Upright vs. Grand Pianos
Both the upright and grand pianos come in various finishes,
decors and sizes. Whether you choose the different finish, elaborate decor
or different sizes to match
your furnishings and the amount of space you have at home, a piano will look beautiful
in your home.
What are the differences between the upright and the grand?
Other than size, shape and cost differences, the most fundamental
differences between the upright and grand pianos are in
Below you will find side-by-side comparisons between upright and grand pianos.
||In grand pianos, the strings lie
horizontally and the hammers hit the strings from
below. This means the movement of the keys, actions,
and hammers are all in-line with gravity. This helps
to produce more rapid repetition and control.
Also in general, grand
piano action has
more advanced features such as a repetition lever to
aid in the speed and reliability of repetition of
|In upright pianos, the strings
are held vertically and the hammers hit the strings
from the side. Thus, gravity does not work in its
favor. Therefore, in general, upright pianos produce
slower repetition compared to grand pianos.
||Grand pianos have longer
keys. These provide greater leverage, allowing for
better touch and more precise control of musical
When we see the keys of a piano, we see only the
visible part. However, they are much longer than what we
see, extending further inside the piano. Even though the
visible portion of the keys is not
much different in length, the total length of the
key belonging to a grand piano is significantly
longer than the one of upright piano. Because the
key uses a seesaw-like leverage system, longer the key
is, easier it is to produce the same output. As we know, on a see-saw if you
sit further away from the pivot, it is
easier to lift the other side. This same principle
applies to piano keys. This concept is easy to
understand by an example, diagramed below.
As you can see, if the length of the key is
shorter (B), it requires more input force from
your end. More importantly, when you compare forces
required for two hitting points on one key, we can
see there is less of a difference on the longer key
(A). This is because the distance between the two
hitting points relative to the total length of the
entire key is smaller when the key is longer. This
is one major reason why a grand piano gives a more
|Keys are shorter than on grand pianos. Touch is not as
good as grand piano, making subtle
control of musical expression more difficult.
There are typically three pedals in a piano. They
are called, from the left to the right, Una corda,
Sostenuto, and Damper.
- Una corda: The left pedal is known as the
soft pedal. In a grand piano, applying una corda normally shift the whole
keyboard slightly to the right, so that the hammers
can strike only one or two of the two or three
strings assigned to each note. The effect is
softer tone since fewer strings are struck.
- Sostenuto: This is the middle pedal and
least used in piano music. Sostenuto sustains only those notes which are
being held down when the pedal is depressed,
allowing future notes played to be unaffected.
- Damper: Also called the sustaining pedal, it
is the right pedal on the modern piano. When
applied, this pedal raises all the dampers off
the strings allowing them to continue to vibrate
and sound even after a note on the keyboard has
In grand piano, all three pedals work the way
they are supposed to work. Applying pedals, a
pianist can have a control of subtle musical
expression by changing sound and tonal color of the
Most upright piano has three pedals too but in
most cases, the left and the middle pedals do not
work as they do in grand pianos.
On upright piano, the left pedal is not
truly an una corda, because it does not shift the action
sideways. In upright, when the pedal is activated, the
hammers move closer to the strings, so that there is less
distance for the hammer to swing. Therefore, Instead of
hitting fewer strings, hammer strike all three or two
strings assigned to each note with less force. The effect is
more quiet sound rather than a softer tone.
Sostenuto: Even if a piano has a middle pedal, true
sostenuto function is rare to find on an upright piano.
Damper: Damper works the same way both in upright and
||In the grand piano, the soundboard is placed horizontally
facing up, and thus you get a feel that the sound rises up
and surrounds you, filling the whole room.
Additionally, because grand pianos are generally larger
(longer strings and bigger soundboard) than
uprights, the sound volume is bigger.
|The soundboard is placed vertically. Because in
the upright piano, sound comes out at the back and
the back of upright piano is almost always placed
against the wall, sound go into the wall and bounce
off to you, so you get the feel that the sound comes
straight to you making subtle control of musical
expression more difficult.
Some high quality tall upright pianos may have
a bigger sound volume and better quality sound than
extremely small lower priced baby grand pianos.
||A grand piano takes
up more space. However, even though grand piano takes up more space than upright piano,
because it can be placed in any where in a room including corners,
it is more versatile (especially smaller grands) in terms of space
usage. Many people are happy to see how well a grand piano fits in their place.
||Takes less space.
Generally placed against wall.
||Requires 3 or more
piano movers to move.
||Easier to move.