When it comes to purchasing a grand piano for the first time, many people often ask the question: ‘Do I have enough space?’. As we have explored before in our guides to piano positioning and guides to finding the right size piano for your home, it is easily possible to buy a grand piano that is too big for a room.
This may be either because the instrument simply takes up too much space for the room to be functional, or because of the size of the instrument, the sound is too large for the room so creates a ‘muddy’ tone to the instrument.
Of course, this is not to say that no one should have grand pianos in their home, not only are they generally regarded as being able to deliver the highest quality of piano playing and touch response due to their horizontal action, but they are incredibly beautiful and well crafted instruments that make a fantastic addition to any home.
This article aims to guide you through the process of determining whether or not your home could house a grand piano and how large of a piano your room can hold.
How To Measure A Room For A Grand Piano
The first step in purchasing a grand piano is to measure your room’s floor space and area. To do this, simply take a tape measure and measure your room’s dimensions. As a general rule of thumb, if a room is 4 metres squared (2m x 2m) then it is just about large enough to house a grand piano provided there are no other large items of furniture in the room such as sofas, dining tables etc. Of course, just because a room is 4 metres squared in total does not always mean that the room will be appropriate (for example if it is long but incredibly narrow). The ceiling height is also worth noting here, a standard ceiling height of around 2-2.5 metres is absolutely fine for a grand piano, however for those with lower ceilings, it is worth contacting a dealer before purchasing a grand piano to see how this may affect the sound of the piano.
If you believe that your room would be large enough to house a grand piano, the next step would be to visit your local piano dealer and ask for a grand piano footprint or template. This is simply a large paper cutout of a grand piano that is designed to be laid on the floor to see roughly how the instrument will sit in the room, if it will block and walkways etc. This is often the part where many people discover that either grand pianos are larger than they think when placed in a room or that their space has either highly trafficked walkways that a grand piano may get in the way of.
Some piano dealers may request a visit to the home to see the space for themselves, this will also allow them to check that the piano can be safely moved into the room. We often do this for clients who are still unsure and are unable to showcase the size of a room via video link or images.
Now the template has been laid down, if possible it is also at this point that it is worth leaving it in place for a few hours to see if any surrounding furniture or areas come into contact with the piano. Chances are that if this is already happening with the template, then the likelihood of the piano being knocked when it is in situ is rather high and you may want to reconsider where the instrument is located.
Why Do Grand Pianos Make A Larger Sound Than Upright Pianos?
Due to their horizontal structure compared to the vertical ones found in upright pianos, grand pianos are generally best placed in the middle or rooms to allow for their sound to spread outwardly in an even manner. Unlike upright pianos that can only ever be a certain height because they are more likely to fall over if they are not supported or are too tall, grand pianos can therefore be far longer and thus have larger soundboards and longer strings.
How Big Should A Grand Piano Be For Home Use?
Grand pianos mostly come in a few different categories: Baby Grands, Boudoir Grands and Concert Grands. Baby grands generally refer to instruments that are around 140cm-160cm, Boudoir Grands are generally around 165-190cm, with concert grand pianos being anything larger than this, with some going as high as 3 metres long.
When researching grand pianos, many easily fall into the trap of thinking that ‘bigger is better’ and opting for the biggest piano within your budget. When it comes to grand pianos however, whilst it is true that a longer grand piano will generally produce a ‘larger’ sound, what is in fact far more important is the materials used in the piano’s craftsmanship. For example, a smaller C.Bechstein piano such as the A160 will likely have a far more expressive tone and dynamic range than that of a larger, but lesser quality instrument or longer instrument that is a number of years old. This is due to the materials used and hours of care spent in crafting the instrument.
For most home use settings, there is very little that you won't achieve on a piano that is around 6ft or 180cm long. Any larger than this, then you may find that the piano’s tone feels more ‘muddy’ as the sound is not able to project as effectively as it would like to. Again, of course there are exceptions to this and it does depend on the size of the room and materials in the room such as curtains, sound proofing, furniture etc.
As a basic rule of thumb, it is often better to opt for a smaller but better quality piano that will fit in the room. This is especially true if you are planning on using the piano for ensemble or group playing as if a piano is too powerful for the room, then it can easily overpower the other instruments.
Positioning Grand Pianos In Homes
We have explored this in further detail in our guide to positioning pianos in the home, but when it comes to grand pianos, there are other certain factors to consider.
The first is definitely the ergonomics and usability of the room. As grand pianos do take up large spaces and are a large investment, it is always best to keep them out of areas that are frequently walked past or used daily as this leaves the instrument far more prone to being knocked and damaged.
The second is to ensure the piano is not placed near radiators, underfloor heating (unless protected by a mat), in conservatories that change temperature frequently or in direct sunlight. All of the above will put the piano under great stress as the woods expand and contract due to the varying heat and temperatures. This can cause a number of problems for your piano, the most common one being tuning stability, but it can easily lead to some fundamental problems in your instrument's wellbeing and overtime can even cause the soundboard or finish to crack or warp.
Finally, in order to maximise the tonal properties of your grand piano, we would generally recommend trying to place them away from a wall if possible and more towards the centre of the room to allow the sound to spread equally, this is typically best done by facing the piano at a 45 degree angle to the corner of the rooms.To conclude, a grand piano can be a fantastic addition to the home and is the aspiration of many pianists that is ideal for those looking for the best possible piano experience. For those looking for more advice on finding the right grand piano for your home, our experts are here to help and will gladly help measure your room or advise on which pianos may be more suited to your home. If you would like to learn more, contact us today or visit our showroom to learn more.