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#1806965 - 12/16/11 12:19 AM Best Size Grand
Lindsey Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/14/11
Posts: 9
I've read a few posts on this forum that mentioned grands come to their own at 6'. Can someone please explain to me why? I know size matters, but why must they be at 6' and not say 5'8", 5'10" or even 6'2" or 6'4"? What makes 6' the magic number? Thanks.

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#1806967 - 12/16/11 12:27 AM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2657
Loc: western Wisconsin
6' isn't the magic number...
you'll notice that once you try a 7-footer.
Then 7' isn't the magic number, once you discover the 9-footers...

The little pianos can have very nice treble ranges, but very few have good bass-tenor transitions and fewer have bass registers with good pitch clarity, presence, or depth.

I'm not saying it's impossible, but the smaller you go, the lower the chances are of finding a piano that is satisfying across the entire compass of the instrument. The only way you'll be able to tell is to try individual instruments and see for yourself. There are no absolutes, and some degree of variability from piano to piano (even the same model).
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#1806976 - 12/16/11 12:54 AM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Considering soundboard size and base string speaking length alone, a large upright (52") can match up to about a 6' grand. That may be why some consider 6' as the "magic size", where a grand can go beyond the size of an upright.
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1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
1920 Mason & Risch Upright (actually my mother's)
1971 Hammond R-100
Roland KR577
Roland VK-8M Tonewheel organ module
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Roland E20, JV30 (retired)
An old concertina which I can't play

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#1806989 - 12/16/11 01:39 AM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14136
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
I've read a posts on this forum that mentioned grands come to their own at 6'.


There are many notions about piano sizes that are not - or are no longer - necessarily true in each case.

A while back we traded back a 7' grand to a 6' one - the piano was simply too loud for the owner.

The other day we sold a 5'6 grand to someone who told us right from beginning not to show him anything under 6'

Few months ago I played a new C1 Yamaha in a West Coast piano store which both manager and self preferred to its larger [and much more expensive..] cousins.

My advice is to keep an open mind and keep trying various models by different makers.

Then come back and tell us what you found.

Norbert smile
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#1807006 - 12/16/11 03:12 AM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Rotom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 1670
There are a couple of sizes I like in Particular: between 5'10" and 6'1" and another around 7'4". It does depend largely however in how well the piano is prepped. A unprepped big piano can sound much worse than a small one prepped very well, as Norbert said. It all depends on the individual... smile

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#1807558 - 12/17/11 09:31 AM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2494
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Isn't there something to suiting the piano to the room where it will be played?

In addition to the obvious requirement that the piano has to fit--wouldn't a concert grand overwhelm a small home in both size and sound?
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#1807563 - 12/17/11 09:46 AM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: malkin]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Originally Posted By: malkin
Isn't there something to suiting the piano to the room where it will be played?

In addition to the obvious requirement that the piano has to fit--wouldn't a concert grand overwhelm a small home in both size and sound?


Yes, but even a mid sized grand can completely overwhelm even a large room.

I had a friend who replaced carpet in their large living room with hardwood. Until then, the piano was very pleasant. Afterward, it was horrible.
_________________________
1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
1920 Mason & Risch Upright (actually my mother's)
1971 Hammond R-100
Roland KR577
Roland VK-8M Tonewheel organ module
GigaStudio GS3 Ensemble (Bosendorfer & Estonia piano samples)
Roland E20, JV30 (retired)
An old concertina which I can't play

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#1807582 - 12/17/11 10:25 AM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19263
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Lindsey
I've read a few posts on this forum that mentioned grands come to their own at 6'.
This is a completely subjective opinion. The phrase "come to their own" is also completely subjective. Even if someone actually felt there was a way to be objective about this, why not 6'1" or 5'11" instead?

