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Acoustic Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards – A Buyer's Guide

Keyboards vs. Digital Pianos - What is the Difference?

There is a certain amount of confusion surrounding the difference between a 'keyboard' and a 'digital piano'. This is understandable, seeing as they share a lot of the same features:

  • Both have piano-like keys, and are played in the same way
  • Both are powered by electricity
  • Both include headphone sockets (allowing you the option to play 'silently')
  • They can both be connected to a computer, or a PA system

Both keyboards and digital pianos are low-maintenance, as they don't need tuning and are designed to be played a lot. So what are the differences?

  • Size of the Keyboard:
    Keyboards are almost always 61 or 76-key, whereas digital pianos have 88 keys. More keys provide more playing possibilities for a pianist – some more advanced pieces (Debussy's Arabesque, for example) require the full 88-keys you would find on a traditional, acoustic piano. Having 88 keys can be an inconvenience for a young beginner who requires a light and portable instrument to carry around, when they are only using a few keys - in this case, you may be better suited to a keyboard.
  • Touch Sensitivity:
    Basic keyboard models have no touch sensitivity, which means they will produce the same volume of sound, no matter how hard the keys are hit, however most keyboards (above £150) and all digital pianos have touch sensitive keys. Touch sensitivity is essential for the aspiring pianist, as almost all piano music includes the use of different dynamics (volume levels). Many keyboard teachers will warn against basic keyboards for the serious player.
  • Weighted Keys:
    Weighted keys on a keyboard recreate the feel and touch of the hammer action behind an acoustic piano. Keyboard keys are spring-bound but not weighted like on a digital piano. As with touch sensitivity, weighting is essential for a piano player in order to build up the strength in their fingers, as well as improving dexterity, accuracy and speed.
  • Sound Quality and Voices:
    Digital pianos use sampled (recorded) piano sounds, whereas keyboards use synthesised (electronically generated) sounds for their voices. This means that a digital piano will have a much more realistic piano playback for the player, but a keyboard will provide you with a base of hundreds of synthesised voices to play with; orchestral instruments, guitars, percussion and sound effects to name a few.

The ultimate differences between them? It's who they are designed for…

Keyboards are often used by schools and younger children to learn the absolute basics of the keyboard, whereas digital pianos can be used up to professional level (grade 8, diploma and beyond) for learning piano music, as well as for live performance.

Ask yourself this: do you want to learn the traditional piano? If the answer is yes, you would be much better off buying an acoustic or digital piano to begin with, rather than a keyboard.

Keyboards – a Buyer's Guide

When choosing a keyboard, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it have the voices (sounds) you want?
  • Does it have the features you need? (e.g. touch response, recording function, internet connectivity)
  • Do you like the design and the feel?
  • Is it the right size and design for the user (e.g. lightweight keyboard for a child)?
  • Does it suit your budget?

The questions can all be answered by visiting our store and trying out the keyboards: it is very difficult to decide a purchase like this without testing them first. By answering these questions, you should be able to figure out which keyboard is right for you.

Choosing your first keyboard

What size do you need?

Some things to consider:

  • Smaller, 61-key keyboards offer enough for a beginner to grasp the basics of the instrument.
  • Trinity Guildhall electronic keyboard exams only require 48 keys for Initial – Grade 1, and 60 keys for Grade 2 to 5; if you were ever considering taking exams in the instrument, this needn't be a worry!
  • If you are using your keyboard for MIDI-input to your computer via an audio interface, a 61-key keyboard would suffice for basic recordings.
  • A larger, 76-key keyboard would allow more scope for greater expression and depth. It would also allow you to play a wider range of music, as pieces (intermediate to advanced level) often require the use of these keys.
  • A full-sized 88-key keyboard (though rare, as most 88-key keyboards are found on digital pianos) would provide an even greater capacity for your playing.

How much should you spend?

The golden rule, as with other instruments, is to spend as much as you can afford (with consideration of the size of keyboard).

Generally, a more expensive keyboard will have:

  • Larger speakers (which will make a warmer, fuller sound)
  • A greater range of voices and effects
  • A larger LCD display
  • Other features to enhance your playing experience

It might also include the stand (the the Yamaha DGX 640, for example) or other accessories, such as a sustain pedal.

