Secondhand Piano Shop

Piano Size


Released: 11/10/2009 12:47:38 PM    Source: Singapore Piano Shop

All other things being equal, the taller the vertical piano is, or the longer the grand, the better the sound will be, but also the higher the price. However, often all other things are not equal. A smaller, higher quality piano may actually have a better sound than a larger piano that is of lower quality or in poor condition, so it pays to compare.

The main tone producing components of the piano, namely, the strings and the soundboard, are restricted in length and area by either the height of the instrument (in verticals) or the length of the instrument (in grands). The longer the strings and the greater the soundboard area, as a general rule, the better the tone quality.

While most people will have neither the space nor budget for a 9 foot concert grand, most accomplished pianists feel that it is very difficult to get a good sound out of a grand smaller than about 5' 7", or a vertical shorter than 44".

(Some taller verticals may have better tone quality than shorter grands at around the same price. But even the smallest grands usually have a more refined action than the verticals. In this price bracket, choosing between a grand and a vertical can sometimes be difficult. When people choose a smaller grand over a taller vertical that may have a better sound, it's often because they prefer the feel of the grand action, or the look of the grand cabinet.)

For many people, however, a larger instrument will simply not fit the space, or appeal to their decorator instincts. In such cases, it's best to try and get the best quality possible in a smaller size.

Vertical pianos still outsell grands three to one. One reason for this, besides price, is that the vertical piano has a much smaller "footprint". You can fit vertical pianos into some pretty small floor spaces, because they take up space vertically rather than horizontally.

A general rule-of-thumb is that among the different sizes of any given brand, the larger or more expensive the piano, the better the quality. Piano makers have found that it's usually the bigger, pricier instruments in their line that are purchased by the more serious or critical musicians, so a manufacturer will generally put more care or quality into the construction of their larger verticals and grands than into their smaller, less expensive models. Another general rule is that more time and care goes into the making of the grands than the verticals. The best pianos in a manufacturer's line are usually the larger (6' to 9') grands. (There are some exceptions to this generalization. In Japan and in Europe, where living space is often at a premium, and fewer grands are sold, they make some really excellent verticals.)

An illustration of this point: When visiting the factory of a well-known U.S. maker of high-quality pianos, I was told by the person conducting the tour that it was their policy at that time to give the small to medium-sized grands 20 hours of voicing and regulation, the larger-sized grands 40 hours, and the concert grands 80 hours. (These were the pianos that went out to the general public. Pianos set aside for concert artists' use would receive even more hours of tweaking.) Aside from the basic design and quality of materials used in the construction of a piano, the thing that really makes the most difference in the tone and touch of the instrument is this final voicing and regulation.