Robert Estrin - piano expert
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What Are The Different Sizes of Upright Pianos?

Learn more about upright pianos

Released on May 28, 2014

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Hi, this is Robert Estrin here at and

The question today is, should you avoid buying an upright piano? That seems like a crazy thing to ask. Uprights are very common. As a matter of fact, in most parts of the world, upright pianos are the de facto standard, because homes are much smaller than they are here in the United States.

So what is it about uprights, and getting the ultimate upright piano? Well, uprights by their very nature have certain limitations. However, if your home is not big enough for even a baby grand piano, or maybe you don't have the budget for the kind of piano you want, can an upright suffice for a while? Absolutely. In fact, students can go to an extreme intermediate level, approaching advanced level, and do just fine on a good quality upright.

Having said that, a student, even on an elementary level, will progress faster practicing on a grand piano. How can this be? Well, the thing about piano playing that you have to remember is that unlike other instruments, like flute, clarinet, trumpet, guitar, you carry your instrument wherever you go. But with piano, it's whatever piano is there is what you are going to play. And when you go to lessons, recitals, play at school, church, people's homes, a lot of times there are grand pianos.

And indeed, if you practice on a grand, a large grand, going to a smaller instrument is always easier. But if you're practicing on an upright all the time, there's a transition you must go through. So ideally, everyone would start learning on a grand piano, or at least a baby grand. But you can get a very satisfying sound out of a great upright. Why? Because a taller upright can have the soundboard area, and the string length of a midsize grand, giving you a gorgeous tone. What you won't be able to get is the real quick repetition. Eventually you'll get faster than your piano, and you'll need to graduate to a baby grand, or a grand piano.

Does it make sense then to spend a good amount of money on an upright? Well, you should spend enough to get something of a decent quality, just so that everything works well, and the sound is musically pleasing, or you're not going to want to practice. So, get a good enough piano to do for a while. And eventually, hopefully, you'll have the space and the budget for a grand piano, which will make a better transition when you play other instruments. And you'll enjoy it more as well.

Thanks so much for the great questions. Again, I am Robert Estrin, here at and
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