Grand vs Upright Pianos: What should I choose?

Choosing a piano is a deeply personal decision. However, the choice can feel overwhelming with countless makes and models available.

At Steinway, we understand that purchasing a piano is a significant investment that should consider your individual requirements, tastes and preferences. To help you decide, we’ve created a guide to choosing the right piano for you.

What’s the difference between grand and upright pianos?

When you purchase a Steinway piano, you know you are choosing quality, whether you opt for a grand or an upright. But what are the key differences?

Size and orientation

Grand pianos come in various sizes and models and are favoured by professional pianists and collectors. Their strings are horizontally strung, allowing for greater expression, rich sonority, smoother sustain and a more substantial tone. Steinway grands are noted for their unrivalled tonal quality and highly responsive touch. In fact, 19 out of 20 concert pianists choose to work with a Steinway grand piano.

Grand pianos — including baby grands — are larger instruments than compact uprights. As such, grand pianos require a larger space to make the most of their vibrant sound. The smallest Steinway grand, the Baby Grand, is 155cm long and weighs 252 kg. The largest model, the Model D or Concert Grand, is 274cm long and weighs 480 kg.

Upright pianos are built in a vertical orientation. They are vertically strung, and the soundboard is located in the base panel beneath the keyboard. Uprights are typically more space efficient, making great options for smaller homes and schools.

Materials and design

Grand pianos are incredibly elegant, gracing concert halls and stately homes worldwide. Steinway grands are constructed using only the best materials, including maple and cast iron, producing an exquisite instrument. They boast many patented features, including the continuous rim, tapered soundboard and Laminated Long Bridge.

Upright Steinway pianos are also made by expert craftspeople from the highest quality materials with the most innovative techniques and use several patented features. However, their size and shape mean they may not rival grands in tone and dynamic range.

The Boston and Essex brands form part of the Steinway & Sons family, offering a wide range of magnificent upright pianos. Mid-priced Boston and entry-level Essex uprights are ideal for homes, offering professionals a space-conscious alternative for at-home playing and enthusiastic learners the option to practice outside their lessons.

Choosing the right piano for you

When looking to purchase a grand or upright piano, there are several factors to consider:

Will the instrument fit in the intended space? It is essential to consider your available space. Larger homes or concert halls can accommodate more striking instruments, while uprights are better suited to tighter spaces, like sitting rooms or classrooms.
Is the instrument within your budget? Pianos can vary widely in cost. You must consider your available budget for purchasing and maintaining your piano. Upright pianos, including those from the Boston and Essex brands, are typically more budget-friendly.
What do you require a piano for? One would covet a Steinway for many reasons, including for a collection, entertainment, education, personal practice, and professional requirements. While professionals typically prefer grand pianos, an upright will generally suffice when buying for a novice or a school.

Whether you choose an upright or grand piano, what’s most important is that you feel inspired to create beautiful music. Take the time to explore your options and consider the balance between the rich sound and responsiveness offered by grands and the practicality of budget-friendly uprights.


Should I get a grand piano or an upright piano?

Choosing between a grand and upright piano is a personal decision that will depend on your needs, available space, intended use, budget, and playing level. Before you make a decision, take the time to explore either option and consider these requirements.

Why are upright pianos cheaper than grand pianos?

Upright pianos are generally cheaper than grand pianos because they are smaller and use fewer materials to build. Uprights, comparatively, are more straightforward to craft. Steinway grands are made from more than 12,000 individual pieces and take close to a year to make.

Is a grand piano better than an upright?

There is no simple answer to this question. Grand pianos are the choice for concert pianists because of their resonant and powerful sound; collectors also covet them for their elegant aesthetics. However, Steinway upright pianos also offer excellent tonal quality and responsiveness while being more affordable and space efficient.