The piano stool (or bench) is often one of the most overlooked parts of buying an acoustic or digtial piano. It is easy to think “I’ll just use a chair”, but just because the stool itself doesn’t make the music, it’s not worth compromising on!
In the same way that you wouldn’t drive a car with a broken seat, a piano stool is just as much a part of your piano as the hammers and pedals. Being essentially the ‘drivers seat’ for all of the intricate movements during playing, pedaling and will impact the overall comfort of your piano playing experience.
That is why today, we wanted to break down some of the key things to consider when purchasing a piano stool or bench as well as some of the reasons that choosing the right piano stool for you matters!
Piano Benches vs Piano Stools
It’s easy to get caught up in lingos on the differences between stools and benches, but ultimately they are two halves of the same whole and the principles of what makes comprises a great stool or bench remain the same. They dictate your positioning, your posture and allow you to control things such as the height that you are playing at.
Conventionally, piano benches are longer, as they are usually used for duetting, and are a little heavier and bigger than stools. Ultimately however the difference is more of a stylistic choice, so for the purposes of today, we will be using the two terms interchangeably.
Quality Over Convenience
When purchasing a piano, it's often common for dealers to 'throw in' a piano stool free of charge. Whilst at first this may seem like a fantastic package deal, in reality these kinds of stools are often lower quality and overtime, we have seen many cases where they become wobbly, squeaky or the mechanism may even break.
The same goes for piano stools that can be found online for maybe £20 or so, these stools are almost always lower quality and can in fact affect your playing more than you may first think. We've even had one client come to us looking for something more high quality after they brought a cheap stool online that collapsed whilst they were playing!
A great example of this is the cheaper 'foldable' piano stools that are often supplied with digital pianos. Due to their x-frame design, these stools are often increidbly wobbly and lack the padding and comfort to encourage good piano posture. We would personally recommend avoiding these options for home use unless you have no other space.
A far better approach when it comes to piano stools is to consider them an extension of your piano and home. We have spoken about this in our interior design guide for pianos, but having a high quality piano stool can really maximise the impact that your piano has on the room and will leave you want to keep coming back to play more and more.
The easy ways to spot low quality piano stools are often:
- Pricepoint (a quality piano stool will likely cost at least £100 - Beware of 'free stools' as these are normally worthless)
- The stool will have leg bolts (Low quality stools are often just glued on, which will become loose overtime)
- The adjusting mechanism (should be made of high quality steel - plastic mechanisms will break easily)
- The upholstry is glued (again, glue will come undone overtime)
Some great examples of quality piano stools that we personally offer are the Toledo, a highly adjustable entrypoint to piano stools and also the Madrid, which features not only a slightly more durable and quality adjustable action, but also allows for personalisation of colours and tops to match your home.
Things to consider when buying your piano stool:
As expected, there’s no bigger point to make than comfort. If you’re not comfortable on your stool, you won’t have a great time playing your instrument. That’s why many companies such as Hidrau have invested countless time, techniques and materials in order to create the ultimate comfort experience for pianists across the globe.
Many premium benches, many have been ergonomically designed to alleviate pressure on the lumbar spine and thighs through rounded edges and secure padding.
For those who do especially struggle with back pain, it is even possible to get piano stools with supported backrests. If this is of interest, contact our experts today to learn more.
Much like when sitting at a computer desk, it’s easy for piano players to find themselves slouching forwards without proper back support, adding more pressure onto your back, thighs, shoulders and neck.
For optimum piano posture, your back should be straight, your arms relaxed from the shoulder, your elbows elevated slightly above the keys and your feet firmly on the floor and in reach of your pedals. There is an awful lot of technique also in piano posture, which you can read about further here.
Another easy one to overlook, but the actual stability of your bench will impact your playing a lot! There’s nothing more annoying than a squeaky or wobbly chair. A lot of this comes down to the mechanics of the bench itself and is why some stools actually use a hydraulics system in order to be as silent as possible during playing and adjusting. Entry level stools however typically have legs that are bolted on and can loosen overtime, whilst this is an easy fix via tightening, they can begin to squeak and lose their robustness after multiple fixings.
Higher end benches typically have the legs directly glued into the frame, meaning that they are ultimately more robust, harder to break and more sturdy to play, some even use dovetail joints to keep things in place.
When it comes to piano stools, it’s certainly not one size fits all and your stool should reflect both your needs and personality. That is why it is generally a better idea to get a stool that has the ability to be adjusted up or down based on your height.
Particularly for younger players, you will want a stool that still allows them to comfortably reach both the pedals and keys without strain.
Another great point to touch on is storage within a bench, many benches allow the user to store their music books or other utensils within the seat itself. Generally speaking this is purely personal preference, however particularly for young children, if you are moving the stool around a lot, it can be easy to get your fingers trapped in the hinge, so urge to move with some level of caution!
Again, this is covered extensively in our interior design guides for piano, however we personally believe that your piano stool should enhance your piano and reflect your personality. That is why we offer a number of finishes and tops across our piano stool range to help find a stool that matches your piano, style of play and the room it is in.
A fantastic model to start with here is the Hidrau Madrid Adjustable Piano Stool that comes in both polished and matt finishes as well as a kalidoscope of top colours.
Hopefully this guide has helped give you a little more insight into the world of piano benches and has given you some food for thought when purchasing your own bench!
If you would like any further assistance on choosing the right piano stool for you, our showroom team are available and ready to help! Get in touch today!