibilities than you may imagine, and depending on your unique situation you may prefer one over the other. Either way the goal of this article will be to give you all the possible information to make the best decision that works for you.

Question No. 1 

Where do you keep it?

At Home

If you want to keep your instrument at home so you can practice on it, you can immediately go to question 2.

However, I invite you read just so you are aware of the possibilities.

Away from Home

The other option is (obviously) to keep the instrument somewhere else.

You can see if a friend will let you practice at their house, or if there is a nearby church, however those can get tricky negotiating practice time and staying focused.

Fortunately in New York City there are dozens of rehearsal spaces and practice rooms that you can rent out for a set period of time. The prices range from $12/hr to around $25/hr just for a small room with a piano or keyboard to practice on.

Rehearsal Studios That Rent Hourly in the City

244 Rehearsal Studios (most rooms have baby grands) – http://www.244rehearsalstudiosny.com/

Ripley Grier Studios (4 different locations) – http://www.ripleygrier.com/

Shelter Studios – http://www.shetlerstudios.com/ 

Nola Rehearsal Studios – https://www.nolarehearsal.com/

National Opera Center – https://www.operaamerica.org/content/OperaCenter/rates.aspx

There are many others in the city as well, a quick google search for “practice rooms nyc” or “Rehearsal Studios NYC” may find you one closer to your desired location but here is a good starter set for pianists.

** Please note always be sure to check on the price of the room, as the price of the room changes depending on the size of the room not necessarily the type of piano. 

Question No. 2

What Kind of Instrument Would You Like?

When it comes to instruments there are 3 main kinds,  acoustic or electric and hybrid.

Before I discuss these points please note that any of these suggestions will work for beginner pianists, it all depends on space, and how much you want to invest.

Acoustic

Acoustic pianos are the kind of piano you think of when you think of a piano, a beautiful wooden instrument with a metal frame and metal strings. These instruments are great and you can actually get one for less than you may think (See Question 3). But they are big and much more of a permanent fixture than a keyboard. So if you move apartments often, it may not be the best choice. They also require tunings which are extra but necessary expenses.

A common concern for acoustics in NYC is dealing with neighbors, but there are several fixes so that your neighbors would never even know. With this google is your friend, and also remember that the piano is connected to the ground so the floor below you will get the most of the sound.

Electric

Electric pianos have the most flexibility. They come in all shapes and sizes, what they lack in sound quality (as compared to acoustics pianos) they make up for in versatility.

Electric pianos are great as you can put in headphones and practice to heart content never bothering anyone.

The trick with electric pianos is knowing what are important features vs unimportant features. Below is a list of things that they keyboard needs to have for you to make progress studying the piano (MUST-HAVE) and then a feature that is preferred but not absolutely necessary (IDEALLY) and then a feature that should tell you to not buy it (DON’T BUY)

Number of Keys

MUST-HAVE at least 49 (at the absolute bare minimum) preferably 60 keys full size keys. IDEALLY 88 full size keys. DON’T BUY  if the keyboard has less than 49 keys, you’ll quickly out grow it.

Size of Keys

MUST-HAVE full sized keys. The keys should be the same size as a normal piano. IDEALLY    the keys are weighted so they have the same resistance as an acoustic piano and don’t feel like a computer keyboard. DON’T BUY if the keys are half size.

Pedal

MUST-HAVE a sustain pedal or a port in the back where you can plug one in. A sustain pedal is a crucial part of learning to play the piano. IDEALLY the keyboard would have 2 or 3 pedals, but is not necessary especially in the beginning phases. DON’T BUY if the keyboard has no pedal and no place to plug one in.

On-board speakers and sounds – (You should be able to plug in the power and play out loud.)

MUST-HAVE speakers on the keyboard itself so that it will play sound out loud on its own (without an amp) IDEALLY the keyboard will have speakers and a headset port so you can plug headphones into. DON’T BUY if it doesn’t have speakers or sounds already on the keyboard.

**Special Note: This is tricky only because they make midi controllers which are piano keyboards that you plug into the computer to work. These midi controllers don’t produce sound on their own and require a computer to work. You want a keyboard that is a an electric piano as well as a midi controller (it has a midi port in the back)for the most flexibility. While most keyboards can function as midi controllers,  most midi controllers can’t function as keyboards without a  computer.

Hybrid

These instruments are a bit pricier than your typical starter piano, but they have the feel and sound of an acoustic piano, but you can also literally flip a switch and then it functions like an electric piano, complete with volume control, sound changes, headphone capability as well as midi availability.

Question No. 3

How do you want to pay for it?

There are 3 ways you can pay for a piano or keyboard.

  1. Rent
  2. Rent to Own
  3. Purchase

Rent

For all keyboards there are several places in the city that allow you to rent for periods of time. Rental costs normally include a moving fee that includes delivery and pickup as well as 1 or 2 tunings (for acoustic pianos). Depending on the space you have you could rent an upright piano for as little as $60 a month, or up to $300 if you want a top of the line instrument.

Many people are hesitant to think about renting a piano, but price-wise it is sometimes the most economical. After the moving fees paying $60 a month is actually the equivalent of paying for 3-4 hours of practice a month in a city practice room. So be sure to run the numbers to see what works best for you

Rent to Own

Many of the companies that rent pianos also offer rent to own programs. Where you can start out renting the instrument and paying the normal fees and then you would be given the option to buy it deducting the amount that you have already spent to rent it. This is a great option if you want to try out an acoustic piano. (I don’t know for sure if they offer this for keyboards but its worth checking around for)

Purchasing

Finally the most obvious way would be to purchase the keyboard or piano. You can buy it in one fell swoop, or for most purchases of keyboards and pianos you can figure out financing and keep the monthly rate surprisingly low.

Also be sure to check locations such as local classified ads, craigslist (carefully) and also eBay, as well as Amazon. Used instruments are always an option and you may find some real gems, but you may have to search a bit.

Here is a partial list of places that offer Rent, Rent to Own, or Purchasing Options located in Manhattan.

Piano Piano Rentals – https://pianopiano.com/

Beethoven Pianos  – http://www.beethovenpianos.com/rentals

Sam Ash – http://www.samash.com/keyboards/

**Special Note – Be sure to check thoroughly in websites and stores as they will often have a wide variety of price ranges, both high and low.

In Conclusion

If you live in New York there are many more options than you may have imagined to finally be able to learn to play the piano. By asking yourself the three questions:

Where do you want to keep it?

What kind of instrument would you like?

How do you want to pay for it?

You’ll see that you have many more options than you might have originally imagined. 

Playing piano is a great, exciting, life-long activity that is excellent for people of all ages. If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to start lessons, don’t wait any longer reach out today and schedule a free trial lesson, to see if it will be right for you.