5 foot versus 6 foot grand

Posted by: piano_shark

5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 04:08 AM

Hi,
can you guys advice me on this subject, I'm on the market
for Korean baby grand piano now and not sure if it's worthy over 1k$ for additional foot smile Can I hear the difference?
It's for my living room instrument.
thanks
Posted by: Bart Kinlein

Re: 4 foot versus 5 foot grand - 03/28/12 04:22 AM

Quote:
Can I hear the difference?


Who knows but you?
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 04:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Bart Kinlein
Quote:
Can I hear the difference?


Who knows but you?


decibel can tell smile I made mistake actually I meant 5 foot versus 6, sorry.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 07:28 AM

I think it depends on the individual piano(s).

Rick
Posted by: Pianolance

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 09:34 AM

All things being equal,there is a great difference between a 5 and 6 foot piano. The six footer will be more resonant and have a much better bass. That is with all things being equal. Outside of that, it does depend on the individual specific pianos. If you are talking about two new pianos from the same manufacture, it will be a difference you can definitely hear and experience in your living room. It won't be a subtle difference.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 09:53 AM

Welcome to the forum, piano_shark. smile

Only you can determine if the improvement in sound is worth the price differential. We don't know your financial circumstances; if you're Bill Gates, then yeah, spend the extra thousand bucks. But if the extra cost would prove a substantial hardship, then don't.

We also don't know anything about your background in piano. I know that when I bought my first piano as a brand new beginner, I could barely hear the difference between an entry level small upright and a six foot grand. After playing a year and auditioning many pianos when I was looking to upgrade, I not only could hear differences much more readily among pianos but had also developed strong preferences.

My advice would be to bring some of your sheet music (assuming you already play at least a little) to the dealer and spend an afternoon going back and forth between the two pianos. If after playing both examples for an extended period you *still* have no strong preference between them, buy the cheaper one. If you decide you prefer the longer one significantly, then decide if you can comfortably handle the increased cost.
Posted by: Sparky McBiff

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 10:30 AM

Monica gives good advice.
Generally those people who know pianos will certainly be able to tell the difference (in sound) between a five foot and a six foot piano.
And it would be a rare 5 foot piano that would sound better than a six foot piano, and certainly not one from the same manufacturer I wouldn't think.
Posted by: Entheo

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 11:23 AM

yes the extra foot is easily worth the 1K
Posted by: terminaldegree

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 11:51 AM

Within the same brand or line of pianos, I have never found a 5' model that I preferred to the 6' model. Depending on your space, budget, and volume of the piano relative to the room, I would opt for the larger piano.
Posted by: Basa

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 12:06 PM

I'm basically in the same situation. I don't want to paint myself into a corner, and while I CAN hear the difference between my 30 year old spinet and the (low end) baby grands I’m looking at, it’s hard for me tell the difference between the actual new pianos. I assume this will come with time, I think for now I will get something I’m comfortable with and in a few years when I develop a taste then I can upgrade again. I definitely want to upgrade the spinet now.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 01:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Basa
I assume this will come with time, I think for now I will get something I’m comfortable with and in a few years when I develop a taste then I can upgrade again.

This is pretty much the path I took...

I started with a 40 year old Cable console, then upgraded to a 40 year old Kohler & Campbell studio; then the grand piano bug bit! smile

I didn’t have room for a grand in my home, so I enclosed my attached car port, just so I’d have room for a grand. It turned out great.

I can’t say my playing has improved all that much, but my pianos sure have! laugh

Good luck, and keep us informed!

Rick
Posted by: mikeheel

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 02:03 PM

One of the biggest factors here, IMO, is whether the pianos are otherwise equivalent.

Although I would say the 6-footer almost always wins (and I don't like the 5-footers), I might still take a shorter piano over a longer piano if the materials, construction, preparation, age, and condition were superior on the smaller one.

However, if the pianos are otherwise equivalent, I'd pay the 1k additional for the extra foot every time (as long as I had the room).
Posted by: Ed Foote

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 02:30 PM

Greetings,
There are few 5' pianos sold that are much more than a price-point designed product that has so many compromises, they should be labeled "furniture". There is little profit in the smaller pianos, so manufacturers, usually, use the least expensive material in them. The Steinway S is one exception, and I have seen several older, German, small grands, (names escape me, but they were long), that were responsive, balanced instruments.

One way to filter what you can live with is to go to the 5' grand, and play the first few notes on the tenor bridge, right above where the bass strings stop. Play them with attention, several times. Ask yourself what kind of tone are you hearing. Hit it hard and soft, then compare it to other notes maybe a fifth away. Then do the same on the larger piano.
That break note is where the shortcomings of small pianos first display themselves, so don't buy the piano if you are going to ask the first tech that shows up to "do something" about this note, because you "didn't hear it sound like that in the store".
6' is a serious size grand, you might consider something a bit smaller. I would suggest that there is more difference between a 5' and a 5' 7", than there is between a 5'7" and a 6'.
Regards,
Posted by: Sparky McBiff

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 02:56 PM

One thousand dollars for an extra foot is a steal in my opinion.
Usually you have to pay several thousand dollars just for another inch or so.
Posted by: Rich D.