Aside from the size, there are several other factors involved in the price of the keyboard:

  • Touch sensitivity
    Touch sensitive keyboards play the notes louder when you press the keys harder, and vice versa. The most basic keyboard models (the Yamaha YPT-220 , for example) have no touch sensitivity, which means the keys will sound at the same volume no matter how hard the key is hit. This isn't so much of a problem for the complete beginner, but prevents a more advanced player from adding any expression to their playing.
  • Backlit screen / light-up keys
    More advanced keyboard models have a backlit screen to help you see the features. The Yamaha EZ-200 keyboard also features light-up keys to help make learning fun, but the keyboard itself is the same as the Yamaha PSR-E333.
  • Additional Features
    The more features (recording ability, metronome, IDC, etc.), the greater the creative possibilities.

Bear in mind that, at the very least, you will also need a keyboard stand, and it's usually a good idea to buy a soft case if you plan to take the instrument out of the house.

Why should I buy from Sheehan's?

Even though we make sure our keyboard prices are amongst the most competitive on the high street, at Sheehan's we believe that value is not just defined by price alone, but also by offering incredible value in the quality of our products and with our unrivalled, expert, and highly professional service.

Never beaten on price

To make sure our prices are competitive we regularly check all our local competitors. If we find a local competitor offering a better price for the same keyboard, with the same level of service as Sheehan's, we will reduce our in store price.

If you are able to find the same keyboard and service level in any high street shop for less we will match the price at the point of purchase. However, for complete confidence we will refund the difference for up to 28 days after you have bought from us. Simply let us know the product details and competitor, once we verify the product and level of service are the same we will refund the difference.

Never beaten on quality

All products offered by Sheehan's are of the highest quality and selected by highly trained, knowledgeable staff with years of experience.

We will never compromise our benchmark of quality. We travel the entire world sourcing products, meeting with manufacturers and testing new lines to ensure only the best products reach our shop.

We are so confident with the quality of all our instruments that we offer a three year warranty on everything we sell.

Never beaten on service

We only employ experienced, specialist staff in all our departments to make it easy for you to choose the right products. Our sales staff do not earn any commission from selling you a more expensive product or certain brand, so you can feel confident asking them for honest advice about whatever you're buying.

Our after-sales service is second to none: we have our own in-store repair workshops (take a look through the window at the back of the shop), so that if you're unlucky enough to have a problem with your instrument, we can get you playing again with the minimum of delay. We endeavour to repair all keyboards on-site where possible, but if more serious work is required, we will only send your instrument to a qualified repairer. For added peace of mind, all repair work is under our guarantee, too.

We really care about our customers – we are an independent, friendly, family-run business, not part of a chain.

Keyboard Care and Maintenance

Where should I keep my keyboard in the house?
Somewhere dry, where it will get played!

If your keyboard is in regular use, it should be given its own permanent place in the home – ideally in a place where it can be accessed easily. By doing this, it makes practice a less arduous task by removing the need to take it out of its case! It also makes it more accessible to friends and family, so playing can become more of a group activity.

Of course, to keep the instrument clean, it is worth covering it with a dust sheet when not in use. If space is an issue, a soft case would be very useful to keep it dust-free when in storage. You can choose the level of padding in your keyboard case, depending on its use.

It's best to place the keyboard somewhere out of direct sunlight, as this can cause keys and buttons to discolour slightly.
How do I clean my keyboard?
Keyboards are very low-maintenance, but benefit from being kept clean with a micro-fibre cloth.

Household spray polishes should not be used to clean your keyboard, as they can damage the finish.

Unlike an acoustic piano, the tuning is not affected by temperature and humidity; although as it is an electronic device, all liquids should be kept away from the instrument to avoid spillage.
What do I do if I have spilled liquid over the keyboard?
Remove the power supply immediately and leave the instrument to dry out for a few days.

If the instrument still won't respond, contact us and we will do our very best to help get you playing again.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Do all keyboards come with a manual?
Yes. All the models we sell come with a full in-depth manual as standard. Some keyboards also come with songbooks either as a separate book or in PDF format.
Do all models come with a power supply as standard?
No.

Some of the more basic keyboards aren't supplied with them, but as these models are being updated, many of them now include the power supply as standard. Keyboards without power supplies can also be powered by batteries. However, power supplies can also be purchased separately (e.g. Yamaha KPA3) online or in-store. Please check the product description, or contact us for more information about individual models.
What sort of stand will I need?
A lightweight 'X'-style stand will be all you need if you use a lightweight keyboard.