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#1811258 - 12/23/11 03:00 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Gary Allen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/15/09
Posts: 141
Loc: Tennessee
I have found two ideal grand piano sizes and they happen to be the exact length of what I have in my home and my second home. They are two different lengths and each one makes me appreciate what it offers and yet also makes me appreciate what the other offers. The touch and and tone are very different on the two. They happen to be the ideal length because they matched my respective: 1) area/space capacities; 2) budget; 3) condition/age requirements; 4)Satisfied my ears and eyes. What makes them most ideal of all is that they are mine and I can play them when I want to (when I am home). And even though they are both very nice pianos, yea...I often think about changing them when I see what would represent an upgrade on Ebay or Craigs List, Piano Mart or dealer--I tend to think this happens in the lives of many others also (appreciating what you have yet always looking upward)! You may wonder what my lengths are?.....Doesn't matter what I have because they may not be ideal for you and your circumstances. I generally fall into the "bigger is better camp" all being equal. Some of my friends dated countless people before finding "the one!" while some only dated a few. I think pianos can be like that too! When you seek what is best for you, you will find the ideal length/piano!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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#1811270 - 12/23/11 03:16 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Gary Allen]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2494
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Thanks Gary.
That's kind of what I was thinking.
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A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1811504 - 12/23/11 10:29 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1940
Loc: Philadelphia area
There is much more to it than just size. For example; my two favorite Steinway models are #1 - "D" and #2 - "S". The rest of the models are nice but I wouldn't pay for them. (Although I've come across some of the new model "O"'s that are very impressive.)

Don't waste your time approaching a piano with preconceived judgments. It's all about what works for 'you'.

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#1811512 - 12/23/11 10:44 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2401
Loc: Olympia, WA
One interesting thing to note is that the Piano Technicians Guild almost always uses at least a 6' grand in the official tuning exams. For the past few years at the annual conference they have been 6'1" Shigeru Kawai pianos.

The advantage for tuners taking the exam is a more even scaling across the bass tenor break. Shorter pianos usually mean that the transition from plain wire to wrapped wire happens higher up in the scale, closer to the middle of the piano and the temperament octave, which can cause tuning challenges.

So it could be argued that somewhere around 6' is when scaling issues become less of a problem for the tuner. What this means for the owner is smother more consistent tone when moving from the tenor into the bass.


Edited by rysowers (12/23/11 10:45 PM)
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#1811542 - 12/23/11 11:46 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Glenn NK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 457
Loc: Victoria BC
Myself and two other pianists I know would choose something close to the seven foot range (assuming we had the space and budget to allow it). Seven foot eliminates quite a bit of the inharmonicity of the shorter pianos without having to contend with the sometimes overpowering bass of the concert size. Now if one is concert pianist, then I can see the logic in having a concert size piano.

Glenn

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#1811861 - 12/24/11 02:20 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
I'm thinking 7' foot would be nice for a home. I'll have to make do with my 6'3" though.
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#1811908 - 12/24/11 03:52 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
gwood Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/01
Posts: 92
Loc: plano,tx
i have been visiting a lot of the local piano stores over the last month and i have to say a 7 footer does it for me. they just a have a certain solidness of sound to me. unless i win the lottery i will have to stay with my (very nice) 5'8" petrof.

gw

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#1812006 - 12/24/11 08:13 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Radio.Octave Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 440
I recently went from a 5'10" to a 7'. It's a lot of piano and it really deserves more space (hopefully someday), but it's better tonally, and the bass just blows the smaller piano away.
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#1812025 - 12/24/11 08:47 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
"I've read a few posts on this forum that mentioned grands come to their own at 6'. Can someone please explain to me why? I know size matters, but... What makes 6' the magic number?"

What made 6'6" the magic number for me is that I went down the row and played all the pianos, and when I got there, it was just right. Just like Goldilocks and the three bears. Well, just right for the showroom; I had to do some serious acoustic treatment of my very live music room before I could hear the piano and not the pergo and sheetrock.

The 7'6 Shigeru was more magic still, but I didn't dare spend that much more money (and besides, I didn't like the ice-cream cone legs, though I later learned they can switch them out for spade legs).

In the end, the other magic about 6'6 is that it fit in my music room (after I got rid of the big couch). You do, after all, need some room to turn and position it so that it sounds right. There was a thread a few years back, in which more people than I would have expected swore that a 9' concert grand worked well in a residence. Some remarked that the sound volume is more controllable at that size than that of some smaller instruments.

