Vertical or Grand?

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

Vertical Advantages

  • Takes up less space, can fit into corners
  • Lower cost
  • Easier to move

Vertical 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.

Vertical 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 verticals 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 a vertical. 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


Introduction to Buying
an Acoustic Piano

by Larry Fine, Editor

Acoustic & Digital
Piano Buyer