Most reputable dueling piano companies pay their talent top rate, which allows them to work 2-3 shows per week, not including travel, keeping the performers in optimal shape for a high-energy show. Prices vary by region, as well as (like with airlines and hotels) availability of talent and time of day and year.
In 2021, the average 3-hour dueling piano show in Florida costs $2,500 from reputable vendors and agents. Top dueling piano vendors and agents provide this bare minimum checklist as a full service:
- Baby grand (at least 3.5-foot length) piano setup (these can cost up to $3,000 to rent/transport), well-maintained and transported professionally
- State-of-the-art sound and lighting that ensures clarity and comfort for all audience members
- Labor fees/time for at least 2 hours load-in before and 2 hours load-out after the event
- Coordination with the venue and/or event coordinator for setup prior to and on the day of the event
- Coordination with you and/or event coordinator for event program and setlist, along with a specific song and formatting requests
- Follow-up with you and VIPs in the event to ensure customer satisfaction.
If you walk into any dueling piano bar in the country and look onstage, you’ll see two pianos. But they’re not real pianos (unless you’re at the Shout! House in San Diego or Pat O’Brien’s in Orlando). The pianos are what dueling piano players call “shells” which are hollow cases shaped like a piano. Inside the shell sits a keyboard. Some dueling piano bars supply professional studio keyboards (like the Yamaha CP300) while some private dueling piano vendors use Casio Privia models for easy and flexible transport. Ask any piano player how his hands would feel after playing rock and roll constantly for 4 hours – They would much prefer a keyboard that sounds like a piano. Plus there is much more flexibility in transport as well as sound quality (no extra microphones needed under the lid).
There are actually dueling piano players that have started their own companies manufacturing piano shells to the general public. If you’ve ever thought of purchasing a piano, check out these options first instead of a real baby grand piano. That decision could save you thousands of dollars (and headaches in moving!).
Generally, a dueling piano agent is not necessarily a dueling piano player. He makes is living solely off the commissions of booking live music shows, not always exclusively dueling piano shows. A dueling piano vendor is generally a dueling piano player him/herself, so rates are more likely to be fair with no middleman. Dueling piano players usually take more pride in their craft as well as their business, so they are likely to provide better quality talent, shows, and customer service.