The Piano Buyers Guide

 

 

Buying a piano can be daunting. There are many choices and risks, and it can be difficult to find the right balance of performance level and cost. We would like to make your piano buying experience a pleasant one. And our customer feedback shows that we do just that! The best way is to come and spend some time with the friendly team here at Bernies Music Land, so we can step through the world of pianos with you and show you the five steps in pianos. Then we can make a recommendation from our extensive range of new and pre-loved models, and offer you many types of purchase options. 

If you are researching online (and probably getting confused by this point), we have collated 36 years of advice in a comprehensive introduction for you to read. You will notice that it is one of the only Piano Buyers Guides around that is unbiased, because we talk about piano facts before we try to promote our brands. We really do believe that the piano must be right for your situation and our recommendations follow a great deal of research together. You can download the guide or request a copy to be posted to you here

 

Download a free copy  here 

Save time, confusion and money by phoning 9872 5122 and making a time for a personalised piano consultation. You will be glad you did.   

 

Guide for Parents of Piano Students

Congratulations on encouraging your child to learn piano!  It is a wonderful skill and will benefit many areas of their education. 

There are steps you will go through as your child progresses, and different levels of instruments to match each step. Together with a group of piano teachers, we have written this Guide for Parents to give you an understanding of each step. View, print or save it here

Please call in to Bernies Music Land to chat about the suitable instrument to support your child's development, and to find out about our easy 2-year upgrade options, perfect for progressing students.   

 

Free download here

 

Inside the Piano Discovery Workshop

Would you like to understand how pianos make sound? Why they go out of tune? And how they are different?

In our exclusive one hour session, you will understand the world of pianos and learn to test pianos for yourself. All of a sudden the piano world will make sense; and you will discover why pianos range dramatically in quality and value.

Bring all the family along to this fun, hands-on workshop!

Next Session:
Tickets $10, book HERE
Family ticket $20 (up to 4 people), book HERE

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Tuning Your Piano 

Like a car, a piano needs servicing. As all the felts and leather parts of the action wear and compress with use, and the fine adjustments gradually fall away from the manufacturers design. Touch and control can be seriously affected and, in extreme cases, damage may occur. For this reason it is your technician’s job to give you the right advice, and make any adjustments necessary to maintain the reliability of your piano. 

For a new piano, the initial tuning and service will come as part of your sales agreement and, at this time, warrantee issues (if any) can be covered and dealt with. After this time, the ongoing service of your instrument becomes your responsibility. More serious pianists, or those with a good ear, will have their piano tuned twice a year or maybe even more, to cope with seasonal changes and of course the usual wear and tear.

For the last 100 years or so, piano manufacturers, and indeed most other musical instrument makers, have adopted a standard pitch around which their whole manufacture and design process revolves. This standard pitch is called CONCERT PITCH A440. Perfect pitch usually refers to a person’s ability to recognise a particular note, and whether or not it is sharp or flat. A singer, for instance, would not develop this skill if they forever practiced on an instrument that was a semitone down.  

The pitch never varies on fixed pitch instruments i.e., flutes, clarinets, trumpets etc. unless it happens to be a really cold day. This normally corrects itself when the instrument warms up although there is some adjustment if it is necessary. However, for the piano and other stringed instruments, regular tuning is essential if pitch and tonal integrity is to be maintained. On a new instrument the strings are stretching and settling down and may need more regular tuning in the initial 18 months to 2 years of the pianos life. For an old piano with years of tuning and movement of the tuning pins, they gradually become loose and unable to hold the tension of the strings. If it’s a good quality instrument it may be necessary to re-pin or even restring the piano. This can be an expensive operation.

Piano makers try to maintain an even string tension throughout the instrument, but to keep the overall tone the same, this tension needs to vary in certain areas, i.e. just after the bass and in the last octave of the piano. These tension differences are affected by humidity changes between summer and winter and when the tension is altered the piano goes out of tune.

It has long been accepted that if your piano is moved, it will need to be retuned. This is true, but if it is moved carefully by professionals, the move itself will not affect the tuning but the climate change will, so it is best to let the piano acclimatise for 2 to 3 weeks before tuning. Occasionally sticky notes may occur and this is usually due to dampness or excessive humidity. This is usually a very easy problem to fix. Although it is annoying to the player, this does happen from time to time even with the most expensive of instruments. It happens because the keys and most action parts are made of wood and are subject to swelling due to moisture levels.  

Good old pianos can sometimes be restored to their former glory, usually at great expense which can, in some cases, exceed the 
 

cost of a new piano. Still, many people have this done for sentimental reasons or because it is a high quality instrument. If this is not the case you are always better off with a new piano. If your piano is regularly tuned and serviced you should have many years of enjoyment.

Dave Baldrey(Technician) Bernies Music Land.    

Caring For Your Piano

Your piano is a valuable asset and will benefit from proper care. Read our Caring For Your Piano guidelines here.  

