What Type of Piano Do I Have

Wondering What Type of Piano You Have?

Pianos come in a number of different flavors. By that I mean there are many different sizes and styles, each with their own name.

To name a few piano styles: spinet, apartment, console, upright, studio, baby grand, parlor grand, grand, semi-concert grand, concert grand.

And let us not forget, square grand, giraffe piano, Janko piano,…

But for now let’s stick to the more common pianos. I will also provide some pictures of the different pianos, and wherever possible, pictures of the piano actions. Keep in mind we are not delving into the question of quality or value here, that’s a whole other discussion. Right now we are just trying to help determine what type of piano you have, or are looking at somewhere.

Grands
If the piano looks like the ones Liberace used to play (you do know who that is, right?) than it’s likely some sort of grand piano.
Most people call any piano like this a baby grand and that’s ok, we know what you mean. But there are actually different “flavors” of baby grand depending on the size (length). We’ll get more into the different sizes later, but speaking very generally they are Petite, Baby Grand, Grand, Concert Grand.

Verticals / Uprights
If however the piano is only a couple of feet from the front (where the keys are) to the back, it is some sort of vertical piano.
Here the difference is the overall height, and the type of action (moving parts) inside.
The names of the different sizes include:

  • Spinet – About 36-37″ high, action is called a drop-blow action, small soundboard. Probably the least musical of the pianos (all things being equal, and not counting the square grand which, while they often looked beautiful were generally really terrible instruments.).
  • Console – About 40″ – 43″ high, action is called a direct-blow action (more about that later), more soundboard area than a spinet (like having a larger speaker if you will). Note: Spinets and Consoles don’t have that great of of a tone (overall sound) because of the short strings and relatively small soundboard areas. “The actions must be compromised somewhat in size or placement within the piano to fit them into pianos of this size”*.
  • Studio – 44″ – 47″ high. The studio piano (sometimes called a school piano) are  more serious instruments. Now you are getting into a piano with a lot of square inches of soundboard (again, the “speaker” if you will), typically more robust action mechanisms, and longer strings. They are designed to be used in teaching studios, schools, and homes where the pianist is more serious but may not have the room and/or budget for a grand.
  • Baby Grand / Grands – This type of piano can range anywhere from 4′ 6″ to 10′ (or even more). The difference is in the length, the width and height of these pianos are all very similar. “Grands less than 5′ long are the musical equivalent of spinets and consoles; that is they are musically compromised and are mainly sold as pieces of furniture”*

 

* (quote from the Digital & Acoustic Piano Buyer” by Larry Fine)

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