11 Different Types of Pianos

Your living room can showcase an elegant focal point such as a piano. Make sure the piano you choose strikes a chord with your family and lifestyle.

A black grand piano stands near the arched window in this high-ceilinged luxury living room with ivory walls, traditional fireplace, cozy sitting area and marble tile flooring.

The piano was invented in 1709 in Italy by harpsichord maker Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori. He named it gravicèmbalo col piano e forte which means “harpsichord with loud and soft.” It was later shortened to “fortepiano” and finally to just “piano.” For nearly a century, only the aristocrats and royalty could afford them because the earliest models were so expensive.

The Crystal Piano is considered the most expensive piano and sold for $3.22 million at an auction. It features a transparent body and was designed by Canadian manufacturer Heintzman Pianos. The first time it was played in public was during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games by Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

Types

Upright Pianos

Black-painted upright piano

Source: Yamaha

Upright pianos are among the most common types of pianos on the market. They are commonly seen in churches in the United States. An upright piano can more easily fit into someone’s home or a building than its larger sister, the grand piano. They are not necessarily small; they just aren’t as large or wide as grand pianos.

You can fit an upright piano right up next to a wall very conveniently. This allows you to put the piano in the corner of a room and keep it out of the way. These pianos are less desirable for live stage performances, as the pianist will have difficulty seeing the crowd or being seen by the crowd. In this case, the pianist would be staring at a wall or the piano itself. These pianos are mostly used in homes, in schools, or to provide music for church services.

The biggest difference between an upright piano and a grand piano is that the strings and the action are vertical in the upright version of this instrument. As a result, the piano functions completely differently from a grand piano, and it will feel different from a grand piano when you play it. If you have grown accustomed to playing on one without experiencing the other, then you might be quite shocked to feel the difference for yourself. You can play both in the same fashion, for the most part, but an upright piano is going to have a unique feeling when you hit the keys.

There are many different styles and sizes of upright pianos on the market. You will find some that are very tiny and others stand pretty tall. Most of the time, people prefer to buy upright pianos that are somewhere in the mid-range of the sizes available. These pianos are a little bit more affordable than grand pianos, but they are still expensive instruments.

Grand Pianos

Glossy black grand piano

Source: GistPianoCenter

Owning a genuine grand piano is a special privilege for those who do. Many people save their money for years to purchase this type of piano. These instruments are finely crafted, and their price tag will match that amazing craftsmanship. This is most certainly a luxury item; however, it is one that a pianist will be able to put to good use. These fine pianos are perfect for live performances and composing, so a serious musician is going to adore owning one of these.

As you might expect, a grand piano is quite large. This isn’t going to be a practical choice for many people, as it will take up a significant amount of space. The price tag on this type of piano can be prohibitively expensive for many people, as well. If you are a casual piano player, this fancy, a finely crafted piano may not appeal to you at all.

A grand piano does have several advantages over an upright model, though. For instance, you can make use of the double escapement mechanism to play keys in rapid succession when you use one of these pianos. That mechanism isn’t built into an upright piano, meaning that certain musical techniques are possible on this piano that would not apply to the upright models. This is one of the many reasons that people who love pianos want to own the grand piano above all others.

Professional musicians or people who simply have an extreme passion for piano are going to be the likely buyers of this item. The sound that comes out of a finely crafted grand piano is simply superb. It is capable of creating some of the most emotional tones possible, so, to many, it will be worth the hefty price. This particular grand piano is hand-crafted and looks absolutely stunning.

The beautiful look of a grand piano is part of the appeal as well. It is a sight to behold, and this is one reason that you will see performers using these types of pianos at large concerts. Legendary musicians such as Elton John perform on grand pianos, and the grand piano assists these musicians in creating a spectacle that can be enjoyed by the masses. Your reasons for wanting one might be more subtle, but you’ll love owning it if you’re a true piano aficionado.

Digital Pianos

Yamaha arius digital piano.

Source: BestBuy

Although many people out there don’t consider digital pianos to be real pianos at all, they definitely have their role in the piano world. They work differently from a traditional piano, but they can have a similar sound. Some prefer to classify digital pianos as keyboards, but they do replicate the feeling and the tones produced by traditional pianos. Digital pianos have come a long way in recent years, and this piano is a good example of a high-quality digital music instrument.

When you are playing a sophisticated digital piano, you will feel as if you are playing on a traditional piano. It replicates the feel of the hammers hitting the keys quite nicely. They designed the keys on this piano to have a weight to them in order to make it feel as close to the real thing as possible. Although it differs from a traditional piano, it is much more affordable which makes it a great option for many.

