Piano stools come in all shapes, sizes, styles and colours, but with so many options out there and prices ranging from £20 to £800, it can be difficult to decide which is the right one for you.
Today we aim to break down the importance of investing in a high quality piano stool, why they matter, how they can affect your piano experience and why you need functionality such as the need to adjust the height of your piano stool.
What are the different types of piano stool?
There are a number of different types of piano stools, but typically most can fall into 3 key categories:
These are ideal for gigging musicians looking for something simple that can be easily folded down and transported from place to place. They are relatively lightweight, may have two or three height settings and typically have a leather padded top. These piano stools are less focused on offering a quality piano experience and focus more on portability and being easily stored. Due to this compromise on favouring portability and convenience over comfort, they are typically the most ‘wobby’ and offer little to no support for the back or piano posture..
Very cost effective
Collapsible and easy to transport
Ideal for gigging musicians
The most ‘wobbly’ of all the piano stools
Often not overly well built
Easy to tear/rip the top.
These piano stools are often what are ‘thrown in’ as part of many piano bundles. Available in a variety of colours, styles and shapes, these stools are often incredibly cheaply made, cannot be adjusted, will become wobbly overtime and are generally best avoided.
Variety of colours
Will become wobbly very quickly
Low build quality
Often ‘thrown in’ with piano deals because they are so cheap.
At Millers we do not stock fixed height piano stools with the exception of those that are part exchanged with secondhand pianos and perhaps match that particular piano’s colour or style as we believe they do not offer a good piano playing experience and can easily collapse if not well designed or assembled.
Adjustable Piano Stools:
Adjustable piano stools are the most recommended choice of stool for piano players because they offer versatility if more than one person is playing the piano, or if a child who is growing is learning to play. By being able to adjust the height of the stool, we can work on posture and comfort whilst playing the piano.
Because of the mechanism that causes the stool to rise and fall, height adjustable piano stools are often the highest quality stools out there and will generally last the longest. Whilst there are some cheaper options that are best avoided, we will break down how to spot these in a moment.
Suited to all players
Generally look more sophisticated
Higher build quality
Variety of colours and styles
More premium pricing
Fixed height VS adjustable?
When doing just a little research on piano stools, it will become apparent almost immediately that fixed height stools are less expensive than that of adjustable stools. This is for the simple reason that an adjustable stool requires a more complex mechanism to adjust the height of your piano stool and often they are made from better quality materials to support this mechanism properly.
A fixed height piano stool is essentially the equivalent of a dining room chair, it is a fixed height that does not go up or down. An easy analogy here when it comes to why adjustable chairs are superior would be to think of an office chair and which is more comfortable to work on. Most of us would likely agree that a dedicated padded office chair that raises and falls, has wheels and is more ergonomic on the spine is better to be sat on all day than a fixed height dining chair or bar stool with much less support.
Piano stools are no different, and often it is not uncommon to spend 2 or 3 hours on one each practice session, so you’ll want to make sure you are comfortable and being properly supported.
Generally speaking fixed height piano stools are made with lesser quality materials and become wobbly or even break easily often because they lack structural integrity across the middle of the stool. Having an adjustable mechanism often means placing a steel or metal adjustment bar through the middle of the stool and a number of braces to allow the stool to rise and fall, adding to the structural integrity of the stool.
For the most part, if a piano stool is either ‘thrown in’ with your piano, or costs less than £100 or so, you can almost be sure that it is a lower quality stool that uses lesser materials and does risk becoming wobbly later down the line.
Why do we need adjustable piano stools?
Adjustable piano stools are ideal for a number of reasons and different requirements.
Firstly, for families who have either child learners or more than one member of the family plays. Chances are that if your child is learning and a parent also plays, the two will be different heights and have different length legs to reach the pedals. Having an adjustable stool makes it far easier to lower the stool for younger children to reach the pedals without needing to strain. The same can then also be said for the parent as when they are playing, they will be able to adjust the stool to suit their height.
The next beneficiary of an adjustable piano stool would be those on the taller side who may find themselves almost too cramped into their piano when sitting on a fixed stool. Setting the piano stool to be high enough to comfortably fit your legs under whilst also being able to maintain appropriate posture with your arms is crucial to good piano posture.
When sitting at the piano, the player’s hand when placed on the keyboard of the piano should be bent at an angle of 90 degrees at the elbow, having an adjustable stool makes this far easier to achieve. This is the recommended posture when you play the piano. Learn more about posture in our guide here.
How To Tell A Quality Piano Stool From A Lesser Quality One?
Distinguishing between quality and lower quality piano stools may seem complex at first as most do look rather similar at first glance. The easiest way to tell the difference between quality piano stools is to see them in person.
We would recommend visiting a local piano dealer and trying their stool range. Try to wobble them with your hand and very quickly you will be able to tell which stools have better mechanisms, better structural integrity and are better built.
For those who are purely purchasing online or perhaps do not have the means to try a piano stool in person, the easiest way to check is to ensure the stool uses at least a stainless steel mechanism and is braced on the inside. We would also recommend looking at the bottom of the stool’s padded top, if the stool is loosely put together with just a few staples, this is a sign that it is generally less durable than one with laced or woven stitching. This is one of the key differences between our Toledo and Madrid piano stools, whilst the Toledo is still structurally sound and a wonderful stool, the Madrid does promise more durability.
Another factor to consider is what the legs and frame are made from, some of the most premium piano stools are made from metal, whilst others are made from beautifully handcrafted woods covered in a beautiful polish. Again, this is best tested in person.
Which Is The Right Adjustable Piano Stool For Me?
When it comes to quality piano stools, we would say there are three main components to focus on.
- Functionality / Features
The most obvious decision in the piano stool world is budget, whilst all of the piano stools that we provide for example are perfectly suited to any piano and will last very a long time, budget is definitely something to consider. As we move up the ranges, better materials, quality control, design and further features and functionality are added, which we will cover momentarily. Generally speaking we would not recommend spending less than £120 on a piano stool if you want it to last a significant amount of time without becoming wobbly as around this price point you will begin to see better quality materials being used.
Aesthetics are another crucial component and in the same way that you wouldn’t want to pick the wrong piano for your home’s interior design, you wouldn’t want to pick a piano stool that doesn’t compliment your piano. This is a personal preference and generally depends on what you are looking to achieve from the stool, for example starting at our Toledo, this is a ‘standard’ quality stool that will lend itself to compliment most pianos, for those looking for a coloured top or different finish however, we would recommend the Madrid as these can be customised with a variety of tops and finishes. For those looking for something more traditional and with an added sense of grandeur, maybe the style of the Vienna stool is a better choice.
The final thing to consider when it comes to piano stools is functionality and features, for example, whilst many are happy with a standard piano stool that is manually adjusted, for those looking for a sleek and stylish piano stool that uses hydraulics instead of a manual adjustment and features a titled seat for those who struggle with back problems or slouching shoulders, the Barcelona would be the best choice for you!
Overall, choosing the right piano stool for you is an incredibly personal choice, read our guide that further explains the world of piano stools vs benches and the things to consider here. We would highly recommend trying the stools in person and seeing them for yourself first to help see which features you do and do not need the stool to do. To learn more about quality piano stools, visit our website, or if you are looking to try the stools for yourself, contact our experts in our piano showroom today.