Retire Spinet Pianos: Good starter pianos and Bad starter pianos
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Retire Spinet Pianos: Good starter pianos and Bad starter pianos
By Sam Bennett
12/17/2009 3:45:00 PM
Sorry Craigslisters, but those old spinet pianos need to be retired and not re-sold.  Spinet pianos are not made anymore for several good reasons.  Do not discourage your budding young pianist by starting them out with an old spinet.  Learn what a spinet is, why you should avoid them, and what are some better solutions.

For a beginning student, the best solution is a new piano or high-quality used piano, but when budget is an issue, people commonly seek out less expensive options.  Spinet pianos are cheap, small, they look like other pianos and the thought is that with just a little work, they could be good enough for a beginner.  Don't fall into this trap.

A young beginner needs a piano with a good, in-tune sound for ear training.  A young beginner needs a piano with a good, consistent feel to develop muscle memory and hand strength.  An intermediate player needs a piano with a good sound to develop musicality and dynamic control.  Again, proper feel is needed to develop dynamic control and better playing techniques.

A spinet piano is a very small upright piano.  They have several disadvantages over console and studio upright pianos.  Spinet pianos can be identified by their height.  Pianos 40" and shorter are spinets, 41" - 44" tall are consoles, 45" and taller are studio uprights.  The tallest studio uprights (48"+) are often called professional or upright grands.

A spinet has a different kind of action than better pianos.  The spinet drop-action is a pull-type rather than a push-type and this makes them too light and imprecise for students.  The spinet action combined with the piano's small stature allow for almost zero dynamic control.  Spinets were always cheaply made, so as they age, they are even more likely to have tuning problems.  Technicians dislike working on spinets because you can't get out the effort you put into them.  For these reasons, a spinet makes a poor, inadequate and discouraging starter piano.

Another subtler point is that these hand-me-down pianos often send the wrong message to children.  If your attitude toward the piano is that it is nothing special, your children will pick up on this.  Students need encouragement, and a good instrument will help.

While nothing will replace a high-quality acoustic piano, often a better budget choice is a digital piano for the reasons stated.  Digital pianos like the models we sell have good, consistent feel, they are in tune, they provide dynamic control.  They have the benefit of needing no maintenance, and they are fun and interesting for the player.  This makes them a great medium term solution until you are ready to invest in a good acoustic piano as a long term solution. 

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Tags: how to buy a piano, digital pianos, Starter pianos, music educators
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Comments:

 
On Saturday, June 4, 2011 David Estey, Registered Piano Technician wrote:

Not all spinets are created equal, and therefore cannot be painted with a broad brush, much like anything else.

It is all about condition, and you need to seek out a professional piano technician in order to get good reliable information.

A good resource is www.mypianovalue.com - generally used by people selling pianos, but also very useful for buyers to understand what to look for.
Another resource is this piano buying tutorial which gives you the questions you need to ask when purchasing a used piano. http://www.esteypiano.com/tools_tutorial.htm

Hope this helps!
Musically Yours
David Estey, Registered Piano Technician



David Estey, Registered Piano Technician
http://www.esteypiano.com

On Wednesday, May 11, 2011 Sam Bennett wrote:

Dear Piano Teacher: historically speaking, spinets were the piano market's reaction to the public's desire for cheap pianos. That's what they were. They were primarily furniture competing with the (at the time) much more popular home organ. When they work, the actions are too light and they have almost no dynamic range. When they don't, they are awkward and unrewarding to repair.

Your comments about Chinese made pianos plays into stereotypes and incomplete information. BMW builds cars in China. Piano manufacturers who have Chinese made products include Steinway, Yamaha, Kawai and many others. If you want to buy an old American upright, get a console or studio upright. They were good in their day. Spinets weren't.

Today, if you have money, you can select anything you want, but if you are on a budget, those old American uprights aren't getting any younger or better. Neither are the old Japanese pianos. Most pianos you will see today are built in China or Indonesia and range from fair to wow.




On Wednesday, May 11, 2011 Piano Teacher wrote:

Many inexpensive (less then $2,000.00) pianos built today are manufactured from inexpensive wood and metals and are built in China. Even one of the most well known U.S. piano manufacturer called "Baldwin" has recently, under direction of parent company Gibson, ceased building pianos in the United States and has moved production to China.

Many properly cared-for and frequently tuned spinet pianos actually function better and last longer than modern overseas pianos. A good old spinet piano can be a wonderful teaching piano; please note that the sound of the lower basses will not be as rich and deep as pianos with longer strings.

Best advice: Get a piano technician/specialist to evaluate a used spinet piano before purchasing it so you know what you are buying.

Then practice and enjoy!




On Monday, March 7, 2011 Brustvergrößerung wrote:

I really like your website because you gave me about info and resource I've never seen that before. I' l stay tuned on your web site.


Brustvergrößerung
http://www.plastische-chirurgie.nu/brustvergroesserung-brustoperationen-korrektur

On Sunday, October 3, 2010 San Diego Movers wrote:

that was a nice tips which piano should be used for particular student. I tried to learn playing piano, but unfortunately I don't have talent in playing in kind of musical instrument. I do love listening to music.


San Diego Movers
http://www.omegamoving.com/

On Saturday, September 11, 2010 Dr. Phishman wrote:

Thanks to the author for this informative article. When I decided to learn to play the piano at age 39, I wanted the best style of piano that would give me truest acoustic piano sound, response, vibration, and feel. I purchased a new baby grand because I didn't want to inherit someone elses problemslike you mentioned. This was the best decision I could have made. Within a few years of diligent practice and dedication, I have become a pretty good musician. Whenever I try to play on old spinet pianos, they sound like a clunky kids toy piano with slow response, dull tones and a less than good sound overall. While not everyone is able to afford a new baby grand, it is worth every penny of the investment. I still have 4 years left on the ten year facory warranty and my piano sounds as great as the day I purchased it. It has moved with me three times to new homes and still didn't need to be retuned after moving. I have it tuned once a year just for regularity of maintenance and I know this piano will last my lifetime and that my daughter will will enjoy this piano for her lifetime too.



On Monday, July 12, 2010 Hector wrote:

I disagree with you, I own a Yamaha spinet acoustic piano and it is the best piano I have ever played, except for those well maintained grand pianos of course. It is the the piano I started off playing as a beginner when I was just a child and I am still playing it 11 years later. It is the piano that my grandparents bought for my mother when she was only 10 years old. My spinet piano is 39 years old and has been tuned only about 4 times in it's whole life. All it needs is to replace the springs of a bass D#, but considering it's age, it's in perfect condition. Of all the vertical pianos I've played at schools, other homes, and even new ones at a store, my 39 year old spinet piano is my favorite. Only thing I dislike about my piano is the sound of the lower basses. But a spinet piano is perfect for a beginner and intermediate player.



On Wednesday, May 26, 2010 Looking For Musicians wrote:

Fantastic article ,Superb resource provided for us ,It will help me in my future ,I really appreciated with all the given information,So I will bookmark it,Thanks for sharing.


Looking For Musicians
http://www.el-live.com/

On Saturday, February 6, 2010 AnaStacia wrote:

Thank you for the education. Te information you provided saved us money and heartache. It is much appreciated.



On Saturday, February 6, 2010 AnaStacia wrote:

Thank you for the education. Te information you provided saved us money and heartache. It is much appreciated.




 
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