Grand vs Upright Piano: 7 Key Differences [2024] 🎹

Video: Should You Buy an Upright Piano? Piano Questions.

You’re ready to take your musical journey to the next level, but the question looms: upright piano or grand piano? Imagine this: you’re in a concert hall, listening to a pianist weave magic with every keystroke. The sound is rich and resonant, the performance breathtaking. That’s the experience a grand piano can bring to your home. But, for many musicians, the sheer size and price of a grand piano can be overwhelming. That’s where the trusty upright piano steps in. It’s the more compact and budget-friendly option, and it can still be a fantastic instrument for beginners and experienced players alike. In this guide, we go through the key differences between these two piano icons to help you decide which is right for you.

Quick Answer

Here’s a quick recap of the key differences to help you decide:

  • Grand pianos offer a richer, more complex sound, faster repetition of notes, and a more responsive touch, but they come at a higher price and require more space.
  • Upright pianos are more compact, affordable, and often a better choice for beginners and smaller homes.
  • Digital pianos offer a more affordable and versatile alternative, with features like headphone jacks and built-in speakers.

Ready to find your perfect piano?

Ready to dive deeper? Let’s explore the key differences between grand and upright pianos.

Table of Contents

  1. Quick Tips and Facts
  2. The History of the Piano: From Upright to Grand and Beyond
  3. Sound & Tone: The Heart of the Matter
  4. Touch & Feel: What Makes Piano Playing So Unique?
  5. Size and Space: A Piano’s Physical Footprint
  6. Price & Value: A Deeper Look
  7. Maintenance: Tuning & More
  8. If You’re Serious About Playing, a Grand Piano Is the One
  9. Differences Between Upright Pianos and Grand Pianos
  10. The Upright Piano: A Classic Choice
  11. The Grand Piano: A Majestic Presence
  12. Other Piano Types: Digital & More
  13. Which Piano Brand Is Right For You?
  14. Top Piano Brands
  15. Beyond the Keys: The Piano’s Role in History and Culture
  16. Conclusion
  17. Recommended Links
  18. FAQ
  19. Reference Links

Quick Tips and Facts

🎹 You’re not limited to upright or grand! There are other piano types, including digital pianos and hybrid pianos. 🤔

🎹 Grand pianos usually boast a richer, more complex sound than upright pianos, thanks to their larger soundboard and horizontal string configuration. 🎶

🎹 Upright pianos are more compact and generally less expensive than grand pianos, making them a good choice for smaller spaces or budgets. 🏡💰

The History of the Piano: From Upright to Grand and Beyond

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The piano’s journey began with the harpsichord, a keyboard instrument that produced sound by plucking strings. But the pianoforte (meaning “soft-loud”), invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori in the early 1700s, used hammers to strike the strings, allowing for greater dynamic control. This innovation paved the way for the modern piano.

Early pianos were initially larger and heavier, but with time, manufacturers developed more compact designs. The first upright piano was created in 1800 by John Isaac Hawkins, and the first grand piano appeared shortly after.

From the 19th century onward, the piano evolved rapidly, becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated. The development of the modern action – the system that connects the keys to the hammers – revolutionized piano playing. Today’s pianos, both upright and grand, represent centuries of innovation and craftsmanship. 😉

Learn more about the fascinating history of the piano! Piano History

Sound & Tone: The Heart of the Matter 🎤


The soundboard – a large, flat piece of wood that vibrates when the strings are struck – plays a crucial role in shaping a piano’s tone. Grand pianos, with their larger soundboards, produce a richer, more complex sound with greater resonance and sustain. 🤩

Upright pianos have a smaller soundboard and vertically arranged strings (making them more compact), resulting in a less resonant and less complex sound. 🎻

Here’s an analogy: imagine a drum. A larger drumhead produces a fuller, deeper sound than a smaller one. Same goes for the soundboard of a piano. 🥁

The type of wood used for the soundboard also affects the tone. Spruce is a popular choice for soundboards due to its strength and responsiveness. 🌲

Here’s a table comparing the sound quality of upright and grand pianos:

Feature Upright Piano Grand Piano
Soundboard Size Smaller Larger
String Configuration Vertical Horizontal
Resonance Less resonant More resonant
Sustain Shorter sustain Longer sustain
Tone More compact, less complex sound Richer, more complex sound, greater dynamic range

Touch & Feel: What Makes Piano Playing So Unique? 🎹

Video: Why I Love Upright Pianos.

The “action” refers to the system that connects the keys to the hammers. This highly intricate mechanism is responsible for the touch and feel of the piano.

