The mechanism in upright pianos is perpendicular to the keys. Sometimes called vertical pianos, they are more compact because the frame and strings are vertical. The hammers move horizontally, and return to their resting position via a system of springs and tapes, which are prone to wear and tear. Upright pianos with unusually tall frames and long strings are sometimes called upright grand pianos. I worked on an exceedingly tall Scheidmeyer piano, whose height was the same as mine – six feet or 1.8 metres. It had a magnificent sound which was superior to a small baby grand at a gig I played at a different venue earlier each night, and I couldn’t wait to get back to it.
Grand and Baby Grand Pianos.
In grand pianos, the frame and strings are horizontal, with the strings extending away from the keyboard. The action lies beneath the strings, and uses gravity to return the hammers to their rest. All else being equal, longer pianos with longer strings have a larger, richer sound and a more pure tone. Pianos with shorter and thicker strings, i.e. small pianos with short string scales, have more inharmonicity which the ear perceives it as harshness of tone. This gives the concert grand a brilliant, singing and sustaining tone quality—one of the principal reasons that full-size grands are used in the concert hall. Smaller grands satisfy the space and cost considerations needs of domestic use, but fall short of the quality of sound of a full size grand piano.
Grand Piano Sizes.
There are many sizes of grand piano. A rough generalization distinguishes the concert grand (between about 2.2 m and 3 m/9.84 feet long) from the parlor grand or boudoir grand (about 1.7 m to 2.2 m) and the smaller baby grand (around 1.5 m). In my 60+ years around pianos I’ve come to the conclusion that any grand piano measuring much less than six feet or 1.8 metres is a wonderful piece of furniture and sort of OK to play, but only just – in fact an older German, Australian [ Beale – of which I’ve had three ] or American upright may give you greater satisfaction sound wise.
OK – So I’m Prejudiced
If you don’t have the space for a huge concert grand but need a piano which is able to give you lots of expression, my personal vote for a home, club or restaurant is without doubt, the Yamaha Model C3. It represents incredible value for money, especially when compared to some of the “famous ” brands. I may be biased, having owned one for fifteen years, and worked on that model in various venues in Asia and Australia since 1969.
More C3 Rave
Their quality and workmanship is superb with endurance and reliability way beyond expectations – a C3 I’ve played for twenty years in a Gold Coast club has been there for twenty seven years and played by a variety of pianists, seven nights a week. Amazingly, it is still a delight to play after all that time. Little wonder it is highly regarded .Kawaii also make an excellent quality grand piano in a similar size – my preference is a matter of personal taste. If you can find a retailer who has several piano brands side by side, my suggestion is to go play them in succession.