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#2213635 - 01/12/14 08:50 PM Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ?
angga888 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/09
Posts: 21
Hi All Piano Experts,

I have this question in mind that I haven't found the answer yet, I tried to search and cannot find anywhere, so if there is an answer to this, please forward me the link smile

Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" (132cm) ?

I know and have played most of these uprights:
- Steinway K 52" (132cm)
- Bechstein model 8
- Schimmel K 132
- Bosendorfer CL 130
- Grotrian Concertino 132cm
- Bluthner B ( I know there is exception model S which is taller than 52" )
- Steingraeber 130cm
- Sauter M 130cm
- Seiler K 132cm
- Yamaha U3, U5, U7 - 131 cm
- Kawai K8, K80, and older modes - 132 cm
- And the list go on for other brands...

For grand, the longer it is, the bigger soundboard area and longer string, can produce more solid tones and bigger bass, but why for upright, they don't make taller and taller upright, to get bigger soundboard and longer string as well ? Why it has to be kept at max 52" (132cm) ?

Does it have something to do to differentiate with the grand ? I mean, so the best upright money can buy, not to beat the grand from the same make.. ?

Please enlighten me. Thanks smile
_________________________
2006 Steinway K #5770**

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#2213642 - 01/12/14 09:02 PM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
guyl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/13
Posts: 94
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Well the height of the keyboard from the floor is pretty well fixed, and the height of the action from the end of the key to the hammer can't be too great either, and the striking point on the string cannot be too far away from the end. This pretty well limits the overall length of the scale design. To get longer strings, the scale would need to go below floor level. The world's largest "upright" had that distinction:


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#2213743 - 01/12/14 11:44 PM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5158
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: angga888
For grand, the longer it is, the bigger soundboard area and longer string, can produce more solid tones and bigger bass, but why for upright, they don't make taller and taller upright, to get bigger soundboard and longer string as well ? Why it has to be kept at max 52" (132cm) ?

Does it have something to do to differentiate with the grand ? I mean, so the best upright money can buy, not to beat the grand from the same make.. ?

No, it has to do with the market—very few people want them. And to work out the cost of designing one, tooling up to build it and then building it you have to be able to sell a reasonable number of whatever it is on a regular basis. As it is many of those uprights you listed sell in single (or very low double) digit quantities. Anything bigger is going to sell in even lower quantities.

The 132 cm size is about the tallest instrument you can have that can still use a conventional dowel-capstan action. Anything taller must have a “sticker” action which is going to appreciably increase the cost of manufacture and, hence, the price of the piano.

Like it or not, most upright pianos are purchased because their cost is lower than that of a comparable (scale-wise) grand. If most people can afford a grand they buy a grand. The exception is people who simply don’t have room for a grand of any size in which case a larger upright would be overpowering anyway. The 130 – 132 cm upright is a good, marketable compromise.

ddf
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#2213813 - 01/13/14 05:10 AM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
joe80 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1043
It's just that they become very expensive, as Del said. Bluthner's latest model, I think it's the model S, is 145.6 centimetres. It is a fine sounding upright, but it's rather imposing. It's not the kind of piece of furniture that most people in the piano market would want in their homes. It looks Victorian and a little, well, a little tasteless in my view. Also, it costs £34,000. That is a lot of money for an upright. Yes, the Steinway costs the same, but they are Steinway. What I mean by that is, regardless of the quality of the instrument, the Steinway name will sell on the used market, at least here in Britain.

Think of the other pianos you can buy for £34,000. In the Bluthner piano centre alone you can buy a rebuilt 7' Bluthner for under £30,000, a new 6' Haessler for £30,000. You can go to Chappel of Bond Street and buy a Yamaha C3X (arguably a better piano than the 145.6 cm Bluthner) for £23,000. You can buy many fine grands for that price, so it's just priced out of the market really. It has to be, because it costs so much to make them.

Actually in the late 19th and early 20th Century there was a Bluthner upright of that height, so I wonder if this is a re-engineering of that model, but with underdamper action and 88 keys?

What are the reasons for large upright pianos? Well, usually it's that someone wants the very best they can afford but doesn't have the space for a grand. That is a limited market, because most people with the kind of chequebook that can buy a piano that costs £34,000 have the space to put it in. I know it's different in London where people have to live in much smaller properties, and very few of the Mayfair/Marylebone elite have the space for a large grand so perhaps there's a market there, I don't know.

Perhaps a musician that has never really earned that much but has saved for a long time would buy this kind of piano, but even then, I think most professional musicians would sacrifice a bit more space in order to get a grand piano.

