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10 Types & Sizes of Pianos Explained

10 Types & Sizes of Pianos Explained

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The piano is noted as one of the best instruments to begin learning how to play from, mainly due to the ease of locating notes and identifying chords.

Most students tend to practice on a keyboard, which sounds and plays vastly different than the piano, due to its size and sound. The keys aren’t weighted and there aren’t usually any pedals, so it would better benefit you to practice on an actual piano if given the opportunity.

There are many types and sizes of pianos, however, that also vary in sound, size, and type, and have a different feel while playing.

Here we will evaluate several different kinds of pianos we teach on during piano lessons and what they may be utilized for.

VERTICAL PIANOS

The following are called vertical pianos because of their height, and the position of their strings:

1. The Upright

The upright is the tallest of the vertical pianos, ranging 50 to 60 inches and an approximate width of about 58 inches. It has a very rich tone and stands the test of time as a very durable piano.

It keeps a strong sound for many years as long as it is properly maintained. If one of your grandparents owned or owns a piano, this is probably the one that they have in their home. It is termed as “Grandma’s piano.” 

VERTICAL PIANO

2. The Spinet

Spinets are among the smallest of the uprights. The height is only a max of about 38 inches and a width of around 58.

It is a great choice for those who have more limited space in their home, apartment or condo to fit such an instrument. Be cautious if considering this type of piano, though: spinets are known to lose accuracy and have less power due to their construction, and also can cost more when repairing.

The sound creates what is called a “dropped action” when the force of the striking the key creates an action for the force of the hammer striking the string. 

3. The Console

Console pianos are slightly bigger than Spinets, ranging more towards 40 to around 43 inches and 58 inches wide.

This piano’s claim to fame is that you can get the console in a wide variety of styles and finishes. This probably also aids its popularity, as it is the most favorite of all of the uprights.

The sound the console provides is more direct action, the hammers are in an upright position and sitting directly over the keys. When the hammer comes down, a string pulls the hammer back into place to be ready to strike again, producing a more enhanced tone. 

4. The Studio

The well-known Studio pianos are what you might typically see in a music school, studio or classroom setting. Bigger than consoles their height is around 45 to 48 inches and width of 58 inches.

It has a larger soundboard and strings, so it has a richness in the tone quality that is comparable to grand pianos. Many of the studio pianos that you will find today are very similar in sound to the grand pianos. 

HORIZONTAL PIANOS

These are also called the grand pianos and are called this because of their length and the placement of the strings. They produce much finer tones due to their construction.

When you press the keys on these pianos, the hammer hits the strings from below and then falls back, but it makes the sound of the notes very crisp and gives the pianist better control over the keys.

Dimensions of a horizontal piano

5. The Petite Grand

The smallest of horizontal pianos, the petite grand still produces a very powerful sound that is impressive for musicians. Its size is usually around 4 feet, 5 inches but can go as much as 4 feet, 10 inches in height. 

6. The Baby Grand

The next up from the petite, the baby grand measures around 4 feet 11 inches to 5 feet 6 inches in height. The baby grand is a very popular piano for pianists, mainly due to its impressive tonal quality, but it also has an eye-pleasing aesthetic and is also affordable for many. 

7. The Medium Grand

This piano is larger than a baby grand, approximately 5 feet 7 inches. The size of the soundboard and the length of strings influence the tonal quality of a piano.

8. The Parlor Grand

Next up in size, the parlor grand piano stands at 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet 1 inch in height. It is often referred to as the “living room” piano. 

9. The Ballroom Grand

This piano is also called the Semiconcert grand and goes from 6 feet 2 inches to 6 feet 7 inches high.

10. The Concert Grand

This is the largest of all the grand pianos with a height of 9 feet. 

HORIZONTAL PIANO


It’s not just the size that changes with pianos. Most pianos have the signature 88 keys to play, but some manufacturers have actually added extra keys to “open up” new sounds and melodies.

This could create a whole new type of piano possibly. Another change you might discover with pianos is that the number of pedals differs if you’re in Europe – in America, there are a standard 3 pedals for pianos but in Europe, there is usually only just two. 

Maybe you would like the idea of having your choice of finishes and go for a Console, or maybe you’d rather go for the fuller sound of having a grand piano and get the baby grand.

If you have limited space though, it’s worth looking into possibly going for the Spinit or a Petite. Whatever your choice in piano, there are numerous options to choose from. The instrument has evolved in many ways, and now you should have a better idea of the various types and sizes they come in.

10 Responses

  1. So what about the wonderful Yamaha grands at 7’6″, 7′, and 6’11”? They’re in a category all their own? (Musically, yes!) And that’s only from one artistic piano company. I played a Yamaha 7’6″ for many years as a church musician and even had a chance to compare it side by side to it’s bigger brother 9′ concert grand and the main difference was only in the bottom five notes, admittedly because of the difference in length. I’m told that the C7 (“conservatory”) 7’6″ piano has been a preferred piano for recording studio for decades because it is still the same quality sound, action, etc. just without the added length, weight, price, etc. These “other” sizes that you didn’t cover are worthy of a category also. Maybe “conservatory” would be appropriate because I wouldn’t be surprised that a lot of music conservatories use these excellent instruments of this size.

  2. I was a music educator for 37 years B/4 retirement. My piano partners in the classroom ranged from the studio piano of Baldwins to the 7 ft Baldwin concert grand. Good information provided above! On a side note, my last stop B/4 Retirment was on the music faculty of Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. Blind Piano students preferred the “hear this, play this” method as opposed to Braille music, and initially came to lessons playing mostly on the black keys, because they were seemingly more accessible. A unique challenge endured for the piano teacher indeed. Over the years famed alum musicians were Ray Charles and Marcus Roberts. Thank you for your services and education of piano information.

  3. A “travel piano” that professional pianists carried with them in the 1920’s are smaller than a spinet. Is that right? I only had the opportunity to see one once and can’t fully remember. I really want to find one!

  4. Obviously, as to the measurements in the grand piano section of this article, the author has confused the terms “height” and “length”. For example, he wrote this regarding a concert grand piano:
    ” This is the largest of all the grand pianos with a height of 9 feet.”

    JIM

  5. Why is playing mostly on the black keys more accessible? Wouldn’t they just orient themselves by feel like everyone else?

  6. I have a baby grand piano that is smaller.
    I was told that it is called a crapeau. Translated – toad of the grand pianos.
    It opens up from both sides as the side curve is the same on both sides of the piano and fits into any corner beautifully.
    132cm deep, 124cm keyboard, 88 keys
    103cm tall before you put a side up
    Made by C. Gunther & Sohne of Stuttgart Germany

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