Buying Musical Instruments Online 

Buying online is wonderfully convenient. Bernies Music Land has put great time and effort into this website to make our instruments widely available in Australia. Each item available for purchase is as described, with all the information that you need to make a confident purchase. This site is backed by a high level of security, together with ANZ's renowned Egate system. However not all the goods you buy online are this safe, especially musical instruments from overseas.

Our suggestion is to talk to your local reputed music store, who often will go out on a limb to look after you. These days, stores can also check out the prices that are online and make sure to be very competitive on price. And you might find benefits and extras that make it really worthwhile to purchase through your local music store. So, why not give them a go! 

Here are 10 guidelines from the Australian Music Association of what you should find out before buying musical instruments online, especially from outside Australia:

1. Warranty and customer service: what warranty is offered and how do they handle complaints or questions? Australia’s consumer protection laws are very strong ... but that’s not the case in India, China or many of the countries you can buy from online. There is no such thing as an ‘international warranty’. Whoever supplies the goods into Australia is responsible for the warranty.
2. Does the online seller have a street address that you can go to if things go wrong? Or do they only have a PO Box or an overseas address? If they won’t resolve your problem by email or phone, where can you reach them? Australian best practice is that an online seller should provide their ABN (Australian Business Number), physical address, and phone and fax numbers.
3. How will the instruments be supplied? Many instruments sold online are like flat-pack furniture - you have to assemble them. So please factor in the cost of set up, especially if you’re buying orchestral strings or guitars. A full set up will cost from $80-$150, depending on the instrument.
4. Are you buying more than one instrument? If so, we strongly recommend you buy just one instrument to test the quality before investing more money into the unknown. We regularly hear of schools that have spent $6,000 - $8,000 only to find they have received ‘objects resembling instruments’ - the trumpet valves are soldered closed, the trombone slide won’t, and the violin bridge and tuning pins are so unstable they won’t hold the note, and many more horrors.
5. Buy with a credit card, PayPal or, if you’re spending a large sum of money, use an escrow service. PayPal has some limited ability to recover your money. Your credit card company may assist in helping you recover your money (check with them before you buy). An escrow service is like putting money in trust - you put the money into the escrow account, the supplier sends you the goods and if you’re happy with them you direct the escrow firm to release the money to the seller. If the goods aren't right, you return the goods to the seller and the escrow service gives you your money back. (Check the terms and conditions of the escrow service before you use it.) If the supplier won’t allow you to use an escrow service, then we recommend you walk away. Any reputable company will accept escrow.
6. Is it a genuine musical instrument or a toy? Many toys are accurate reproductions of a genuine instrument ... to look at. But the tuning and size of the instrument isn’t right and your child won’t be able to learn to play on them. If you're buying from a grocery store, toy store or department store ask the sales people specifically "is this a toy or a genuine musical instrument" and if they say it's a genuine instrument ask them to show you what makes it genuine and not a toy. If they can't tell you, how do they know it's not a toy?
7. Is it a genuine instrument or fake? If the price is significantly lower than the same product in a store then be suspicious. Check carefully, some fakes look great until you check inside. Be very careful of anything technical. We have examples of mics that looks great on the outside but are filled with nothing but washers, or that would blow up any system they are connected to.
8. Is it a high tech product that normally comes with tech support and/or free upgrades? If so, unless you buy from an authorised retailer inAustralia you won’t qualify for that support or those upgrades. You may decide that the price difference is worth not having those services - that’s your call. But make an informed choice: check that you are comparing like with like when you get an online price.
9. Check the power supplies. If you’re buying an instrument that plugs in, check what power supply it comes with. Converters can end up costing the difference between the two prices … and this will also affect the warranty. (Think I'm exaggerating? Then read this.)
10. Are they members of the Australian Music Association? If they are, you can rest assured they’re a genuine business, with an office or store in Australia.  We recommend that our members always use our logo on their website and we take strong action against anyone who uses our logo and who isn’t a member. Bernies Music Land is proudly a member of the Australian Music Association. 

 

Websites for further Australian music industry information:

Australian Music Association  (AMA) 

The Australian Music Association represents and furthers the interests of the music products industry. It is involved with many progressive initiatives to promote music in Australian schools and homes. The Association conducts an annual conference, showcasing the developments and exciting atmosphere of this fantastic industry. 

 

The AMA is also very active in getting music back in to our schools through its "Music Makers" program, and has made some huge achievements so far. Bernies Music Land is a proud member of the Australian Music Association and a contributor to the Music Makers program through its wholesale company, Musico Pty Ltd. Bernie Capicchiano is on the board of the Australian Music Association and is a progressive and passionate member. To find out more, please visit the website or phone the AMA on (03) 9535 7019. 

Victorian Music Teachers Association (VMTA) 

The recognised body for qualified music teachers. Includes a reference listing of music teachers Victoria wide for all instruments.

Australian Piano Tuners and Technicians Association (APTTA) 

The recognised body for qualified piano tuners and technicians, who hold a progressive conference bi-annually and aim to introduce ethics and standards for piano tuning. Includes a listing of registered piano tuners and technicians Australia wide.