Piano Types

By Cody Handlin

Piano types and sizes.

There are three basic types of piano that are in common circulation. A grand piano, a spinet piano, and an upright piano. While a grand piano is common to most peoples vocabulary and can be readily identified most people don’t know the difference between a spinet and an upright. Both type of piano are vertical or upright, but the spinet is much smaller. The top of the piano is generally only a few inches to a foot above the level of the keyboard. Also, unseen, the spinet has a different kind of mechanical action that resides below the level of the keys. It transfers the motion of the keys differently to the strings than an upright. In an upright piano the action rests above the level of the keys. This means that the top of the piano must be a certain height above the keybed to allow room for the action. Therefore the top of an upright piano must be at least a foot and a half or so above the level of the keys.

People choose the type of piano depending often on how much space available. A grand piano requires a significant amount of space, most grands are at least four feet wide and four and a half feet in length. They require floor space accordingly. They have a different kind of action or playing mechanism that is preferred by pianists for its more responsive touch. They also generally have a greater string length which allows their tone or sound to be more pleasant and balanced. A large upright can also have a significant string length which makes it preferable to a smaller spinet. However, neither a spinet or an upright piano have the same preferred action of a grand. Space-wise it is much easier to place a vertical piano, spinet or upright, than a grand piano.

In general, a grand piano is the more expensive of the three. But, the brand, condition, and age of a piano will affect its price. In some cases a spinet or an upright may be more expensive than a grand if it is a well known brand or is in new or pristine condition. All other conditions being equal a spinet is the least expensive option. Prices in the used piano market are not consistent and you might find an under-priced gem or an overpriced lemon. It’s best to be well informed or consult your local piano tuner for advice.

In summary spinets are the low-cost option, but least desirable as an instrument. Grands are the preferred instrument, but are generally more expensive and require more floor space. An upright is in general a better instrument than a spinet, but more expensive and they take up a little more space.

My name is Cody Handlin, and I’m the owner of Handlin Piano. I’ve been working with antique pianos since attending my first piano technicians guild meetings when I was just a teenager. At 16, with my own money, I attempted to restore my first instrument, a 100 year old upright piano. From those early pianistic adventures to today, nearly two decades later, the piano still holds my fascination. I still marvel at its mechanical and aesthetic beauty, hundreds of parts hewn in wood, bone, and metal all working in harmony to produce music of great power and subtlety.

Visit my website for more information http://www.handlinpiano.com

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