For your convenience: “How to buy a piano”
Piano: According to Wikipedia the piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world and widely used in classical music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment. The piano is also very popular as support to composing and rehearsal. The piano's versatility and uniquity have made it one of the world's most familiar musical instruments. Pianos have two basic configurations (with subcategories): the grand piano and the upright piano.
Acoustic piano: An acoustic piano is a traditional piano that uses specially designed strings that are stretched around a cast iron frame. Under extreme tension, the strings are struck by the felt hammers when a key is played. The action of the hammers striking the strings produces the notes (the sounds) you hear. This is a pure, non amplified sound caused by vibration of the strings. As a musical instrument and a beautiful furniture piece, there is no finer example of fine cabinet woodworking combined with the music maker's art than an acoustic piano. Acoustic grand pianos come in many sizes and colors, and can be adapted with a player mechanism to provide hours of musical enjoyment. The smaller version of the acoustic grand piano is also called the baby grand piano. Acoustic upright pianos work the same way as an acoustic grand piano, but occupy less space. The taller the instrument , the longer the string, the richer the sound. Upright pianos can be as low as 40" (appartement size piano) and as high as 54" also called the upright grand piano. So whether you choose a grand piano or upright acoustic piano for your home, school, church, performing arts center or music hall, we're sure you will receive many years of musical enjoyment from our line of finely crafted musical instruments.
Grand pianos: In grand pianos, the frame and strings are horizontal, with the strings extending away from the keyboard. The action lies beneath the strings, and uses gravity as its means of return to a state of rest.There are many sizes of grand pianos. A rough generalization distinguishes the concert grand (between 2.2 and 3 metres long, about 7–10 feet) from the parlor grand or boudoir grand (1.7 to 2.2 metres long, about 6–7 feet) and the smaller baby grand piano (around 1.5 metres (5 feet)).All else being equal, longer pianos with longer strings have larger, richer sound and lower inharmonicity of the strings. Inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of overtones (known as partials or harmonics) sound sharp relative to whole multiples of the fundamental frequency. This results from the piano's considerable string stiffness; as a struck string decays its harmonics vibrate, not from their termination, but from a point very slightly toward the center (or more flexible part) of the string. The higher the partial, the further sharp it runs. Pianos with shorter and thicker string (i.e. small pianos with short string scales) have more inharmonicity. The greater the inharmonicity, the more the ear perceives it as harshness of tone. Inharmonicity requires that octaves be stretched, or tuned to a lower octave's corresponding sharp overtone rather than to a theoretically correct octave. If octaves are not stretched, single octaves sound in tune, but double—and notably triple—octaves are unacceptably narrow. Stretching a small piano's octaves to match its inherent inharmonicity level creates an imbalance among all the instrument's intervallic relationships, not just its octaves. In a concert grand, however, the octave "stretch" retains harmonic balance, even when aligning treble notes to a harmonic produced from three octaves below. This lets close and widespread octaves sound pure, and produces virtually beatless perfect fifths. This gives the concert grand a brilliant, singing and sustaining tone quality—one of the principal reasons that full-size grands are used in the concert hall. Smaller grands satisfy the space and cost needs of domestic use.
Upright pianos, also called vertical pianos, are more compact because the frame and strings are vertical. The hammers move horizontally, and return to their resting position via springs, which are susceptible to degradation. Upright pianos with unusually tall frames and long strings are sometimes called upright grand pianos. Some authors classify modern pianos according to their height and to modifications of the action that are necessary to accommodate the height.
- Studio pianos are around 42 to 45 inches tall. This is the shortest cabinet that can accommodate a full-sized action located above the keyboard.
- Console pianos have a compact action (shorter hammers), and are a few inches shorter than studio models.
- The top of a spinet model barely rises above the keyboard. The action is located below, operated by vertical wires that are attached to the backs of the keys.
- Anything taller than a studio piano is called an upright.
