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Types of Piano

Grand or Upright?

A grand is a horizontal piano, usually with three legs. An upright piano is vertical in design and more like a cabinet, with the keyboard about halfway down the front panelling. Like for like, grand pianos give better repetition than an upright and, apart from the smallest ones, have a superior tone. They do however take up much more floor space.

Overstrung or Straightstrung?

In a straightstrung piano the strings run parallel to one another throughout. An overstrung piano has the bass strings running diagonally across the piano, crossing over the treble strings.

An overstrung grand piano. The copper bass strings on the top left of the picture cross over the treble strings.

Overstrung is preferable as the strings are longer than is otherwise possible and this produces a much better tone.
An overstrung piano usually has a wider block of wood adjacent to the left hand side (the bass end) of the keyboard than on the right. On a straight strung piano these blocks are often the same width.
To be sure, it is best to look at the strings.

Overdamper or Underdamper?

Dampers are felt pads which stop the strings from vibrating when the key is released.
On an upright piano, underdampers are generally better and more effective than overdampers because they are fitted lower down the string and therefore cut the sound off more crisply.
In an overdamper action, the felt hammers which strike the strings are obscured from view (when looking into the top) by a wooden rail.
In an underdamper action you can clearly see the row of felt hammers. (Pictured below)

An underdamped action

Modern acoustic pianos are now always overstrung and underdamped. Upright pianos account for approximately 90% of all pianos sold.



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