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Piano Market FAQ

When it comes to pianos, we have the answers you need. Purchasing your first piano? Interested in restoring your old one? Confused about tuning? Just looking for more information? Check out some of our most frequently asked questions, browse our website to find out more about Frank & Camille’s West, and then stop by our showroom to speak with our experienced staff about your specific piano needs.

How do I choose the right piano for my family?

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to purchase an instrument that will delight and positively impact your family, friends, and children for years to come. First, you want to settle on a price point or range. Our staff can work with any budget to find options suitable to your needs. Next, determine where your piano will go. The size, function, and décor of a room all play an important part in choosing the style of piano best for you. Then visit our showroom and partner with one of our experienced sales associates to discuss the styles and brands we carry. We will show you pianos that you have most likely seen or heard of before, as well as introduce you to styles and brands that you never knew existed.

How do I buy a Piano Online without Playing it?

You may be surprised to learn that many of our customers buy our Pianos online! Mostly customers from states outside of NYC purchase large grands for Tax benifits. The huge savings in Taxes offsets the delivery for most. Plus once your order is made, we will call you and work to find the BEST piano (for rebuilt or used). Our staff in the shipping warehouse have access to Studio Mic's and we will record each instrument in all registers so you can expereince the sound you are buying, we will also measure the weight and regulate the pianos touch to a reference point allowing you to get a virtual feel for the action. In cases of universal actions (Like Yamahas actions, which are made to be generally identical in weight) we will do a though regulation before shipping. If you order a New pianos (Such as Seiler) get a preference, and we will always verify the instrument for production defects before shipping. Since the 1970s we have placed 100s of bulk phone orders, and we continue this quality of service into the online age. Place your order today, and let us customize it to your perfect package!

We’ve always wanted a piano, but no one in our family knows how to play very well yet. Does this change the kind of piano we should be looking for?

Not necessarily. You still want to address the points outlined above. Also, remember that if the piano you get is going to be used for lessons, everything has to be in working order. This means it has to have 88 working keys (not sticking or broken) and must hold pitch (stay in tune). It does not mean that you need to purchase the most expensive piano, but it does mean you need to get the best piano for your needs. Practice and a great teacher will get your child playing like a pro, not the brand of piano you purchase.

What should I look for in the “sound” and “touch” of a piano?

Pianists are most concerned with the sound (bright/warm) and touch (light/firm) of their pianos. When you are in our showroom trying out pianos, listen for a tonal color (sound) that is most pleasing to your ear. While many may think that all grand pianos sound one way and upright pianos sound another, every piano is uniquely different. Compare a few pianos to pinpoint what you would rather hear in your living room. As for touch, it depends on who will be playing the piano. If it is primarily a child, a medium firm to medium light action (how hard it is to depress the keys) would be ideal. But again, actually sitting down and playing a particular piano is the best way to discover what works for you. Our experienced sales associates are always available to help you make sense of the differences from one piano to the next and will assist you in choosing the piano perfect for your home.

What is the best brand of piano out there?

This is a question we get asked often, but there is no answer. It’s like asking: What is the best music? No two pianists will ever agree on the “best” piano on the market. We all perceive sound and touch differently, so the answer really depends on personal preference. Remember that pianos are made from trees. Just how every tree is different, every piano is, too. That’s also why it’s so important to spend some time in our showroom sampling pianos, asking questions, and envisioning what you want to take home. Remember, there is no Consumer Report on pianos. It really comes down to what speaks to you.

What style of piano is right for me?

There are many types of pianos, but they can all be broken down into three categories: grands, verticals, and digitals. Grands (baby/parlor/concert) and verticals (uprights/studios/consoles) are acoustic. The sound is produced by a felt hammer striking a string or strings with 24 moving parts per key. Digital pianos, on the other hand, are entirely computerized. When a key is struck, a digital sample (recording of an acoustic piano) is triggered. Some experts feel that acoustic pianos are the only way to really learn the instrument and its capabilities, while others feel that digital pianos are a great alternative for beginners or as a second piano where climate control is impossible.

What should I know about the size and placement of my piano?

