Baby Grand vs. Upright Piano: Which is Right for You?

Spread the love

The baby grand and the upright piano are two of the most popular types of pianos, both having distinct characteristics that can make them better suited for different kinds of players.

Whether you’re a professional or a beginner, it pays to know the differences between these two instruments to choose which is best for your needs.

In this blog post, we will discuss some key distinctions between a baby grand and an upright piano. We’ll cover their physical features, sound quality, cost considerations, and more so that you can make an informed decision about which type is right for you.

So let’s dive in!

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. Certain photos are courtesy of Canva.

What is a grand piano?

A grand piano is a type of piano in which the sound-making components (i.e., the grand piano action) lie horizontally to the ground rather than vertically.

Grand pianos come in several sizes, but this type of piano is generally seen in concert halls worldwide.

What is an upright piano?

An upright piano is a type of piano in which the sound-making components are positioned vertically to the ground.

Upright pianos are shorter and more compact than grand pianos, making them an ideal choice for smaller spaces.

Baby Grand Pianos

There are several reasons why professional pianists prefer a baby grand to an upright. One of the biggest involves sound.

Sound Quality

The size of the soundboard is larger in a baby grand piano than in an upright, which translates to a bigger and fuller sound.

The length of the strings is also longer in a baby grand, making for richer tones and more resonance.

This translates into greater flexibility for producing emotionally nuanced music by the pianist.

Physical Features

Although there is variability between grand piano brands, grand pianos come in 3 distinct sizes.

  • Baby grand: Less than 6′ in length
  • Grand: Between 6′ and 7′ in length
  • Concert grand: Larger than 7′ in length

Generally speaking, the longer the piano, the higher the quality of sound it produces with a broader dynamic range. It follows that the longer grand pianos have better sound than the shorter ones.

And one advantage of baby grand pianos is that they provide exceptional sound quality with less space requirement than concert grands.

Cost

Baby grand piano pricing depends on the following:

  • Brand
  • Size
  • Age
  • The overall quality and how well it has been maintained through the years

You can expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000 for a high-quality, well-maintained baby grand piano.

Any acoustic piano will require routine tuning and maintenance.

Depending on the individual piano, they may also need periodic repairs and adjustments. Pianos should generally be tuned every 6-12 months.

And if the piano doesn’t come with a humidification system, consider installing one. These systems help minimize temperature and humidity fluctuations that can damage the piano over time.

When purchasing a small grand piano, it’s also essential to consider hiring a professional piano mover to deliver the instrument.

Baby grand pianos are bulky and awkward to move, so protect your investment by hiring a professional.

Additional Considerations

A baby grand piano is a financial investment for most people.

However, if you or your child is passionate about playing the piano, investing in a quality instrument is one of the best ways to help deepen the passion and improve skills.

Consider a baby grand piano if:

  • You/your child loves playing classical music
  • You/your child plan to pursue a music degree
  • You/your child plan to continue playing for at least the next three years
  • You have space in your home
  • You’re willing to continue investing in routine care and maintenance by a professional piano technician

A baby grand piano generally offers more in the way of musical expression than offered by an upright. And the sound can be purer and more harmonically diverse than an upright.

Grand pianos also tend to have a more responsive action than an upright.

But every piano is an individual. There can be considerable differences in touch and sound, even between pianos of the same size and brand.

This is one of the biggest reasons you (or your child) must try out different pianos before making a final decision.

And the further you are in your piano studies, the more critical it is that the piano match the touch and sound you envision in your mind.

Upright Pianos

Although baby grand pianos have much to offer pianists, upright pianos can also be a fantastic option.

Sound Quality

Due to the slightly different construction and shorter strings, the sound quality of most uprights isn’t entirely on par with baby grands.

But there can be vast differences in the sound quality of an upright depending upon the brand and physical features.

Physical Features

Similar to grand pianos, there are differences in piano height among upright pianos. The shortest vertical pianos are known as a “spinet piano.”

This piano model tends to be mass-produced and generally not of high-quality materials.

A large upright model has longer strings and, therefore, better sound.

Due to the nature of the playing mechanics, upright pianos tend not to hold up as well over time compared to grand pianos.

But if you need to fit a piano into a small room, sometimes an upright is the most logical option.