The existence of pianos like this helps people to have access to pianos. Many more people are able to play the piano because of the accessibility of the digital piano. In order to pass this instrument down to future generations, it is sensible that manufacturers will continue to make highly functional digital pianos like this. It is more accessible to people, and it is a superb tool for teaching young people to learn how to play.

Some digital pianos even have connectivity with smart devices. This allows you to access certain functions of the piano and to play around with the settings. You can also record your music sessions so that you can listen back to hear how well you are doing. There are conveniences that come along with owning a digital instrument like this that you cannot enjoy with traditional models.

Children’s Toy Piano

Electronic children's toy piano.

If you have children, then it might be beneficial to purchase them one of these toy pianos that are on the market. If you have taken to playing the piano, then your child may want to learn how to play so that they can be like you. Your child admires you greatly, and he or she wants to be able to feel like he or she is following in your footsteps. It can be heartwarming to see, and allowing your child to enjoy a toy piano can actually help to prepare him or her for taking piano lessons one day.

Although most of these toy pianos don’t allow for a lot of legitimate playing, they can be a lot of fun for a child to play with. This particular model will demo several different songs, so your child will be able to feel like he or she is playing a song, even when your child doesn’t know what he or she is doing. The toy piano comes with a little piano bench seat, too, so your child will be able to sit down for a performance just like a real pianist. This is a very fun toy that will help to let your child’s imagination run wild.

Many people who purchase their children toys like this find that the child eventually grows fond of the piano, and ends up wanting to learn to play a real piano. If your child is fascinated by music but isn’t quite at the right age to take lessons, then this is going to be a fun item for him or her to have. It isn’t very big, so it won’t take up too much space in any room in your house, either. It will be a cherished toy that will bring much enjoyment for years to come.

Keep in mind that this toy piano normally will not last forever. It is largely made out of plastic parts, so it will show wear and use over time. The lifespan of the toy piano will depend on how roughly your child plays with it. This is a very inexpensive toy piano though, so it will be possible for most people to buy a replacement if need be.

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Styles

Spinet Pianos

Traditional deluxe toy piano.

Source: MusiciansFriend

Spinet pianos are the smallest style of upright pianos. These are perfect for those who wish to have access to a piano in their homes, but who simply do not have an abundance of available space. These pianos are commonly purchased by people who are living in condos or other environments where space may be a concern. The smaller size of a spinet piano in no way makes it less impressive than another piano.

Although there are those who consider these pianos to be more of a toy, you should know that they are real musical instruments. They are complex and lovely pianos that are capable of producing sophisticated music. Whether you are purchasing this piano to play for yourself or looking for a piano for your child, it will certainly come in handy. It is less expensive than many other pianos, so it is something that could be purchased on most budgets.

Some people like to try to teach their children how to play the piano on the smallest instrument that is available. In this case, the spinet piano is a perfect choice. This piano is large enough that it will not be difficult for a child to use, and it will be simple for beginners to feel comfortable learning the keys. It also helps that this piano can fit into many different room sizes, so it is an excellent option for someone who wants access to a piano right in their bedroom.

The keyboard on this spinet piano is around half of the size of that on an adult piano. You can find spinet pianos that are more suitable for adult hands, but if you are looking to teach a child, then this size will be ideal. You can use this as an instructional instrument with ease, and it will be a fun learning experience for the child. Giving a child the gift of music is one of the best things you could possibly do for them.

Console Pianos

Williams rhapsody console digital piano.

Source: MusiciansFriend

Console pianos are among the most common types of upright pianos that people purchase. They seem to be just the right size for people to get ample enjoyment out of them, and they are not so large as to be in the way. This console piano that is being examined here is a digital model. You will be able to find many different acoustic types of console pianos if you are more inclined to go that route.

This piano is capable of producing beautiful music and will make for a fantastic instrument for someone to learn on. Console pianos are commonly purchased by people who want to learn how to play the piano. They aren’t too intimidating, and beginners find it easy to get used to the size of this piano. It’s a very high-quality instrument too, meaning that it will be useful once you have progressed as a pianist.

Generally speaking, you will be able to purchase a digital console piano at a reasonable price. The digital models are going to be significantly less expensive than the acoustic ones. Acoustic instruments are always going to cost more money, but you can choose whichever suits your purposes. These digital pianos are very good at what they do.

If you want to buy a nice piano that is going to look great in your home, then buying a console piano is an excellent idea. This will fit in most people’s living rooms or dens very easily. You can set it up against a wall, and you will be able to access it to play music whenever the mood strikes you. This is one of the most convenient options for owning a piano in your home.

Studio Pianos

Suzuki digital studio piano.