For starters, don’t buy a large instrument for a small room. The sound will be overwhelming and could sound out of tune due to the acoustics of the space. There are three factors to consider when placing your piano in a space:
1. Visual – The piano is almost as much a coveted piece of furniture as it is a beautiful instrument. Some owners like to see the “smile” or keyboard when they enter a room, while others prefer the elegant curve on the side.
2. Acoustic – You want your placement to optimize the sound projection.
3. Aesthetic – This refers to the pianist’s view while playing, perhaps of nature or a skyline.

How do I care for my piano?

Pianos need a humidity-controlled environment (40 – 60%) to stay stable. Clean yours with a clean, damp cotton cloth and have it tuned twice a year. Piano tuning ensures the longevity of your instrument and its beautifully rich tone. If your piano is in need of a tuning, please call us to arrange for a certified technician in your area to visit you soon!

How do I protect my investment?

Make sure your instrument comes with a parts-and-labor warranty (at least 3 years on pre-owned and 10 years on new). Also, you want to select a manufacturer that has been in business for a long time. Quality of material and quality control from the factory is crucial.

Can you restore any piano?

If it means something to you, it matters to us. From personal repair and in-home tuning visits to full-service restorations at our 150-year-old facility, Frank & Camille’s West is a leader in piano restoration. Our experienced technicians will work with you to find the best solution for that special piano in your life, regardless of how long it has gone unused or been in disrepair. Contact us today to speak with a qualified member of our staff about your restoration questions and concerns.

FAQ's Online Piano Ordering FAQ

When it comes to Ordering Acoustic/Digital Pianos Online, we have the answers you need!

Purchasing your first piano? Interested in restoring your old one? Confused about tuning? Just looking for more information? How do we ensure you get an instrument that suits your needs without prior play?

Specifically with Online Sales, we have a large presence with Dealers, Individuals, Religious and Academic Institutions and more throughout the continental USA.

Many take advantage of the significant tax benefits and guaranteed lowest prices we can offer in our packages. We can offer exclusive and personalized online pricing and discounted shipping rates through our domestic network built up over 35 years!

Many Pianos over $3495 are eligible for free shipping!*

*(Free shipping applies to Tri-State Area Only ,  moves to other states may be negotiable up to 80% discount of the shipping fee) provide your zip code in the comments/chat to get the most accurate quote

Here are the Steps to get you started and open some options for online sale information and shipment ready stock that we currently have in our Queens, NY distribution warehouse.

  • 1 Please fill out the form at the bottom of this page and submit
  • 2 You will be contacted by Email (or Phone if you prefer) by a technician, teacher, or salesman from our NYC location.
  • 3 He or she will present some of the current Pianos we have on the floor (400+ Pianos total) based on your preferences and budget

To Match Your Prefered Tone

- We will assist in choosing a suitable tone, we will use a studio condenser microphone to record the piano, some customers in the past prefer to send a youtube or audio clip of a Piano tone that they wish to have. Ex: Bright , Warm ,or in the Middle.

- We will also record the volume of the piano at different distances and with the covers closed or open while we take it from Pianissimo (very soft) to Fortissimo (Very Loud)

How to measure Touchweight on your piano

You dont need an expensive set of gram weights to measure your pianos touchweight. You can do it easily, and with as much accuracy, using common coins.

For this test, you will need a set of gram weights for measuring between one and 70 grams, or barring that, a set of pennies and/or other coins. Below are listed some of the Gram weights of common US coins.

Using Coins Instead of Gram Weights
Coin Weight
penny (pre 1982)* 3 grams
penny (post 1982)* 2.5 grams
penny (1982)* May be either 2.5 or 3 grams
nickel 5 grams
dime 2.5 grams
quarter 5.5 grams

*Apparently some time in 1982, the US mint attempted to economize on the cost of making money by cutting the weight of its copper coins, effectively getting a free penny for every five minted.

Touchweight measurements are extremely useful for a number of reasons. For example, a person may be concerned whether the touch of a piano is too light or too heavy, or whether it is even and consistent from note to note, or whether the piano is giving them a good enough workout to build muscle strength. Finding out a what a pianos actual touchweight readings are can also help pinpoint problems and conditions that may exist somewhere deep in that labyrinth of 6 to 10 thousand moving parts called the action.

