How to Choose a Piano for Your Home

Choosing your piano should be a pleasant experience. It's an event that the whole family can get involved in and enjoy making a selection. But before you do anything, you should first decide whether you want a upright or a grand piano. Second whether it would be an acoustic or a digital piano. Finally, decide how much you want to spend. Now, we can start a journey to finding a suitable piano for you.

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Upright Pianos

There are various heights, finishes, and cabinets in Upright Pianos to meet your needs. The height of a Upright Piano is measured from the floor to the top of the piano. The size (height & width) of the piano is probably the single most important factor influencing its tone quality and the volume. The taller the piano means the strings are longer and the soundboard is bigger producing louder sound. A spinet piano is the shortest of all the uprights and the low costing piano that is between 36" to 39" tall. The next size is the console piano which is 40" to 43". A step up from the console is the studio piano which stands 44" to 48" tall and, for its sturdiness, most often found in schools, studios and living rooms. Then there are professional uprights or so called full size upright pianos in which the heights range from 48" to 52" tall. Some of these taller uprights may have larger strings and larger soundboard than some smaller Grands.

Grand Pianos

Grand pianos also range in various sizes (width) and finishes. The length of a grand piano is measured from the very front of the keyboard end to the very back of the piano all with lid closed. Grand pianos have become more popular over the years and is enjoyed by the families and owners for generations. The smallest grand is called the baby grand and can start under five feet to 5'2". The baby grand is very popular for its small size and usually fits into many of the family's living rooms. The next size up is the medium grand which runs from 5'3" to 7'2" and has much larger soundboard with longer strings. The medium grands are the favorites of piano teachers for the tone it produces and the volume. Music schools, universities and serious amateurs also favor the medium grand. The largest grands are the concert grands which runs from seven foot to nine foot. These pianos are mostly used in concert halls, auditoriums, public performances, and churches.

Upright vs Grand

Both the grand and the Upright Pianos come in various finishes and decors. Whether you choose the finish and decor to match your furnishings at home or simply get a contrasting one, it will look just as beautiful. What are the main differences between the upright and the grand? Other than shape, size and cost difference, the most important aspect is the action of the piano.

In grands, the strings are held horizontally and hammer hits the string from below and drops right back. This means the movement of the hammer is in the same direction as the gravity. This allows faster repetition and better tone and expression control. In Upright Pianos, the strings are held vertically and the hammers hit the strings from the side. So, the hammer movement is across the gravity. Therefore, in general, Upright Pianos produce slower repetitive notes.

If you decide to purchase a grand, we recommend that you purchase the high quality grand if possible. Buying a lower quality grand can disappoint your higher expectations. If high quality grand is not feasible, purchase a tall upright that has longer strings and a bigger soundboard.

Digital Piano

Digital pianos are bought for various reasons; it does not require tuning, it can easily be moved from place to place, it has bells and whistles that you can have fun with, some have recording and playback devices, and most of all you can get one as low as $1000.00. However, digital pianos cannot replace the traditional acoustic pianos in tone and touch. Although, digital piano sounds have been recorded with the real instruments, it cannot compare with the good quality acoustic pianos. For musicians who enjoy getting different instrumental sounds (strings, woodwinds, etc...) a digital piano might be the one for you. A musician who also play in bands and in other musical groups might get a full use out of digital pianos.

Terminologies

Here are some basic piano words that are frequently encountered. These terminologies will help you to understand more about the piano.

Action: Any kind of mechanism used in instruments as a means of transmitting the motion of the fingers to the sound producing parts.
Dampers: A small pieces of wood mechanism that is covered with felt to terminate the vibration of the strings.
Hammers: A mechanism that strikes the strings to vibrate and make sound.
Pedal: An action that is operated by the feet.
Pinblock: Many layers of wood that holds the tuning pins which holds the strings.
Resonance: The transmission of vibrations from a vibrating body to another body (two tuning forks of the same frequency with the same pitch)
Resonator: A hollow Chamber that permits to serve to reinforce sounds by resonance.
Soundboard: The wooden surface over which the strings are stretched, which serves as a resonator.
Tone: A sound of definite pitch and duration, as distinct from noise. A beautiful tone on the piano means a beautiful sound.
Tuning: Adjustment of strings in the stringed instruments.
Tuning Pins: Made of steel and anchored into pinblock, tuning pins hold strings.
Touch: Force and weight of the finger when it is in contact with the key.