Source: MusiciansFriend

Studio pianos are fairly large and they stand between 43” and 47” on average. For this reason, they are more commonly found in studio environments than they are in people’s homes. Some people will purchase studio pianos for their homes because they have grown accustomed to the size and feel of these instruments. Professional musicians who are comfortable with the upright style of pianos will gravitate towards this model.

The most common use for these pianos is music composition. When people are trying to come up with melodies or are playing around with different musical ideas, they often use a studio piano. They are perfect for helping musically talented individuals work through their creative process. Having one in your home would prove very beneficial if you want to be able to produce your own music in your home.

As with many types of pianos, you can choose between acoustic studio pianos and digital studio pianos. A digital model is going to be much more affordable. As a result, it has become the most commonly used. Digital studio pianos are very reasonably priced so you will be able to purchase one for your studio or your home without spending too much of your hard-earned money.

Baby Grand

Sons baby grand piano.

Baby grand pianos are the smallest among the grand piano classifications. These are the grand pianos that you will typically find in people’s homes. It would be quite difficult for most people to fit a larger grand piano anywhere in their home, as they can take up quite a bit of space. Baby grand pianos are still pretty big, but it is possible to make space for them in your dedicated music room or even in your den. You will be able to accommodate it without inconveniencing yourself.

Interestingly, these pianos have become quite popular among people who don’t even know how to play the piano at all. Some people wind up purchasing gorgeous baby grand pianos and using them as decorative pieces. They certainly do give off an aura of sophistication and elegance, so it makes sense that people would enjoy having them in their homes. They come with a hefty price tag, though, so this is not a piano that every enthusiast will own.

If you are interested in learning to play the piano and you want something that will make your home look even nicer, then purchasing this piano style is a great idea. You will be able to learn how to play piano effectively with such a great instrument at your disposal. The price tag on these might deter some people from making the purchase, but you can decide to purchase a digital baby grand piano to save a bit of money. The digital baby grand pianos that are on the market still look stunning and they sound superb as well.

Purchasing an acoustic baby grand piano can be somewhat difficult. They aren’t available at every local music shop, so you will have to turn to a specialty retailer in order to make this purchase. Digital baby grand pianos are a bit more common, and you should be able to track one down much more easily. If you are just learning how to play, then going with the digital option is going to be the most convenient for you.

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Medium Grand

Williams symphony mini grand piano.

Source: MusicsFriend

Medium grand pianos are one step up from the baby grand. They are slightly larger which makes them a bit more expensive overall. You can expect an average acoustic medium grand piano to be between 5’6 and 6’6 in length. This can make them a bit cumbersome to place in your home, but if you have a large living space it may not be a problem.

This is an instrument that professional musicians purchase quite often in order to practice the piano in their homes. It is large enough to look really impressive, but its size doesn’t preclude it from fit in a dedicated music room. You will be able to create fantastic music on one of these pianos if you have the talent. The overall look of the medium grand piano is very impressive as well, so there are many reasons that you’ll love owning one.

Medium grand pianos aren’t always readily available in music stores. Even when it comes to digital grand pianos, there aren’t quite as many that are available in this size. For this reason, you will find that baby grand pianos are much more prevalent. If the medium grand is the right size for your purposes, you may want to go out of your way to locate one.

Parlor Grand

Classic model parlor grand piano.

Source: AntiquePianoShop

These parlor grand pianos are usually between 7′ and 7’6 in length. As a result, they can be very difficult to place in any space in your home. These are more common amongst very serious musicians and are sometimes used as touring pieces for musical acts. The name parlor grand stems from these pianos being used in parlors in the past.

In modern times, these aren’t very common types of grand pianos to see. Their size makes them difficult to find a space for them, but they are undoubtedly gorgeous. If you want to have a sizable grand piano that you can enjoy in your music room, then this might be the perfect option. It will certainly be impressive and you will love how fantastic the music will sound.

Digital parlor pianos are available to purchase.

Concert Grand

 

Concert grand piano with matching bench seating.

Finally, the concert grand piano is the largest grand piano that you will find. These humongous pianos can range in size from 9′ on up. Some incredibly grandiose concert grand pianos have been 10′ in size, or slightly more. The most common concert grand pianos will stay right around the 9′ mark.

Most frequently, people use these grand pianos for musical performances. As mentioned in the grand piano section, popular musicians often take grand pianos on tour with them. Concert grand pianos are perfect to use for this purpose as they are impressive to look at and can produce big, beautiful sounds. Seeing a touring musician with an impressive concert grand piano is always a sight to behold.

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Related: 11 Different Types of Piano Tuning Tools




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