If you play the piano or considering the idea, you may be wondering about the different types of piano available.
In this article, we focus on the four types of vertical piano.
What do we mean by vertical?
Well, pianos come in many shapes and sizes but roughly speaking there are two main categories of the piano. Vertical pianos and horizontal pianos.
- Horizontal pianos are grand pianos, baby grand pianos, etc. (there are many types)
- Vertical pianos are those you’re used to seeing in the home. They’re considerably lighter too, so far easier to move.
Both have the same number of keys (88) but vertical pianos are most suitable for the home. If you have space, a grand piano is definitely better, but grand pianos are usually the preserve of professional musicians and concert halls (or the mega-rich!).
As a rule of thumb, most vertical pianos are 5’ feet wide (approx. 155cm, or 61″), about 2′ (approx. 60cm, or 23″) deep from the front to the back, with three foot pedals. The main way they differ is in height, as we’ll see.
Here are four types and main differences, from largest to smallest.
Upright Piano Dimensions (Chart)
A picture says a thousand words, so here are the dimensions of the pianos we discuss in this article:
The first type of vertical piano is the upright piano. It goes by a few names actually. ‘Professional piano’, ‘studio upright’, ‘upright grand’, and sometimes, rather amusingly ‘Grandma’s piano’.
It’s the tallest of the vertical pianos (between 121cm – 135cm, or 48 – 60″) and the heaviest (between 500 – 1000 lbs, or 227-454kg, depending on the type of wood). You will need four strong people or more to move one.
As for tone, uprights pack a lot of punch. Whereas a grand piano will have a more melodic tone in the treble and upper mid registers, a full-height (130cm) upright piano will have a powerful lower-mid register (a full and deep bass).
- Height: 120cm – 135cm (47 – 60″)
- Width: approx. 155cm (61″)
- Depth: approx. 60cm (23″)
- Weight: approx. 500-1000lbs (227-454kg)
The studio piano is the next size down. Measuring between 112cm – 121cm (44″ to 48″), they’re that bit shorter than the upright and a fair bit lighter too (approx. 400 – 500 lbs (181-227kg).
Due to their loudness and relatively small size, you often see them in schools and classrooms (hence the name). Despite being a little shorter in height than the upright size, the studio piano actually has the largest piano soundboard of all the vertical pianos and longer strings. That’s why they’re the perfect compromise between size and tone.
Due to their weight, you’ll need at least three strong people to move one.
The height of a console piano is 102cm to 109cm (40″ to 43″), and it weighs approximately 350 – 450 lbs (159-204kg)
The console piano is the most popular of all vertical pianos, and in many ways is the ultimate piano for home use. For a start, the sound quality is fine for most, thanks to its non-drop action mechanism which lets the keyboard engage directly with the hammers. But it’s still small enough to fit in tight spaces, and light enough to be moved without too much fuss.
The spinet piano is the smallest and shortest of the four types (approx. 91cm to 101cm, or 36″-40″), measuring at usually less than 40 inches tall.
In terms of tone, they don’t hold up to their larger siblings and use a different mechanism on the inside. Using something known as a ‘drop action mechanism’, each key is attached at the back to vertical wires (called indirect blow action).
Because of this, they are generally considered inferior in terms of tone. But the upside is they’re usually cost a bit less. Thanks to their size, they’re superb if space is an issue too. And because they’re the lightest of the lot in terms of weight (approx. 400 lbs.), they can usually be moved from room to room by two strong people.
We’ve looked at the four main types of vertical piano. Spinets are the small, uprights the largest, with studio and consoles coming somewhere in between.
If you can afford it – and have a spare wall to position the piano up against (ideally an inner wall) – a professional upright is a great choice thanks to its powerful lower-mid register.
The console is the most popular of the lot though and offers the ultimate balance of tone and performance for home pianists.