However, we do also sell stands with double-bracing for more heavy-duty keyboards. Prices range from £19.99 for a basic stand, £39.99 for a double-braced stand, right up to £139 for a K&M Spider stand, which allows a player to use more than one keyboard at a time.
Do I need headphones, and what sort will be compatible?
Headphones are not necessary for the keyboard to function as they all have speakers in the body of the instrument, however, they can be a very handy tool if you want to play 'silently' for a bit of privacy.

Any headphones will work, but if your headphones have a mini-jack socket, you will need to buy a mini-jack to ¼″ adaptor. We sell a variety of headphones, which you are welcome to come and test in-store. Alternatively, you may want to check them out on our website here.
What sort of carrying case is best for me?
We sell both soft and hard keyboard cases.

The majority of our customers will purchase soft cases, as they are lightweight, portable, good value for money, and will protect from typical day-to-day wear. Hard cases are more durable; however, they tend to cost a lot more than soft cases, and they're heavier and less comfortable to carry round – because of this, they only tend to be purchased by players with more expensive keyboards, touring bands, or those who plan to take it abroad to use as a flight case.
How do I know what size case to buy?
Check its dimensions (W × D × H) and find a case to match.

Every keyboard on our website has a detailed breakdown including its measurements – you simply need to choose a bag with the appropriate dimensions. Alternatively, the old tape-measure method usually does the trick!

If the keyboard doesn't match the size of a case exactly, find one slightly larger to accommodate: you will be surprised at how well they fit. If it's a matter of 1cm too big, they will almost definitely squeeze into a smaller bag.

Ask our staff for advice, either by phone (0800 043 1022) or via our contact form and we will do our best to source one to your specifications.
What sort of stool do I need to play keyboard?
One without wheels, back or arm support, and at a comfortable height.

If you don't have a stool already, it may be worth investing in one. Dining room chairs are not ideal as they tend to make you slouch; similarly, chairs with arms are useless, as they restrict arm movement, and chairs with wheels will make it difficult to control your body positioning. For younger players, an adjustable piano stool is ideal, as you can then adjust the height as they grow.

You can browse our selection of keyboard benches here.
How long will my keyboard last?
With care, it should last a decade or two.

We know customers who have been using their keyboard for 15 years or more. Of course, the keys may need oiling as the springs stiffen, but in general, keyboards tend to last a long time when they are looked after. Unlike acoustic pianos, keyboards have practically no maintenance requirements.
What about the re-sale value of my keyboard?
Unfortunately, keyboards tend not to have a great re-sale value in comparison to acoustic instruments like stringed instruments and acoustic pianos.

As technology progresses, manufacturers regularly bring out new models of keyboards, and the old ones become less desirable – in a similar way to computers and other electronic products. However, these improvements in technology also mean that home keyboards are now better value than they ever have been, so there's never been a better time to buy!

If you have a question about a particular keyboard function or mode, check out our in-depth keyboard and digital piano glossary. For any further details, please contact our keyboard department.

Choosing a Piano: Acoustic or Digital?

An acoustic piano (sometimes described as a 'traditional' piano), is one where the sound is produced mechanically: when you press a key, a lever mechanism releases a hammer towards the strings, making them vibrate. It is this vibration which produces the sound.

Digital pianos, on the other hand, have no hammers, strings or soundboard; instead, they use electronic sensors which react when the keys are pressed, sound chips to synthesise the sound and speakers which reproduce it. Digital pianos were developed in order to solve some of the disadvantages of the acoustic piano; however, there are many purists who will always insist on the real thing.

Some of the differences you will find…

Tone

The tone quality produced on a real piano is impossible to reproduce exactly, as each combination of keys creates different harmonic resonance, so the soundboard reacts in a different way.

However, digital pianos use 'sampled' sounds (see AWM Technology in our glossary), recorded at different velocities (levels), for a realistic sound. Come to our showroom to hear the difference for yourself.

Touch response

The touch response of a digital piano is modelled on an acoustic piano, allowing you to add real expression to your playing.

Touch response is featured on all digital pianos, but the details vary between models. In general, a higher quality digital piano will have a touch response that's closer to that of a traditional piano. To the experienced player, the difference may be greater – the best way to know is to try them in our showroom.

Weighted Action

The action of a digital piano is modelled on a grand piano. As thicker strings (and so larger hammers) are used at the bottom of the piano, and thinner strings at the top, the weighting varies over the keyboard.