Digital piano: The digital piano is a relatively new category of piano and incorporates micro chips and sound systems instead of strings and hammers to produce their sound. A digital piano is very versatile. Many have hundreds of sounds that have been sampled from authentic instruments making their sound incredibly realistic, and can play different kinds of rhythm styles together with these various instrument voices.
Digital pianos use digital sampling technology to reproduce the sound of each piano note. Digital pianos can be sophisticated, with features including working pedals, weighted keys, multiple voices, and MIDI interfaces. However, when one depresses the damper pedal (see below) on such an instrument, there are no strings to vibrate sympathetically. The synthesis software of some higher end digital pianos, such as the Yamaha Clavinova series, or the Kawai MP8 series, incorporates physical models of sympathetic vibration.
Digital pianos have recording functions that allow you to record practice or performance sessions. Some are capable of playing pre-recorded music disks, even digital music files downloaded from the internet. The keyboards are designed to exactly mimic the feel and touch of an acoustic piano so there is virtually no difference between the two. As a digital piano does not incorporate strings or castings to produce the sound, they tend to be smaller, lighter and easier to move than an acoustic piano. They are perfect instruments for a smaller space, condo or apartment living. You can practice in silence and they never need tuning. Digital pianos come in both grand and upright models. Pianohouse Burlington is the authorized dealer for Kurzweil, Suzuki and Adagio digital pianos. A digital piano is a modern electronic musical instrument, different from the electronic keyboard, designed to serve primarily as an alternative to a traditional piano, both in the way it feels to play and in the sound produced. It is meant to provide an accurate simulation of a real piano. Some digital pianos are also designed to look like an acoustic piano. While digital pianos may fall short of a real piano in feel and sound, they nevertheless have many advantages over normal pianos:
- Compared to acoustic pianos, digital pianos are generally less expensive.
- Most models are smaller and considerably lighter, but there are large ones as well.
- They have no strings and thus do not require tuning. They also easily accommodate different temperaments on demand.
- Depending on the individual features of each digital piano, they may include many more instrument sounds including strings, guitars, organs, and more.
- They are much more likely to incorporate a MIDI implementation.
- They may have more features to assist in learning and composition.
- They usually include headphone output.
- They often have a transposition feature.
- They do not require the use of microphones, eliminating the problem of audio feedback in sound reinforcement, as well as simplifying the recording process.
Other types of pianos:
The toy piano was introduced in the 19th century.
In 1863, Henri Fourneaux invented the player piano, which plays itself from a piano roll. A machine perforates a performance recording into rolls of paper, and the player piano replays the performance using pneumatic devices. Modern equivalents of the player piano include the Bösendorfer CEUS and the Yamaha disklavier, using solenoids and MIDI rather than pneumatics and rolls.
Today, piano manufactures take advantage of innovative pianos that play themselves via a CD or MP3 player. Similar in concept to a player piano, the PianoDisc or iQ systems allow pianos to "play themselves" when the software interprets a certain file format. Such additions are quite expensive, often doubling the cost of a piano. These pianos are available in both upright and grand.
A silent piano is an acoustic piano having an option to silence the strings by means of an interposing hammer bar. They are designed for private silent practice.
Edward Ryley invented the transposing piano in 1801. It has a lever under the keyboard as to move the keyboard relative to the strings so a pianist can play in a familiar key while the music sounds in a different key.
The prepared piano, present in some contemporary art music, is a piano with objects placed inside it to alter its sound, or has had its mechanism changed in some other way. The scores for music for prepared piano specify the modifications, for example instructing the pianist to insert pieces of rubber, paper, metal screws, or washers in between the strings. These either mute the strings or alter their timbre. A harpsichord-like sound can be produced by placing or dangling small metal buttons in front of the hammer.
In 1954 a German company exhibited a wire-less piano at the Spring Fair in Frankfurt, Germany that sold for $238 dollars. The wires were replaced by metal bars of different alloys that replicated the standard wires when played. A similar concept is use in the electric-acoustic Rhodes piano.
