Are you interested in buying a piano but don’t know the different options available to you?
Are you aware of the differences between the different types of pianos?
How do digital pianos compare?
Here’s a comprehensive guide on the different kinds of pianos to answer all your questions!
1. Grand Pianos
Also referred to as horizontal pianos, Grand pianos are without a doubt the largest, most expensive and prestigious pianos. They feature fine craftsmanship and exceptional functionality. Simply put, they are the choice of top pianists and discerning piano aficionados.
These pianos have horizontally placed strings and a large sound board. Due to their horizontal design, the hammers on these pianos return to their position through gravitational pull as opposed to a complicated system of springs; this gives the hammer strokes a distinctly responsive feel.
Grand pianos not only look good but also sound great. Furthermore, they allow the pianist to strike keys in rapid succession thanks to the double escapement mechanism, which is absent in vertical pianos.
Best Suited To
The huge space requirements and hefty price tags associated with grand pianos means that they are a preserve of the wealthy. They are also commonly used in professional performances. Their exceptional functionality and unmatched sound quality make them a top pick for an avid pianist.
Variations of the Grand Piano
There are several different types of grand pianos too. The major difference between them is the size but this also affects the tonal qualities of the piano too.
1. Concert Grand
These are the largest of all grand pianos. The largest ones may exceed 10 feet in length, as compared to the average length of 7” to 9’ 6”.
2. Ballroom/Semi-concert/Professional Grand
Slightly smaller than the concert grand piano described above, these pianos measure about 6’2” to 7’ in length.
3. Classic/Living Room/Parlor Grand
These pianos are said to be approximately three quarters the size of the concert grand. On average, living room grand pianos measure 5’9” to 6’1” in length.
4. Medium Grand
Slightly smaller than the living room grand piano, the medium grand measures about 5’7” in length.
5. Baby Grand
At approximately half the size of the concert grand, the baby grand piano is around 5’ to 5’6” in length. Its affordability, size and sound quality makes it a great choice for anyone who would like to have one in their home.
6. Petite Grand
If you would love to enjoy the sound quality and appealing look of a grand piano at home but do not have the space to accommodate a baby grand, then the powerful but compact petite grand is a great alternative. These pianos are approximately 4’5” to 4’11” long.
2. Upright/Vertical Pianos
Also referred to as vertical pianos, upright pianos are taller in build and feature vertically positioned strings. These pianos are more affordable than the above described grand pianos.
As stated above, these pianos feature a tall build. This means that they operate differently from grand pianos as the strings are vertically placed. This design variation also makes for a unique playing experience, different from that of a grand piano as the hammer action relies on a different system.
One of the most endearing aspects of these pianos is their significantly reduced space requirements. They can be set against the wall, where they do not obstruct other areas of the room.
Best Suited To
Upright pianos are more affordable than grand pianos, making them a great option for any casual piano player who does not want to spend a huge amount of money on a single instrument. Since they are easier to fit in smaller confined spaces, vertical pianos are quite popular and can be found in schools, churches and homes.
Even though these pianos are great for the above mentioned applications, they are not suitable for concerts as the performer would be obscured from the crowd. Or, have their back to the audience the whole time.
Vertical Piano Variations
1. Professional Upright
The professional upright piano is one of the oldest variant of these pianos. Measuring 48” to 60” in height, these pianos usually last for more than a hundred years with proper maintenance.
These vertical pianos are also quite durable. They are built using larger strings and soundboards. This also makes it easier for them to produce high quality sound. With an approximate height of 44” to 47”, these pianos are commonly used in music studios and music schools.
If you are looking for a piano that not only produces great sound but also blends in with your home’s décor, be sure to consider the console. Standing at approximately 40” to 43” in height, console pianos come in a wide variety of styles and finishes. These vertical pianos come are designed to use direct action, making it possible for them to produce a more enhanced sound.
Measuring 35” to 37” in height, the smallest upright pianos are referred to as spinets. They are a popular choice for those who want to house and use them in a compact space. However, it is important to note that spinets have less accuracy and power due to their design and size.
3. Electric/Digital Pianos
In addition to the above described acoustic pianos, you can also find digital or electric pianos. These highly advanced music instruments are designed to feel and sound like their acoustic counterparts. Even though some people compare digital pianos to keyboards, it is important to note that high quality models even mimic the feel of piano hammers hitting the keys.
One of the main advantages of digital pianos comes in their portability. While most acoustic pianos tend to be bulky and heavy, digital pianos are built to be compact and lightweight. Furthermore, digital pianos do not come with the detuning issues experienced in acoustic pianos.
Digital pianos come with a variety of modern conveniences built into their system. For instance, the latest models can be paired with smart devices for easier and convenient control and adjustment of settings. They also make it easier for the user to record their music to listen to it later much easier.
If you intend to travel with their instruments a lot, consider choosing an electric piano. These widely accessible pianos are also great for introducing young individuals to the art of playing piano.
Digital Piano Variations
Popularly used in the playing disco and funk music, the clavinet works by plucking strings once the keys are pressed. The vibrations are picked up by an electric pick up and then enhanced with the help of an amplifier.
Even though it does not come with strings, the clavinova feels like a traditional piano by using weighted keys. To produce acoustic musical sounds this piano relies on digital samples.
3. Fender Rhodes
This electric piano also relies on an electric pickup to capture the vibrations on strings before enhancing their intensity using an amplifier.
If you are looking to buy your very own piano, keeping the above information in mind during the purchase process will help you make an informed final decision.
I hope you have learned about the differences between the various kinds of pianos. Each type has benefits and drawbacks that depend on the needs of the users.
- Grand pianos are known for their superior playability and sound quality. But, they are larger than the other types of pianos and require a lot of space. They are also the most expensive option.
- Upright piano are smaller and less expensive pianos. But, you sacrifice some quality of sound to save space and money.
- Digital pianos try to be the best of both worlds. They are smaller and lighter than their acoustic cousins so they are more portable. But, to mimic the feel and sound of an acoustic, you’ll need to get one the better models.
Which piano type do you think is best? Please share your opinions and recommendations in the comments below!
Sources and Further Reading:
Hello! My Name is Scott and I am the Piano Dad! I started taking piano lessons as an adult to spend time with my 8 year old daughter and love every minute of it. I created this site to help other pianists learn more about playing piano as an adult. Hope you enjoy and learn a little something!