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Piano Buyer's Guide - part 3

Upright or Grand ?


Probably the most basic decision to make when buying a piano - and one you may have made already - is whether to buy an upright or a grand. The following describes some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Upright / Avantages

- Takes up less space, can fit into corners

- Lower cost

- Easier to move


Upright / Disadvantages

- Sound tends to bounce back into player's face, making subtle control of musical expression more difficult.

- Action is not as advanced as grand; repetition of notes is slower and less reliable in most cases, and damping is sometimes less efficient.

- Keys are shorter than on grands, making subtle control of musical expression more difficult.

- Cabinetwork is usually less elegant and less impressive.


Upright pianos are suitable for those with simpler musical needs, or where budget and space constraints preclude buying a grand. Despite the disadvantages noted above, some of the larger, more expensive uprights do musically rival smaller, less expensive grands. They may be a good choice where space is at a premium but a more subtle control of musical expression is desired.


Grand / Advantages

- Sound develops in a more aesthetically pleasing manner by bouncing off nearby surfaces and blending before reaching player's ears, making it easier to control musical expression.

- More sophisticated action than in an upright. Grand action has a repetition lever to aid in the speed and reliability of repetition of notes, and is gravity-assisted, rather than dependent on artificial contrivances (springs, straps) to return hammers to rest.

- Longer keys provide better leverage, allowing for significantly greater control of musical expression.

- Casework is usually more elegant and aesthetically pleasing.


Grand / Disadvantages

- Takes up more space

- Higher cost

- Harder to move