Frequently Asked Questions
A: Put simply, it is best to buy a GOOD piano. Realistically if you are spending less than $2000, you are likely to buy 'someone else's problem', with most pianos of extreme age and poor condition. When a tuner comes out to tune an old piano, and finds the pianos untunable, or needing a major overhaul, the owner often asks what to do with it. The usual answer is "You can either dump it, or do what most people do and put it on Gumtree or eBay."
When buying from a piano store, the store may favour either new or used, depending on what they specialise in. The truth is, there are good new pianos and good used pianos. However, a good premium used piano will outperform a basic student new piano, so it is important to talk to us to ensure you select the most appropriate piano for your individual needs.
As above, it is simply not advisable to buy electronic instruments second-hand. Summary of potential pitfalls of other instruments to watch for:
PIANOS: Many pianos 50+ years old will require expensive restoration, and in many cases, may be untenable or irreparable. Some pianos have been rendered worthless from the 2011 floods, but the damage may be hard to spot. Look for corroded strings and insect damage. Ultimately, a warranty is your best protection. It is generally better to buy a new digital piano than an old, worn-out acoustic piano if your budget is less than $2,000. A bad piano will only handicap a child’s musical development.
TRUMPETS & TROMBONES: Many are seized up through lack of maintenance, or suffer red-rot (a near terminal metal corrosion that eats through from the inside) caused by lack of internal cleaning. Watch for bent slides on trombones. As a Brisbane music store with a brass repair workshop and on-site brass technician, we can assist you, and help you avoid costly repairs.
FLUTES, CLARINETS & SAXOPHONES: The main problem is old, worn out pads and corks. If you need to replace them, it will cost $400-$500; more than many new student instruments cost.
STRINGED INSTRUMENTS: Look for cracks in neck of violins, and broken bows. Look for cracks in the neck (close to body) and fallen sound posts in cellos.
GUITARS: High actions (makes guitar hard to learn on), warped necks, buzzing strings, electrical problems. Ultimately, given the high Australian dollar and ability today to bypass the brand name and buy from the actual maker, it is in many cases actually cheaper to get the same type of instrument new and have warranty protection.
As it is now possible to purchase a new digital piano which meets exam approval for accuracy of touch from as little as $700, digital pianos represent the ideal alternative for budgets under $2000. Digital pianos represent a much safer alternative to a really old traditional piano, as they are in tune, don't need tuning, and can be practised day or night with headphones. Digital pianos do lose value more quickly and will not last as long as a traditional piano, so when buying, a new, exam approved value for money instrument of reputable brand (eg: Casio) is recommended.
Advanced playing levels demand performance that is beyond a digital piano's capability, regardless of price. Remember that beyond Grade 4 Classical, a student will outgrow a digital piano, and a professional acoustic piano will become a necessity.
A second-hand instrument from the private market can be many years, or even decades old. Often there is much deterioration, and an expensive repair may be required.
An ex-rental instrument is usually only one or two years old, and in many cases has had little use (“my child never practised”). They are serviced and sterilised, and come with a full 12 month warranty. With roughly 50% discount off normal price, it is a great way to save money, without the risks often associated with second-hand instruments. As the Brisbane music store that specialises in direct rental to students, there is usually a great choice and great value.
The question that should be asked is 'What are Australian conditions?' If 3 Yamaha pianos go to Cairns, Broken Hill and the Snowy Mountains, all with extremely different temperatures and humidity, which of the 3 are 'Australian conditions'??
In my opinion, this is basically propaganda from piano makers, designed to scare people into buying inferior budget new pianos over high performance, one-owner pianos. Ask yourself, will a brand new Daewoo outperform a low mileage BMW? A good quality new or like-new condition piano should be built to handle all Australian conditions, and pianos built in Japan generally offer exceptional quality control. Top German pianos, such as Steinway and Schimmel, plus the exceptional new Kawai Japanese pianos, are probably the most robust new pianos to suit various Australian conditions. We will ensure you receive an unbiased opinion on piano selection.
Today, brand names can be misleading, and make it very hard to make an informed decision. For example, many Yamaha upright pianos are made in Indonesia and China, and are of inferior construction to models such as the U3 and YUS which are made in Japan.
All Kawai uprights over $7,000 are made in Japan, so they represent a stronger range in new pianos.
Beale is another example. These pianos are rebadged from Pearl River in China, using a famous (but long since closed) Australian brand name.
Our policy is to judge every piano on its merits, based on quality and value for money.
The soundest advice is: If you don't know pianos, know your piano dealer!
The internet is often a last resort for people with old, tired pianos that can't be sold to stores. It's cheaper to practically give a piano away than to repair it or dump it, and so private sales have become a very appealing solution to an expensive, unwanted headache.
A piano can have a cabinet that looks clean and well-cared for online, but how can you see a cracked iron frame or moth-eaten felts in a photo? Even well-recognised brands can have structural problems that only a piano technician could identify. Buying a piano based on a photo is like buying a house without looking inside - it's simply a bad idea. The Morris brothers have been finding great pianos for people for over 20 years, all with the peace of mind of a 5 year warranty. Why let someone else's headache become yours?
With school band instruments, the important things are:
- Full working order.
- Easy to blow.
Avoid unknown internet brands – no child deserves to be handicapped by a poor quality instrument.
With keyboard instruments, the golden rules are:
- Recognised brand.
- Buy new.
- As close to a piano as possible within your budget.
- Plan to spend over $2,000.
- A good used piano will outperform a poor new one.
- Warranty and service backup.
Basically, we believe in supporting quality independent music teachers and teaching organisations. It enables us to look after your and their needs without any conflict of interest, and provide better rental plans, repair facilities and better overall service. We are a Brisbane music store that still believes in service, and old-fashioned family values.
Put simply, there are no ‘middle men’. At Morris Brothers, we buy direct and rent direct to you. Most other rental plans are controlled by interstate organisations, through local commissioned agents. All the ‘extra hands in the pie’ result in you paying more. Recently, we had a customer who was paying $59/month for a trumpet. Now she rents a trumpet, clarinet and a flute from us, and all three together cost her $39/month!