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Minimum length of a premium baby grand
#2519154 03/09/16 11:43 AM
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Is there a generally accepted minimum length for a premium baby grand?

Does the room volume and longest diagonal (the latter in relation to lowest note eigentones) play a significant part in this length?

My question relates to sound quality and volume not the appearance.

Ian


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2016 Blüthner Model A
Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519161 03/09/16 12:04 PM
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I would guess there is no minimum.
Because the piano is flat instead of the upright being you know, upright, I would guess a petite baby grand has more sound.


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Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519166 03/09/16 12:22 PM
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I would guess that most people would consider 6' the "minimum" size for a piano that doesn't have to make extreme compromises.


Robert Swirsky
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Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519167 03/09/16 12:23 PM
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I think that the short answer really depends on what you consider "premium".

Some might say that "premium" and "baby grand" are contradictory terms, although some manufacturers of premium grands do make "baby grands" (shorter than 5' 6" (156 cm)). They may suggest that the smallest size grand without serious scale compromise is 5' 6", while the ideal is around 7'.

In a large number of baby grands the "sound quality" of the lower notes is severely limited. The size of the piano does not necessarily determine the volume of sound. Some baby grands can sound quite loud because of their scale construction and are difficult to play softly, while larger pianos can have greater potential for quiet and loud playing.

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Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519171 03/09/16 12:35 PM
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I would say roughly from 1.75 becuase I have never heard a good smaller size. But even at that size most pianos (including top brands like steinway) don't sound very good. Good design, good and balanced voicing and adjustments, good strings, all is needed to make it work. Maybe smaller can sound good but shops don't invest the required effort as these are also the cheaper models?


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Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519175 03/09/16 12:37 PM
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That mentioned "loudness" of small grands just puzzles me. Baby grands are probably for small houses, appartments etc. WHy are they loud? Wish mmanufacturers focused more on sound quality than quantity.


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Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Thrill Science #2519215 03/09/16 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Thrill Science
I would guess that most people would consider 6' the "minimum" size for a piano that doesn't have to make extreme compromises.


I think the Steingraeber A170 is a good compromise of a small grand. At 5'7 it really sounds very impressive and expressive. It doesn't seem to have the limitations of many other grands at that size. I think a few other people that have tried or own this piano on piano world have agreed with me. So by my standard, that's probably the smallest grand that's excellent quality.

Have a listen for yourself, recorded with a cheap Zoom H1 which doesn't capture the bass well. But the bass is astounding for a 5'7 piano.

[video:youtube]1-GU3Y5piOs[/video]

Last edited by Michiyo-Fir; 03/09/16 02:17 PM.

Yamaha C3, Yamaha Avant Grand N1 (sold), Steingraeber 170 (family's)
Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519228 03/09/16 02:51 PM
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For my taste, the best modern baby grands I have played are the smallest Steingraber and Bösendorfer models, both 170 cm (5'7"). I haven't tested them side by side, but I think the Steingraeber wins with better bass tones. I'd be happy to own one!

There are other "premium" piano makers who offer shorter models. Steinway has the model S (155 cm or 5'1"). I remember playing one owned by a friend and not being impressed at all, but I've also tried one at a piano dealers and found it very agreeable to play: it could be that the first one was a dud, or that it had been badly maintained. Fazioli also sells a baby grand (156 cm) but I've never played one. The shortest Shigeru Kawai is the SK2 - a lovely instrument - but at 180 cm (5'11") I don't know if it can be called a baby.

I don't think there are any rules about room volume and diagonal and the size of the piano. I've heard large pianos sounding great in rooms that were barely big enough for them, and smaller pianos sounding great in bigger rooms.


Steinway A grand (1919), Richard Lipp grand (1913), Yamaha P2 upright (1983), Casio PX-150 digital (2013)
Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519233 03/09/16 03:07 PM
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As previous posters said: The bass is the biggest challenge for short grands.

When I went piano shopping 4 years ago, I found that 1m70 is a good rule of thumb for the minimum size. Most grands shorter than that sounded strained.

However, I also found some nice sounding shorter grands, like the Kawai GE-30, which I liked better than the Kawai RX-2.

I'd say: Try them out for yourself; and decide if you like the bass sound.

EDIT: Just reread the subject line. The Kawai GE-30 is not exactly a "premium" grand. But I liked its sound better than the sound of various shorter "premium" grands.

Last edited by patH; 03/09/16 03:09 PM.

My grand piano is a Yamaha C2 SG.
My other Yamaha is an XMAX 300.
Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519250 03/09/16 03:49 PM
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I find the Shigeru Kawai SK2 to be an excellent small grand - with a balanced and beautiful tone... every day wink


Shigeru Kawai SK-2, etc.
Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
MRC #2519252 03/09/16 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by MRC

There are other "premium" piano makers who offer shorter models. Steinway has the model S (155 cm or 5'1"). I remember playing one owned by a friend and not being impressed at all, but I've also tried one at a piano dealers and found it very agreeable to play: it could be that the first one was a dud, or that it had been badly maintained. Fazioli also sells a baby grand (156 cm) but I've never played one.


I've tried the small Fazioli and was not impressed at all, especially considering the huge price tag. Tone was rather weak, with very poor bass and the touch wasn't dry expressive either. It was below standard for the name of Fazioli in my opinion.