Grand pianos have a horizontal action, which allows for faster repetition of notes (up to 14 times per second) and a more responsive touch. ⚡️

Upright pianos have a vertical action, which is more compact but less responsive. The vertical action typically uses springs to return the hammers, limiting the speed of repetition (up to 7 times per second). The “touch” generally feels heavier on an upright versus a grand. ⚖️

Think of it like this: a grand piano allows for a much more nuanced and expressive touch, like a whisper versus a shout. Upright piano touch is like a more steady voice, with a less dynamic range. 🎭

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences in action:

Feature Upright Piano Grand Piano
Action Vertical, typically with springs for hammer return Horizontal, gravity-driven for hammer return
Repetition Slower (up to 7 times per second) Faster (up to 14 times per second)
Touch Heavier and less responsive Lighter and more responsive
Feel More compact but less nuanced Less compact but more nuanced

Size and Space: A Piano’s Physical Footprint 📏

Video: Upright v.s. Grand Pianos: Which Is Better For You? | Common Misconceptions & Myths .

Grand pianos are the more imposing option, requiring a dedicated space in your home. 🏯

Type of Grand Piano Size
Baby Grand 5’7″ long
Medium Grand 5’7″ to 5’10” long
Full Grand 5’10” to 7′ long
Performance Grand 7′ to 9′ long
Concert Grand 9′ and above

Upright pianos are more compact, making them a more practical choice for smaller homes or apartments. 🏡

Type of Upright Piano Height
Spinet 36″
Console 40-44″
Studio 44-48″
Professional 48″ and above

Keep in mind that the height is measured from the floor to the top of the piano’s lid. The actual depth of the piano will vary depending on the model. Measure your space carefully to ensure that you can comfortably accommodate your chosen piano. 📏📐

Think carefully about the location of your piano, as it needs to be in a stable and properly supported area. Avoid placing it near a window where it could be exposed to direct sunlight, which can damage the finish. ☀️

Price & Value: A Deeper Look 💰

Video: Which Acoustic Piano to Buy – 3 USEFUL TIPS.

There’s a considerable price difference between upright and grand pianos. The average price of an upright piano can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, while the average price of a grand piano can range from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. 🤑

Factors influencing the price include:

  • Brand:
    • Renowned brands like Steinway & Sons, Yamaha, and Kawai will typically be more expensive.
    • Other makers might offer pianos in a wider range of price points. 🎹
  • **Size:**Larger grand pianos, especially those made with premium materials, will cost more.
  • Material: Solid wood construction, and even the type of wood used (like maple, spruce, or mahogany), can influence price.
  • Features: Additional features like sound systems or automatic playing mechanisms contribute to the cost. 🎶
  • Condition: A brand new piano will be significantly more expensive than a used piano.

Here’s a quick overview of the price range for upright and grand pianos:

Piano Type Price Range
Upright Hundreds to thousands of dollars
Grand Thousands to tens of thousands of dollars

Remember, a higher price doesn’t always guarantee quality! Research different piano brands and models to find the best value for your budget and needs. 🤓

Here are some examples of popular piano brands in various price ranges:

  • Budget-friendly options:
  • Mid-range options:
    • Kawai: A highly respected brand known for its beautiful sound and craftsmanship, often providing value for the price. 👉 Shop Kawai Pianos on: Amazon | Sweetwater | Kawai Official Website:
    • Roland: Leading digital piano manufacturer renowned for its innovative sound technology and realistic playing experience. 👉 Shop Roland Pianos on: Amazon | Sweetwater | Roland Official Website:
  • High-end options:
    • Steinway & Sons: The world’s most renowned piano maker, known for its exceptional sound, craftsmanship, and legacy. 👉 Shop Steinway & Sons Pianos on: Amazon | Steinway & Sons Official Website
    • Bösendorfer: Another highly respected brand known for its exceptional tone and craftsmanship, prized by professional musicians. 👉 Shop Bösendorfer Pianos on: Bösendorfer Official Website

Learn more about choosing the right piano brand: Piano Brand Guides

Maintenance: Tuning & More 🔧

Video: Brigham's Piano Tools for Tuning and Repair of Upright and Grand Pianos.

