What Is the Difference Between a Grand Piano & a Baby Grand?

by Dee Shneiderman Google
A grand piano is a magnificent instrument.

A grand piano is a magnificent instrument.

Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The size of a piano, the length and thickness of the strings and amount of wood in the soundboard affect the sound quality of the instrument. Sound and size affect both price and suitability for use in a particular space. That's why the choice between a grand piano and a baby grand is important.

Size and Weight

There are several size labels for grand pianos. the parlor grand is 4 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 5 inches; the baby grand is 5 feet 0 inches to 6 feet 5 inches; the medium grand is 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet 5 inches; the professional grand is 6 feet 6 inches to 8 feet 0 inches; and the concert grand is 8 feet 9 inches to 10 feet 2 inches. In general, the longer the instrument is the more dynamic it will sound. The baby grand is popular as a home instrument because it fits into many family living rooms. The concert grand, as the name implies, is usually used in concert halls and other large venues. The weight of a baby grand is about 500 pounds and a full-size nine foot concert grand weighs as much as 1,300 pounds.

Sound Quality

A piano's wooden soundboard converts the vibrating energy of the piano's strings into sound waves, much as a speaker converts electrical energy into sound waves. The larger soundboard of the grand piano creates a richer, fuller sound compared with the baby grand. The longer, thinner strings of the grand also contribute to higher quality, more note-pure sound. Piano stings are grouped with one to three strings per note. The shorter, thicker strings of the baby grand can occasionally cause inharmonics within the sets of strings. These differences may be discernible only by the professional pianist but are a consideration when choosing between the two.

Venue Fit

A grand piano and a baby grand will "fill" a room differently, not only in size and weight, but acoustically as well. Any piano needs enough physical space so that piano players have room to move around the instrument and so that the piano's lid can be raised when desired. The piano will echo off walls, floor and ceiling so the angles and acoustical properties of the room will affect the instrument's sound. The concert grand's size and sound volume would overwhelm most families' living rooms; any floor that holds a concert grand must have sufficient reinforcement to handle the weight.

Costs

The cost of a piano includes purchase price, transportation and set up, and tuning. Prices as of July 2011 can range from $6,440 to $88,136 for a baby grand and $8,243 to $189,385 for a concert grand. The price is affected by type of finish and composition of the keys and other components. The value of the dollar compared with the euro or yen also affects the price. Transportation and set-up costs depend upon distance, weight and time spent accessing the destination. After set up, the piano must be tuned; prices for tuning depend upon locality and the demand for any particular piano-tuning professional.

About the Author

Dee Shneiderman, former librarian and paralegal, has been writing for 40+ years. Published in Compute! Magazine, she helped found The Crescent Review literary magazine. Owner of Frugal-Foto Photography, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Library Science and a North Carolina Truck Driver Training certificate.

Photo Credits

  • Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images