4 Different Types of Pianos Explained

Curly Haired Women Playing Piano

If you are looking for a specific piano, you may notice there are several different types. We will be taking a look at each one in this guide so you can be able to tell the difference between them. Knowing the distinct differences between the two will help you easily identify them.

You may be looking for a grand piano or maybe something smaller. You might be looking for a piano to learn how to play. Or perhaps you are replacing one that you have used for many years.

Either way, it’s important for you to read through this guide. We’ll also be taking a look at a few frequently asked questions at the end in an effort to help you beef up your knowledge about the types of pianos. Let’s dive right in.

The Four Types of Pianos

We will be talking about the following four types of pianos and what makes them unique from the others. Once you’ve finished reading this, you may be able to tell the difference between a grand piano and an upright.

Let’s begin:

1. The Upright

To begin, we will start off with the tallest vertical pianos. Uprights will be measured anywhere from 50 to 60 inches in height and 58 inches in width. If you are looking for something that will give you excellent sound while lasting you generations, you’d be hard-pressed to find a piano quite like this.

Even though they’re known for their durability, it still needs to be maintained regularly. With proper maintenance and regular tuning, your piano will play like it was the day you first touched it years ago. This may be a piano that you’ll find in a family member’s home (like your grandparents, hence the term ‘Grandma’s piano’).

These pianos are common in churches and households. One of the convenient benefits of an upright is that it won’t take up a lot of space unlike grand pianos. You can tuck it away in a corner of a room and it will look nice and tidy.

Upright pianos may be viable for smaller stages. But on a grand stage, it might look out of place. The sound and functionality will be way different compared to a grand piano. An upright will have fewer strings and keys compared to its much larger counterpart.

In terms of affordability, an upright will be a great budget-friendly option. Even though pianos themselves don’t come cheap, this type is as good as it gets when it comes to the price tag. That will vary depending on the size of the piano itself.

2. Grand Pianos

A grand piano may just be the pinnacle of all the types of pianos made. It’s large, classy, and elegant. If anything, nothing can look, sound, or function quite like one.

If you listen to piano concertos, there’s a good chance it will be a grand piano that makes its presence known. Indeed, it’s a luxury item that will command a steep price. If you do have the money to purchase one of these, you’ll want to make sure you put it to good use (unless you’re the kind of person that wants to use it for decor).

These pianos will be perfect for live performances. When it comes to performing on the larger stages, there is no other type of piano that will get the job done. This is one for the pianist that will take their talents seriously.

Keep in mind that there are seven different kinds of grand pianos in the group. Let’s take a look at the following:

  • Petit grand: This will be measured out from four and a half feet to just below five feet in height. It’s the smallest in the group but has the ability to create an excellent sound like nothing else.
  • Baby grand: The baby grand is a step up from the petit. The measurement ranges from five to five and a half feet in height. It’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing of the group. Not to be outdone, it does have excellent tone and is perhaps the most affordable option for those looking for a baby grand piano.
  • Medium grand: This is measured at about 5 feet 7 inches. This will have longer strings, which can make it influential for the tonal quality.
  • Parlor grand: This is known as the living room piano. It ranges anywhere from 5 feet 9 inches to just a little over six feet. This will be ideal in much larger livings in homes that may very well be considered mansions.
  • Ballroom grand: Like the name, it’s great for ballrooms and larger dance halls. This measures from six feet two inches to just about six and a half feet.
  • Concert grand: The granddaddy of them all. Measuring 9 feet, this is the go-to piano for symphony orchestras and large concert events.

No matter which grand piano you choose, it’s the type of piano that a serious player would enjoy. The sound, the functionality, and the look of it are just three of the major things that make it the greatest of all time in the world of pianos.

Every grand piano is designed to look elegant and classy. On top of that, the sound will match it. Many legendary musicians who are accomplished piano players have used grand pianos as part of their act.

We can go on all day long about how great the grand piano is. But there are other types that we have yet to cover.

3. Electric Pianos

These pianos will be powered by an adaptor or batteries. An electric piano can be a good beginner piano for both kids and adults, or for people with less space. Sure, they may not have a couple of distinct features your upright and grand pianos have (although many do come with pedals), but they are still great alternatives.

We live in a world where high-quality digital music is the norm these days. The good news is that these electric pianos have long replicated the sound of a standard piano. Electric pianos can often be connected to the computer, amps, or speakers — perfect for those looking to record music or play live.

