Besides the guitar, the piano is one of the most played instruments in the world. But did you know that there are several types of pianos?
From the classical grand piano to the modern digital keyboard, pianos come in many shapes, sizes, and capabilities. Each design is ideally suited to a specific set of needs, ensuring that anyone can own and play the piano.
So, whether you’re a professional musician or a curious music-lover, read on to learn more about the different types of pianos.
Types of Pianos
The progenitor of the piano was the harpsichord, a large piano-shaped musical instrument with keys and taut strings. However, unlike the piano, harpsichord strings aren’t struck. Instead, they’re gently plucked when a player depresses a key.
The modern piano was invented in the 1700s, and it’s diversified quite a lot since that time. Still, pianos typically fall into one of two categories:
- Acoustic, or
As you might imagine, acoustic pianos came before digital versions. As such, many of the most beloved classical musicians played acoustic pianos when writing and producing their timeless pieces.
Acoustic pianos are associated with classical music. Some of the most beloved composers wrote their masterpieces using acoustic pianos.
For example, Frédéric Chopin wrote Nocturne in B flat minor on his acoustic piano. Notably, piano music by Chopin is still practiced by pianists today!
But while Chopin used a grand piano to craft his melodic and timeless tunes, grand pianos aren’t the only type of acoustic piano available.
A more compact version came onto the scene about a century after the first grand piano was invented. This type of acoustic piano was called the upright piano, and due to its smaller size, it became the preferred option for small homes and tiny concert halls.
Instead of splaying its strings across a broad platform, upright pianos pushed them vertically and shortened them. This design change gave them flat backings and comparatively short widths, making them easy to store against walls.
However, the sound quality of upright pianos pales in comparison to the sounds produced on a grand piano. This difference is because the strings are hidden behind a wooden panel.
Upright pianos also feature shorter strings, which limits the resonance of each note. For that reason, concert pianists still preferred to play grand pianos.
This trend continues today. Upright acoustic pianos remain a popular choice for beginner-level players and tiny homes, while grand pianos are found in the most illustrious music halls worldwide.
When most people think of a piano, they imagine a grand piano. This instrument has a cabinet-like design that houses its long strings. It has a lifting cover that’s often propped open, allowing you to see its strings and hammers.
Most grand pianos are more than 6ft long, with a width of about 5ft. As a result, they can take up a significant amount of space, which is why they’re most popular among professional musicians and concert pianists.
Still, if you’re looking to enjoy the richest acoustic tones from a piano, you might want to consider investing in a grand piano. Their design ensures that every keystroke produces a gorgeously resonant tone.
But, of course, this improved sound quality comes at a price. Grand pianos typically cost several thousands of dollars more than upright versions.
Digital pianos are some of the newest musical instruments, with the first one invented in the late 1970s. These instruments changed the music industry, allowing pianists to amplify their playing and record digital tracks onto computers.
Notably, most digital pianos don’t contain strings. As such, they don’t need annual tuning. This reduced maintenance makes them better long-term options for musicians, especially those living in humid environments.
That said, digital pianos require an electrical connection to function. So, if your power goes out, you won’t be able to strike up a tune in the dark!
Still, digital pianos are far more lightweight and easy to transport than their acoustic counterparts. For this reason, they’re a popular choice for keyboardists, students, and those that move often.
Additionally, digital pianos are available in a greater range of styles. While you can find upright and grand digital pianos, portable and stage versions are also available.
Portable Digital Pianos
Portable pianos (sometimes called keyboards) are typically flat panels that sit atop simple stands. The most affordable of these digital pianos don’t have weighted keys and may not feature a full 88 keys.
However, you can pick them up and take them with you almost anywhere!
Upright Digital Pianos
Upright digital pianos are a slightly more refined version of portable pianos. These often feature a full key set, as well as weighted keys that simulate acoustic playing.
They also tend to come with pedals for sustaining and softening notes. Upright and stage digital pianos are essentially identical.
Grand Digital Pianos
Digital grand pianos are just as large as their acoustic counterparts. But unlike acoustic grand pianos, digital grand pianos don’t have strings beneath their covers.
Instead, they might have a few speakers or digital components.
What Are the Best Pianos?
Determining which pianos are the best can be challenging. After all, what works for one person could be unsuitable for another. That said, there are a few top brands you’ll want to keep your eye on when shopping for a piano.
Some of the best acoustic piano brands include:
- Mason & Hamlin
- Steingraeber & Söhne
However, if you’re looking for a digital piano, you may want to choose from the following brands:
All of these brands create upright and grand pianos, so you can choose a model that fits your home’s space limitations. But remember, the best piano for you is one that’s affordable and meets your playing needs.
So, if you’re looking to jam out on stage with a band, you’ll likely want to choose a portable digital piano with plenty of outputs. But if you’d rather practice classical sheet music in the privacy of your home, an acoustic upright or grand piano could be the better choice.
Invest in Musical Instruments
Playing piano could help relieve stress, improve agility, and practice your singing skills. With so many types of pianos available, you’re bound to find one that suits your preferences and budget.
Investing in musical instruments is a wise way to add a little joy to your everyday life while learning a new skill. Besides, learning to play the piano is typically far more straightforward than mastering the guitar, as all the notes are right at your fingertips. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our related articles about pianos!