Yamaha, Kawai, Sherlock Manning, Steinway, Young Chang , Niemeyer, Samick
A make preferred by many professional pianists, there is no question that Yamaha pianos are world-class. They make more pianos than anyone else in the world, currently over 200,000 a year. Yamaha was the first piano maker in Japan, established in 1887 by Tarakusu Yamaha. Yamaha pianos typically have a "bright" sound.
Buying tips: While most Yamaha pianos are of excellent quality, buyers are often unaware that many new Yamahas are manufactured in Malaysia and China. These pianos can be perfectly good, but since the price point of new Yamaha pianos is usually quite high, it is important to as a consumer to know what you are paying for.
Older Yamaha pianos generally have higher production standards than many brand-new models as they were not usually manufactured in China or Malaysia.
Kawai was established in 1927 in Japan by Koichi Kawai and his partners. They produced their first pianos in the U.S.A. in 1988. Kawai pianos produced in the United States have the letter A preceding their serial number.
Kawai are second in Japan only to Yamaha, but are sometimes preferred as they have a mellower, richer sound than Yamaha. Because of this tonal difference, they are often preferred by Steinway users. Kawai now makes Steinway's Boston line of pianos for them.
A brand of pianos well-known to Canadians, Sherlock-Manning Pianos Ltd. was founded in 1902 by J. Frank Sherlock and Wilber N. Manning in London, Ontario. By 1920 Sherlock-Manning had the capacity to produce 1500 pianos per month; that number increased greatly as the firm purchased various other bankrupted, local piano manufacturers. The last piano manufacturer in Canada, Sherlock-Manning continued to make pianos right into the 1990s.
In 2005 the Sherlock-Manning trademark was bought by Pianohouse Burlington Inc. with the intention to build pianos of high quality in honour of the Sherlock-Manning reputation.
Perhaps the most notorious piano company in the world, Steinway & Sons was founded in New York in 1853 by Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg Sr. (Henry E. Steinway Sr.). From the very beginning, this company grew quickly, and developed a reputation for high caliber pianos. Henry's oldest son, C.F. Theodore Steinweg stayed in Germany, where he operated the Grotrian-Steinweg piano company. In 1911 the entire Steinway manufacturing operation was moved to Long Island City, N.Y.
Steinway & Sons pianos have a well-known reputation for fine quality pianos and for setting high standards for their competitors.
Young Chang was established in 1956 in Seoul, Korea by three Kim brothers, Young, Chang, and Jai-Sup. This was the first musical instrument factory in South Korea. It was originally a factory for assembling Yamaha pianos, but began to produce its own lines in the late 1960s. In 1990 Young Chang purchased Kurzweil Music Systems, who is a major electronic keyboard manufacturer.
Young Chang also produces pianos under the names of Astor, Bechendorff, Cline, Essex, Ibach, Knabe, Nakamura, Wagner, Weber, and Wurlitzer. Essex is a line that Young Chang has made for Steinway, which demonstrates the increase in quality of Korean pianos.
Pianohouse Burlington became an authorized Young Chang dealer in December 2010 and carries upright, grand and grand pianos of Young Chang in the Y and PG series.. For more info about these beautiful instruments follow the link to Young Chang.
Niemeyer pianos are a relatively new make of piano. In less than fifty years, Niemeyer has established itself as a quality piano manufacturer.
Niemeyer pianos are built with extremely high quality German parts such as Roslau strings, Abel hammers, and a Renner designed action. These are all the same components you will find on the inside of a Steinway.
Niemeyer has a full resonant sound, and is fast becoming the brand of choice among piano teachers and students alike.
You can find more information on Niemeyer pianos on the Canadian Niemeyer Pianos website.
Samick was established in Korea in 1958 by Hyo Ick Lee. The Samick factory made pianos for Hyundai under the names Hyundai and Maeari. They also made pianos for D.H. Baldwin, Bernhard Steiner, Otto Altenburg, Horugel, Stegler and Schumann. Samick now produces the Wm. Knabe, Sohmer and Millenium piano lines. The U.S company (Samick Music Corp), and P.T. Samick in Indonesia are both wholly owned by Samick.