More than 20 million people in the U.S. play the piano. Piano lessons remain among the most popular activities children participate in. Interestingly enough, most people including piano owners know virtually nothing about how a piano works or what should be considered before buying one.
This article is designed to help you understand more about the structure of a piano as well as some of the selections and criteria to consider before investing in any piano.
Upright pianos come in different sizes. The height of an upright piano is measured from the floor to the top of the piano. There are four different types of upright piano:
- Full size upright – 48-60 inches
- Studio – 43-47 inches
- Console – 40-43 inches
- Spinet – 36-39 inches
The size of a piano is the single most important factor influencing its tonal quality. The smaller the piano is the worse the tonal quality, especially in the lower bass.
The length of a grand piano is measured from the very front of the keyboard to the very back of the piano.
- Concert grand – 7-9 feet
- Medium grand – 5.5-7 feet
- Baby grand – 4.5–5.5 feet
If money and space are not an issue, buy a grand piano that’s at least 6 feet long or a vertical that's at least 48 inches tall. Don't even consider a baby grand that's less than 5 feet or a vertical that's less than 40 inches.
Piano brands can be categorized by different pricing points. Very similar to shopping for a car, shopping for a grand or a vertical piano takes research. Currently, Asian countries, predominantly Japan, Korea and China manufacture the majority of pianos.
European countries also manufacture pianos, and they range from high-end to mid-level pianos. The U.S. has manufactured pianos for a century now. A few of the famous brands are:High-End Pianos (Equals the Rolls-Royce of pianos)
Steinway (U.S. manufactured), Bosendorfer (Austria; this grand piano has more than 88 notes.) Fazioli (Italy), Bechstein (Germany).Mid-Priced Pianos The Japanese and Americans mainly manufacture these pianos.)
Yamaha (Japan), Kawai (Japan), Petrof (Czech), Baldwin (U.S.), Boston (a joint venture between Japan and the U.S.), Charles Walter (U.S.)Low-End Pianos (The Koreans and Chinese mainly manufacture these pianos.)
Young Chang (Korean), Samick (Korean), Pearl River (China), Kimball (U.S.), Nordiska, Wurlitzer
There are many piano brands available to the general public. Some manufacturers own many brand names. A good example is the Boston piano. Kawai manufactures this piano, but Steinway designs it.
Shopping for a grand piano or an upright piano
Before you decide to buy a piano, you should ask yourself the following:
- Grand piano versus upright piano
I highly recommend reading the "Piano Book" by Larry Fine. The book provides extensive research and recommendations for many different piano brands. The author is a piano tuner/specialist and has serviced many different pianos. If a person has a limited budget for a piano, I recommend a Japanese-manufactured piano because of its value and economy. Very much like the car industry, the piano industry has grown to favor the Japanese-made piano.