Robert Estrin - piano expert
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What is a Concert Grand Piano?

Learn what kind of piano is exactly a Concert Grand compared to other "grands"

In this video, Robert tells you the difference between a Concert Grand Piano and a regular Grand Piano.

Released on September 28, 2016

  
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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, welcome to livingpianos.com and virtualsheetmusic.com. I'm Robert Estrin with today's question, "What is a concert grand piano?" You've heard this term bandied about a lot of times and you might wonder, is there something that's specific that makes it a concert grand compared to just a regular grand? Well, we're gonna cover this and a lot more today. The term "concert grand" sometimes is used loosely by people who have concert-level instruments that are grand pianos. So you would think, "Well, if it's a concert-level instrument and it's a grand, it must be a concert grand." Well, technically no, that's not what a concert grand is, although there are concert-level instruments that are smaller than a concert grand, such as this piano here, a nine-foot concert grand Baldwin. Concert grand pianos really need to be somewhere around nine feet long to be considered a concert grand. And the designation concert grand is because these are the types of pianos, if you go to the symphony and there's a piano concerto, it's going to be on a nine-foot piano because smaller pianos can't balance with a symphony orchestra. It is the de facto standard piano for virtually all classical performances and recordings.

Sometimes in a smaller hall or in a chamber group, you'll see a seven-foot, what's called a "semi-concert grand." It's very close to the sound and feel of a concert grand, which gets to another very important subject: What is it that's so special? Is it just the volume? Well, there's a heck of a lot more to it. In fact, when I was a student in Conservatory, whenever I would go to school, the first thing I would always do is take a peek inside recital hall to see if either of the concert grand pianos were available, even for a few minutes. Because just getting a little bit of time on a concert-level instrument like this could help my practice for the rest of the day, maybe even longer, remembering the sound and the touch.

So what is it that's so special about a finely tuned concert grand? Well, there's two aspects, aside from the volume, that really are instrumental and that is the touch and the sound. Let's first talk about the touch. Why would the touch be any different from other grand pianos? Well, believe it or not, the keys are longer on a concert grand piano. Not the part you see here, but behind the fallboard. In fact, when you go from baby grand to mid-size grand to grand piano up through to concert grand, the keys are longer and longer on these pianos. This makes a real difference in the feel because when you play black keys and between black keys, like being close to the center point on a seesaw, on smaller pianos, it's very difficult to press close to the fallboard, relative to the ends of the keys. Well, concert grand pianos, having longer keys, give a more consistent feel from the front of the key to the back of the key and it does take a little bit of an adjustment for this. Not only that, but you are actually moving more mass. Even if the action weight is balanced the same as smaller pianos, there is a difference to the feel. The hammers are heavier, you're getting bigger strings to vibrate, you're trying to excite a larger soundboard...which brings us to the sound, the other critically different part of a concert grand.

Virtually all other pianos are a compromise in scale design. If you look inside a concert grand, you'll notice the strings start very short in the treble, as they do on all pianos. They get longer and longer throughout the entire range of the piano, which is why the bass strings are so long. If you look at a grand piano even, much less a baby grand, once you get to the mid-register or the tenor register, all the strings from that point down are the same length. So there's not the pure, fundamental pitch on those strings. Instead, you're hearing mostly overtones. It's not as pure a sound. Not only that, but the tone develops more slowly on a concert grand. That's the thing that I always found when I had limited experience with concert grands, is that when I play concert grands, I would tend to play slower because the tone lasts longer, the true mark of a great piano. I suggest any of you who plays the piano, if you have an opportunity to play a fine concert grand, you must do it to see what really a great piano is about. It's the ultimate experience if you have the space in your home or if you have any place you would ever play a concert grand. You will love the experience. Thanks so much for joining me here again at livingpianos.com, your online piano store. I'm Robert Estrin, also on virtualsheetmusic.com. See you next time.
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Saxon * VSM MEMBER * on September 30, 2016 @6:10 am PST
Hi Robert, in this case, might a good digital piano that accurately mimics the touch and sound of a concert grand be a better investment than an equivalently priced upright acoustic piano?
Thanks!
reply
Robert - host, on September 30, 2016 @12:29 pm PST
There are no digital pianos that accurately recreate the touch of a grand piano, much less a concert grand with the possible exception of some of the Yamaha AvantGrand pianos which cost $10-15,000.
Saxon * VSM MEMBER * on October 1, 2016 @6:47 pm PST
Hi Robert, thanks for the reply. Let me put the question in another way.

Manufacturers always claim that they have the best touch and tone on their latest digital pianos. If compared with an equivalently priced upright? Would these mimic the feel of agrand piano much closer than the acoustic upright? Or this is just a loose claim by the manufacturer?
Oluwaseun Collins on September 29, 2016 @7:44 am PST
Waooooo! This is a topic I've never heard about before.
Thanks.
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