All digital pianos have weighted keys, but cheaper digital pianos have no variation between the lower and higher ends. More advanced digital pianos take this varied weighting into account (see Graded Hammer Standard in our glossary).

If you are a beginner, or you're not quite sure what you need, speak to one of our staff. It might also be a good idea to speak to your piano teacher. Better yet, bring your teacher in to try out the pianos with you!

Voices / Instrument Sounds

An acoustic piano has only one 'voice' – the natural sound of the piano – whereas a digital piano may feature anything from 5 to 100+ voices, which typically include electric piano, harpsichord, organ and strings.

If you enjoy playing a lot of music using these other sounds, you may find a digital piano more practical: it would certainly be cheaper than buying a digital piano, harpsichord and organ separately!

Effects

The sound of an acoustic piano can be altered by changing the surroundings. Adding soft furnishings to a room, for example, will dampen the sound. Also, moving the piano to a larger room will have a noticable effect on the sound. Of course, in most cases, this isn't really practical!

Digital pianos feature effects to alter the sound synthetically, which means you won't have to move to a cathedral to get that fantastic, warm sound. Effects usually include reverb, which simulates the sound of playing in a larger space, and chorus, which makes the sound 'wobble' as if several instruments are playing together. More advanced models will include further additions.

Additional Features

Features like a metronome, recording ability, backing accompaniments, MIDI and internet connectivity only feature on digital pianos (with the exclusion of the Yamaha Silent Piano models).

These features can make playing more fun and creative, as well as encouraging better technique (using the metronome for scales, for example). However, if you still prefer the idea of an acoustic piano, remember that these extra features can also be purchased as stand-alone units; e.g. a Korg metrononome, or a Tascam Portastudio for recording. Buying these units separately also gives you the added flexibility to use them elsewhere, with other instruments.

Sustain

The sustain pedal on an acoustic piano allows the strings to resonate until they lose momentum.

In their effort to reproduce this, digital pianos create the same impression – however, most digital pianos tend not to sustain the note for as long as an acoustic piano.

Tuning and Maintenance

A digital piano does not need tuning, as each note is synthesised or sampled (recorded), so it cannot lose its tuning. The maintenance cost of a digital piano is really only the electricity which powers it.

An acoustic piano requires tuning on a regular basis, in order to keep it sounding as it should. A more serious player might tune their piano 4 times a year (as the seasons change), with a more casual player tuning their piano once every 6 months. However, the regularity of tuning completely depends on your circumstances: changes in temperature and humidity, the age of the instrument, its position in a house, and how often they are played. The old wives' tale which says 'moving a piano will put it out of tune' is not strictly true; depending on how it is moved this might affect it slightly, but the main cause of de-tuning is changing temperature and humidity.

After a couple of months to settle in, a new piano keeps its tuning much better than a piano over 10 years old. When we sell a piano, we include set-up and tuning at no extra cost. We would recommend getting a new piano tuned at least once a year. In general, you will probably be able to hear when it needs a tune!

Volume Control and Silent Playing

An acoustic piano can be played at different volumes depending on how hard the keys are hit. However, there is an upper and a lower limit to this.

Digital pianos have volume controls which enable you to alter the sound level coming out of the speakers. Some models also have an output to plug into an amplifier or a PA system for extra volume. Alternatively, you can plug in a pair of headphones play 'silently': great for late-night practising!

Apart from top-of-the-range models like the Yamaha AvantGrand, digital pianos can have difficulty in producing very quiet notes. An acoustic piano is much more sensitive, but you have no option to play 'silently'!

Portability

Digital pianos can easily be lifted by one or two people, whereas acoustic pianos are considerably heavier.

We offer free delivery and set-up on all of our digital and acoustic pianos; so getting the piano to your house needn't be a cause for concern!

However, it can be very difficult getting an acoustic piano into an apartment or a room above the ground floor. If you need a piano moving to a higher floor in a building, we can organise this for you at an extra cost. However, if you're likely to need to move the piano again in the future, this maybe something to consider carefully before making your purchase.

Price and Investment Value

The cheapest acoustic piano, the Bentley 108, costs about the same as one of Yamaha's more advanced Clavinovas, the CVP-503. A higher quality, Japanese-made piano like a Yamaha U1 costs around triple that.

