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Piano Advice

Key factors to consider when buying a piano

A pile of price lists, brochures, conflicting reviews and advice from someone who bought their piano 10 years ago, just doesn’t help in finding today’s best piano for you.

Some advice you may receive could be based on a one-off experience with only one piano from a manufacturer’s entire range, and it may not necessarily have been a new and current model either. Comments praising the most expensive of pianos as a ‘dream’ instrument may not be based on any experience with such a piano at all, but due to the fact that the piano is simply of such a high price. In today’s market, the highest price is no guarantee of the highest quality.

We have carefully selected what we believe, from our extensive experience and expertise, to be the best buys in the market, today.

Rest assured, we promote quality AND value. We do not promote today’s overpriced pianos thriving on yesterday’s status.

Whether you are looking to satisfy a small budget or in search for a concert instrument, the key factors in ascertaining a ‘Best Buy’ are:

Component Quality: Action, Hammers, Soundboard, Strings, Frame

These parts dictate the quality of touch and tone, and tuning stability. The mechanical longevity from a quality action and sustained tonal longevity from quality hammers, are invaluable. Quality soundboards deliver superior tonal resonance and dynamic range. Poor quality strings will restrict the pronunciation and tone, and particularly in the bass (copper wound steel) creating false beats and loss of clarity. The best frames are made in a vacuum to eliminate imperfections and weak spots from any tiny pockets of air. On older pianos, even the most prestigious, iron frames can develop hairline cracks after re-stringing. Tuning stability from a quality frame and advanced scaling, play a substantial role in the performance and life of the instrument.

Build Quality: Cabinetry, Structural Reinforcements, Assembly

Good components can be almost useless in a poorly assembled instrument. Structural reinforcements, such as backposts can improve the tuning stability and can also improve resonance. The quality of the cabinetry is very important for a number of reasons including the development of buzzes, rattles, squeaks etc. and a poor quality cabinet, close up, doesn’t look good.

Size: String Length, Soundboard Area

Subject to equivalent or superior quality in all areas, bigger pianos are better. The larger frame (iron plate) accommodates longer strings with superior and smoother scaling between registers. The frame is fitted to the front of the soundboard, which also benefits from the size. A bigger piano may produce a better tone, but be sure that the design and condition (and, if used, wear) of the mechanical components (keyboard, action, hammers) is not compromised against a smaller piano of the same price.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!

A piano with a delightful ‘sweet spot’ or ‘really good bass’ is not so good if the rest is quite average. The tonal pronunciation of each note must be consistent. The touch must also be consistent in repetition, response and expression. Be aware that many pianos of all prices can sound very different from an identical model. Therefore, you could be buying a ‘below average’ example. Pay a deposit, rather than in full, on a piano you order if it is not in stock in the chosen finish. Ask to see the piano to test its characteristics prior to delivery and final payment. However, some advanced manufacturers are producing pianos with excellent factory output consistency. Subject to equal preparation, two new pianos of the same model by the likes of Yamaha can sound very similar indeed.

Aesthetics: Style of Cabinet, Choice of Finishes

A very large item in your home or institution – so looks are important. This is not always the main factor in making the piano right for you, but it does matter to some more than others. Many prefer a good solid looking instrument and others prefer the small, modern style pianos for something a little more discreet. Size does matter, and smaller pianos often lack depth, bass and dynamic range.

The End Result: How the piano performs altogether

You could know everything about every piano on the market, but that won’t change the ‘end result’. The way the piano actually performs in tone, touch and the way it looks are what make the piano your choice. Just ensure that you feel entirely confident that the above factors have been satisfied and you should be with the right piano.

Based on 28 reviews
Riley Phillips
I bought a Yamaha piano 6 months ago and since then I have received incredible customer service which has been delivered quickly and professionally. I would definitely recommend to anyone whether they need any help with pianos or are looking to purchase and all the pianos are of incredible quality and are clearly cared about.
Derren Felber
Venable Pianos are simply amazing! I am a Pianist and Vocal Coach and have been fortunate enough to work on TV Show’s like “BBC Let it Shine” and “THE Voice UK” as well as many national theatre productions. Earlier this year I needed to replace my pian o as it was beyond economical repair, so I contact Venable Pianos for help. I chose the Venable & Sons Custom 200 which is a 6’5” Grand Piano. Initially the piano sounded amazing, but it didn’t quite match what I wanted in terms of Bass and how the vocals would blend with the treble. After speaking to the highly knowledgeable Will, he instantly knew what sound I wanted and how to achieve the desired tonal characteristics that I needed. Will made all the changes (hammer voicing) in front of me and you could really see how great he is at getting perfection from the instrument. THE PIANO WAS TRANSFORMED!!! The piano jumped into life exactly as I wanted it too and I was sold on the piano! The build quality is superb and with German strings and Top-quality German Hammers I would confidently put this up against any well-known brand and come out on top! I have coached, recorded and played this piano for quite some time now and I can honestly say it’s the BEST piano I have ever owned!!! The piano blends into the vocal range very well, and when you need a solo or more power (for the piano to become the main point) its so capable to do so. One feels like ZEUS with lightening bolts because the instrument responds so well! The detail in the refinement of casework is also outstanding, even their used instruments look brand new!!! The level of care that goes into the preparation is like no other! Will really understands your needs and the showroom and environment are wonderful. I can honestly say Venable Pianos are the best piano shop I have ever been to or worked with and their pianos are outstanding! I cannot recommend them highly enough!!!!!!!!!!
Katherine Rabey-Bennett
Fantastic customer service and we love our new piano! Will was so helpful, extremely knowledgeable and not at all pushy. We had a great experience browsing the pianos in the store after calling half an hour before popping in. We spent quite a while chatting to Will about the different models and he gave us plenty of time to try them. Frequent updates on timescales after ordering and the delivery team was very polite and efficient. Highly recommend for anyone looking for a piano in the region!
Roy Chilcott
Perfection is very important to the company. Highly recommended!
Kayoed Owner
I bought my Yamaha SU7 from Will, the experience was right up there with the very best purchasing experiences I’ve ever had. I can’t recommend Venables highly enough. My only regret is that I’m unlikely to buy too many more pianos so won’t often get the opportunity to benefit from their awesome customer centric service.
Mark M
I didn’t buy a piano at the time because my plans have been uncertain for a while and it looks like I have to relocate soon but Chris was so attentive and accommodating that I plan to buy from him as soon as I am in a position to. Top notch service and expertise. Preparation is absolutely immaculate and to your taste if you choose to ask for it. Legendary attention to detail if you are buying - what else do you need to know?
Ian Howlett
I bought a Yamaha YUS5 upright in 2013, and ten years on it’s still going strong, and is playing better than ever, with the tone developing nicely. The service I received at the time was fantastic, including having the showroom to myself to evaluate the pianos. The piano was set up perfectly, which probably helps to explain why I’ve had ten years of trouble-free enjoyment of an excellent instrument. Highly recommended.
I've a piano finish speaker sent to Venables Pianos seeking for their help to repair it. They finished in two weeks and the damaged corners are like new now. Really professional and responsible.