Baby Grand vs. Grand Piano: What’s the Difference?

Once you decide to get a piano, you need to decide on its size, among many other things. There is little chance that a spacious concert piano can fit your living room, so you will probably choose between a baby grand vs. grand piano.

There are many similarities between these two instruments. More precisely, the baby grand is the grand piano sub-type, which differs primarily in length. Still, there are several differences to consider before you make a purchase.

Baby Grand vs. Grand Piano – History

The piano has a long history. It was made as a modification of a harpsichord, which had several keyboards. The first piano is mentioned in a 1700 inventory of Medici instruments as the work of Bartolomeo Cristofori of Padua. That model had hammers and dampers, two keyboards, and a range of four octaves.

Over time, two basic types of pianos, with horizontal and vertical strings, developed that still exist today. So, we differ the upright piano, which has vertical and the grand piano with lying strings.

For nearly two hundred years, the upright pianos were more popular than the grand ones since they took up less space. However, in 1884 Sohmer made the first baby grand piano that could fit a small salon.

The first baby grand was only 5 feet (1.5 m) long. By the early 20th century, Sohmer’s company began producing several types of grand pianos: Concert, Parlor, Baby, and Cupid.

Baby Grand vs. Grand Piano – The Difference in Piano Size

The type of the grand piano depends on the size.  A concert grand piano is 9 to 10 feet (2.8 to 3 m) in length. On the other hand, the baby grand piano is typically 59 to 66 inches (1.5 to 1.7m) long and 60 inches (1.5 m) wide.

Nowadays, you can find on the market pianos even smaller than baby grand, with dimensions about 48 to 53 inches (1.2 to 1.3 m). Some manufacturers refer to them as petite grand.

The grand piano type you need in your home will depend on the size of the space you have for the new instrument. The grand piano is always more sizable than the baby grand regardless of whether it is about a professional grand, parlor, or concert grand piano.

Grand piano

Type Size
Concert 9 to 10 feet (2.8 – 3.1 m)
Semi concert 84 to 92 inches (2.2 – 2.4 m)
Parlor 75 to 82 inches (2 – 2.1 m)
Professional 72 inches (1.8 m)
Medium 66 to 68 inches (1.67 – 1.72 m)
Baby 59 to 66 inches (1.5 – 1.67 m)
Petit 48 to 53 inches (1.2 – 1.3 m)

Baby Grand vs. Grand Piano – Sounds Production

Baby Grand vs. Grand Piano - Sounds Production
Image: Noname Music

The sound quality you get depends on the size of the piano. The trained ear can easily spot the difference between the tones played on a baby grand and a full grand piano. The grand piano produces a richer and deeper sound than its smaller alternative.

Even though the high-quality baby grand sounds very similar to a concert piano, it still produces less volume. The difference in sound between the baby grand and grand piano can sum up in three aspects:

Inharmonicity

The inharmonicity is the measure of level the frequencies an overtone varies from the fundamental frequency. The less inharmonicity piano has, the sound it produces is clearer.

The high-quality grand piano is close to ideal harmony, which means it produces minimal inharmonicity. When you play the concert grand, you can hear the clean sound on both lower and higher octaves. Contrary, the difference in the frequencies grows in the baby grand.

Luckily, you can mitigate this problem with professional tuning. Once the technician precisely tunes octave by octave on the baby grand piano, your instrument will have more harmonic sound.

Volume

The grand piano has a more excellent range of volume than the baby grand piano, due to its length. The grand piano’s long strings allow you to play both louder and quieter than on the baby grand.

Still, it would help if you had an instrument that has a proper resonance, which is suitable for the size of the room. The sizeable grand piano is an inappropriate choice to play in your home.

Balance and piano keys

The grand piano offers more overtones than baby grand, thus producing more balance and richer sound. Plus, it can have more than 88 keys on the keyboard that is not an option for a baby grand due to the size limitation.

The manufacturer Stuart & Sons has been making the grand piano with 102 keys. Even more, this company invented the first grand piano with nine octaves and 108 keys in 2018.

Baby Grand vs. Grand Piano – The Average Price

Baby Grand vs. Grand Piano - The Average Price
Image: Noname Music

On average, you need to spend a lot less money on the baby grand piano than on the grand one. The price range for both models is wide and depends on the brand, model, and production year.

Keep in mind that the most expensive baby grand usually costs as much as the average used grand piano. That means you can choose from various quality baby grand for about $10,000 while the lowest price for quality grand piano is at least $50,000.

Moreover, the concert grands of famous manufacturers can reach a price of several hundred thousand dollars. One of the most expensive grand pianos in the world is the extravagant Sound of Harmony Concert Grand, made by Steinway & Sons. Its price tag states unbelievable $1,630,000.

On the other hand, if you decide you need the baby grand piano for the everyday playing of your kid’s lessons, you can save up to 30% by purchasing the used piano. You can find a top-class baby grand for $5,000 to $8,000 with a little effort in that case.

Keep in mind that the used grand piano doesn’t lose its value. Typically, it can stay in the family for several generations and keep its quality. So, the difference in price between used and new grand piano is often insignificant.

Nowadays, the piano market is flooded with the baby grand models that are easily affordable for any family. Manufacturers from China and Indonesia focus more on the look of the piano than the sound quality it produces.

Therefore, you can pick the baby grand online, by photo without the possibility to play a note before it gets in your home. Unfortunately, the price of the piano is significantly reduced at the expense of quality.

Baby Grand vs. Grand Piano – The Purpose

Baby Grand vs. Grand Piano - The Purpose
Image: Noname Music

The dilemma of choosing between the baby grand and grand piano depends on many factors. One of the crucial questions is who will play the piano you want to buy. If you need an instrument to play as an amateur or wish to start playing the piano, the baby grand can meet all your needs.

Plus, not many people can afford one room in their home just for the piano since the grand model requires a lot of space. On the other hand, this imposing instrument is a must-have solution if you plan to become a professional.

Additional Tips

Whether you opt for the baby grand or grand piano, buying an instrument online is not a good idea. It is best to go to a dealer shop and try out several piano models. During the shopping, pay attention to several things:

Precise measuring

Before go shopping, measure the room where you plan to hold your new piano in detail. Don’t forget to measure the door, the width of the hallway, and the staircase, if you have one.

When you want to buy the large grand piano, the process of moving to your home can be complicated and costly, especially if you need to disassemble it. Plus, labor and transportation costs are quite high nowadays.

Testing

If possible, play both the baby grand and grand piano for at least half an hour. Try all the keys, play deeper and higher tones, hit the keys harsh, and listen to the sound they produce. Try to hear a difference between the same melody played on the baby grand and grand piano.

Check if all three, the soft, sostenuto, and the sustaining pedals function correctly. Keep in mind that that order is always from left to right. Check how hard you need to step on them for the piano to react.

Used piano

If you plan to buy a used piano, check to see if there is dust on the soundboard and if all the hammers are in good condition. Both the baby grand and grand piano require regular maintenance and tuning.

Final thought

When you decide on a particular model, arrange with the seller to bring a professional to check all piano features.

Summary

There is a difference in the sound quality, volume, balance, and tone harmony between the baby grand and grand piano. The baby grand meets all needs if you are an amateur and play for pleasure.

On the other hand, the grand piano dimensions make it more suitable for salons and concert halls. Also, this expensive instrument is primarily intended for professional musicians.

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