These are the main differences – however, it is only when you play these instruments yourself that you can really hear and feel the difference. Visit our Leicester showroom for a real experience and consult our staff in person, or contact us by phone (0800 043 1022) or via our contact form.

Digital Pianos – a Buyer's Guide

Choosing your first digital piano: how much should you spend?

Digital pianos can provide a lifetime of musical enjoyment for your whole family, as well as help your children develop intellectually. However, the quality and features vary from model to model, so it is crucial you find the best model for you.

Consider how you and your family would grow into the instrument, rather than just your present needs: are you hoping to reach a much higher standard of playing? Are you buying the instrument for your children to grow into? Consider also that by buying a good quality digital piano, you'll be making a serious investment in your childrens' musical education.

Be wary of cheap digital pianos…

  • Poor quality instruments can often discourage a budding pianist from practicing, due to their poor sound quality.
  • They also tend to be expensive to repair, or at worst, a write-off.

By buying the best you can afford, you should find an instrument which could last you a long time – alternatively, you might find yourself buying twice, wasting money and time with an instrument of lower standards.

In The Shop…

Browsing our shop you will notice there is quite a difference between the prices of the least expensive and most expensive digital pianos. Here are some improvements you might expect by spending more money on an instrument:

Size

A larger digital piano usually signifies a larger and/or greater number of speakers. This can make a great improvement the tone quality, and the volume of sound the instrument produces.

Smaller digital pianos with cabinets, like the Yamaha YDP-S31, have one pair of speakers which point down towards the ground &ndaash; this looks neat, but does mean some of the higher frequencies are lost before they reach your ears.

Attention to detail

Digital pianos are becoming increasingly similar to their acoustic counterparts, and with the more money you spend, you can really hear and see the difference. More time has been invested into developing techniques to make the touch, sound quality, voices and speaker systems more like a real acoustic grand piano. For example, Yamaha's top-of-the-range digital piano, the CLP-480 features instrumental active field control (iAFC), which makes acoustic adjustments to the sound so it appears to the listener that there is a "real soundboard" and resonant cabinet in the Clavinova.

Extra features

The more features (recording function, metronome, internet connectivity, etc.), the greater the creative possibilities, but the more the digital piano will cost.

Finish

Which finish is more to your taste? Consider the furniture it will be near to. In general, matt finishes are cheaper than the gloss finishes, although they are just as durable. Polished Ebony is the most popular finish for both digital and acoustic pianos, as it works with any colour of furniture.

The internet can be a very helpful guide for initial research into buying a piano, but they really need to be seen and played before a purchase. Once you have settled on a model in-store, you can choose whether to reserve the instrument in the showroom (this is often preferred), or have a new model delivered from the supplier directly.

The key to a good digital piano purchase is to test the instrument, and to look out for one with a tone and touch you like best.

Why should I buy from Sheehan's?

Even though we make sure our prices are amongst the most competitive on the high street, at Sheehan's we believe that value is not just defined by price alone, but also by offering incredible value in the quality of our products and with our unrivalled, expert, and highly professional service.

Free delivery and set-up as standard

Customers living in Leicestershire can benefit from free delivery and set-up on all digital pianos. We will deliver the piano ourselves – so you can be safe in the knowledge that any piano moving will be done with the utmost care and efficiency.

(If you live outside of Leicestershire, please contact us for delivery charges.)

Never beaten on price

To make sure our prices are competitive we regularly check all our local competitors. If we find a competitor offering a better price for the same product, with the same level of service as Sheehan's, we will reduce our in store price.

If you are able to find the same product and service level in any high street shop for less we will match the price at the point of purchase. However, for complete confidence we will refund the difference for up to 28 days after you have bought from us. Simply let us know the product details and competitor, once we verify the product and level of service are the same we will refund the difference.

Never beaten on quality

All products offered by Sheehan's are of the highest quality, and selected by highly trained, knowledgeable staff who have years of experience.

We will never compromise on quality. We travel across the world sourcing products, meeting with manufacturers and testing new lines to ensure only the best products reach our shop.

Because we are so confident in the quality of all our instruments, we offer a free three year warranty on everything we sell.

Never beaten on service

We only employ experienced, specialist staff in all our departments to make it easy for you to choose the right products. Our sales staff do not earn any commission from selling you a more expensive product or certain brand, so you can feel confident asking them for honest advice about whatever you're buying.

