Pianos come in various different forms, with the baby grand and the grand being two of the most popular varieties. While it may be obvious that these pianos are different sizes, other significant differences also need to be explored.
The main difference between a baby grand piano and a grand piano is that the latter is longer. In addition to the difference in size, grand pianos are generally capable of producing louder volumes compared to their smaller counterparts. They also produce more prominent harmonics.
When it comes to pianos, bigger is not always better. For certain spaces and scenarios, the design of a baby grand may be more suitable than a grand piano, so it’s important to be aware of what each variety can offer you.
In this article, we’ll go through the differences between baby grand pianos and grand pianos so that you have all the information you need on the subject.
What is a Grand Piano?
The grand piano is one of the classiest instruments ever to be created. Thanks to its impeccable sonic qualities, elegant aesthetics, and often luxurious playability, it’s seen as the gold standard of pianos.
Within the category of grand pianos, there are several different varieties. Each member of the grand piano family is a slightly different size, which also results in a slightly different sound.
The two types of grand piano we’re comparing in this guide are found at either end of the size spectrum – the grand piano being the largest and the baby grand being the smallest.
Being grand pianos, these two varieties have some things in common. Their tone is likely to be very similar, as is their physical design. They also feel very similar to play, provided they are of similar quality.
Both are beautiful instruments, which are often made with high-quality tonewoods, materials, and components.
However, that’s where the similarities end. Now that we’ve established what baby grand and grand pianos have in common let’s move on to their key differences.
The most obvious difference between a baby grand piano and a grand piano is their size. A baby grand has an average length of between 5’ and 5’8”, while a grand piano – also known as the “concert grand”, has a length that exceeds 8’11”.
Other than the rare petite grand piano, the baby grand is the shortest variety, while the concert grand ranks as the longest version of the instrument.
In the table below, you can find the average lengths of the different grand pianos:
|Concert Grand (Grand Piano)
|8’11” to 9’4”
|7’4” to 8’10”
|Drawing Room Grand
|6’2 to 6’4”
|5’11” to 6’1”
|Living Room Grand
|5’9” to 5’11”
|5’7” to 5’9”
|4’10” to 5’6”
|4’10” and below
As you can see, the difference in average length between a full-sized grand piano and a baby grand piano is fairly significant. This physical difference results in noticeable tonal and dynamic differences, which we’ll explore shortly.
A grand piano would rarely be used at home unless the space was particularly large. These pianos are more likely to be found in a concert hall, where their loud volumes can be fully utilized, and there is enough space to facilitate their extensive length.
The smaller varieties, such as the baby grand piano, are ideal for homes, rehearsal spaces, and recording studios. They still provide a beautiful sound without taking up excessive amounts of space.
The other physical aspects of grand pianos and baby grand pianos are pretty much identical. They have the same shape and 88 keys in most cases. It’s only the length and weight that vary.
Sonic Differences Between Baby Grand Pianos and Grand Pianos
Along with the difference in length, baby grand pianos and grand pianos also have different sonic qualities in some cases. However, a high-quality baby grand piano shouldn’t sound too different from a full-sized grand piano.
The first difference that you’re likely to notice is in the dynamics of the two pianos. The baby grand will produce less volume than the grand piano, which is a byproduct of its shorter length.
You can also expect a full-sized grand piano to have softer overtones, whereas the harmonics on a baby grand will sound sharper. Generally speaking, the longer a grand piano is, the more balanced its overtones will be.
A grand piano has the volume required to be used in large spaces, and the sound is likely to travel further. Baby grand pianos are better suited to smaller spaces.
The larger the grand piano, the wider its dynamic range will be. Concert grand pianos, which are the largest variety, have longer strings than a baby grand piano, which results in them being capable of producing both quieter and louder sounds.
It’s important also to consider that a space’s acoustics will impact how loud a grand piano sounds and its tonality. If you use a concert grand piano in a small space, the resonance may be too overpowering, which could cause the sound to become muddy.
On the other hand, a baby grand piano will likely sound clearer and more defined in a smaller space because even when the keys are struck at full force, the maximum volume will fill the room rather than create overwhelming resonance.
Differences in Playability
Another area in which baby grand pianos and grand pianos may differ is in the key action, which impacts their playability. This is directly linked to the length of the strings inside the piano.
A concert grand piano has longer keys and larger hammers. When a note is played, the hammer strikes the string, which then generates the sound.
A longer key and hammer combination will result in improved key action, giving the pianist more control over the dynamics of every note they play. With shorter strings, hammers, and keys like those found in a baby grand piano, the control over the dynamics of the notes is reduced slightly.
Indeed, the quality of the individual piano also comes into play. A high-end baby grand piano that has been expertly crafted with the finest materials and components will be more playable than an entry-level concert grand piano.
If the two instruments are of similar quality, you can expect the grand piano to provide you with more control due to the improved action of the keys.
Baby Grand Piano vs Grand Piano – How to Decide
Now that we’ve gone through all the differences between baby grand pianos and grand pianos, you should be better equipped to decide which is the better choice for you. Here are some additional things to consider when making your decision.
The first thing you need to think about is whether a grand piano and baby grand piano is suitable for the size of the room you intend to keep the instrument in. Taking measurements of the room is essential. Otherwise, you may be left with a piano that is too big or too small for your space.
Grand pianos are best suited to rooms with high ceilings and plenty of open space. This will allow the sounds they generate to resonate freely without becoming muddy.
One of the things that many people forget to consider when buying a piano is how they will actually get it into the space they have available. Grand pianos are extremely heavy and require professionals to transport them in most cases.
Baby grand pianos are a lighter choice that is easier to transport and maneuver, but they’re still very heavy instruments. It’s also a good idea to take measurements of doorways, staircases, or any other obstacles that need to be accounted for when getting a piano into your home or other building.
You should also take into account your skill level on the piano before deciding which variety to buy. If you’re a beginner pianist wanting to learn the basics, having a full-sized grand piano is probably going to be overkill at this stage.
A baby grand piano is great for beginners and experienced players who want to improve their skills on a quieter, more practically sized instrument.
Grand pianos are better suited to professionals who play in front of audiences and need to practice on a full-sized instrument.
How long do grand pianos last?
On average, a grand piano will last somewhere in the region of 25-30 years. However, hand-made, high-quality pianos can last well over half a century, as they are made with superior components and materials.
Do pianos lose value over time?
Unlike guitars and other instruments, pianos, unfortunately, begin to lose value very soon after being produced. This is because they generally require more maintenance and repair as time goes on.
How often does a piano need tuning?
How often you should tune your piano depends on several factors, such as whether it has been moved and the temperature it is kept. It’s a good idea to check the tuning every few months.