Secondhand Piano Shop

Vertical Pianos vs. Grands


Released: 11/10/2009 12:47:16 PM    Source: Singapore Piano Shop

It is important to know, if you are an aspiring artist, or even if you just appreciate good instruments, that a vertical piano is not a grand. There are several compromises made in the design and construction of vertical pianos that make them less rewarding to play than a grand piano of equal quality. A vertical, though, generally costs less than a grand and takes up less space, hence people with space or budget limitations often choose to buy the vertical. In the vertical pianos, which can be as tall as 58 to 60 inches for some of the older, vintage ones, it is possible to get a tone quality comparable to all but the largest (7' to 9') grands. The main drawback to the vertical, or upright (as the older ones are called) piano, is its action, which is pretty basic, consisting of only about 5,000 to 6,000 moving parts as compared to, say, an average of 10,000 for the grand. In the vertical action, also, because the strings run vertically, it is necessary to place the tone-producing parts (such as keys, hammers and dampers) in a less than ideal location that does not always allow for the best sound or feel. However, because it is possible to get a better sound from a taller vertical than from a smaller grand, the choice between grand and upright can be difficult in certain price ranges.

Presently, about one-quarter of all pianos sold are grands. This was not always the case; around the turn of the century only about 2 or 3 per cent of all the pianos sold were grands. Most people just didn't have the space for them. As homes have gotten larger people now have more space for a piano. Also, grands are typically perceived as being for the more serious player. Young families on a budget, and amateur (and even some serious) musicians with small apartments and little space generally buy the spinets, consoles, studios and other vertical pianos. Psychologically, however, it has been found that having a grand rather than a vertical often motivates students to be more serious about their practicing, since the purchase of a grand often requires a greater commitment, financially if not otherwise, and this fact is not lost on the student. Increasingly, many beginning pianists and parents of beginning pianists are buying grands because they prefer the shape and furniture aspect and want a piano to grow into.

At least one U.S. piano maker, Fandrich, has developed a vertical action that acts and feels more like that of a grand. For those interested in a vertical that has more of a grand "feel", this piano would be worth looking at.