Grand pianos are seen as the pinnacle of all instruments, and are widely
associated with the glamorous jazz scene, and classical recitals. But what is it
exactly about the grand piano that makes it sound better than other types of
pianos, and is the fact that grand pianos are considerably more expensive really
Here at MyPianoSecrets.com we investigate… (yeah, that's how we roll)
Grand pianos are a relatively modern technology in piano design. Furthermore,
they have proven to be the preferable design of choice for most of the world's
top pianists and enthusiasts.
They differ from the other major classification of upright pianos in a number of
ways, largely relating to configuration and size. The grand piano strings
horizontally, and benefits from the force of gravity in its mechanism.
Additionally, its sprawling structure allows for a fuller sound to resonate
through the bridge, giving an impressive tonal distinction between grands and
most upright models.
Uprights, on the other hand, strive to be tight and compact, whilst also
affording similar tonal quality. Of course, something has to give and with
uprights, it’s the overall sound quality which is simply non-comparable to that
of a grand. However, the compressed mechanism on the upright is beneficial as a
small and compact instrument for practice and smaller public recitals.
Additionally, the grand piano also allows more accomplished pianists to perform
ornamentation and certain other musical features thanks to a special lever,
which holds the hammer above the string for longer. This means that by rapidly
tapping the key, the hammer has less distance to move to reach the string which
ultimately correlates to an increased ability to perform ornamentation and more
complex staccato rhythms (if that’s jibberish to you, then just read it as "it
let's you do wicked cool things when playing music").
With the upright design, it is impossible to include this feature, therefore you
will never be able to achieve the same overall responsiveness and feel as with a
grand piano (kind of like a Porsche 911 Turbo is little more responsive than
your minivan – not that there's anything wrong with minivans), and the more
accomplished player would feel limited by the scope for ornamentation on the
The fact that the grand piano occupies more space allows its mechanism more
freedom to strike the string clearly. Additionally, the horizontality allows for
a deeper resonation through the wood which adds to sound. Throw in the added
benefit of the repetition lever, and you've got yourself a quality, unbeatable
sound. Although the uprights really can't compete, they certainly have the edge
when it comes to space-efficiency and cost. It really is a case of determining
your needs and objectives, before selecting the piano that's right for you.