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10 Different Types of Pianos You Can Purchase

Steinway Grand Piano

Pianos produce sound via strings that vibrate when struck with hammers. As a result, pianos are considered to be both string instruments and percussion instruments because of this setup, meaning that piano-makers can point to both kinds of musical instruments for their predecessors. However, it is important to note that true pianos didn't come into existence until around the late 17th century and early 18th century, which was when an Italian harpsichord-maker named Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori used his considerable expertise and experience to create what he called un cimbalo di cipresso di piano e forte. Translated, the term means something along the lines of "a cypress keyboard with both soft and loud," which has survived into the present time. This can be seen in how the full term was shortened into either fortepiano or pianoforte, which in turn, were shortened into the modern term of piano.

Regardless, Cristofori's invention possessed a number of improvements on its predecessors. It went unknown for a time in spite of these improvements, but in 1711, a man named Francesco Scipione wrote an article that was filled with praise for the new musical instrument, which received a lot of reading in the Germanies. As a result, the piano began becoming more and more popular, which in turn, meant more and more improvements from more and more interested parties. Due to this, there is now a very wide range of pianos available for purchase by those who want one for whatever reason.

Here are 10 of the different kinds of pianos that can be purchased by interested individuals:

1. Upright Pianos

Upright Piano

Generally speaking, pianos can be classified as one of three kinds of pianos. One of these three kinds is the upright piano, which is named thus because its strings and its soundboard are perpendicular rather than parallel to the ground. This means that upright pianos are more space-efficient than their grand counterparts, not least because it is much more difficult to build a taller piano than a longer piano. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the mechanism used to produce the sound of an upright piano isn't identical to the mechanism used for the same purpose in a grand piano, meaning that interested individuals can feel a difference between the two.

2. Grand Pianos

Steinway Model D Concert Grand Piano

Since upright pianos have their strings and soundboard stand perpendicular to the ground, it should come as no surprise to learn that grand pianos have their strings and soundboard stand parallel to the ground. This is important because it means that grand pianos can have longer strings and soundboard, which in turn, provide their players with increased control over the sound that is put out. Unfortunately, grand pianos more than live up to their name, meaning that they are rather inconvenient when compared to their upright counterparts.

3. Digital Pianos

Roland Digital Piano

Digital pianos are a kind of piano that is becoming more and more popular in the present time. In short, digital pianos lack the internals of their upright and grand counterparts. Instead, when the player presses a key, the digital piano plays a recording of the sound that would have been put out by its analogue counterpart. As such, there is incredible variety when it comes to digital pianos, meaning that it is difficult to make a judgment about one based on the specifications of another. For example, there are some digital pianos that actually have multiple recordings for the same keys so that their players can get a different sound by hitting the key harder and softer. Likewise, there are some digital pianos that seek to emulate the feel of playing their analogue counterparts, thus making the experience that much more comfortable or those who used to the latter. With that said, digital pianos can come with a lot of bonus features, which can prove to be very useful for those with a use for them.

4. Toy Pianos

Toy Piano

Toy pianos are pretty much exactly what they sound like, which is to say, miniature piano-like instruments made for the purpose of entertaining children. However, it is interesting to note that some adults have been known to play these musical instruments as well, as shown by how John Cage wrote the first classical piece for them in 1948. Still, while there are adults with an interest in toy pianos, there can be no doubt that the interest in them falls far short of the interest in either upright pianos, grand pianos, or digital pianos.

5. Spinet Piano

Wurlitzer Light Oak Spinet Piano

Both upright pianos and grand pianos can be further divided into various subcategories. For example, the smallest upright pianos are called spinet pianos, which are excellent choices for people who are working with a limited budget as well as very limited living space. In particular, it is interesting to note that some people choose to teach children how to play on spinet pianos, though it is important to remember that these are by no means toy pianos.

6. Console Piano

Yamaha M 405 Acoustic Upright Console Piano

Console pianos can be considered medium-sized upfront pianos. They are very popular because they strike a fine balance between various priorities, meaning that they come in a wide range of forms.

7. Studio Piano

Yamaha P202 Studio Piano

Studio pianos aren't the biggest upfront pianos that can be found out there, but they are quite a bit bigger than their console counterparts. Generally speaking, these are the kinds of pianos that can be found in music schools as well as music studios.

8. Baby Grand

Essex Baby Grand Piano

Baby grands are some of the smallest grand pianos that interested individuals can expect to find. As such, they are the most common kind of grand piano spotted in homes because their bigger counterparts use up so much space. Amusingly, there are people who buy baby grands even if they don't play the piano because they feel that they make for excellent decorations.

9. Parlor Grand

Bluthner Parlor Grand Piano

Parlor grands are impressive musical instruments, but they come with a serious problem in that they are either very impractical or outright impossible to fit into most homes. As a result, chances are good that someone who owns one of these is very serious about their piano playing.

10. Concert Grand

Steinway Model D Grand Piano 52626 Brazilian Rosewood

Concert grands are huge monsters that are sure to impress with their look as well as their sound. However, they are very rare, not least because most of them are at around 9 feet in length while some can hit 10 feet and beyond.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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