Pianos require regular tuning and maintenance to stay in top condition. Tuning a piano involves adjusting the tension of the strings to ensure accurate pitch. 🎶

Grand pianos typically need tuning more often than upright pianos because of their larger size and string tension. You should plan to have your grand piano tuned every 6 to 12 months, while your upright piano might only need tuning annually. ⏱️

Other maintenance tasks include:

  • Cleaning: Wipe down the keys and surface of the piano regularly to prevent dust buildup. 🧽
  • Lubrication: Regular lubrication of the action keeps the moving parts functioning smoothly. 💧
  • Regulation: Ensures smooth and consistent action, which helps with playability. 🤝

Finding a qualified piano technician is essential for proper tuning and maintenance. Ask for recommendations from other pianists, music stores, or local piano guilds. 🤝

Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Maintenance and tuning costs: Factor these into your overall piano ownership costs. 💰
  • Choosing a reliable piano technician: This ensures that your piano is in good hands. 👌

If You’re Serious About Playing, a Grand Piano Is the One 🎼

Video: Isn't a good upright as good as a grand piano?

For truly serious pianists, a grand piano offers the best sound, touch, and expressiveness. 🎹

  • The rich sound and broad dynamic range of a grand piano allow you to explore the full spectrum of musical emotions.
  • The responsive action offers a more nuanced touch, allowing for greater control over your playing.
  • The longer sustain lets you linger on notes, creating beautiful, drawn-out melodies.
  • The three pedals (shift, sostenuto, sustain) provide a level of control over the sound that simply isn’t possible with upright pianos.

However, grand pianos are a big commitment in terms of space and price. 🤯

Here’s a table summarizing the benefits of grand pianos:

Feature Benefit
Richer Sound Allows for greater expression and tonal nuance
Sensitive Action Enables you to play more precisely and control the dynamics of your music with ease
Longer Sustain Lets you linger on notes, creating a more beautiful and resonant sound
Three Pedals Provide a greater level of control over the sound

Differences Between Upright Pianos and Grand Pianos 🎹

Video: Upright vs. Grand Pianos: Which is Right for Me? | Piano Buyer's Guide .

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of upright and grand pianos, covering their key differences:

Feature Upright Piano Grand Piano
Sound Less resonant, less complex, smaller dynamic range Richer, more complex, wider dynamic range
Action Vertical, spring-driven Horizontal, gravity-driven
Touch Heavier, less responsive Lighter, more responsive
Feel More compact but sacrifices nuance Less compact but greater nuance
Pedals Soft, Muffler, Sustain Shift, Sostenuto, Sustain
Space More compact, better suited for smaller spaces Larger, requires a dedicated space
Price Generally more affordable Generally more expensive

The Upright Piano: A Classic Choice

Video: Upright Piano Buyer's Guide for 2021 | How to Choose an Upright Piano.

Upright pianos remain a popular choice for many reasons

  • They’re more compact, making them suitable for smaller spaces.
  • They’re typically more affordable, making them an accessible option for beginners and families.
  • Modern upright pianos offer improved sound quality and playability, thanks to advancements in design and materials.

Upright pianos are the best option if you:

  • Have limited space.
  • Are on a budget.
  • Are a beginner.

The Grand Piano: A Majestic Presence

Video: Grand Piano vs Upright Piano.

Owning a grand piano is a dream for many musicians. 💫

  • The sound is simply breathtaking, offering greater resonance, depth, and dynamic range.
  • The touch and feel are more responsive and nuanced, allowing for a more expressive playing experience.
  • The presence of a grand piano in a room is truly captivating. It instantly elevates the atmosphere and inspires creativity.

Grand pianos are the perfect choice if you:

  • Are a serious musician.
  • Value the full spectrum of musical expressiveness.
  • Have the space and budget for a grand piano.

But wait, there’s more! This isn’t the end of the story. There are other types of pianos out there – digital and hybrid pianos – that offer unique benefits as well! 🎹✨

Other Piano Types: Digital & More

Video: Piano Buyer's Guide | Find The Right Piano For You.

In addition to upright and grand pianos, you’ve got other fantastic options waiting to be explored:

  • Digital Pianos: Digital pianos are highly versatile and packed with features. 🎧 They offer realistic sound, headphones jacks for silent practice, and often built-in speakers so you can play without needing an external amp. They’re also more affordable and space-saving than traditional acoustic pianos.
  • Hybrid Pianos: Want the best of both worlds? Hybrid pianos, like those from Kawai, combine the acoustic feel of a traditional piano with the advanced features of a digital piano. This gives you a truly immersive playing experience with added functionalities.

Ready to explore the world of digital and hybrid pianos? Digital & Hybrid Pianos

Which Piano Brand Is Right For You?

Video: The Best and Worst Pianos To Buy.

