A piano with good sound improves not only the experience of those in its vicinity, but also helps better train and refine the ear. For those learning the piano, the ability to create good sound is imperative. The piano therefore needs to be sensitive enough to help the player identify when they are creating an undesirable or desirable sound, and be able, with reasonable ease, to create a good sound in the first place so the player knows what to aim for.
But what should you look for in regards to the piano’s sound?
A full, rich tone with good sustain is highly desirable as it sits well with the ear even after long periods of time, compared to a tinny sound (not the same as ‘bright’) that fades quickly in strength after the initial impact, often coming across as ‘pointy’ instead of ’round’. The suggested tone is also indicative of a piano that is also able to produce a range of tone colors, which will help in contributing to more sophisticated practice and performances.
Touch is what facilitates the player to create good sound. The responsiveness, or sensitivity of the piano keys and action allows for the production of a wider dynamic and tone color range with reasonable ease. This is especially important as the responsibility for producing good sound should ideally be in the hands and skill of the player, of whom the piano does not limit.
Relative evenness of the keys in terms of weight is also something to look out for, as unevenness can lead to detrimental practice over time as the keys provide incorrect feedback to the finger muscles. While not usually a problem for quality brand new pianos, it can be a common issue for some older pianos.
– The Inside
It’s common to judge a piano and its capabilities through just looking at and interacting with its exterior. While this is not necessarily unreasonable, don’t forget that the piano indeed has an interior, and understanding it a little will provide helpful information towards making your final decision.
The inside of a piano is where most of its capabilities are founded, such as its hammer action. Knowledge of the particular action, materials used, and manufacturing location of the inside of the piano can back up initial judgements on the piano’s sound and touch, or provide hints themselves on the quality of the overall piano if you do not fully trust your own judgement or cannot come to a conclusion.