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#2213827 - 01/13/14 06:35 AM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1907
Loc: Suffolk, England
Del and Joe are right but the prices of Steingraeber 130 and 138 are not so far apart in Europe. Bols list 130T SFM @ 30,980€, 138K SFM @ 32,590€. There is a difference in the bass and, as Del says, the volume of sound you can achieve. My Schiedmayer 140 is in a small room and, if you pretend you're in the Royal Albert Hall, it will make your ears ring.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2213855 - 01/13/14 08:16 AM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: joe80]
PhilipInChina Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/19/13
Posts: 671
Loc: China
My 1907 catalogue has Bluthners at 4'3" and 4'6". That last one seems to be the tallest one listed of all the brands. Bechsteins are available at 4'1", 4'2.75", 4'3" and 4'5.5".

Originally Posted By: joe80
It's just that they become very expensive, as Del said. Bluthner's latest model, I think it's the model S, is 145.6 centimetres. It is a fine sounding upright, but it's rather imposing. It's not the kind of piece of furniture that most people in the piano market would want in their homes. It looks Victorian and a little, well, a little tasteless in my view. Also, it costs £34,000. That is a lot of money for an upright. Yes, the Steinway costs the same, but they are Steinway. What I mean by that is, regardless of the quality of the instrument, the Steinway name will sell on the used market, at least here in Britain.

Think of the other pianos you can buy for £34,000. In the Bluthner piano centre alone you can buy a rebuilt 7' Bluthner for under £30,000, a new 6' Haessler for £30,000. You can go to Chappel of Bond Street and buy a Yamaha C3X (arguably a better piano than the 145.6 cm Bluthner) for £23,000. You can buy many fine grands for that price, so it's just priced out of the market really. It has to be, because it costs so much to make them.

Actually in the late 19th and early 20th Century there was a Bluthner upright of that height, so I wonder if this is a re-engineering of that model, but with underdamper action and 88 keys?

What are the reasons for large upright pianos? Well, usually it's that someone wants the very best they can afford but doesn't have the space for a grand. That is a limited market, because most people with the kind of chequebook that can buy a piano that costs £34,000 have the space to put it in. I know it's different in London where people have to live in much smaller properties, and very few of the Mayfair/Marylebone elite have the space for a large grand so perhaps there's a market there, I don't know.

Perhaps a musician that has never really earned that much but has saved for a long time would buy this kind of piano, but even then, I think most professional musicians would sacrifice a bit more space in order to get a grand piano.
_________________________
Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"

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#2213885 - 01/13/14 09:29 AM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: PhilipInChina]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1907
Loc: Suffolk, England
Ibach Katalog 1909
Konzert-Pianino, Modell 'D'
140 cm hoch, 146 cm breit, 7 Oktaven
Preis: ab 1370 Mark

Flügel-Pianino, Modell 'E'
146 cm hoch, 162 cm breit, 7 1/3 Oktaven
Preis: ab 1650 Mark

Ibach Katalog 1890
Cabinet upright piano 4744
128 cm x 147 cm, Oct 7 imitation ebony or walnut burl

Cabinet upright piano 4745
as 4744 , richer features , double lights

Cabinet upright piano 4743
129 cm x 147 cm , 7 Oct. matt walnut or oak; too old German furnishing suitable
Salon upright piano 4844

132 cm x 147 cm , 7 Oct. imitation ebony or walnut burl . The best for smaller music room ; very popular and common

Salon upright piano 4851
133 cm x 150 cm , 7 Oct. Ebony imitation or antique equipment to match in walnut or oak.

Salon upright piano 4852
133 cm x 150 cm , 7 Oct. dass as Mod 4851 in richer features .

Concert upright piano 4951
138 cm x 150 cm , 7 Oct. Ebony imitation or antique equipment to match in walnut or oak. Suitable for larger music rooms , full of extensive tone.

Concert upright piano 4952
138 cm x 150 cm , 7 Oct. dass as Mod 4951 , due in richer features , for the finest environments.

High Concert upright piano 4093
145 cm x 157 cm , 7 ½ in Oct . Ebony in rich furnishings . The piano in the highest perfection , similar to the wings in tone. Double damping . Recommended value for high standards. Suitable for small rooms.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2213887 - 01/13/14 09:35 AM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
joe80 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1043
Yup it's true the Steingraeber is taller, and it's beautiful too. Also, I saw a Richard Lipp upright that must have been about 145cm, and it too was excellent, but it was about 100 years old. Back in those days there was more call for tall uprights though.

