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A digital piano will lose approximately 40% to 50% of all it's value within the first 5 years, in contrast to an acoustical piano which will only lose about 15% of it's value over 10 years.

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Determining Piano Sizes and Types

A common area of confusion among many people is what type of piano they have. Many times you will hear any non-grand piano referred to as an "Upright". Yet, in reality "Upright" is a specific type of piano.

This short article will attempt to help clarify piano sizes and type terms so that anyone can easily convey accurate information when discussing their instrument.

Two Main Types

All modern acoustic pianos can be placed in one of two categories, "grand" or "vertical".

The grand piano needs little introduction. To most people the shape of a grand piano is what comes to mind when they hear the word "piano". Grand pianos have a horizontal cabinet (which for a grand piano is referred to as the "case") usually placed on three legs. See The Grand Piano for detailed information specific for grand pianos.

The other category of piano is the vertical piano. The vertical piano's cabinet is, well, vertical. Sometimes legs will be placed under the keybed depending on size and style.

It should be noted here that no matter what cunning terms the manufacturer or salesmen may use, there is no relation between a grand piano and a vertical piano. "Vertical Grand" or "Upright Grand" are simply terms to make the vertical piano sound as desirable as the standard grand piano. Vertical pianos are perfectly fine instruments in their own right, but they will not have the same performance qualities of a grand piano. See The Vertical Piano for detailed information specific for vertical pianos.

Each of these two categories of pianos contains a number types of sizes.

How Does Your Piano Measure Up

One of the methods to classifying your instrument's type within it's proper category (i.e. Grand or Vertical) is to measure it.


Unlike vertical pianos, all grand pianos contain basically the same style of action no matter it's size, though some features and quality will vary. To find the size of a grand piano, simply measure it's length.

A grand is measured in feet and inches (in the U.S.) from the front edge of the keybed, including any trim work, to the back edge of the lid.

Now you can compare your measurement to this chart to find the accurate term for your instrument. It should be noted that there is no exact standards for labeling a piano type. So some variation can be expected from these charts and others.

Short List
Length Type Name
7' 6" or greater Concert Grand
5' 6" to 7' 6" Grand
5' 6" or less Small Grand (a.k.a "Baby" grand)
Detailed List
Length Type Name
8' 11" or larger Concert Grand
7' 4" to 8' 10" Half (Semi) Concert Grand
6' 8" to 7' 3" Parlour, Artist, Salon, or Music Room Grand
6' 4" to 6' 7" Drawing Room Grand
6' to 6' 3" Professional Grand
5' 6" to 5' 12" Living Room Grand
4' 6" to 5' 6" Baby Grand

Vertical pianos are commonly categorized by their sizes, but technically the size and style of the action also will be used to determine its type.

So then, to determine an instrument's type within the vertical piano category is a two-step process.

First, measure the piano's height. A vertical piano is measured in inches (in the U.S.) from the floor to the top of the lid (lid closed).

The second step is to find the action's style and size.

  • Spinets will have part of the action below the keyboard level, with stickers running back up to keys.
  • Consoles will usually have its action resting directly on the back of the key.
  • Studios will usually have a large (taller) action than the console and will either set directly on the back of the key or may have capstans or short stickers up to a whippen.
  • Uprights will contain the largest of the vertical actions. These will be mounted a distance above the keybed with stickers from the whippens to the key.
With this information you can find your instrument's type in the table below.
Height Action's Position Type
51" or greater Action is above keys. "Stickers" extend down from the whippen to meet the key's capstan. Upright ("Full size Upright")
44" to 51" Action is above keys. Whippens meet key's capstan (some versions the capstan may be quite tall and possibly made of wood). Studio ("Upright Studio")
38" to 44" Same as Studio. Shorter pianos with regular capstans. Lowest range of size may use a "compressed" action. Console
38" or less Bottom of action is below key level. Usually directly connected to keys by means of an inverted rod or sticker (which the key pulls upward). Spinet

Sometimes larger Uprights will be likened to the tonal value of small grands. Sometimes this is true, especially in full-size Uprights - but even then, the difference between the functioning of a grand action and vertical action result in very different playing experiences, and ability of musical expressions.

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