We take pride in our after-sales service: we have our own in-store repair workshops, so if you're unlucky enough to have a problem with your instrument, we can get you playing again with the minimum of delay.

We really care about our customers: we are an independent, friendly, family-run business, not part of a chain. Our entire business, including our repair workshops, mail order service and website is based here in this building!

Care and Maintenance for Digital Pianos

Where should I keep my digital piano in the house?
Somewhere dry, where it will get played!

If your digital piano is in regular use, it should be given its own permanent place in the home – ideally in a place where it can be seen easily. By doing this, it makes practice a less arduous task by removing the need to set it up! It also makes it more accessible to friends and family, so playing can become more of a group activity. Of course, to keep the instrument clean, it is worth covering it with a dust sheet when not in use.
How do I clean my digital piano?
Don't use polish!

Polishes (like Pledge, for example) or cleaning fluids should be avoided at all costs as the alcohol can damage the finish; a dry micro-fibre cloth used clean the casework and keys will suffice.
How do I ensure my digital piano is kept in good condition?
So long as your digital piano is kept in a room with a reasonably consistent room temperature and away from water, it will need very little maintenance.
Do all models come with a power supply as standard?
Yes!

Keep the power supply switched off when not in use. This avoids wasting electricity by keeping the power adaptor on standby.

Other Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Pianos

Will my digital piano be covered on my house insurance?
This will depend on the details of your individual policy - some cover musical instruments, some don't.

Often insurers will require you to pay a surcharge to cover instruments over a certain value, and most will not cover instruments outside of the house.

Even if your instruments are covered on your home insurance, it may well be worth considering a specialist musical instrument insurance policy. These are often surprisingly inexpensive, and will usually cover accidental damage or theft of instruments in many more situations than a household policy - at home, at school, in an unattended vehicle, in a performance venue, at a friend's house. Usually you can upgrade the policy to include extras such as worldwide travel, and public liability insurance.

For specialist musical instrument insurance, we recommend Allianz Cornhill - see our musical instrument insurance section for more information on their policies.

Questions regarding specific functions and modes can be answered by checking the term in our in-depth keyboard and digital piano glossary. For any further details, please contact our acoustic piano department.

Acoustic Pianos – a Buyer's Guide

Choosing an Acoustic Piano: Grand or Upright?

A grand piano certainly makes an impact on a room - if you have the funds and facilities for one, they can be a fantastic investment.

In general, grand pianos produce a richer sound, with a greater depth of tone than upright pianos, with the exclusion of 'baby grand' pianos (those under 6ft). However, as a serious purchase, you will need to consider the following:

Space

First you must consider the space where you will keep your piano.

Roughly speaking, you need to allow:

150 × 150cm (5 x 5ft) for an upright, and
150 × 150 - 230cm (5 x 5 - 7.5ft) for a grand.

If you are fortunate enough to have the space for a grand piano, you will need to find out how long a piano you can manage. A smaller grand piano like the Yamaha GB1K (retailing at about £7,350) measures at 99cm (h) x 146cm (w) x 151cm (d), whereas a larger grand like the Yamaha C7 (which retails at about £35,000) measures at 102cm (h) x 155cm (w) x 227cm (d).

Weight

Be aware that your floor must be able to support the weight of your piano – usually this isn't a problem, but if you have a floating floor it might be worth checking!

A small upright will weigh a minimum 185kg, whilst a larger upright weighs around 240kg.

A small grand piano will weigh a minimum 260kg, whilst a larger grand can weighs around 400kg.

Budget

Consider that a better quality piano will not only sound better and last longer; it will also retain its value better. This can be very reassuring to a beginner – it won't necessarily be a bad investment even if you do decide to give up. Grand pianos cost more than upright pianos: a budget upright piano like the Bentley 108 will only set you back about £2,300 - whereas a budget baby grand like the Bentley 148 costs £4,999.

If you're still unsure which you'd prefer, feel free to contact us – or better still, make a visit to the shop to see the pianos and test them for yourself. The more time spent playing, the better chance you have of finding the right piano for you.

What size do I need?

The answer to this is relatively simple – the bigger the piano, the better the sound.

Buy the tallest upright or the longest grand you can afford – longer strings produce a much better tone quality, as they are able to resonate for longer.

When you visit our shop, make sure to account for the room acoustics – our showroom is far from small! The piano will most definitely sound louder in your own home.

