While it might not seem like it at first thought, the piano industry is as driven by technological advancements as any other continually evolving industry – the auto industry, the recording industry, the computer industry, to name a few. What doesn’t evolve is doomed to be left behind. 

The interesting paradox in the world of pianos is that these beauties far outlast the lifespan of a car or a computer. It’s certainly not unusual to run across a 100-year-old piano that is still the crowning glory of a family that has lovingly passed it down from generation to generation. 

But while such a piano is enjoying a long and well-deserved journey, new pianos are constantly being designed and developed, outpacing the ever-aging heirloom.

Often in our business we find that many owners of older pianos don’t realize that pianos continue to be manufactured – as if time ran out for piano-making a long time ago, and the only ones left are old. All too often a call will come in from an excited customer regarding their fantastic “find” of a piano (a neighbor, for example, graciously giving away their antique saloon piano that’s been in the barn for a decade), and we must explain to the giddy new owner that the “instrument” now in their possession can’t be tuned (or salvaged) because of rust, mold, dust, dirt, corrosion, cracks and broken parts. It certainly can’t be played. Age and condition affect a piano just like they would anything else – and trust me, you can do better.

It’s often handy to compare pianos to cars. With both, there’s a nice sturdy exterior in a variety of colors and finishes, and on the inside, lots of moving, mechanical (and now computerized) parts. As laymen, we can’t see all the parts, and we don’t know what they all do, but we should at least want them to all function at capacity and as designed, making the car dependable and the piano functional and enjoyable.

When you think it’s time for a piano, don’t settle for the first thing to cross your path. (And beware of social media and internet scammers!) Do some research, look around, realize it’s an investment into your future, and ask the experts what else you can learn on the way to making a great choice for your family.

Jennifer Herrin is the co-owner of Kawai Piano Gallery by Herrin in Bluffton. jennifer@kpgbyherrin.com or kawaipianogallerybyherrin.com