Grand Vs. Upright Pianos: What’s The Difference?

grand and upright piano

Grand and uprights are two of the primary types of pianos that you’ll want to become familiar with. To the inexperienced player, it might not mean much, but as you grow, you’ll find that the kind of piano you are using does matter, not only in sound and playability but other aspects such as space and maintenance. This guide will go over the characteristics of upright and grand pianos so that you can distinguish between them if you’re on the fence about purchasing one.


Upright Pianos

Upright pianos can be identified readily by their more vertical-shaped body, that encloses its hammers and strings, which then produces the sound from the rear of the instrument.

Even though interior space can vary and does make a difference, a decent-sized upright piano can sound as good as a lower-end grand. You can get a fantastic tone from an these instruments, and it can serve you for a very long time; however, only up to a certain extent.

There will be a point where you will become too advanced for an upright piano, and that’s because you the hammers touch the strings at a horizontal or sideways angle, which limits the speed you can play. Therefore, you won’t be able to play notes at a very rapid pace. Trust me; you will outgrow an upright piano eventually.



While this can be problematic, upright pianos still have a lot of redeemable qualities about them. For one, they are typically much cheaper than a grand piano, but not always. Regardless of pricing though, they also take up a lot less space than a grand. These kinds of perks are helpful for beginners or those on a strict budget.

Although there are some obvious drawbacks to upright pianos, you should also know that they are more widespread than grands when you take the entire world into account. Many people live in small homes, apartments, or studio spaces that can’t accommodate grand pianos.

In some places, it might be impossible to get one through their doors! Therefore, the only option is to go with an upright.

Something else to be aware of regarding the moving and positioning of an upright piano is that while it might be tempting to put it up against the wall to be as economical as possible for room space, this will hamper your sound since they produce sound from the back. If you can, try to give it some room to breathe, and you’ll get a much better tone from your upright piano.



Grand Pianos

Unlike uprights, grand and baby grand pianos have much longer bodies that lay flat, which means that they usually have a much fuller soundboard than them.

This soundboard is opened up, which allows the tone to project out and into the room that you are playing in, which contrasts with the sound coming from the rear of the upright. This is why a grand is usually the piano of choice for performances.

While uprights can save more space overall, grands are efficient in their own right too. One of the most practical ways to position a grand piano is to place it into a corner, which is something that might be awkward with an upright. You can also set one in the middle of the room, and it won’t seem out of place.



Surely, you’ll be able to play to your heart’s content on a grand piano, and you won’t be limited by the instrument’s technical features. The hammers on these ones make contact with the strings vertically in an up-and-down motion, which will enable faster piano playing. The keys on a grand piano are also longer which gives you better control overall.

These keys are more stable and have a more consistent touch to them compared to an upright, which is often compared to a see-saw. This means that some parts are more resistant and harder to play, particularly towards the back of a key.

Another thing to consider is that the pedals on a grand piano function a bit differently than on an upright one. Some might find the grand ones more expressive. Regardless, these pedals are essential for top-notch pianists because they allow them to change their tone.

Grand pianos are almost always more expensive than an upright one, but if you plan on being in it for the long-haul, it’s definitely worth it. All pianos should last a very long time if they’re taken care of and you’ll never really need to upgrade from a grand piano if you invest in a good one.



Conclusion: Which One Is Better?

Overall, a grand piano will always be better than an upright piano, musically. You will be capable of doing so much more with one, and besides, in a professional setting, like a recital, you will be working with a grand piano the majority of the time.  It’s best to be very comfortable with a grand piano from the get-go, rather than practicing with an upright and then having to jump into something quite different.

If money is an issue and you care a lot about the benefits of an upright piano, I think going with a digital piano is the better choice. They’re a lot more affordable and still save space. They also don’t have hammers and strings so the speed issue won’t be there.  Additionally, the sound will come from speakers rather than from the back.

Don’t get me wrong though, uprights can sound very lovely and will last a while, but the issue is that they will need to be replaced at some point once you outgrow it. If you’re adamant about getting an acoustic piano only, then, by all means, go for an upright if that’s what the budget permits and worry about a new piano when the time comes.

Hopefully, this guide has cleared up the differences between an upright and grand piano and also explained why grand ones are the superior choice for the long-term. Nonetheless, having a piano is better than not having one at all, so go with what life allows you to have and make the most out of your instrument.