To first-time buyers, piano costs can be downright disheartening. You can get a decent starter guitar for about $100, but pianos start at about twice that, and we’re talking extremely entry-level models. But in music circles, it’s a well-known secret that manufacturers’ price lists are always inflated—it gives dealers some wiggle room for discounts. If you look around and do your research, you’ll find that the costs aren’t as daunting as they seem.
Digital stage pianos are the most affordable kind, and are a good choice for young learners or those who just want to see if they’re into it. A decent model will cost $300, although you can find discounted ones for a little over $200. The sound selection will be limited and quality won’t be at par with a grand piano, but for its purposes it does the job pretty well. At the very least it’s good for learning the basics without taking on the full piano cost.
An upright piano has a vertical frame and strings, making it more compact than a grand and a better fit for homes. Prices range from $2,000 to $4,000, so it’s best for intermediate to advanced users. Many piano learners use this at home and rent bigger ones at professional studios. Most shops arrange them according to height and classify anything taller than 42 to 45 inches (studio pianos) as uprights.
Prices start to vary a little more when it comes to grand and baby grand pianos. About $2,000 will get you a lower-end baby grand, but some models go for tens or hundreds of thousands. Brand names also come into play; Steinway and C. Bechstein are some of the most popular ones. The latter has a 9’2” concert grand valued at over $200,000, plus shipping and taxes.
Your best bet, as with any other big-ticket item, is to look in the secondhand market. A slightly used model can go for as much as 40% below retail price, although there’s no guarantee of quality. If you’re not an expert on the matter, it’s best to have a more knowledgeable friend check it out in person.
If you’re just starting out, renting is also an option. You can rent low-end pianos for about $30 a month and luxury ones for up to $400, but prices really run the gamut and it’s a matter of finding what you need. The main advantage is that you can rent it for as long as you need, and splurge on your own when you can comfortably afford it.