Yamaha C3, Yamaha Avant Grand N1 (sold), Steingraeber 170 (family's)
Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Michiyo-Fir #2519255 03/09/16 04:08 PM
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Friends:
I can remember a time that anything smaller than a Steinway A was going to have compromises. Personally, I would make an exception for the VINTAGE Mason A & Baldwin R.
Nowadays, one thinks of the smallest Steingraeber as really DEFINING a superb small grand.
Several of our top boutique rebuilders can achieve wonders with what I call "tricked-out" rebuilds. I've always longed to hear a Steinway M or even an S given a full, magic rub-a-dub-dub. They are certainly depressing as is.
Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519258 03/09/16 04:22 PM
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The question has no answer as it's completely a matter of opinion. What is a "compromise" for one person may not be a compromise for another person. The only thing that's probably true is that the best quality small pianos are likely to sound better than lesser pianos of similar size.

Some will think that very small pianos from less expensive makers sound quite good. Others don't much like anything less than 7' from a top manufacturer.

Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Thrill Science #2519261 03/09/16 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Thrill Science
I would guess that most people would consider 6' the "minimum" size for a piano that doesn't have to make extreme compromises.
I disagree. There are numerous great examples around 5'7", some of which have already been mentioned.


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Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519270 03/09/16 04:50 PM
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For me the Steingraeber is WAY too loud. Like twice as loud as comparible other pianos. I would like to have SOFTER sound, not louder.


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Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
wouter79 #2519306 03/09/16 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by wouter79
For me the Steingraeber is WAY too loud. Like twice as loud as comparible other pianos. I would like to have SOFTER sound, not louder.


I'm not really sure what this means. I can understand if you say a specific piano is too loud for the space it is in, but given adequate space, I'm not sure I understand if any piano can be too loud.

I can understand if you think the tone is too bright or too harsh which I often encounter... Often soft is in relations to how the hammers are voiced, do you mean mellower by soft?

Or I wonder if you mean given the same amount of space, the Steingraeber has more volume than other pianos of the same size? I'm not sure I necessarily agree with that. It does have more bass as in more impactful so I suppose that can be argued as being louder, but in terms of the mids/highs, I don't think it's generating any more volume than other pianos of its size.

But maybe I am just immune to pianos being loud since I have a 6+ foot piano in a 10x12 room and play it with all the doors closed.

Last edited by Michiyo-Fir; 03/09/16 06:28 PM.

Yamaha C3, Yamaha Avant Grand N1 (sold), Steingraeber 170 (family's)
Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519312 03/09/16 06:45 PM
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Opinions on this topic can be all over the place. Some folks think a decent grand doesn't start until around the 6' length, but I have heard some nice sounding 5'8" pianos.

And, from what I read, the newer, smaller baby grands sound much better than their similar sized predecessors.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519319 03/09/16 07:10 PM
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I find that generally around 5'6 is the size that a grand piano really starts to make sense. Of course it depends on the make and model, and the level of preparation. I've heard one good Bechstein London baby grand (4'11) that was fully rebuilt and really very good (for its size...), and then there's the odd case of the Style IV Blüthner (4'11, made between the world wars), that can be excellent when restored. Yes the bass isn't as good as a 6'2, but then think about some of the applications that these small pianos have. Sometimes people absolutely need a grand piano action, but they're low on space and/or budget, and they want the highest quality piano they can afford. While many of us, at that size of piano, may opt for a tall upright, there are those who will always go for the grand.

In my opinion based on my experience, the best small grands being made new today are the Yamaha C1X, C2X, Blüthner Model 10 and 11, Bösendorfer 170 (not so keen on the 155), and the Steingraeber 170. I haven't included the Kawai GX2 or Shigeru SK2 because at 5'11, which is basically 6', it's not really a small grand.

New Steinways that size are a mixed bag. The M has an excellent action of course, and most of it sounds like a Steinway but I find the bass a bit brittle.

None of the small grands really have optimal musical qualities, they are always a compromise, but some of them I would pick over a larger grand from a lesser manufacturer if faced with the choice. It would depend on the piano.

Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Michiyo-Fir #2519344 03/09/16 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Michiyo-Fir
Originally Posted by wouter79
For me the Steingraeber is WAY too loud. Like twice as loud as comparible other pianos. I would like to have SOFTER sound, not louder.


I'm not really sure what this means. I can understand if you say a specific piano is too loud for the space it is in, but given adequate space, I'm not sure I understand if any piano can be too loud.
There are occasional pianos where an attempt to play at some dynamic level results in a level 2-3 levels higher so it becomes impossible to play very softly. I can only think of one or two I've played like that but they do exist.

Re: Minimum length of a premium baby grand
Beemer #2519346 03/09/16 08:25 PM
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I know the term "premium" is a key word in this thread, but it has been my experience that with many smaller baby grands, they can sound very nice from middle C upward and mediocre below middle C. I played a 5 foot Young Chang baby grand at a church a while back, and was surprised at how nice it sounded and played in the mid-section of the piano; however, the low bass was really thin and shallow.

You just have to play the pianos, regardless of size, to see if you like them. smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
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