See the 'Grand or Upright?' section above for advice on measuring the space in your home for a piano.

Choosing your first piano: how much should I spend?

Pianos can provide a lifetime of musical enjoyment for your whole family, as well as help your children develop intellectually. They also have a very good investment value. However, the quality varies from model to model, so it is crucial you find the best model for you.

Consider how you and your family would grow into the instrument, rather than just your present needs: are you hoping to reach a much higher standard of playing? Are you buying the instrument for your children to grow into? Remember also that by buying a good quality piano, your children will value the importance of a musical education, through the seriousness of your purchase.

Be wary of cheap pianos…

Poor quality instruments can often discourage a budding pianist from practicing. They also tend to be expensive to repair or re-sell. By buying the best you can afford, you might find an instrument which could last you a lifetime – alternatively, you might find yourself buying twice, wasting money and time with an instrument of lower standards.

In The Shop…

Browsing our shop you will notice there is quite a difference between the prices of the least expensive and most expensive pianos. Here are some improvements you might expect by spending more money on an instrument:

  • Size
    a larger piano will increase the price, but also massively improve quality of the tone and volume.
  • Attention to detail
    more expensive pianos are generally put together more carefully than their budget counterparts. Even in the most highly-mechanised factories, there are still some jobs which have to be done by humans. The more skilled the workers, and the more time they spend on each instrument, the higher the labour costs.
  • Country of origin
    The vast majority of pianos are now made in Far Eastern countries, where labour costs are much lower. Whereas there used to be a massive difference in quality between Far-Eastern instruments and those made in Western countries, the quality of the better budget instruments has improved dramatically over the last few years, while prices have actually decreased! Yamaha's budget 'B series' pianos are produced in China, whilst high-end acoustic pianos like the 'U series' are made in Japan.
  • Raw Materials
    Better looking timbers – and those which have the right grain structure and density for making instruments out of – are rarer still, and cost more money. Budget instruments tend to be made from less expensive wood, or are made using laminate or coated wood. The cost of these raw materials often account for a large proportion of the final cost of the instrument.
  • Finish
    In general, matt finishes are cheaper than the gloss finishes, although they are just as durable. Which finish is more to your taste? Consider the furniture it will be near to.

The internet can be a very helpful guide for initial research into buying a piano, but they really need to be seen and played before a purchase.

The key to a good piano purchase is to test the instrument, and to look out for one with a tone and touch you like best.

Why should I buy from Sheehan's?

Even though we make sure our prices are amongst the most competitive on the high street, at Sheehan's we believe that value is not just defined by price alone, but also by offering incredible value in the quality of our products and with our unrivalled, expert, and highly professional service.

Free delivery and set-up as standard

Customers living in Leicestershire can benefit from free delivery and set-up on all acoustic pianos, new and second-hand. We will either deliver the piano ourselves, or hire piano moving specialists if a larger job requires it, so you can be safe in the knowledge that any piano moving necessary will be done with the utmost care and efficiency.

If you live outside of Leicestershire, please contact us for delivery charges.

Free piano removal service

A piano removal company may charge around £150 for the removal of a piano. If you have an existing piano needing removal, we will assist you in its removal absolutely free upon delivery of a new piano.

Voicing and tuning your piano

Voicing is a highly specialised job which involves conditioning and treatment of the hammers in the piano, including aligning, shaping, needling or hardening, in order to regulate the tone (either brighten or dampen the sound).

Every new acoustic piano we sell has been individually 'voiced' by our leading piano technician, ensuring that it will sound its very best when it is delivered to you.

Used pianos are also tuned and checked over, although they only come with a 12 month guarantee due to their age and condition.

If you would like more advice or details on a local piano tuner, please contact us.

Never beaten on price

To make sure our prices are competitive, we regularly check all of our competitors. If we find a local competitor offering a better price for the same product, with the same level of service as Sheehan's, we will reduce our in store price.

If you are able to find the same product and service level in any high street shop for less we will match the price at the point of purchase. However, for complete confidence we will refund the difference for up to 28 days after you have bought from us. Simply let us know the product details and competitor, once we verify the product and level of service are the same we will refund the difference.

Never beaten on quality

All products offered by Sheehan's are of the highest quality and selected by highly trained, knowledgeable staff with years of experience.

We will never compromise our benchmark of quality. We travel the entire world sourcing products, meeting with manufacturers and testing new lines to ensure only the best products reach our shop.

