11 Different Types of Pianos

A close look at a man playing the piano.

There are three different types of categories when it comes to pianos and those include grand pianos, upright pianos, and digital pianos. While digital pianos are gaining in popularity in today’s very technology-based world, nothing will ever replace an actual piano.

My cousin Rhonda could play the piano so beautifully that it influenced me as a 7 year old to want to take piano lessons. My mom enrolled me with a lady by the name of Mrs. Turner who taught piano lessons out of her home. The only thing was we did not have a piano.

.One day I got off the school bus and there stood my mom and our neighbor in front of a huge and so very beautiful upright piano, also known as a vertical piano, sitting in our living room. It was for me, although now that I have been an adult for decades, it is still sitting in my mother’s living room because she likes it there and will not let me take it. I play it every time I go out to her house and I hope to buy a piano very soon so I can start playing again more often.

It still plays like a dream even though it is an older piano. It was actually about 200 years old when my mom purchased it from its former owner after hearing an advertisement about it on our local radio station. The only thing wrong with it, besides the fact that it needed to be tuned, was that the damper pedal did not work properly and needed to be replaced but it was still the perfect piano in my eyes. All I had before that to play on was a toy piano and an organ.

While I took piano lessons for five years, I am not the best piano player in the world but my best friend, Mary, went on to become a concert pianist and even got to travel Europe playing with different symphonies. She now lives in Florida and teaches piano lessons to famous people’s children and makes super good money with her business. Too bad I did not pay more attention to my lessons with Mrs. Turner.

Pianos each have their own unique features and need to be broken in to fit each pianist’s preferences and environment. Check out our detailed list of all the different types of pianos that there are available so that you will know which one will work best for you before you go to purchase one.

Table of Contents

Upright or Vertical Pianos

An upright piano, or vertical piano, got its name from the position of the piano strings and soundboard. Since they stand perpendicular to the ground, they are dubbed an upright piano like the one that my mom surprised me with when I was seven.

The way an upright piano works is that the piano hammers must strike horizontally to hit the vertical strings. When you press a key you press a hammer that hits a string and makes the beautiful sound. Upright pianos have shorter strings than other types of pianos and smaller sound boards than a grand piano has.

This is actually one of the reasons that grand pianos were created in the first place. It was because a 9 foot long piano could be built easier than a 9-foot tall one. The longer-style pianos are also easier to move because they are not as heavy and bulky as upright pianos.

There are different piano types under each of the three categories. Below is a list of the different types of pianos that fall under the upright piano category.

Upright Piano

THis is a close look at a wooden upright piano with its stool.

The upright piano, the kind of piano my mom had bought as a gift for me when I was seven years old, is by far the tallest of the vertical pianos. Upright pianos are 50 to 60 inches tall and about 58 inches in width. This type of piano has a very rich, deep tone to it and is very durable so it will last a really long time.

It will keep its strong sound for many years to come as long as you keep it properly maintained through regular maintenance period since these pianos last for a long time they have the nickname of grandma’s piano.

Spinet Piano

A close look at a spinet hapsichord piano.

The spinet piano is among the smallest of the upright pianos since its height is only about 38 inches tall but with a similar with to the larger pianos of around 58 inches. This is a great option if you do not have a lot of space at your home to place a piano or you live in an apartment, trailer, or condo.

Spinets can lose accuracy over time and have less power since they are smaller but they cost more when you have to get them repaired. A dropped action sound is made by these pianos when the force of the key striking the hammer and then striking this string is made.

Console Piano

The 508 Decorator Console Upright Piano from Kawai.

Source: Kawai

Console pianos are bigger than Spinets since they are about 40 to 43 inches tall. They have the same width as the others at 48 inches wide. This type of piano’s claim to fame is that you can get this piano in a variety of different finishes and styles to fit with your deck or to fit with your preferences. Because of the options that are available. It is the most popular of all of the upright pianos And has a more enhanced tone to it.

Studio Piano

The August Forster 116 Upright Piano from Piano Price Point.

Source: Piano Price Point

A studio piano is a kind that you will probably see in a music room at a school or a recording studio. It is bigger than a console piano at a height of around 48 inches and it has a larger soundboard and strings so it has a more rich tone that is similar to grand pianos. 

Horizontal Pianos, A.K.A. Grand Pianos

Since I was a kid, owning a baby grand piano was a big deal. Unfortunately, I’ve never owned one but while my cousin Rhonda played on upright piano when she still lived at home with her parents when she built her own house and moved into it that was the first thing she bought for her large living room was a gorgeous baby grand piano.

Grand pianos are by far the largest of all pianos and the most expensive ones. Their soundboards are horizontal which is why they are referred to as horizontal pianos. This allows for the soundboard area to be much larger and for the strings to be longer.

This piano can play faster and with better control for the pianist than an upright due to the hammers being reset by gravity instead of the intertwining of springs like those of other piano types. The musician playing the piano has a lot more control over the tone of the sound and the overall dynamics while playing a grand piano.

Here are several different types of grand pianos, also known as a horizontal piano, for you to check out.

