Since the invention of the piano in the early 18th century, it has gone from vertical to horizontal to digital. Today, there are three types of pianos manufactured by most companies: the grand piano, the upright piano, and the digital piano, and this article will explain the difference between these three types of pianos.   

The Grand Piano 

Also known as horizontal piano, these pianos get this name because of their horizontal soundboards that allow for longer strings and which are placed horizontally across the area of the soundboard. It is the best, the largest, and the most expensive type of piano. 

The placement and mechanism of the strings on a grand piano produce a sound with a fuller and finer tonal quality. Since the piano is horizontal to the ground, it allows the hammers that hit the strings to fall back in place and reset faster, allowing for the same note to be played faster compared to other pianos. The piano keys are also longer and go deeper into the grand piano with longer levers that give the player a lot more control over the dynamics and tone of the notes.1  

There are six types of grand pianos, starting from the smallest to the largest, namely the petite grand, the baby grand, the medium grand, the parlor grand, the ballroom grand, and the concert grand. Their sizes start from four feet ten inches to nine feet. Most grand pianos have 88 keys with three piano pedals if they are American-made and two if they are European. 

The Upright Piano 

The upright or vertical piano again gets its name from the vertical placement of its strings and soundboard. The strings are shorter, and the area of the soundboard is smaller compared to a grand piano.  

The hammers strike the strings horizontally when a key is pressed on an upright piano due to the positioning of the strings and the soundboard which changes the mechanism of the keys. It gives a significantly different feel while playing the piano when compared to a grand piano. 

The spinnet, the console, the studio, and the upright2 are the four types of pianos that fall into the vertical piano category. The spinnet is the smallest of the four types, while the upright is the largest. The cost of these pianos is considerably lower compared to the grand pianos.  

The Digital Piano

Digital pianos are the most affordable of the three types. Although these instruments are not considered to have the best tonal qualities by experts,3 digital pianos that are manufactured today sound as good as grand and upright pianos.  

Sound on digital pianos is produced by the activation of sensors when a key is pressed. A recording of a note from an acoustic piano is then reproduced through the speakers attached to the structure of the piano. 

There are multiple samples of each note available from different types of pianos and other instruments on digital pianos, which can be adjusted to different pitches. These pianos also come with other features such as recording and tunes to accompany your piano music. Digital pianos are available in various sizes and some of the latest models use acoustic mechanisms to produce sound.

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1. The Three Types Of Pianos Explained – Merriam Music – Toronto’s Top Piano Store & Music School. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
2. 10 Types & Sizes of Pianos Explained. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
3. Piano History: What are the different types of pianos? | Making Music Magazine. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2022, from