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Buying YouR Instrument

"A great musician never blames their instrument for the sound it creates."

Piano Tuner and Technician: Alan Evans 07941 861 260

Choose Your Instrument

  • Pic Piano

    Choosing your piano

    Essential features:

    • A full keyboard - 88 keys (some small pianos have 85 keys)

    • Weighted keys

    • Height-adjustable stool

    The choice of acoustic or digital pianos depends on your circumstances.

    The strings produce vibrations and resonance to make the sound.   The simulated sound is produced by recordings of pianos and then emitted through speakers.
    Dynamic range is vast due to the strings resonating.   Dynamic range is limited.
    Needs regular tuning and maintenance.   No need for maintenance.
    Requires space and is not portable.   More compact and can be portable. Often require accessories.
    No electronic features.   Variety of features eg. Headphone jacks, sounds, connectivity, recording etc
    Cannot practice silently.   Can practice silently.
    Can be more expensive when bought new.   Cheaper options available, as well as more expensive high-end models.
    Depending on care, lasts decades.   Become outdated more quickly due to technological advances.
    Second-hand pianos are more easily sold/bought.   More difficult to sell second-hand.


    Acoustic pianos provide a fuller scope of colour, overtones, harmony and range of expression. For higher level pianists, it is highly recommended to have a well-maintained acoustic piano. If this is not possible, then some digital pianos offer a good alternative, coupled with regular acoustic piano practice too where possible.

    Beginner students may prefer to start with a digital piano. I often recommend the Yamaha P-45 as a good all-round beginner digital piano.

    Increasing the budget slightly, the Yamaha P-125 or the Casio PX-160 would be good alternatives with more advanced features than the Yamaha P-45.

    The Yamaha Clavinova range is also very popular for all levels.

    Exciting Alternatives

    Acoustic Hybrid Pianos

    These acoustic pianos are a combination of acoustic and digital pianos. They have real strings, and are also hooked up to a digital sound engine, which allows the pianist to mute the strings and hear through headphones. They can also be connected to apps and computers etc which makes these very versatile.

    Digital Hybrid Pianos

    These have the body of an acoustic piano, but no strings. The hammer action feels real, but the sound is purely digital. Again, an exciting choice.

    Recommended shops

    We recommend the following piano shops, who will help you find your piano:

    The Piano Gallery

    A. Hanna & Sons Pianos

    Knightsbridge Pianos

    Yamaha Pianos have a great range of Digital Pianos, especially their Clavinova range. Have a look at their stock on the website, or in their showroom in Wardour Street (Oxford Circus/Tottenham Court Road tube).

  • Pic Guitar

    Choosing your Guitar

    Below are links to guitars we would recommend for different ages. We also advise having a clip-on guitar tuner and a music stand for lessons. For students up to age 11, we recommend having a classical guitar with nylon strings, as they are easier to play and the strings are softer on the fingers. For students 11 years and above, the student can choose a classical guitar, a steeled string acoustic guitar or an electric guitar, depending on which genre of music they would like to play.


    4-6 years old     1/4  
    5-8 years old   3’10” to 4’5”   1/2   Gak - Ashton SPCG12 1/2 Size
    8-11 years old   4’6” to 4’11”   3/4   Guitarbitz - Ashton 3/4 Classical
    Adult       Full Size   Epiphone Pr5e

    The best websites to buy guitars from are: GAK and Gear for Music

    Denmark Street (by Tottenham Court Road)
    has a range of guitar shops if you are looking to try some out before buying.

  • Pic Violin/Viola

    Choosing your Violin

    Too small is better than too big!

    The size of the violin depends on the arm length of the student..

    The way to tell if a violin is the right size is to get the student to put the violin under their chin and link the fingers of their left hand over the end of the scroll at the end of the neck. If they have to stretch their arm, then the violin is too big. The ideal length is if there is a fair amount of give at the elbow.

    Buying a violin that's too big, knowing the student will grow into it is a falseeconomy because it will be very difficult to play and the student could feel strained economy because it will be very difficult to play and the student could feel strained

    Measuring the pupil’s arm length

    1. Extend the left arm by their side parallel to the floor, palm facing upwards.

    2. Bring the arm slightly to the front of their body.

    3. Measure the distance between the base of their neck and the centre of the palm.

    Based on how that measurement, here is a chart of recommended violin sizes:

    • INCHES


    Your teacher at Scales Music may advise you to exchange the instrument with the shop for a different size if they think that it would suit the pupil better.


    Most shops include the bow, strings and a lightweight case. You will also need a shoulder rest that matches the size of the violin and some rosin, if not included. It is also advisable to get a spare set of strings, in case any of them break.

    Shop and instrument recommendations

    We highly recommend the Stentor Outfit model, which you can find in many instrument shops:

    Stringers of London

    Dots Music Camden

    Below is a specific student model that the shop Bridgewood and Neitzer sell which we recommend:

    Bridgewood and Neitzert London

    Violin Rental

    Violin rental is a great option if you only have one child who learns the violin because you can upgrade the size as they grow.


    Bridgewood and Neitzert London


    Choosing your Drum Kit

    Ideally, we recommend having an acoustic drum kit. Below are some suggested kits

    Acoustic Drum Kits:

    • Ludwig Break Beats

    • Ludwig Pocket Kit (for small children)

    • Yamaha Stage Custom

    • Gretch Renown

    Most acoustic drum kits come without cymbals.

    Great beginner Cymbal Sets are:

    • Meinl HCS Cymbal Set

    • Zildjian Family Standard Cymbal Set

    • Sabian B8X Cymbal Set

    Most acoustic drum kits come without cymbals.

    Electronic Drum Kits:

    • Millenium MPS-150X E-Drum Mesh Set

    • Roland TD-1DMK V-Drum Set

    • Roland TD-17KVX V-Drums Electronic Drum Set

    Drum Sticks:

    • Vic Firth 5A