Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Types of Piano

The first thing you need to do before you learn to play the piano is to buy one. Choose wisely when buying one since they are very expensive. You need to choose one depending on what the piano is going to be used for. There are only 2 main types of modern piano available for you to buy: the grand piano and the upright piano. I will go into a little detail of their differences.

Grand Piano
 - has horizontal frames and strings, which means the strings are extending away from the keyboard.
- the size varies according to the use of the piano ie concert grand are between 2.2 m and 3 m/9.84 feet long while the parlor grand or boudoir grand are about 1.7 m to 2.2 m and the smaller baby grand is around 1.5 m
- longer pianos with longer strings have a larger, richer sound and lower inharmonicity of the strings. Inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of overtones sound sharp
- pianos with shorter and thicker strings, i.e. small pianos with short string scales have more inharmonicity
- this means that the greater the inharmonicity, the more the ear perceives it as harshness of tone
-  inharmonicity needs to be tuned to a lower octave corresponding to a sharp overtone rather than the theoretically correct octave. If octaves are not stretched, double and triple octaves are unacceptably narrow
- pictured below is one type of grand piano

Upright Piano
- similar to the grand piano except it has a vertical frame and strings
- the hammers move horizontally before returning to their resting position via springs
- The height of upright pianos starts at around 108cm and increases gradually up to a professional level of 131cm. The 131cm upright piano is more expensive and should display better sound than the 108cm upright which is cheaper.
- pictured below is one type of upright piano

With these basic details of the grand piano and the upright piano, you can now choose which piano is suitable for you. A good starter model is a 110cm upright piano. If children are the only ones who will be playing the piano, then a piano in the 108-115cm height range should be suitable. A 121cm or higher piano is good for children, adult beginners, and students looking to study further or enter piano competitions. But whatever type and size of piano you are looking to buy, please make your selection carefully and check with each individual store regarding their exchange policies if you are unsure.

There are also digital pianos available if you cannot afford a grand or upright piano. Digital pianos are similar to the traditional pianos in that they also have pedals. While digital pianos may not be the same as a grand piano and upright piano in the way they feel and sound, they do still have some advantages over them. Compared to the grand and upright pianos, the digital pianos are generally less expensive, smaller and considerably lighter. They have no strings so do not require tuning. They may also include many more instrument sounds such as strings, guitars, organs, and more. They are much more likely to incorporate a MIDI implementation, have a headphone output and a transposition feature. They do not require the use of microphones, which then eliminates the problem of audio feedback in sound reinforcement, as well as simplifies the recording process. A digital piano is a good piano for someone who is just beginning to learn to play the piano. (Below is a picture of a Yamaha digital piano.)

In the next post, I will talk about what to look for when buying a piano.


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