It’s difficult to tell merely by looking at a piano how well it plays, how well it’s built, or how much it might be worth in the future. There are several points to consider when looking for a quality instrument.
Most musicians are concerned, naturally, about the tone, or sound quality of the piano. Qualities like long sustain, dynamic control, pitch, timbre (color), or voicing are critical elements when considering the purchase of a new piano.
Also high on the list for most pianists is touch, or how the piano feels and responds. For the best experience, look for a piano that plays with the least amount of effort and noise, good balance, exceptional speed and accuracy.
In addition to the musical qualities of the piano, most people are more or less interested in its appearance, i.e. looks, finish, style, color, sheen, shape, etc.
How well the manufacturer built the piano and what quality it was designed to have. There are many ways to build a piano. However, over the years there has emerged a consensus of sorts in the piano industry as to which types of construction are preferred for the highest quality instruments. These typically include such features as 1) Overstrung bass 2) Continuous Rim 3) Solid spruce soundboard 4) Certain standard types of materials and construction employed in the case, rim, and plate (or frame). The quality of the piano starts with the quality of the wood. Since 85% of any acoustic piano is composed of wood, it makes sense for the shopper to compare the species and grade of the wood. Less expensive pianos compromise on the grade and types of wood, as well as the workmanship used in the manufacturing process.
Finally, one of the most important considerations is cost: this includes such considerations as the piano’s price, your available budget, financing options, investment value of the piano, resale value, etc. An investment is a possession acquired for future benefit, with the expectation it will increase in value. The more recognized the brand, and higher quality the piano, the more satisfying the return.