Piano Types And Styles
Piano Types And Styles
Jeff Bauer (Keyboard Concepts ) gives expert video advice on: What is the difference between an acoustic and a digital piano?; How much does the brand of a piano matter?; What are the price ranges for pianos? and more...
What is the difference between an acoustic and a digital piano?
The difference between an acoustic piano and a digital piano is in the actual name of the pianos themselves. An acoustic piano relies on acoustics to create sound. That means strings vibrate, they excite a sound board that they are attached to, and that sound board moves air that moves to your ears, and you're hearing the actual sound of the strings vibrate. And that's the acoustic sound of the piano. A digital piano is a sampled version of that sound. They use microphones to record the sound of the piano, and then when you strike a key on the digital piano, it's calling forth a recording of a piano and playing it through speakers.
What are the most popular types of acoustic pianos?
The most popular types of acoustic pianos are, if we're talking about style, are baby grands and upright pianos. These two are amongst the most popular and they really are the only two main choices that most people consider. Upright pianos vary anywhere from about 44 inches to 52 inches. Baby grand's vary from just a little under 5 feet to almost 6 feet, and because of the expense and size requirements, not to mention how much sound they put out, bigger pianos than baby grand's, at 6 foot and larger, are in the minority for the very reasons that they either become unaffordable or you can't fit them. So baby grand's and acoustic uprights are amongst the most popular pianos purchased today.
What is a 'grand piano'?
A grand piano is a bigger form of a baby grand piano. A baby grand piano is going to measure up to about six feet. A grand piano is going to measure over six feet. A grand piano is preferable for bigger rooms or in situations where the piano has to compete with other instruments such as to project to a larger audience. This is because the grand piano provides more sound and more volume but also it projects more resonance. It has a bigger sound board and longer strings and it makes for a better tone and more projection.
What is a 'baby grand piano'?
A baby grand piano is a piano that is set up horizontally, where the strings and the soundboard are horizontal to the ground and the action is set up in such a way that the hammers strike vertically against the strings. One of the things that makes a grand piano or baby grand piano so desirable for players is the piano feel. The action itself is a little easier to control because there is one very predictable source making the action feel the way that it does, and that's gravity. Gravity pulls the hammers back down after they strike the strings. It makes it easier to repeat notes, because of the way that the baby grand is laid out. It actually provides a little bit more resonance than an upright piano, for example, because sound comes both out of the top and bottom of the piano and it projects sound better and it provides a little bit of a better tone that way. One other thing about a grand piano is that they can be made to be longer than a similar sized upright piano. Because of the way the strings vibrate up and down, it's easier to make the strings stop vibrating using a damper system, which is a brake mechanism to stop the strings from resonating. Baby grands are a little more controllable in their sound, because you can control the vibrating strings better with the dampers.
What is an 'upright piano'?
An upright piano is a piano designed to go up against the wall. The sound board and strings are vertical, and that is parallel to the wall. The action of the piano is such that the hammers fly horizontally to hit the string. Because of this it shoots the sound at the back against the wall creating an indirect sound. The difference between an upright and grand is mainly due to the action, as the former one has a horizontal action, while the later is vertical. The upright piano requires an assist spring to bring it back to its initial position so that you can play the notes.
How much does the brand of a piano matter?
The brand of a piano matters based on how well it was built. The brand-recognition, quality control, and the manufacturing of the company who built it can be summed up by its' origin. Basically that means: where it was built is going to determine its' cost and overall quality level. For example, pianos that are built in Europe, which is a pretty big place, there are a lot of different quality levels. But if you're talking about Eastern Europe versus Western Europe, Western Europe tends to build really high quality and better instruments whilst Eastern Europe tends to build medium quality instruments. America builds a piano that we all know, called Steinway, and it is a medium to upper-quality instrument, but certainly not the best possible piano out there. Another place that's very popular for building pianos today is China, which is currently the least expensive place to build pianos and they make up the lowest-end quality. So it is really by region and brand-name recognition that determines the piano's cost. However, there is truth in the pricing and the quality of the piano you're getting. If it is $5,000 and it is really inexpensive for what it is, chances are you're getting a playing sound like a $5,000 piano versus a piano that would cost $20,000 to $30,000. You tend to get a better quality performance out of the nicer, better-built instruments.
What are the price ranges for pianos?
The price range for pianos is difficult. First of all you've got to put them into categories. So for upright pianos, the price depends on the size of the piano. For smaller upright pianos, we're talking new, are going to start around $2000, and as they go up in price, they will get bigger and become from a better origin, or a better brand name. And you can spend as much as forty or fifty thousand for the top of the uprights. Baby grand pianos or grand pianos, start as low as around the five to six thousand dollar price point, and then work their way up, again based on the quality and brand name. These can sell for over $200,000
What are the most popular brands of pianos?
The two most recognizable names for pianos today are Steinway and Yamaha. Mostly because of their recognition on the world stage as far as performance and artist endorsements. Yamaha is certainly the largest, one of the largest, piano builders out there in the world. And they put out the highest number of instruments. And Steinway is the very best piano that America built, and has a lot of local endorsement for America. So, of those two names, they make up for the majority of what people ask for. But there are also a lot of popular instruments out there that the average non-shopping customer would know but somebody who gets into and researches pianos would find out these names through research and recommendations such as Bosendorfer, Schimmel and the list goes on and on.
What is a 'spinet piano'?
A spinet piano is the shortest form of a piano, ranging from about 36 inches to 40 inches. And the reason it's called a spinet is because the action itself is a modified upright action so that it can be fit into such a short piano with the hammer still striking the strings. Spinet pianos, contrary to what people believe, can actually take up a little bit more space than taller pianos. The reason being is that, because of this modified action, they have to come out of the wall about 3 inches further than the average upright piano.
What is a 'console piano'?
A console piano is going to range from about 42 inches on up to about 44 inches. It's the first piano in the size of upright pianos that features a direct blow action, which is the upgraded action from the spinet action.
What is a 'studio piano'?
A studio piano is going to be 45 to 47 inches tall. It's referred to as a studio piano normally because it's used in functional environments such as schools, where a practice room piano is necessary, or in studios where a piano is needed for background reference and music.
What is a 'player piano'?
A player piano is a regular piano equipped with a device that will play the piano automatically for you, but still functions as a regular piano. Using a different variety of music out there, you can play different genres like popular music, classical, jazz and enjoy the sound of your piano without actually having to play it.
What is a 'horizontal piano'?
A horizontal piano is otherwise known as a grand-style piano. They come in different sizes, ranging from baby grand to full concert grand. A horizontal piano is basically a piano where the strings and the soundboard are laid out horizontally, and the action mechanism, contrary to an upright, is striking vertically instead of horizontally. Horizontal pianos, or grand pianos as we like to call them, provide a better tone than upright pianos and they provide a better action than upright pianos. They provide a better musical experience overall.