Whether it classical jazz, soulful blues, or even mainstream rock, the piano transcends the seventeenth century time frame it was invented in and remains one of the most popular musical instruments ever played. Over the course of time, however, many versions of the same instrument have been designed and used. Of course, this means that the world of pianos is a lot more than just the upright piano versus the grand piano. Ready to learn more?

The Modern Piano Retail Space – A World of Variety

Piano retailers have dozens of kinds of pianos on the menu, varying in terms of parameters such as designs, styles, and sizes. Here we try to provide a brief introduction to the world of pianos. Broadly speaking the modern day pianos can be classified into two main subcategories: the vertical pianos and the horizontal ones. This categorization in done primarily based on characteristics like the height and the precise positioning of the strings.

Vertical Pianos

Vertical pianos have heights ranging from 36 to 60 inches, and can be broadly subdivided into four broad categories, – namely the spinet, the console, the studio, and the upright.

Spinets are the smallest pianos constructed with an average height of about 37 inches, and reaching about 58 inches in width. The spinet piano is roughly triangular in shape. The strings of the instrument are placed in pairs, as are the jacks that are responsible for plucking the strings. A spinet is a spectacular instrument to own if one has limited living space. One slight disadvantage of the spinet is the fact that it sounds less powerful than your music teacher’s grand piano, because of its relatively small framework and design.

Image Courtesy of National Music Museum

A console’s height varies between 40-43 inches, which makes it slightly larger than a spinet. The width of a console is about 58 inches; a console piano can come in various styles. The placement of the action is fundamentally different for the console; it uses a direct action model which enables it to produce richer sound as compared to a spinet.

Piano Console
Image Courtesy of Walter Piano

A studio piano is about 45 to 48 inches in height and about 58 inches wide. The design and construction of these pianos make them sturdy and durable. Also, pianists prefer the studio piano because of its pleasing tonal quality.

An upright piano happens to be the tallest among all the other vertical pianos, with an average height ranging between 50 and 60 inches, and its width pegged at 58 inches. The rich tone of the upright piano is widely recognized; hence, it has been consistently used throughout the years.

Horizontal Pianos

Horizontal pianos are also popularly referred to as grand pianos. Grand pianos are known to have better clarity and more responsive action, hence, much preferred by professional pianists and dedicated piano students. There are six major types of grand pianos available in the market – the petite grand, the baby grand, the medium grand, the parlor grand and the semi-concert (or Ballroom) grand, and the concert grand.

The petite grand, with heights ranging between 4 feet 5 inches to 4 feet 10 inches, is the smallest horizontal piano available. In spite of its compactness, the power of the petite grand manages to impress pianists and listeners alike.

Petite Grand
Image Courtesy of Galileo Pianos

The baby grand is slightly larger than the petite, ranging between 4 feet 11 inches to 5 feet 6 inches in height. The tonal quality of the baby grand is impressive. Plus, the petite piano has its inimitable artistic appeal that makes it the preferred choice of many piano learners.

The medium grand is slightly larger than the baby grand with an average size of 5 feet 11 inches.

The parlor piano is often referred to as the living room grand piano and can measure from 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet 1 inch in size.

The semi-concert or ballroom grand is mostly around 6 feet 2 inches to 7 feet in length and is larger than the living room grand.

The concert grand is about 9 feet long and is the largest among all the other grand pianos.

Concert Grand Piano
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

With pianos, however, it’s not always about the size. Variations come aplenty, in terms of the number of pedals and the number of keys. While the standard piano has 88 keys, some manufacturers have often felt the need to incorporate a few extra keys, opening up vistas for unheard melodies. A word on pedals – the American pianos have three pedals while their European counterparts generally settle for two. You can go after the Europeans on their lack of defense spending and high taxes but not on their piano pedal count, it is just how this instrument has evolved. This is, in broad strokes, a snapshot of the different types and styles of pianos you can expect to find when you visit a piano retailer.

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