We are so confident with the quality of all our instruments that we offer a three year warranty on everything we sell.

Never beaten on service

We only employ experienced, specialist staff in all our departments to make it easy for you to choose the right products. Our sales staff do not earn any commission from selling you a more expensive product or certain brand, so you can feel confident asking them for honest advice about whatever you're buying.

Our after-sales service is second to none: we have our own in-store repair workshops (take a look through the window at the back of the shop), so that if you're unlucky enough to have a problem with your instrument, we can get you playing again with the minimum of delay.

We really care about our customers: we are an independent, friendly, family-run business, not part of a chain. Our entire business, including our repair workshops, mail order service and website is based here in this building!

Acoustic Piano Care and Maintenance

Where should I keep it in the house?
Be sure to keep your piano in a position at least 6 feet from sources of heat (fireplaces, radiators, etc.), air conditioning systems, and out of direct sunlight.

If you have a few options, consider finding a place it will be played more regularly to encourage practice – but also somewhere where privacy is also possible, depending on the player's requirements.
How do I clean my piano?
Don't use polish!

Spray Polishes or cleaning fluids should be avoided as the alcohol can damage the finish; a dry micro-fibre cloth used clean the casework and keys will suffice.
How often does my piano need to be tuned?
Like any stringed instrument, an acoustic piano requires tuning on a regular basis, in order to keep it sounding sweet.

A more serious player might tune their piano 4 times a year (as the seasons change), although we would recommend having a piano tuned at least once a year. Like a car, if it's not serviced regularly, it will deteriorate and problems may arise.
How do I ensure my piano is kept in good condition?
So long as the piano is kept in a room with a reasonably consistent room temperature, it will need very little maintenance.

Treat your piano as a valued piece of furniture. Try to keep your piano away from water (drinks, vases of flowers, etc.) as water damage can cause serious damage.

Be wary of 'humidity control' gadgets; they are generally a waste of money. The best you can do for your piano is keep it at room temperature.

3-in-1 oil should never be used anywhere in a piano – there are few quicker ways of killing a piano. The pins do not need lubrication. Ask your tuner to check your piano's overall condition next time you have your piano tuned, if you have any concerns.

Other Frequently Asked Questions about Acoustic Pianos

Where are the acoustic pianos that Sheehan's sell manufactured?
Budget pianos are produced in China or Indonesia. A higher quality piano, like a Yamaha U1 or C3, is produced in Japan.

Contact our acoustic piano department if you have any questions about the origin of a particular model.
Where can I find my piano's serial number?
Your piano's serial number will usually be found stamped on its soundboard in figures about 2 cm high.

Serial numbers are usually between four and seven digits long.

A number stamped on the top of the side of an upright piano is probably a dealer's stock number.

A number cast into the frame is almost certainly not a serial number.
Will my piano be covered on my house insurance?
This will depend on the details of your individual policy - some cover musical instruments, some don't.

Often, insurers will require you to pay a surcharge to cover instruments over a certain value, and most will not cover instruments outside of the house.

Even if your instruments are covered on your home insurance, it may well be worth considering a specialist musical instrument insurance policy. These are often surprisingly inexpensive, and will usually cover accidental damage or theft of instruments in many more situations than a household policy - at home, at school, in an unattended vehicle, in a performance venue, at a friend's house. Usually you can upgrade the policy to include extras such as worldwide travel, and public liability insurance.

For specialist musical instrument insurance, we recommend Allianz Cornhill - see our musical instrument insurance page for more information on their policies.
Any other questions?
Our in-depth acoustic piano glossary explains many piano-related words and phrases.

For any further details, please contact our acoustic piano department.
 
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Sheehans 40 Point Check & Setup

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Brands we stock include...

  • Fender Acoustic Guitars
  • Lowden Guitars
  • Martin Guitars
  • Maton Guitars
  • Seagull Guitars
  • Crafter Guitars
  • Fender Guitars
  • Squier Guitars
  • Esp LTD Guitars
  • G and L Guitars
  • Schecter Guitars
  • Nord
  • Yamaha Stage Pianos
  • Shure Microphones
  • Eastman Guitars
  • Faith Guitars

...plus many more!

Visit us in-store

58a London Road
Leicester
LE2 0QD
United Kingdom
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Call Free from UK Landlines → 0800 043 1022 International / Mobile call +44 116 2557492

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