A Brief Introduction To The History Of Upright Piano
Upright pianos have existed for a very long time now and have been quite famous among musicians all over the world. Upon digging a little deeper into the history of pianos, one would find out that upright pianos have been under a lot of criticism from people who have found the grand pianos more utilitarian. However, this does not mean that we should overlook the fact that such a comparison is not only unnecessary but it actually serves no purpose as both of them were made with different purposes in mind.
Upright pianos have been available since the early 1800s. There were many names associated with the upright piano but they were most famously called cottage pianos by enthusiasts as they took up considerably less space to be accommodated than the grand piano. Upright pianos become a viable option for people who do not have a large living space but want to fit a piano into the mix.
Many children that belonged to homes that manage a moderate-income wanted to learn the piano and the manufacturers of the upright piano took this fact into consideration and tried to lower the prices for the upright piano by cutting manufacturing costs. Because of this initiative, upright pianos became a part of most middle-class homes by the end of the 19th century. They became the cheaper and less space-consuming version of the grand pianos.
What Exactly Is An Upright Piano
The word piano has come to be exclusively associated with the grand piano. When someone says the word piano, we immediately imagine a large instrument that is structured like a three-legged table with a lid to open at the top that exposes the inner mechanisms of the instrument.
The upright piano however greatly differs from this description. It is shaped like a square box that stands upright and has a keyboard that projects out from its body. The keyboard is usually supported by two legs but in some upright pianos, those legs are nonexistent. However, this is not the only thing that differentiates both these types of piano. They are subtly different when it comes to their mechanism as well. But we need to take a look at the basic idea behind the mechanism of the piano for that
Mechanism Of Upright Pianos
Piano keys are like triggers that are pressed to release a hammer that strikes a string that is associated with a particular note. Additionally, they are attached to a damper as well which contributes to dampening the sound that is emitted by the string. When the key is pressed the damper is lifted as well which allows the string to emit vibrations more freely.
Now the difference that comes between grand pianos and upright pianos is that grand pianos depend on gravity for the hammer and the damper falls back to its place after the key has been released by the player. But when it comes to the upright piano, because of the way it is positioned, it cannot depend on gravity for the damper and the hammer to fall back in place.
It instead depends on springs to get that done. Many piano players will notice a subtle difference when playing both these types of piano when it comes to the feel of the keys when pressed and this is solely because of this difference in their mechanism. The fact that the strings are placed vertically rather than horizontally amounts to much less floor space required for the upright piano making it a viable option for small spaces.
Type Of Upright Piano
Although we have discussed the general mechanism that an upright piano adopts, there are a number of variations when it comes to upright pianos as well. Let us take a cursory look at some of those.
- Spinet Piano
This is the smallest of all upright pianos. It has a height of about 40 inches when measured from the top to bottom. It has a vertical setting just like with upright pianos where strings and rods are placed in a vertical manner and does not rely on gravity to complete its actions.
Spinet pianos are the most compact of all the upright pianos out there and their manufacturing cost is the lowest out of all the variations out there as well. It is one of the most economical options among pianos. However, this does come with a downside that compromises the sound quality of these pianos which is considered rather unsatisfactory by piano lovers.
- Console Piano
These pianos are slightly taller than spinet pianos standing over 40 inches tall and up to 44 inches when measured from top to bottom. It does not depend on a drop action mechanism like the spine piano as the action is positioned at the top of the keys with strings vertically stretched downwards. This enables the hammers to engage directly which gives off a far superior sound quality than that of spinet pianos. Majority of piano players who indulge in the act as a hobby find this to be quite suitable for them.
- Studio Piano
The studio piano boasts a height of up to 48 inches when measured from top to bottom. The studio piano greatly differs from the above two variations as the action sits just on the keys providing it with a different feel. The soundboard is larger in these pianos and the strings are longer. This gives them a highly potent and resonant sound that is very pleasing to the players. On top of that, a piano is a durable option as it lasts a pretty long time.
- Professional Upright Piano
This is the tallest version of an upright piano. It usually goes over 48 inches and comes with a considerably large soundboard when compared to other variations of the upright piano. The sound quality is exceptionally good in these pianos and it can easily challenge many baby grand pianos for that matter. It is commonly used in music schools as well as by professionals as a suitable and cheaper alternative for the grand piano.
Upright pianos have been the go-to alternative for families with a penchant for music but who were not well off enough to get their hands on the expensive grand piano. An upright piano has been one for the masses that have lived their passion for music through upright pianos. This version has certainly made an influence on the history of piano for that reason.