Pianos come in many different styles, sizes, shapes, and designs to cater to musicians’ vastly different needs and preferences. There are pianos made to be big fir for display in concert halls and used in grand musical performances by professional musicians. On the other hand, there are those designed to be small, compact, and better suited for everyday use by people who play the piano as a hobby.
Typically, a piano can be classified as a vertical piano or a horizontal piano. While horizontal pianos, which are also called grand pianos, get their name from their measured length and string placement, vertical pianos are called as such due to their height and string position.
Largest To Smallest Upright Pianos
Vertical pianos get their name from their height and the position of their strings. Typically standing at about 36 up to 60 inches in height, they are classified into four types according to their size: upright piano, studio piano, console piano, and spinet piano.
1) Upright Piano
The most common type of vertical piano is the upright piano, likewise known as the professional piano. In fact, it is so common that vertical pianos are typically referred to as upright pianos.
They can usually be found in schools that teach music where professors can use them to instruct, and students can use them to practice. They’re even on stages where professional musicians perform.
On average, the upright piano measures beyond 48 inches in height and has a width of 58 inches. This makes it the tallest of all the vertical pianos. Comparatively, it also has the biggest soundboard and produces the most resonant and high-quality sound.
Although they cost much less, some upright pianos can even hold their own against smaller grand pianos. If maintained well, this kind of piano can last for a very long time.
2) Studio Piano
This is the ideal piano for players who are just starting out or those who are on a budget. The studio piano exceeds 44 inches in height, which contributes to its comparably more vibrant and more resonant sound quality.
As opposed to other vertical pianos, it has a larger soundboard. It also has strings that are much longer. The studio piano’s action is full-sized and sits on the keys, making contact direct.
If you only recently decided on learning the piano, you might want to go hunting for a second-hand studio piano as it’s more affordable compared to other kinds of pianos.
3) Console Piano
The console piano provides excellent sound quality due to the position of its action, which sits right above the keys and strings which stretch downward vertically. This kind of vertical piano operates using a non-drop action mechanism wherein the hammer is directly engaged by the keyboard.
This kind of piano is preferred by people who play the piano at home and those who play it as a hobby. Without being too large or complex, the console piano provides excellent sound quality with much of the dynamic range and volume retained, making it ideal for everyday playing.
4) Spinet Piano (Smallest Upright Piano)
Of all the vertical pianos, the spinet is the smallest and shortest, standing at less than 40 inches from the ground. However, the spinet piano’s incredibly small size is not the only thing that distinguishes it from the other types of vertical pianos. Spinet pianos actually operate under a totally different action.
This piano’s action can be found below the keys which have vertical wires attached to them. The mechanism under which the spinet piano operates is called the indirect blow action or drop action mechanism, meaning that no key directly interacts with the action. Instead, the vertical wires attached to the backs of the keys keep the action operational. The spinet piano needs this mechanism to operate due to its small size.
Although they are incredibly compact, this change in action changes the sound that a spinet piano can produce. This kind of vertical piano is known to produce a sound that is of lower quality compared to other pianos. The console piano, for example, produces better sound quality since the keyboard makes direct contact with the hammer.
The spinet piano is known for its compact design and small size, making it ideal for spaces that are small and confined. They are comparatively cheaper than other types of vertical pianos as well. However, this kind of piano is no longer being manufactured today.
That is not to say that they no longer exist. Many shops in the United Kingdom specialized in producing small pianos from the years of 1920 and 1985; some of them are still even available today. Small upright pianos were also manufactured by firms from Britain from about 1960 up until 1985.
The small upright pianos produced in that era were made with better material, are of much higher quality, and produce comparably better sound than their more modern counterparts. These were those manufactured from 1960 onwards.
Back then, many high-skilled piano makers were competing against each other to satisfy the soaring demand for small upright pianos. Due to this, many models were made with very good quality. Knight, Welmar, Kemble, Rogers, Broadwoord, and Chappell made some of the best piano models from this era.
Compared to the more modern upright pianos made in the Far East today, these older models from the United Kingdom are of much higher quality. A number of factors play into this; however, one of the main reasons for this comparison is that modern upright pianos are being made as mini versions of taller models.
This compromises the sound quality, resonance, and tone that the pianos produce, making their sound uneven and sometimes even brash. The Yamaha E108, B1 Baby Grand, and LU101 are just a few examples of these modern models.
It has also become unadvisable to purchase second-hand and used modern upright pianos as they can easily get worn out and are subject to worse wear and tear than older and more durable models.