Choosing a piano brand is like choosing a musical partner. You want a brand that aligns with your musical style and needs. 🤝

Think about these factors when selecting a piano brand:

  • Sound: Do you prefer a warm, mellow tone or a bright, crisp sound?
  • Touch & Feel: Do you want a responsive action, or a more traditional feel?
  • Features: What features are important to you? (Headphone jacks, built-in speakers, recording functions, etc.)
  • Budget: What’s your price range?
  • Brand reputation: Research brands known for their quality, innovation, and customer service.

Top Piano Brands

Video: The World's Best Piano Brands .

Want the inside scoop on some of the top piano brands? We’ve got you covered!

  • Yamaha: Known for their reliability, affordability, and wide range of instruments, from budget-friendly options to high-end concert grands. Yamaha Official Website
  • Kawai: A respected brand known for craftsmanship and a beautiful sound, with a strong reputation for both acoustic and digital pianos. Kawai Official Website
  • Roland: A leading digital piano manufacturer known for innovative sound technology and realistic playing experiences. Roland Official Website
  • Steinway & Sons: The epitome of luxury and craftsmanship, Steinway & Sons pianos are revered for their exceptional sound and legacy. Steinway & Sons Official Website

Still not sure which brand is right for you? We can help! Piano Brand Guides

Beyond the Keys: The Piano’s Role in History and Culture

grayscale photo of group of women sitting on concrete bench

The piano isn’t just a musical instrument – it’s a cultural icon! It’s graced the homes of royalty, inspired generations of composers, and accompanied countless heart-wrenching love stories. The piano has woven itself into the fabric of human history, influencing art, literature, and even fashion.

Explore the piano’s fascinating role in history and culture! Piano’s Place in History and Culture


people holding shoulders sitting on wall

Choosing between an upright piano and a grand piano is a personal decision, based on your individual needs, budget, and space constraints. While grand pianos offer unparalleled sound, touch, and expressiveness, upright pianos provide a more practical and affordable solution for many.

Ultimately, the best piano for you depends on your musical aspirations and lifestyle. If you’re serious about pursuing music and have the space and resources, a grand piano might be the perfect fit. However, if your needs are more practical, or if space or budget are constraints, an upright piano is a wonderful instrument that can provide years of musical enjoyment.

Remember, the most important factor is finding a piano that inspires you and lets you explore your musical journey.

Here are some resources to help you find the perfect piano:


a man standing next to a woman under a tree

Should I buy a grand or upright piano?

The answer depends on your needs and priorities!

For Serious Musicians:

  • Grand pianos offer a superior sound, touch, and expressiveness, ideal for those pursuing music professionally or seriously.

For Beginners and Relaxed Learners:

  • Upright pianos are more affordable and space-efficient, perfect for beginners or casual enjoyment.

For Budget-Conscious Buyers:

  • Explore digital pianos or hybrid pianos that offer versatility and realistic sound at more accessible price points.

Read more about “Are Old Pianos Worth Keeping? … 🎹”

What are the cons of an upright piano?

  • Less resonant sound: The smaller soundboard and vertical string configuration limit the overall richness and resonance of its sound.
  • Limited dynamic range: Upright pianos may not be as expressive when playing at pianissimo (very soft) or fortissimo (very loud) volumes.
  • Denser touch: The vertical action, especially in older models, often feels denser and less responsive than a grand piano, making it slightly challenging to achieve subtle nuances in playing.

Read more about “Do Baby Grand Pianos Appreciate in Value Over Time? … 🎹”

When should I switch to grand piano?

  • As your playing progresses and you seek greater expressiveness and a richer sound: A grand piano can open up a whole new level of musical possibilities. 🤩
  • If you acquire the space and budget: A grand piano is a significant investment, and the decision should only be made when you are ready for this commitment.

Is it worth getting an upright piano?

Absolutely! Upright pianos are fantastic instruments that can provide years of musical enjoyment. Here’s why:

  • They’re a great starting point for beginners.
  • They’re affordable for most budgets.
  • They’re more compact and space-efficient, making them suitable for smaller homes.
  • Modern uprights offer impressive sound and playability thanks to advances in design and materials.

Read more about “The Ultimate Guide to Upright Piano Brands … 🎹”

We hope this guide has helped you learn more about upright and grand pianos! If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to us. 🎹🎵

Review Team
Review Team

The Popular Brands Review Team is a collective of seasoned professionals boasting an extensive and varied portfolio in the field of product evaluation. Composed of experts with specialties across a myriad of industries, the team’s collective experience spans across numerous decades, allowing them a unique depth and breadth of understanding when it comes to reviewing different brands and products.

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