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 03:18 PM

For a really small grand I always especially liked the Baldwin Ms (5'2") I've played. Very musical for a small instument. I agree however that if the poster could go to a 5'7" he would be much better off.

Rich
Posted by: Norbert

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 08:12 PM

Quote:
There are few 5' pianos sold that are much more than a price-point designed product that has so many compromises, they should be labeled "furniture". There is little profit in the smaller pianos, so manufacturers, usually, use the least expensive material in them.


Generally true but not *all*.

There are notable exceptions and those pianos are doing very well on market right now.

Norbert
Posted by: Pangur Bán

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/28/12 08:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Sparky McBiff
One thousand dollars for an extra foot is a steal in my opinion.
Usually you have to pay several thousand dollars just for another inch or so.


Yes, in fact this looks suspicious to me. I was looking at two instruments a foot apart in size, and the larger instrument cost nearly twice as much.
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 07:30 AM

Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Welcome to the forum, piano_shark. smile

We also don't know anything about your background in piano. I


Hi Monica,
and thanks. About my background - I've been playing long time on and off but last 10 years almost exclusively on digital stage pianos frown so sound creation had nothing to do with the size of the instrument although it had to do with size of the speakers smile Anyway now I have a space and money for acoustic.
I can imagine then that size of the piano matters in regards loudness and low sounds generations but can't tell yet if a foot difference in length matters a lot. I see some here are saying it does matters but I guess this is like automatic response "bigger the better" while I cannot agree this is always the case in general. In regards of loudness even small piano is more then enough to normal living room so I figure 5 foot grand will suffice here. Now sound generation - will a difference of 1 foot be noticeable in living room condition?
thanks

p.s.
I am comparing same make of identical pianos but the length.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 07:54 AM

Not to sound like a broken record, or an old guy who tells the same old stories over and over again… laugh

I tend to agree with Norbert here… it depends on the individual baby grand piano. Case in point, the small community technical college where I work has a late 1980’s 4’10” Chickering (Baldwin) baby grand piano that has a low bass tone that will surprise you… a lot; also, the rest of the piano has a very nice tone over all, and a smooth, medium-heavy key touch.

I don’t know if it has anything to do with that fact that our own Del Fandrich had a role in designing that particular model baby grand when he worked for Baldwin back in the day, (probably so) but I think that little piano is an exception to the rule.

Then again, that is just my opinion.

Best regards and best of luck with your piano search.

Rick
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 09:26 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
I can imagine then that size of the piano matters in regards loudness and low sounds generations but can't tell yet if a foot difference in length matters a lot. I see some here are saying it does matters but I guess this is like automatic response "bigger the better" while I cannot agree this is always the case in general. In regards of loudness even small piano is more then enough to normal living room so I figure 5 foot grand will suffice here. Now sound generation - will a difference of 1 foot be noticeable in living room condition?
thanks

p.s.
I am comparing same make of identical pianos but the length.
While there may be some exceptional 5' pianos, they are extremely rare. The vast majority of 5' pianos are instruments built to hit a price point (a low price point). The issue is the length of the bass strings. The shorter the piano the shorter the bass strings which means they need to wrap the string with would copper in order to increase its mass while avoiding rigidity. Increased rigidity is unavoidable and raises the harmonics of the string causing inharmonicity). Additionally there is the issue that longer strings are preferred, but in a short piano longer strings put the end of the string at the margins of the sound board (reducing the ability of the string to move the sound board).

In a 6' piano these issues are not as significant an issue, but of course they're better in a 7' piano. Similarly, that's why a concert grand is a 9' piano. However, the real difference seems to factor in between 5 and 6 feet in length. A 5' piano is generally not a satisfactory instrument for a critical ear. At 5'6" things seem to get a bit better and I've heard some 5'10" instruments that sounded quite good. I have not heard any instruments longer than 6' that sounded like a short piano (tubby sounding inharmonic bass). Once you know what to listen for you'll hear it almost universally in short pianos.

You dismiss those who caution against a 5' piano as an "automatic response." You obviously have reasons for preferring a shorter instrument. I would suggest you get the floor templates from your dealer to know exactly how much floor space a particular instrument will actually take. The difference between a 5' and 6' piano is just 12". Keep in mind the need for adequate space for the bench and the player. I had my bench too close to the piano for comfort for years, I feel so much better now that I've moved the thing another 4" out.

One last point, if you're determined to get a 5' baby grand, why not consider an upright? The tallest uprights have longer strings and better designs than the shortest grands.
Posted by: Brent H

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 10:07 AM

I did not play all that many pianos before choosing our 5'7" Hallet, Davis (Dongbei) last year. But it sure did seem to me that most of the 5'6" to 6' range pianos had a lot to recommend them sound-wise and the couple of smaller (closer to 5') models had a much less pleasant sound to my ears. Small sampling, admittedly and I have no doubt somewhere our there are 5' pianos I would enjoy the sound of.

But finding what I thought was good sound at even 5'7" did not seem difficult while finding it in the 5' range seemed much longer odds. If it were just my own observation I'd discount it as "don't draw conclusions until you've played a lot more pianos" but given how well it comports with the Conventional Wisdom I have to figure there's a basic principle there, or at least a common tendency.

