What sort of piano will my child need to practice on?
A ‘real’ piano (made out of wood and metal) can be a wonderful thing. Do bear in mind however, that rather like second-hand cars, there are an awful lot of ‘clapped-out’ ones out there that no amount of tuning will bring back to life. If you can, go for a real piano. Good second hand uprights start from around £500. Be sure to factor in the cost of having it moved (£120) and having it tuned at least once a year (£60).
As an alternative consider a digital piano. A good second-hand digital piano costing a few hundred pounds will always outperforming a badly maintained piano and require no tuning. There are many good used digital pianos available from eBay. Alternatively buy locally from Gardners Piano Specialists. Gardners is competitively priced and you can try before you buy. If you are buying online, Amazon has a huge selection, but you might wish to consider supporting local businesses and knowing that you can just take it back if there are any problems.
Go for one of the recommended models below and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.
The more expensive models have what is known as a ‘fully weighted action’ – this is not necessary for a beginner (although the keyboard must be fully touch sensitive).
An outlay of around £150 will get you a good quality second hand touch-sensitive portable keyboard suitable up to around grade 1. For instance a Yamaha NP31.
An outlay of £350 will purchase a fully weighted, touch sensitive keyboard (Yamaha P35/6) that will see a pianist right through to grade 5. Bear in mind that you will need a stand (either folding or rigid which looks nicer but costs more) and a proper piano stool.
All of the above models are readily available on eBay used and you can usually get a third to a half off the new price by buying second hand. Of course, a used keyboard has no guarantee, but if it is in good working order and conditions when you buy it, you are unlikely to encounter any great problems.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require further advice.