When playing an electric piano, you will get the feel and sound as if you were playing something more traditional. The sound of the keys hitting the strings in perfect harmony. With that said, you can get most of the same benefits of a traditional piano with an electric piano.

One of your biggest differences is the price point. You may not be able to afford a traditional upright piano like an upright. However, not all hope is lost when you have an alternative like an electric piano.

What makes electric pianos so special is that they are highly accessible. This means people can play it because of its availability and affordability. They may not get the opportunity to visit a place where a traditional piano is present.

The portability of an electric piano is a lot simpler compared to traditional and grand pianos. So, if you want something easy, then the choice is clear. At some point, you can make the move up to a traditional piano and hone your skills on it.

Another electric piano that should be addressed is the console piano. It has a similar or smaller width compared to an upright, while being around half the height. It is electrically powered, but does not have the luxury of providing you with battery power.

Either way, a regular electric or console piano may be your best option if you want one in your home but don’t want a traditional upright piano.

4. Toy Piano

Of course, it’s never too early for a child to start learning how to play piano. That’s why you have toy pianos that will be available. You can purchase one that will help them get to know the basic layouts and sounds.

You may be a pianist yourself and plan on passing your skills to your children. With one generation comes a wealth of knowledge that is given to the next. Surely, the skill of playing piano is one of them.

There are various toy brands that may have versions of a toy piano available. Granted, this may not be used for real playing compared to other pianos we have listed. However, it’s as basic as it can get in terms of the learning process for children.

The goal here is to get them accustomed to playing piano so when they get older, the interest may still remain. There are different types of pianos within the toy group.

Let’s take a look at what they are:

  • Electronic toy piano: These are found in a toy section of a retail store or online. These are put out by brands such as Fisher Price.
  • Spinet pianos: While not a toy per se, it’s a good piano for a child that may want to play on it. It’s small in size, but it’s also a good one for those who live in small living spaces like an apartment or condo. Regardless, this small piano will prove itself useful for kids or even beginner piano players.

Things to Consider When Purchasing

When purchasing a piano, you’ll want to consider the following factors when choosing the right one.

Let’s take a quick look at the following:


How much are you willing to spend on a piano? This will be one of the biggest questions that you’ll need to answer. Your least expensive will be your electronic pianos, and your grand pianos will be the most expensive.

How Much Space Do You Have?

You obviously can’t fit a grand piano in a small space. How much available space will you have to fit a certain piano? If you live in a traditional house, you may have a traditional piano tucked away in a corner (assuming you have just enough space).

Otherwise, an electric piano could do just fine since it can be stored in a closet (except for console pianos).


The maintenance of a piano is important. If you want little to no maintenance, then clearly an electric piano will be the answer. A traditional and grand piano will require maintenance from time to time so it can last long and still sound incredible many years later.

Maintenance for a piano can be costly when done by a professional. The good news is that the frequency may be years in between. But if you want something that requires none of that, you can settle with an electric piano.

If anything, most electric pianos run on batteries. So, the closest thing you get to maintenance is the price you pay for batteries. Plus, dusting it once in a while as well (if it’s on display).

piano keyboard


What type of piano is most common?

The upright piano is among one of the most common pianos. It’s found in most homes and is the right size to fit inside of them. Another one is the medium grand piano, which can be found in much larger homes or even small concert halls.

Which is better: a console or upright piano?

An upright piano will give you the authentic, real-deal sound and experience. A console piano is smaller in size but mimics the sound of a regular piano. However, the sound itself may not be as rich compared to other types, such as the grand piano.

How much does piano tuning cost?

A piano tuning service can cost anywhere from $60 to $250 depending on who is charging the service, the location they’re in, and other factors.

Final Thoughts

If you are considering the idea of getting a piano, these four types listed above are among the most common. Choose one that will fit your personal needs, preferences, and budget. You may intend to play the piano yourself or maybe teach your child.

Either way, each type will be useful and may have some differences, such as the size, sound, and price tag. But nevertheless, there is nothing quite like playing the piano and sharpening your skills to become better.

About the Author Linda Ritter

Linda Ritter is a passionate pianist and a songwriter for more than 7 years. With a Masters in Music, she has explored the world of music and has collaborated with several musicians and brands like Roland, Tune Core, and plenty of blogs.