Video #2 - Piano Models

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Video #2 - Piano Models - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

(what piano models you should stay away from)

When considering what type of piano you should buy, this is one of those times where size does matter. Because in general the larger the piano the better the sound.

Pianos make sound by a person playing a note, that drives a hammer into a string, that sends vibrations into a soundboard, that lets the piano sing. A soundboard is a wood speaker system that takes up almost the entire shape of a piano. With the design and size of the string scale setting the tone. Shorter pianos have smaller soundboards and shorter string scales and produce a lower quality of sound. Because of this and the fact that small pianos cost less to manufacture you'll find tons of them for sale at depressed prices.

When people consider purchasing a grand piano versus an upright piano, a common question is: "Besides shape and price, what's the difference?". The answer is: "a lot"! Inside every piano is a mechanism called an Action. This is a piano player-powered engine, which makes the piano work. It has over 2,000 mechanical parts. The design of a grand piano action allows for greater speed than an upright piano action. In addition, a grand action gives the piano player greater control over dynamics. Which, is the ability to play very loud to very soft. This added sensitivity and speed are differences that are very noticeable to advanced players. Since upright pianos have vertical strings, upright piano actions look entirely different. While an upright action may not be as fast and as sensitive as a grand action, they are usually more than sufficient for the vast majority of players. Only one action truly limits a player's ability. That is the action of a spinet.


Upright pianos have four basic models:

  • Full Upright, which measures 47 inches or taller, have sound quality that can rival small grand pianos.
  • Studio Upright, which measures 44 inches to 40 seven inches.
  • The Console, which measures 40 inches to 44 inches - have average sound quality.
  • The shortest upright pianos are called Spinet, which measures 36 to 40 inches.

The spinet is the model you should avoid. Besides having poor sound quality, spinets have an action that has very little sensitivity, poor control, and slow reset speed. To make matters worse, it's usually more expensive to do a minor action repair on a spinet than any other type of piano. Consoles and spinets can look very similar. So, if you're interested in buying a console you better make sure you're not buying a spinet. To be certain, you have to look at the action..


How to find an action of a spinet piano?

Spinet actions can easily be seen by removing the bottom board. Kneel in front of the piano, look under the key bed and then press the springs that hold the board in place. Let the board fall into your hands and pull it away. If you see something that looks like a mechanism - you're looking at a spinet. If you just see piano strings - you're not.

No matter what type of upright you try out, few can match the volume and sound quality of a medium to large-sized grand.


Grand pianos are broken into two groups:

  1. Any piano shorter than six feet is a baby grand
  2. Anything longer than six feet is a full-sized grand

The line between good quality sound and better quality sound is right around five-foot-six. As you start going shorter you'll hear an appreciable loss. As you start going longer you'll hear a noticeable gain. Especially with grands over six feet. But if you're determined to buy the biggest and best sounding pianos, you'll be looking at concert grands. A concert grands are seven feet and larger and command the highest prices in the piano world baby grands that are four-foot-eleven and smaller are really the "spinets" of the grand piano world. While they do have a faster grand piano action, they have poor sound quality and are really more furniture than instrument. You'd really be better off purchasing a 50 inch tall upright than a four-foot-eleven baby grand. Plus, it would cost you a whole lot less. Not only do larger pianos have a better sound, they usually have a higher quality of craftsmanship.

Just remember - bigger is better.


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