Why Are Grand Pianos So Big?

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Written By Musical Scoop

Chief Music Officer

Standard size pianos have 88 keys, making the width for most pianos the same. However, the difference between pianos lies in the length of each piano. Grand pianos are big due to their length and not their width.

The difference is due to certain elements in the grand pianos. Below you will find more information on why grand pianos are big.

How Big are Grand Pianos?

The largest grand piano you will find is the Concert Grand, with a height of 9 feet. Next is the Semi-concert Grand, which can be between 6 feet 11 inches and 7 feet 8 inches in height.

The Parlor Grand is between 6 feet 3 inches and 6 feet 10 inches. These pianos are also sometimes known as the living room piano. There are other smaller pianos like the Medium Grand, Baby Grand, and the Petite Grand.

The Petite Grand is the shortest in horizontal pianos, while the largest is the Concert Grand.

There are four types of vertical pianos: the Upright, the Spinet, the Console, and the Studio.

Among these, the tallest vertical piano is the Upright which ranges between 50 and 60 inches. The width of this piano is approximately 58 inches. They are also known as Grandma’s piano since they have been around since mid-19th century.

When it comes to large grand pianos, the tallest option will be the Concert Grand. Most of the grand pianos have the same width to fit in the 88 keys.

What is the Size Difference between Grand Pianos and Baby Grand Pianos?

In the grand piano family, there are multiple sizes and classifications. Generally, the terms grand and baby grand are used to determine the difference in sizes in horizontal pianos. As mentioned above, there are seven different types of grand pianos, among which you will also find the baby grand.

The sizes mentioned are standard, but depending on the manufacturer, the actual sizes would vary. Below are some standard size specifications of the different grand pianos.

Different Grand Pianos Types and Their Size

  • Concert Grand – They are the largest grand pianos and measure between 8’11” and 9”. However, they can also be larger than this, depending on the manufacturer. These pianos are used by professional pianists, orchestras, and in serious music venues.
  • Semi-Concert Grand – These are also called the Ballroom Grand, which measures between 6’11” and 7’8”. You will find these pianos in concert venues and music halls being used by professional musicians.
  • Parlor Grand – You will find parlor grand pianos mostly used as a centerpiece in a house. These pianos measure between 6’3” and 6’10”. Parlor grand pianos are also called Boudoir Grand Pianos or Living Room Grand Pianos.
  • Professional Grand – The length of professional grand pianos ranges between 5’9” and 6’2”.
  • Medium Grand – Medium grand pianos are about 5’6” to 5’8’ tall and are also called Classic Grand.
  • Baby Grand – The baby grand piano is one of the most common pianos you will find in most homes. They are between 5” and 5’5” in length and are affordable compared to larger piano models.

All of these pianos mentioned above are horizontal pianos.

What is the Reason Grand Pianos are So Big?

The reason why grand pianos are so big is due to their difference in sound quality. Large grand pianos are used for professional performances, so their sound quality needs to be sharper. When the piano is large, the volume range is higher, and the tones are more balanced.

Along with that, larger grand pianos have better harmony between their octaves. Professional musicians look for grand pianos which can produce enhanced tonal quality. That is why most professional grand pianos are large in size.

Can You Get the Same Sound with a Smaller Piano?

Due to the difference in size, there will also be a difference in the sound output and quality. Most grand pianos have the same sound quality as baby grand pianos. However, there will also be a difference in the sound depending on the manufacturer.

Some smaller pianos may have sharper overtones and less volume. On the other hand, larger grand pianos will have balanced overtones and a richer and fuller sound.

Since larger grand pianos are suitable for large spaces, so they produce more powerful and greater volume. However, smaller grand pianos are meant for more compact spaces, and their sound is also quite low.

The inharmonicity produced by the grand pianos helps in differentiating between the tonal qualities of different piano sizes. Inharmonicity is also known as a deviation of the harmonic’s frequencies from the fundamental’s exact multiples.

If the inharmonicity of the piano is high, there will be flatter or sharper overtones. That determines the harshness of the tone, which can cause the octaves to sound quite sharp.

Larger grand pianos have low inharmonicity, which improves their sound quality. The inharmonicity depends on the piano strings’ stiffness and size. Pianos with thicker and shorter strings will have higher inharmonicity, while flexible and long ones will have lower inharmonicity.

Due to this inharmonicity, you might find that smaller pianos do not always produce the same sound as larger grand pianos. Some manufacturers try to maintain the similarity to enjoy the same sound quality even at an affordable price. Even then, there would be a difference between the tonality and sound quality.

Summary

Grand pianos come in different sizes and types, which creates an immense difference in the sound and tonal quality. Depending on the space and requirement, you will find different options for grand pianos.

You can look for concert grand, semi-concert grand, parlor grand, professional grand, and medium grand pianos for professional purposes. However, for domestic use, it is better to look for baby grand and petit grand pianos.

Grand pianos are large to enhance the tonal quality and volume. Whether you opt for a baby grand piano or a grand piano, you will not have any musicality, sound, and quality issues. Each of the pianos will produce rich and fuller tone quality which will enhance your experience.