Many pianists ask the question when looking to upgrade their instrument whether to opt for a grand piano or an upright piano. Both are incredibly appealing options and each brings their own pros and cons when it comes to playing piano depending on the space the piano is going in, playing ability and what you want to ‘achieve’ from the instrument. Today we aim to explain these options and offer some initial advice when it comes to finding the right piano for you.
We will be covering not only the tonal and musical properties of the two styles of piano, but also the aesthetic and ergonomics of the instruments and how they may affect your home and general enjoyment of the instrument.
Where Is The Piano Going?
The ABSOLUTE first thing to consider when debating between a grand and an upright piano is where the instrument is going. As the action is vertical in an upright piano, they are far more space efficient than grand pianos.
Before visiting a piano showroom or looking into models of grand pianos, it is always a good idea to measure the size of the room the instrument is going in and whether or not the room will still be usable afterwards.
For example, we have had a number of clients in the past who come to us wanting a grand piano; however after measuring their room, they soon realise that a grand may actually take up too much space in the room to make it usable.
Not only is this a crucial part of our showroom team’s qualification process when it comes to grand piano sales, but our experts sometimes even visit the home to determine whether or not the piano will fit correctly. For those further afield or looking for quick advice on finding the right size instrument, we also have a guide to piano sizing here.
That being said, for those who do have the space, there is no denial that grand pianos do have a unique sense of prestige and are a real feature piece of furniture to any room that they are found in, so if this is the goal you are looking for, a grand piano may be a suitable option.
We have written about this in further detail in our guide to the difference in grand and upright piano actions, but generally speaking grand pianos do have a higher level of sensitivity and touch response than that of an upright piano. This is generally only necessary for those who play to an extremely high or even professional level, however if you find that even the most sophisticated of upright piano actions are holding you back (we would recommend trying the C.Bechstein Concert 8 if you do think this is the case) then you may require a grand piano action.
That being said, due to the development in piano action sophistication, we can say that a grand piano action that is over 100 years old will not be as sensitive or sophisticated than that of a higher end upright piano that utilises modern escapement and responsiveness. For example an older unbranded second hand grand piano will likely have a less sophisticated action than the likes of a W.Hoffmann upright piano.
Similarly to action and touch, due to their larger soundboards and longer strings, many consider the grand piano sound to be more expressive and powerful than acoustic pianos, whilst this may be true when comparing modern pianos, again thanks to the modern innovation of material selection and treatment, is it not uncommon for high quality upright pianos to be able to draw out the same level of expression and in some cases can even be louder than that of grand pianos.
The C.Bechstein Academy A4 is a testament to this and offers an incredibly compact piano that is not only highly expressive but also immensely powerful. When it comes to tone and sound, we would also ask the question around the size of the room as it is easy to fit a grand piano into a room that is too small to truly allow the sound to develop, creating a far more muddy sound which would sound infinitely better with a quality upright piano.
Often the most categorical factor when it comes to buying an instrument is budget, whilst they do look spectacular, grand pianos are typically significantly more expensive than that of upright pianos due to them requiring more materials to produce. New grand pianos typically start at around £10,000 where new upright pianos typically start at around £2500 - £3000. Unless the requirement is purely aesthetic and it is a lifetime dream to own a grand piano, or the playing standard is to a truly exceptional level, for the most part we do believe that for the average player, a higher quality upright piano is often a more popular choice than a lesser sophisticated grand piano.
Overall, it is unfair to say which is best between an upright and grand piano as there are far too many variables and every requirement is different. In terms of sheer tonality and touch response, modern grand pianos are superior, however in terms of convenience and economy, we would argue that for the most part upright pianos are more suited for home use, however again this is entirely down to individual preference and the beauty of having a grand piano is certainly a large pull factor for many!
This is why we would highly recommend coming to visit our piano showroom where we are able to offer this advice on a personalised basis, guide you through the ranges and options available to you to help find the perfect instrument for you. For further information and advice, we would also recommend contacting our piano experts to learn more about your requirements