Charles Foulds and Son (Derby) Ltd


Buying a Piano


Buying a piano – sound advice.

For many people the choice of a piano is a choice for life. Even the least expensive modern pianos can be expected to outlast their purchaser. In fact, the only reason that so many old pianos are reaching the ends of their lives was the introduction of central heating in the 1960’s.
Modern pianos differ from older pianos in various ways. The timber used is now kiln-dried. This means that the drying effect of central heating will not affect it. The glues used are synthetic glues which are far more resistant to changes in atmosphere than the old animal and fish glues. Key components like the wrest plank, where the tuning pins are embedded, are now multi-ply so that they too are impervious to changes of humidity and temperature, unlike many old pianos where the wrest plank is affected causing loose pins or, sometimes, cracks.

Caring for your piano.

If you do have an old piano then you must certainly take trouble to look after it. You should have it tuned regularly, and your tuner will advise what care it needs. It is quite likely that it will need the air around it to be humidified, whether this means a humidifier in the room, on the radiator, or even just a jar of water in the bottom of the piano.
Modern pianos are less likely to need much more attention than a regular tuning and the occasional clean out (which your tuner will be able to do). Even so, you should avoid siting the piano in an unsuitable place. This includes: immediately next to a radiator, in direct sunlight (such as in a conservatory), next to a swimming pool etc.
The frequency with which you tune your piano will depend on various factors. A brand new piano will probably need tuning more quickly than later in its life, as the strings continue to stretch. We, like other good suppliers tune a piano more than once before delivery to make sure that it is as settled as possible. Changes in temperature around the instrument will unsettle its tuning more quickly – such as heating coming on and off during the winter. An internal wall is usually better than an external one for minimising this. The amount that the instrument is played and the force with which it is played will also affect how quickly it goes out of tune. A new piano played by a young student may well stay in tune well with just an annual tuning. An advanced player practicing for long periods regularly will demand more frequent tunings.
Modern pianos are generally finished with a polyester spray finish – either gloss, matt or open pore (where the contours of the grain are still evident). These finishes can be kept looking good with just a clean cloth. With gloss finishes it is especially important that the cloth is clean. Don’t use any waxy polish, or it will simply smear and you will be forever polishing it.

Choosing a piano.

As this is so often a choice for a lifetime, it is important to select the best piano that you possibly can. A young child may not at first appreciate the potential tone or subtlety of expression of a fine instrument, but if they make progress then they certainly will later.
Case design is important as well. This is a large piece of furniture which will be in your house for years to come. The choice of finishes generally increases as you move up the quality scale. Don’t be afraid to make colour or style a part of your choice – we can usually find something to suit all tastes.
Size matters – at least as far as tone is concerned. Modern pianos are small – for reasons of furniture taste. In fact, the taller the piano is, the longer the bass strings can be. A long thin bass string will give a truer more resonant sound than a short fat one. The same thing applies to grand piano length. It is also true that the size of your room has a bearing on your choice. A very big piano in a very small room might be too much.


We are only too glad to give you general advice about any aspect of pianos. You will also get good advice from your piano tuner and your piano teacher. 

Popular piano makes – a rough guide to the quality scale:

Inexpensive pianos for the beginner:

Yamaha B1 (Indonesia)
Schirmer (China)
Waldstein  (China)
Steinbach (China)
Calisia (Poland)

Intermediate quality:

Yamaha (UK/Japan)
Kemble (UK)
Petrof (Czech Republic)
Ritmuller (China)
Kawai (Japan)

Pianos for the serious pianist:

Kemble (UK)
Sauter (Germany)
Hoffmann (Czech Republic)
Steinberg (Germany)
Bluthner (Germany)
Yamaha (handcrafted) (Japan)
Zimmermann (Germany)

The best of the best:

Bosendorfer (Austria)
Fazioli (Italy)
Bechstein (Germany)
Steinway (US/Germany)


Eastman Guitars, UK's biggest stockist