Cost

Upright pianos tend to be more readily affordable than a smaller grand piano. You can even find upright pianos listed for free on Craigslist.

Remember that due to differences in the quality of the materials and general wear and tear on upright instruments, they tend not to hold up as well over time.

Free pianos are generally of low quality and require a fair amount of maintenance to get them to good playing condition.

And in some instances, it may be better to consider a digital piano rather than an acoustic one if you are limited by budget.

Acoustic upright pianos also require regular tuning and maintenance, so remember to factor those costs into ownership.

All things considered, you can find upright pianos ranging from free at the low end to more than $10,000 at the high end of the price range.

Many acoustic pianos between 0 and $10,000 may be the perfect fit for your needs.

Additional Considerations

Although the upfront cost of an upright tends to be less than a baby grand, there are other reasons to consider this piano model as one that’s perfect for you.

Consider an upright piano if:

  • You/your child are still determining whether you’re ready to commit to playing the instrument.
  • You don’t have the space for a larger model.
  • You/your child isn’t serious about classical music but instead wants to play jazz, pop, or other genres not requiring exceptional instrument sound.
  • You’re looking for an acoustic sound at a budget price.

Regardless of whether you’re considering a baby grand or an upright, it’s always best to consult a qualified piano technician with questions on a piano’s age or value.

This is especially true if you’re considering buying a piano from someone else. It goes without saying that people tend to over-value their possessions, and this is especially true when it comes to pianos.

Consulting a piano technician upfront can save you time and money down the road.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you buy a piano from Craigslist?

Buying anything online carries a certain degree of risk. That said, I purchased an upright from Craigslist in the past, and it worked perfectly for me.

Before buying an instrument, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I able to try the piano before buying it?
  • Do I trust the seller?
  • Do I feel comfortable assessing the piano’s quality and value by myself, or do I need to take someone knowledgeable with me?
  • Am I comfortable paying the advertised price without any guarantees of quality or function?
  • Do I have a plan for transporting the instrument home?

It may be worth considering the purchase if you can answer “yes” to the above questions.

But always do your homework, and you should never feel pressured into buying with which you’re not 100% comfortable.

Is it better to buy a new or used piano?

New pianos have the advantage of brand-new construction. With the proper care and attention, the piano will likely hold up well over time.

But used pianos have already been broken in, and you have more certainty about that piano’s final sound.

It can take several tunings before a piano settles, and with a used piano, you are guaranteed a fair assessment of how it will sound for years to come.

A used piano tends to be cheaper than a new piano, but this can vary between brands.

I prefer used pianos because I know exactly what I’m getting in terms of sound, but some people prefer new ones.

How do you know whether a piano is worth the asking price?

You can get a fair appraisal of a piano’s worth from a qualified piano technician.

Piano value generally depends on the instrument’s brand, age, and overall physical condition.

Should you tune a piano yourself?

Under no circumstances should you try to tune a piano yourself. Piano tuning is complicated and should only be done by knowledgeable, professional piano tuners.

Improperly tuning a piano can lead to damage to the instrument over time. Unless you are learning the art of piano tuning by practicing on a test instrument, leave the tuning to the professionals.

Are antique pianos valuable?

In some instances, being an antique adds value. Regarding pianos, “antique” means old and more prone to serious issues.

This is especially true for most baby grand and upright pianos.

When searching for your perfect piano, always take the word “antique” with a grain of salt.

And when in doubt, consult a knowledgeable piano professional about the piano’s true worth.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the piano model you’re buying, every piano is unique.

There are slight variations in touch and sound between all pianos, but trying them out for yourself guarantees you will find one you love.

Although I tend to prefer grand over upright models, I’ve played uprights that have been absolutely lovely and grands that need a one-way ticket to the local dump.

Sometimes it all comes down to the previous work that’s been done on the piano and its overall quality.

When buying a piano, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and do your research.

Buying an instrument can be a significant financial investment, so it’s essential to ensure you’re getting the best possible value for your money and have made the right decision for your situation.

Hiring a professional piano technician is almost always worth the cost, as they can honestly assess any instrument’s condition.

Good luck with your search!

And if you’re looking for more great piano-inspired content, check out the following posts:

5 thoughts on “Baby Grand vs. Upright Piano: Which is Right for You?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.