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#2214176 - 01/13/14 08:26 PM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
PhilipInChina Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/19/13
Posts: 671
Loc: China
Do people buy shorter uprights purely on grounds of price? They don't take up a larger footprint so I don't see how space is a consideration.
_________________________
Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"

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#2214177 - 01/13/14 08:37 PM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
dynamobt Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 638
Loc: NH
Price and they don't know any better.
_________________________
1918 Mason & Hamlin BB





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#2214215 - 01/13/14 10:05 PM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
angga888 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/09
Posts: 21
It's amazing to know during those era a lot of taller uprights were made.
To me, one of the benefit of an upright is to get a better sounding, just go for the tallest one, it will need the same amount of space no matter what is the height. Assuming we compare the uprights from the same brand. My 2c.

I also sometimes wonder why people buy shorter uprights? Maybe this one can be a new topic on its own smile I know some parents buying entry level Japanese / Chinese upright for their beginner children for the reason of price and they don't know if their children will continue to learn piano for long time or not. But for high end brand such as my list above, what's the reason people buy their shorter uprights? For Steinway uprights, the price difference between model K132 and V125 is only 7% here in Singapore.
_________________________
2006 Steinway K #5770**

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#2214246 - 01/13/14 11:25 PM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
While size (or, in this case, height) does matter, it does not tell everything.

Many of the old pianos have a lot of wasted space between the bass tuning pins and the top of the piano. The piano could have been 2, 3 or 4 inches shorter while having the same string lengths. In other words, some if not many old and tall pianos were regular sized pianos in tall cases.
Today, most designs make full use of the height of the cabinet. Or the other way: most pianos are as short as they can be given the string scale.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2214252 - 01/13/14 11:42 PM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
Troy 125 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/13
Posts: 102
Regarding why someone would buy shorter, when I bought a taller upright to replace my shorter one my wife didn't care for its appearance in the living room, thought it looked too big, so we found another location for it (a spot I liked better anyway, win-win). So from the non player's perspective, who may see it more as a furnishing, that can be a factor.

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#2214265 - 01/14/14 12:07 AM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: joe80]
angga888 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/09
Posts: 21
Originally Posted By: joe80
What are the reasons for large upright pianos? Well, usually it's that someone wants the very best they can afford but doesn't have the space for a grand. That is a limited market, because most people with the kind of chequebook that can buy a piano that costs £34,000 have the space to put it in. I know it's different in London where people have to live in much smaller properties, and very few of the Mayfair/Marylebone elite have the space for a large grand so perhaps there's a market there, I don't know.

Perhaps a musician that has never really earned that much but has saved for a long time would buy this kind of piano, but even then, I think most professional musicians would sacrifice a bit more space in order to get a grand piano.


Tall uprights has good market on crowded small cities like Singapore, Hongkong, most people live in apartments and would not have enough space for grands, and they still demand a good quality piano, hence I think uprights are well selling in such cities/countries. While in USA and Europe, most people can afford big houses, and grand is definitely a better choice to go.
_________________________
2006 Steinway K #5770**

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#2214485 - 01/14/14 10:30 AM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
joe80 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1043
Yup in the far east large uprights are popular, and in parts of Europe.

Some people buy a piano as a middle class toy rather than an instrument, so it has to fit in the dining room nice and tidy, with that habitat modern art print in the gold and black frame above it.

The boss comes for dinner and you wheel out your 13 year old daughter to stumble through the Chopin e flat nocturne between dessert and coffee, then send her back up to her room to play her x box with the headphones on

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#2214573 - 01/14/14 01:00 PM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: joe80]
Sam Rose Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 669
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: joe80
Yup in the far east large uprights are popular, and in parts of Europe.

Some people buy a piano as a middle class toy rather than an instrument, so it has to fit in the dining room nice and tidy, with that habitat modern art print in the gold and black frame above it.

The boss comes for dinner and you wheel out your 13 year old daughter to stumble through the Chopin e flat nocturne between dessert and coffee, then send her back up to her room to play her x box with the headphones on


ROFLMAO grin
_________________________
Playing since age 21 (September 2010) and loving it more every day.
"You can play better than BachMach2." - Mark_C
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My Piano Diary: http://www.youtube.com/sirsardonic
♪ > $

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#2214667 - 01/14/14 03:38 PM Re: Why is common upright pianos max height only 52" ? [Re: angga888]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7082
Loc: Rochester MN
It's always good to have a hand cart available for moving the daughter!
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It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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