The Petite Grand Piano

The 1980 Kimball Petite Grand Piano from Piano Man Superstore.

Source: Piano Man Superstore

The Petite grand piano is the smallest of all horizontal pianos yet it still creates a very powerful sound that is very impressive for all musicians. It is usually about four and a half feet long and about 5 feet tall.

Baby Grand Piano

Schoenhut Fancy Baby Grand Piano - 30-Key Keyboard Piano with Bench - Kids Musical Instruments Promote Hand-Eye Coordination - Play and Learn White Piano with Patented Learning System

Click image for more info

The baby grand piano is a beautiful and popular piano to have if you have the room and the money to purchase one. It measures around of five feet long and about 5 and a half feet in height. Pianists love a baby grand piano because of its impressive tone quality and it just looks really pretty. quality, but it also has an eye-pleasing aesthetic and is affordable for many.

Medium Grand Piano

The Bösendorfer 170VC Grand Piano from Piano Price Point.

Source: Piano Price Point

A medium grand piano is larger than a baby grand at approximately five and a half feet long and it has a little larger soundboard and longer strings than a baby grand.

Parlor Grand Piano

A parlor grand piano is about 5 feet 9 inches to 6 foot one when it comes to height and is known as a living room piano. I do not think my living room would be large enough or laid out properly to have one of these but kudos to you if you have a living room that would work for this beautiful piano.

Ballroom Grand Piano

A close look at a wooden ballroom grand piano.

A ballroom grand piano is considered a semi concert grand piano and it is about six and a half feet tall.

The Concert Grand Piano

A view of the concert grand piano on a dark stage.

The concert grand piano, also known as a stage piano, is the largest of all grand pianos and it stands about 9 feet tall. It is a gorgeous piano and would be a delight to own and be able to play on a regular basis. These are the types of pianos that you will see at large concerts or symphonies as part of the orchestra.

Digital Pianos

A woman playing the piano with friends through video call.

In today’s world of technology, digital pianos have come a long way from the days when they first hit the market and they can even sound very similar to uprights and grands. Keep in mind, though, that the sound produced by a digital piano is still very different than traditional pianos.

Instead of a hammer striking a string as with a traditional piano, when you hit a key on a digital piano’s keyboard a sensor is activated which then produces a recording of an acoustic piano. The music is final through a set of speakers and digital pianos can have several recordings, also known as samples, of each note that can be played back at different volume levels depending on how hard or soft the musician plays.

These types of pianos can also make different sounds or voices of a variety of other pianos or other instruments an often come with a recording feature and play along style sequences. Some digital pianos are portable which means you can take it with you on the go and they can run off of batteries so you do not need to have electricity wherever you are going. Clearly they are much easier to move than a traditional piano.

While some digital pianos are considered electric pianos, certain manufacturers of hybrid pianos, such as the piano maker Yamaha Pianos, have started using acoustic parts in their design which makes them sound more like a traditional acoustic piano. This type of piano, such as the Yamaha Disklavier Player Piano, is preferred by many professional musicians and is considered the modern piano and a musical instrument they can easily take from one gig to another.

FAQs About Types of Pianos

How much does tuning a piano cost?

To tune a piano, the average price will be anywhere from $65 to $225 but the amount can increase by several $100 if your piano requires multiple appointments or repairs to get it working properly. You should only trust an experienced professional piano tuner to work on your piano as they have the knowledge, education, an experience to repair it properly and not damage it worse.

What was the first piano called?

The piano was originally called the clavicembalo col piano e forte and its creator was Cristofori.  The phrase means a harpsichord that can play both soft and loud sounds.

What is the inside of a piano called?

The inside of the piano is technically the soundboard but many people call it the belly of the piano. It is also sometimes referred to as a harp or the plate since it the large, wooden diaphragm of the piano. Its metal frame is put in place to secure both ends of the strings so they can withstand the tension that is created when the piano is played.

What is the most expensive piano?

A Steinway Alma Tadema was sold at an auction for $1.2 million in 1997 at Christie’s in London which broke the former record of Steinway’s original price of $390,000. This piano was designed by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema between 1883 and 1887.

Do digital pianos feel like real pianos?

Most pianists agree the digital pianos do not feel the same as a traditional piano does but more and more, the makers of digital pianos are trying to make them more realistic with weighted wooden keys that respond more like an acoustic piano.

Can a 50-year-old piano be tuned?

Yes, most pianos can be tuned no matter how old they are and less their strings are rusty or there or other structural problems including loose turning pins.

Where can I get a free piano?

Due to the fact that pianos are very hard to move from one location to another, many people will offer them for free or almost free if you can come and pick the piano up and move it yourself. Some of the sites where you can find these offerings are on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay. There is even a site called pianoadoption.com that you can check out for free pianos.

Why do pianos have 88 keys?

Composers have always wanted to expand their range of music which is why more piano keys were added to the common 88 keys which is the way Steinway built their pianos in the 1800s and they’re still being made that way today.

What is the most played instrument in the world?

The piano is the number one most popular instrument that people play in the entire world in end the United States, 21 million people play the piano.

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