I suspect the answer lies somewhere between the outliers. It is certainly possible to have too small a piano for the room; this is the case with many churches, and the usual result is broken strings and a pounded-to-death piano. I had to quit going to our local concert series because their 9' D--- the pride and joy of the society--- was too loud for the rather small hall, and it hurt my ears. By that I mean, damaged my hearing (or exacerbated an ongoing problem with too-loud sounds making the tinnitus worse).

I liked some of the answers already posted. The touch, the sound, and the size of both the room and the purse will be factors to balance in choosing something that is right for you. Some of Kawai's RX-2 models--- a relative small piano--- have sounded and played very nicely, to my ear, and that size would be just right for a lot of people.
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#1812730 - 12/26/11 04:39 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19708
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Lindsey
I've read a few posts on this forum that mentioned grands come to their own at 6'. Can someone please explain to me why?....

As you've seen from the replies, whoever said that was just giving their opinion. It's more of a continuum, and if I had to give a number where they 'come into their own' I'd say more like 5'5".

But it varies by brand and model. I have a 5'1 Kawai which to me is very much an extremely satisfactory grand. But I wouldn't feel this way about most grands that size.
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#1813445 - 12/27/11 10:46 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1258
Loc: Tomball, Texas
It sort of depends on your intended purpose for the instrument. The family 5'6" Baldwin served me from John Thompson book 1 thru the Tchaikowsky concerto in college. My preference is now concert-grands. Any size can be voiced for your particular environment and needs.

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#1814096 - 12/28/11 09:38 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Sparky McBiff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 1112
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
My theory is that the piano really comes alive at a size "just above" the size that you are able to afford.
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#1814443 - 12/29/11 01:09 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Sparky McBiff]
Thrill Science Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 513
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Sparky McBiff
My theory is that the piano really comes alive at a size "just above" the size that you are able to afford.


In my Northern CA house, I've had first hand-experience with pianos at the following sizes:

5'7" (Steinway "M" used, purchased in 1991 when we moved into the house.)
6'5" (Yamaha C5. Yes, I upgraded an old Steinway to a Yamaha in 1996)
6'11" (Yamaha C6 1999 On loan from dealer because we ordered a DC7 in a custom case that took nearly a year to get!)
7'6" (Yamaha DC7 bought new in 2000)
7'4" (Bösendorfer 225 bought new in 2011)

I really didn't notice the pianos getting louder as they got longer--just much clearer! (Though maybe my hearing has declined as I got older). The room has been furnished to make it less "live": drapes, a large wall hanging, upholstered furniture, etc, but we had that from the time we moved in.

I've seen small houses with 8'11" Steinway Ds in them and they sound beautiful. I don't think there's a sweet spot in size; I think this is a case where bigger really is better, assuming you're comparing pianos of comparable quality.

So the longer-is-better rule is probably true, except: My last piano upgrade resulted in a piano shorter than the previous one; (though the soundboard has more area). And there's no doubt that this 225 outperforms the C7 (though there are many pop pianists who like the C7's distinctive bright percussive sound, and you'll find it in many commercial recording studios).

So, I'd modify the "longer is better" to make sure you're comparing pianos of a similar quality level and design philosophy. The sustain of the 225, and the clarity of the fundamental tone far exceeds the Yamaha C7, as does the performance of the action. (I couldn't half-pedal on the C7. The dampers were either "on" or "off". On the Bösendorfer it's very easy to control the dampers with many graduations between on and off. And also, the key weight on the Yamaha was noticeably less with the damper pedal depressed. I don't know how Bösendorfer/Renner does it, but I can't feel any difference in key weight with dampers up or down, etc.)



Edited by Thrill Science (12/29/11 01:15 PM)
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#1814841 - 12/29/11 10:21 PM Re: Best Size Grand [Re: Lindsey]
Sparky McBiff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 1112
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Wow, that's a nice progression Thrill Science.
I think they really start to come alive after 7' and hopefully I'll be able to buy larger next time.
I'm fairly new to grands to be honest and when I was shopping I purposely avoided playing the larger grands that were out of my price range because I knew it would probably make my affordable choices seem unacceptable.
Kind of dumb I know, but understandable to me because in the place where I ended up purchasing my Hailun the only other grands there were Steingraebers.
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