Piano

What are the different types of pianos?

Welcome to the family

When I was ten years old, I attended my first classical music concert. The first note gave me goosebumps. I was transfixed by the pianist’s every movement: the melodies, the chords, her concentration as she turned the pages. When the concert drew to a close, I decided that one day, I’d learn to play like her. 

The ten years that followed certainly tested this conviction. First, there was a question of the cost to contend with. My parents didn’t have the funds to buy me a piano. Even if they did, where would they have put it? My tiny bedroom barely had enough space for a bed, let alone a grand piano. When I finally found a job that enabled me to get a real place of my own, my neighbour, with his tendency to pound on my door if I made the slightest noise after 10pm, quickly dashed any hopes of learning to play.

Still, my fixation with this grand piano has remained constant over the years. Until one day a friend showed me his Yamaha digital piano. It looked just as impressive as the grand piano, and had the added advantage of allowing me to play without disturbing my neighbours.

30 years after that life-changing concert, I’m finally on my way to achieving the goal I set for myself. I would have loved to have a guide to help me on my musical journey, so I’ve decided to be yours and show you that if you’re willing to make a commitment to the piano, you’ll find the perfect type of piano for you.

Flore,  Jellynote CEO

Overview of the different types of pianos

The most common pianos are: the grand piano, which can be declined as concert piano, half-tail piano, quarter-tail piano or toad piano. the upright piano and the digital piano (also called electronic because it plugs into a power outlet).

Grand Piano

Acoustic piano family

The grand piano, with its great authority, stands out for its elegance and size. It will be found mostly in concert halls and large houses because it needs space!

Upright piano

Acoustic piano family

The upright piano leans against a wall and is perfect for the amateur pianist. It has a correct sound (as long as it is tuned) and a pleasant touch.

Electric piano

Electric piano family

The sound and feel of the digital piano varies by price and brand. The advantage is that it can be connected to headphones and will be less disturbing to the neighbors.

Different types of pianos: the acoustic piano family

The grand piano: if you want to impress your friends

Use 

The grand piano is the most sophisticated piano on the market. As a result, it’s mainly used by professionals and long-term players. This is the type of piano you’ll see at recitals and concerts

Characteristics

The grand piano is renowned for its exceptional acoustic quality. With this type of piano, the strings are stretched horizontally above a soundboard. When you play a note, the corresponding hammer hits the string. Because of its length (more than 3m!), the grand piano takes up a lot of space. To produce the best sound quality, you need to bear in mind the acoustics of the space you’re playing in and pay close attention to the wear and tear of the instrument’s mechanics. 

A grand piano can produce an extremely rich and vibrant sound. It differs from the upright piano due to the quality of its mechanisms, its touch response and its acoustics. 

Price 

A grand piano costs a fair bit. The price can range from $30 000 to more than $100 000 for a high-end instrument. You also have to consider the cost of regular maintenance, which can also be quite expensive. 

There are, however, alternatives to the grand piano which produce a fairly similar sound quality. These instruments have almost all the advantages of a grand piano without the price:

  • Baby grand :
    • Around 1.5m
    • Starting price from $10 000

  • Medium grand
    • Around 1.7m
    • Starting price from $17 000 
  • Parlor grand : 
    • Around 1.9m 
    • Starting price from $22 000 

The upright piano: if you’re just starting out 

Use 

In an upright piano, the strings are strung vertically, which has the advantage of taking up significantly less space than a grand piano (where the strings are strung horizontally). 

It’s a great piano to learn on, suitable for both beginners and more advanced players. It’s the most common type of piano and has everything you could possibly need. Sounds great and feels great. 

The upright piano is therefore a less bulky and more economic alternative to the grand piano. 

Characteristics 

There are two types of upright piano:

  • The console piano: made with high-quality materials, this console is perfect if you’re craving the feel and sound of a real piano. It’s the perfect size for your living room and, if you look after it properly, it should last you a long time. 
  • The studio piano: slightly larger than the console piano, the studio is more likely to be found in a recording studio than your living room. The studio piano produces a much richer tone than the console and is mainly intended for experienced pianists. It allows musicians to express greater nuance and variation in their playing.

Price

An upright piano will cost you between $3000 and $6500.


Different types of pianos: The electric piano family

The digital piano: a way to start learning without going bankrupt 

Use

The digital piano is an alternative for those who don’t have the financial means to buy an acoustic piano, but who still want to practice their fingerings on a daily basis. Unlike a synthesizer, it’s designed to mimic the feel and sound of an acoustic piano.

Characteristics 

Although it looks like an upright piano, the digital piano is entirely made of electronic components. It still has sustain pedals (or ‘damper pedal’ which are used to prolong the length of the notes played after you stop playing them) which are also found on acoustic pianos. 

The digital piano has a number of advantages :

  • It doesn’t require tuning or regular maintenance
  • The touch response of some of the high-end models is similar to an acoustic piano
  • You can get different tones and change the volume and the timber as befits the speed of the piece
  • You can play in silence thanks to the headphone jack for more privacy or to avoid annoying your family
  • It comes with a metronome and a recording feature

Price 

The price ranges from $500 to $2000 for high-end models. In fact, prices can go up to $10 000 for some of the best models on the market. 

IMPORTANT: the digital piano is a good compromise for beginners. However, after a certain level, you should consider investing in an acoustic piano, particularly if you’re learning classical piano. 

 


Hopefully, you now have all you need to distinguish the different types of pianos and find one which best suits your needs. Remember that choosing the best instrument among the different types of pianos is an important part of your musical journey. 

Take the time to figure out what will be the best fit for your preferences, budget and space!

Call me shallow, but aesthetic is very important to me. My Nord 2 Stage looks beautiful in the corner of my room, reminding me of the grand piano that inspired me all those years ago.

Flore,  Jellynote CEO

Article written by Amy Cimpaye in its original version, translated by William  –

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About author
William Ridd is a writer based in London. After a messy divorce from the clarinet, William decided that playing music wasn’t for him, but he continues to appreciate it and likes writing about it.
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