Secondhand Piano Shop

Grand types


Released: 11/10/2009 12:49:17 PM    Source: Singapore Piano Shop

Grand types usually correspond with the length of the instrument, (as opposed to height on verticals). Grands run in size anywhere from 4'6" to over 9 feet long. The term "baby grand," about which we are frequently asked, has been so misused as to have become virtually meaningless. Originally coined as a marketing device, the name basically has come to mean any one of the smaller grands, generally under 6 feet. However, I have heard people apply it to the larger grands as well. It seems, based on present usage, to be as much a term of endearment as a designation of size.
Grands can come in many different shapes. Whereas the majority of grands sold today have the conventional "Wing" shape, with a curved side on the right and a flat side on the left, there have also been grands made over the years that had:
Double curves, or a curve on both right or left sides (often called a "butterfly" grand)
a "cocked hat" shape, where the flat side of the grand goes off to the left at an angle instead of perpendicular to the keyboard (actually, to be completely accurate, on most grands the angle of the flat side to the keyboard side is slightly over 90 degrees, which is often a source of confusion to interior decorators and homemakers trying to position the piano in the room ("now I'm sure that side of the grand is parallel with the wall, so why doesn't the keyboard look straight?") But on a cocked hat grand, it's way over 90 degrees.)
A rectangular shape, with the long dimension going from right to left with respect to the player. (This is what is commonly termed a square grand)
A harpsichord shape, where the tail and/or sides are flat rather than curved.
The term "concert grand" usually refers to the largest grands, usually around 9' long. As these larger instruments generally have a much more powerful and projecting tone than the smaller grands, they are most often found in large auditoriums or halls where concerts take place. Here, as well, however, I have seen ads referring to pianos as short as 7' as concert grands, although often the term "semi-concert grand" is used.
The largest concert grands made today are the Fazioli F308, 10 feet 2 inches long; and the Bosendorfer 290, 9 feet 6 inches, with 97 keys instead of the normal 88. Historically, the largest grand ever made was built in 1935 by an English manufacturer, Challen. This Concert grand was 11 feet 8 inches long and weighed 2000 lbs.
In between these extremes, there are various names for pianos around 5'8" to 7 feet, including "living room grand," "studio grand," and even "drawing room," "parlor" and "boudoir" grand!
The main differences between shorter and longer grands are the quality of the bass tones (bass strings in pianos need to be long in order to sound their best. Longer or larger grands can have longer bass strings, which sound better than those in shorter pianos); the quantity of sound (larger pianos can have larger soundboards, which usually means more volume of sound); and quality of sound (Larger pianos usually just sound better.)