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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