The Key Differences Between An Upright And A Spinet Piano

While upright pianos and spinets fall into the same category of pianos (vertical pianos) they are not the same thing. In fact, there are a number of key distinctions. Here are all of the key differences between an upright piano and a spinet piano.


This is the first method of determining whether you are looking at a spinet or an upright. The height of a spinet falls in a range of 36-40 inches and an upright is usually a minimum of 45 inches and only goes up from there. Keep in mind that these measurements are done by determining the length from the bottom to the top of the back portion of the instrument.

Maintenance And Care

When it comes to an upright piano, you have to take care of it regularly. This includes cleaning all of the keys and making sure that it has the proper tuning. If you do not do this, it will have a negative effect on the way that sound is emitted.

Example of a full upright piano
this spinet piano I started learning on
The spinet piano I learned on

As far as a spinet goes, I have heard from people, including my piano teacher, that they are more difficult to tune than horizontal pianos like grand pianos. This is due to the small soundboard and the short length of the strings.

Many people who are worried about having difficulty with one of these should consider buying a console upright. This is about the same size as a spinet, but the components are large and easier to clean.


Upright pianos were pretty popular in the 1920s to 1940s. While they are not as popular now as they were then, there are countless people who buy them every day. As a result, they are still being produced regularly.

On the flip side, spinets were highly sought after during the Great Depression since they were a much smaller and cheaper version of a vertical piano. These are not being produced as they were back then. With that said, there are some available for sale on auction sites as well as other places since they have a small following.

How They Play Notes

When you are playing an upright piano, the hammers that are located in the interior of the instrument hit the soundboard whenever you press on one or more of the keys. This is not quite how it works with spinets. There is a lever inside the device that hits the soundboard from the back. As you can probably tell, this makes for a more complicated system and this is one of the factors that contribute to the fact that they are not easy to maintain at all.


Whether you decide to buy a typical upright piano or you want to opt for a spinet, it is clearly a matter of personal preference. With that in mind, you should understand that spinets are harder to maintain, have tonal abnormalities and they are no longer being mass produced. Ponder all of those points carefully before making a purchase decision since these may all become points that result in you having buyer’s remorse.

Do you know of any other differences between upright and spinet pianos? Share your comments and opinions in the comments below!

Additional Resources

1 thought on “The Key Differences Between An Upright And A Spinet Piano”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.