That said, I think the really big pianos I could never afford to buy or house often have a big sound that little five and half footers don't produce. But I'm talking up around seven feet and beyond which is just a whole different commitment to own.
Posted by: Wound up

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 10:18 AM

go 6
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 10:56 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
In regards of loudness even small piano is more then enough to normal living room so I figure 5 foot grand will suffice here. Now sound generation - will a difference of 1 foot be noticeable in living room condition?
thanks


You are absolutely correct that a five foot grand will be more than loud enough for an average living room. That's not the issue; instead, as you speculate, the main difference across lengths is in tonal quality, and it's the improvement in tone--particularly the bass--that motivates most people to go for the longer piano. (Indeed, if you search the archives, you'll find lots of threads where people are asking how to make their longer piano LESS loud.)
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 11:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Monica K.
(Indeed, if you search the archives, you'll find lots of threads where people are asking how to make their longer piano LESS loud.)


close the lid? wink

That's one of my concerns as well. I know from the speakers and other technologies you can make smaller speaker to create more bass then it would normally produce at given size by using some acoustic/construction tricks. Another words to compensate the size limitation.
Posted by: Bob Newbie

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 11:12 AM

I'm suspious of the barely noticeable price jump? only a thousand..to go from a 5ft to a 6?
go for the 6ft.. I look at my dining room table and say...thats the same size of 6ft grand
it will fit just right.. (I'll eat in the kitchen) smile
Posted by: Gomer

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 11:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
The issue is the length of the bass strings. The shorter the piano the shorter the bass strings which means they need to wrap the string with would copper in order to increase its mass while avoiding rigidity. Increased rigidity is unavoidable and raises the harmonics of the string causing inharmonicity).


This got me thinking: Is there a reason that tungsten-copper alloys are not used for the wrap? Density is sizably higher, depending on the ratio of the mix.
Posted by: the nosy ape

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 12:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Gomer
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
The issue is the length of the bass strings. The shorter the piano the shorter the bass strings which means they need to wrap the string with would copper in order to increase its mass while avoiding rigidity. Increased rigidity is unavoidable and raises the harmonics of the string causing inharmonicity).


This got me thinking: Is there a reason that tungsten-copper alloys are not used for the wrap? Density is sizably higher, depending on the ratio of the mix.

Probably because it would be too hard to wrap.
Posted by: mikeheel

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 01:31 PM

If you're comparing identical pianos, definitely go with the 6-footer for only 1k more.

As folks above have mentioned, there is a qualitative sound difference. It's not just about "bigger being better." It's about richer, fuller sound, better breaks, and better sustain. It's about smoother sound and more responsive piano action.

In many respects, you can think of it as the difference in stereo sound vs mono sound. At five feet, there are generally significant compromises to the sound quality of the piano. Of course, there are some exceptional small pianos, but I can think of no make of consumer piano (7 feet and under) that could sound as good 1 foot shorter. In other words, the extra foot will always make a positive difference in sound if the piano is otherwise the same.
Posted by: Brent H

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 03/29/12 01:40 PM

I think of it like a ukulele compared to a guitar. The uke is definitely easier to carry and cheaper to buy but even if a ukulele is plenty loud enough for you, it can't be made to sound like a piano.

Some people expect a small grand piano to sound just like a big grand piano except with the volume turned down. If so we'd all just buy 3-foot grand pianos for every room in the house!
Posted by: j&j

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 04/08/12 07:25 PM

For just $1,000 more, I'd go for the 6' grand. Usually, they are several thousands of dollars more expensive. It's been mentioned many times here but no one ever regretted getting the bigger piano.

Good Luck!
Posted by: Rotom

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 04/08/12 11:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Brent H
I think of it like a ukulele compared to a guitar. The uke is definitely easier to carry and cheaper to buy but even if a ukulele is plenty loud enough for you, it can't be made to sound like a piano.

Some people expect a small grand piano to sound just like a big grand piano except with the volume turned down. If so we'd all just buy 3-foot grand pianos for every room in the house!

But a ukelele is almost completely different from a guitar. Different strings, differnet design, although the shape and ways of functioning are similar. And it can't really be made to sound too much like a guitar either, as far is i've heard.
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: 5 foot versus 6 foot grand - 04/09/12 06:29 PM

Maybe I missed it in the posts, but are you comparing 2 pianos that are the same make and model and age except for size? If so, get the bigger piano unless there really is something wrong with it in your mind. Bigger is almost always better sound-wise and touch-wise in similar models. Now, if you are talking about the top-of-the-line model 5' and the promotional-grade 6', that is a different situation. Or if you are comparing 2 different companies, the smaller grand could be a premium model and the larger one a less-ideal model. Apples and oranges, right? It might help all of the posters if you were specific about maker, models, age, etc. You said you were looking at Korean pianos? I know some of Young Chang's pianos are built in Korea, but their lower models are built in China. Not sure about Samick. Probably similar situation. Wages in Korea have gone up a lot in recent years so the premium pianos are still built in Korea, but not the entry-levels.