Gram weights sets are available from piano supply houses. However, most of them we tried had accuracy problems. Weighing them with a pharmacist's scale, we found them to be heavier than marked by as much as five grams per set. We solved this problem ultimately by drilling holes in the weights to remove some material.

How to perform the test: Get a dozen or so nickels. Tape a stack of 6 or 8 together (30 or 40 grams) and use the rest individually (5 grams apiece) for fine adjustment, along with a couple of dimes (2.5 each). You can also use pennies, but the weight will vary according to the date minted (consult chart, above). Using different combinations of all the coins should enable you to measure differences as small as ½ gram. For most purposes, however, an accuracy of within 2 or 3 grams should be adequate.

Depress the right, or sustain pedal, and hold it down. Place about 50 grams worth of coins or weights on the end of the key. Do this carefully; dont inadvertently push down or you may get a false reading. With light rapping (see inset) the key should slowly start to go down. If it goes down too easily or quickly use fewer coins or weights. If it wont go down at all, or is really sluggish even with the thumping, use more. You are looking for a slow but steady downward motion. When you've found out just exactly how many coins it takes, add them all up and figure out the number of grams using the chart. Dont worry too much about getting it too exact the first few times. You will become more adept the more keys (and pianos) you test. The important thing is to use the same technique for each key (and piano). In other words, if you thump on one, thump on all of them, and with the same kind of thump.

Breaking inertia

Sometimes it take a little extra help to get the key moving to begin with. Many piano technicians, when measuring touchweight, will thump or rap the piano under the keybed with the fist or palm of the hand. Other technicians accomplish the same thing by playing a key near or next to the one being tested. This may seem to some people like "cheating" - yielding a reading that is actually a few grams less than what i really takes to depress the key. However, in real life piano playing the depressing of a key is usually accompanied by a wealth of vibration from strings, soundboard, pedals and other keys being played, so there may be legitimate reason for this practice.

A reading of 50 grams is about standard. Depending on the piano, however, it may be considerably more or less, anywhere from 30 to over 70 grams. Note that the key may not go all the way down. That's O.K. There are additional factors that come into play when the key is about halfway down, and we are not really concerned with them here.

Actions measuring an average of below 45 grams per note would likely be considered "light." Actions that "weigh off" at 55 grams or above are generally considered either "stiff" or "heavy." (And sometimes a little of both.) Both excessively light or excessively heavy actions will be more difficult to control than a properly weighted action. Sometimes a single piano will exhibit both conditions: a touchweight that is too light on some keys and too heavy on others. Consistency is important: a difference of more than a couple of grams between neighboring keys can be felt by most pianists.

Touchweight is usually measured with the sustain (or right) pedal depressed, to take the weight of the dampers out of the system. If you desire, you can also measure how much additional weight the damper system adds. (If you do, however, remember that the dampers do not come into play until the key is at about 1/2 of the way down, unless they are out of adjustment) But for now, keep your foot on the pedal.

You will need to test several keys to get a fairly good idea of where your pianos touchweight is, and, of course, the more keys you test, the more accurate your results will be. In our shop, we routinely weigh off every key for upweight (see below) as well as downweight. The two measurements are then used in formulas to help pinpoint problem areas.

We then record close up videos of the action demonstrating its fluidity and responsiveness to your specifications. 

This works better on Mass Produced pianos such as a Pramberger or Yamaha U1 as the actions are mass produces. This method of measuring a prefered touchweight works best if you are a professional player that is comparing against a a piano that you play very often.

Most customers will be satisfied with the even weight given on most Mass produced pianos, weight can always be adjusted by your piano technician.

Using these methods allow you to get a piano with your desired sound and feel delivered to you sight unseen! We have sold 100s of Pianos sight unseen, feel free to contact us and we will work with you!

For more information - You can Measure your Pianos touchweight using the following
(Source :http://www.pianofinders.com/educational/touchweight.htm)

For more information - You can Measure your Pianos touchweight using the following (Source :http://www.pianofinders.com/educational/touchweight.htm)

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