Peruse any number of luxury real estate listings we've covered and you might notice that along with rain showerhead, granite countertops and Eames chairs, you might often find a grand piano anchoring the corner of a gracious living room. Owning a piano has always been a shorthand for expressing a certain standard of elegant living. But of course it's more than that, it can be an entertainer, a stress reliever and the heart of a home.
Larry Fine, the author of The Piano Book ,recently released the latest edition of Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer
a twice-yearly publication devoted to the purchase of new, used, and restored acoustic pianos and digital pianos. The publication can be ordered in a print edition for $15.97 from the website or read there in its entirety. The publication contains a variety of articles, reviews and specifications designed to assist the buyer in making the big purchase. But just who is buying pianos these days? Luxist asked Mr. Fine a few questions of about choosing a piano.
1. I've noticed a few piano stores closing down recently. Has the economy affected the business?
Piano sales are in decline, as are most other "luxury" purchases. As home sales decline, so do home furnishings, and pianos often fit that category. However, this is good news for those who can afford to buy now. Piano manufacturers and dealers are discounting their instruments significantly in an effort to "weather the storm."
2. Do you hear of a lot of people buying a piano for looks, not for playing?
Most piano buyers either play or have children in lessons. A significant minority view it as an attractive piece of furniture that coveys a "cultured" image. For the art collectors, pianos come in many striking, beautiful, and unusual furniture styles that double as both musical instruments and works of art. Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer contains a number of examples of the piano as art.
Many of the non-playing buyers purchase a piano with an electronic player-piano system installed. Far from grandma's old "pump player," these new systems not only play the piano, but also add the entire orchestra or band as accompaniment. You can even have a video of Billy Joel playing and singing in your living room while the piano plays his music. These systems, which can be retrofitted to existing pianos, use CDs, MP3s, iPods, etc. for their input. Some even come with an optional video screen. Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer has a section on choosing an electronic player-piano system.