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The Most Common Types of Pianos, Explained

There are many different types of pianos that vary in size and sound. Our experts explain the most common types you will encounter here.

Did you know there is a piano made entirely of crystal? It was used by musician Lang Lang in the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. It later sold for $3.22 million at an auction. 

But you're probably not looking to spend that much on a piano, right? You're probably researching what types of pianos there are, and which is the right one for your situation?

Don't fret, we'll answer all your questions with our guide to the different types of pianos. So get comfortable and keep reading with us.

Digital Pianos

These are some of the most popular pianos available today. They come in a variety of sizes, features, and price ranges.

Keyboards are the smallest digital pianos available and are a popular option for students or those who are short on space. They are very compact and can be used with a stand or without. They can reproduce concert hall quality sound and are typically the most affordable option available.

Digital Console pianos are bigger than keyboards and have a stand built onto them. Most digital console pianos also include the pedals you would find on a regular piano. These are often popular options for those who have a bit more room to spare and with schools.

Some of the perks of getting a digital piano are:

  • You can use headphones for nearly silent practice
  • You can control the volume
  • Many digital pianos have educational features to help beginners learn and to challenge more seasoned players
  • They have multiple voices and sounds
  • You can customize many sounds and tones to sound like your favorite songs

Upkeep and maintenance on digital pianos are relatively easy since they don't have to be tuned. They also won't lose tone quality over time due to use.

Console Pianos

Wooden console pianos have high furniture value and are highly suited for home use. They are usually between 40 and 44 inches tall.

Most have a full range of octaves, however, some manufacturers may make compact versions in order to save on cost. These types of pianos come in a wide variety of styles and finishes to fit in perfectly with any home decor.

Studio Pianos

This is another type of upright piano that is slightly larger than console pianos. They are usually between 45 to 47 inches tall and about 58 inches wide.

Studio pianos usually include full action and have a bigger soundboard and strings than a console piano. This gives them a richer tone and better quality than a console piano.

These are generally good for schools and are also frequently found in churches or music studios. They are good for performances such as plays, or accompanying concerts. However, they can work perfectly well for the home of a serious musician looking for more tone quality. They are also slightly more affordable than full-size upright pianos.

Upright Pianos

These full-sized pianos have a sound comparable to a grand piano (which we'll cover next). They are usually 48 inches or taller and around the same width as a studio piano.

This is great for professional musicians and composers who don't have room for a grand piano in their homes. This is also another popular choice for churches and music schools.

Grand Pianos

These are the types of pianos you find in concert halls, ballrooms, and conservatories around the world. These have the best tones and quality of all acoustic pianos.

They are distinct because the soundboard, action, and strings are laid horizontally rather than vertically. The hammer that strikes the strings raise up and fall back to rest hitting the string. This gives the grand piano much more precision compared to other piano types.

Grand pianos also offer faster key repetition and a mechanism called double escapement. The double escapement is a mechanism that isn't built into upright pianos, making certain techniques only possible on a grand piano.

Grand piano sizes have been marketed under many different names. For example, a baby grand is usually around 4'5" to 4'11". Baby Grands can be good for in-home use if you have the space.

Medium Grands usually measure around 5'7". These have a distinct difference in tonal quality when compared to Baby Grands. They are also sometimes called Parlour Grands, or Professional Grands.

Finally, you have the Concert Grands, the largest of all grand pianos. These types of pianos can measure between 8'11" to 9'. These masterpieces are by far the most expensive of all pianos. However, they are well worth the price tag for their master craftsmanship, and overall tonal quality given in these instruments. Their size is also why these are usually only found in concert halls and conservatories.

Other Types of Pianos: Honorable Mentions

The piano has been through a long process of evolution to get to where it is today. Before the year 1700, we had the Harpsichord which used a plucking mechanism rather than a hammer. You could not control the volume level when playing the harpsichord.

There is also a Spinet Piano, these are very small usually around 36 inches to 39 inches tall. The actions of these pianos are compressed and attached to the keys by a rod mechanism. Making this piano extremely hard to service and maintain. This is one of the reasons that these types of pianos are no longer manufactured. So, if you do happen to find one think twice before bringing it home, it may be more headache than it's worth for anything but a cool piece of history.

For those interested in making digital music and mixing it with their laptops there are also MIDI keyboards. These are very small keyboards (typically only one octave) sometimes with synth pads attached. These can be programmed with a variety of voices and sounds to aid in making beats and other digital music.

Learn More With Us

Whether you're a student or parent looking for a good digital piano or an upright. Or a professional musician or composer looking for your next baby grand. We hope this guide to types of pianos helps you narrow down your search.

Are you a student looking to learn or a parent looking to help their mini Mozart get ahead? We offer lessons! Be sure to contact us today to start your musical journey.

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