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MMD > Archives > November 1999 > 1999.11.27 > 08Prev  Next

Piano Shapes
By Hal Davis

It might be time to list again the various types of pianos.  I see
people referring to "upright grands", "square grands" and some other
mis-applied terms.

Basically there are two general types of pianos: vertical and

Examples of vertical pianos are spinet pianos, console pianos, studio
pianos, as well as upright pianos of various sizes are examples of
vertical pianos.

Grand pianos, concert grand pianos, flat (referring to an apartment)
grand pianos, baby grand pianos (60 inches or less front to back) are
some examples of horizontal pianos.  Note that grand pianos are sort of
triangular, or wing, shaped.

Square pianos are another example of horizontal pianos but they have
four sides. "Square grand" is a contradiction of terms, as is "upright-
grand" as usually applied.

I know that some piano merchants played upon the public's ignorance by
calling some of their upright pianos "upright grands", but that doesn't
make them so.  The same applies to the square piano.

Fortunately, the square piano went out of production because it was
basically a flawed instrument.  Due to its four sides, it could change
its shape without changing any of the dimensions of the sides.  This is
primarily the fault with the square piano.  They can be exceedingly
difficult to maintain in proper tuning.

In addition, nearly all of them had tuning pins with oblong heads rather
than the square heads found on later styles of piano.  Many piano tuners
seem to have avoided obtaining the proper equipment for tuning square
pianos and that is one way to be able to avoid getting involved with
one.  For myself, I never had a problem tuning square pianos, but I
don't believe that there was another piano tuner within thirty miles
that would touch one.

Grand pianos with their 'triangular' shape cannot change shape without
changing the dimension of one of its sides, and it is therefore a far
more stable piano than the square piano which it succeeded.

According to Michelle's Piano Atlas, some upright grand pianos were
built ["giraffe" pianos] but they in no way resemble what we ordinarily
think of as an upright piano.  These few actual upright grand pianos
apparently were of an experimental nature and instantly proved to be
unsatisfactory for musical purposes.

I hope this information helps someone.

Hal Davis

 [ One more is needed to complete the list: "piano shaped object",
 [ or PSO.  It's a piece of furniture (often in sad shape)
 [ which resembles a piano and produces a pitiful sound !  ;) 
 [ -- Robbie

(Message sent Sat 27 Nov 1999, 08:09:19 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Piano, Shapes

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