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#3192788 02/09/22 07:42 PM
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I'm seeing a few interesting grand pianos in the 200cm range (~ 6'7"). Cost and "larger is always better" aside, I was wondering if there's any reason why this size might not be ideal, compared to making the jump to 7', which is something I've heard a few times (that, as well as "the 6' version is just as good")?

Is moving from 6.5' to 7' just a linear jump from 6' to 6.5'? Or are there other things at play that would be good to be aware of, such as:

a. Scale design (or key length, or other manufacturing decisions) for 6' typically apply up to 6'11, and at that point manufacturers switch the design for the 7'+ range?
b. There's something special that happens at 7' that you just don't get at 6 and a half (i.e., why is it common advice to try to stretch from 5'10 to 6' if budget allows)?
c. Buyers tend to shop for whole number sizes so selling used at 6', 7' tends to sell better in the used market?
d. I did say cost aside, but is there any correlation with hitting 6' or 7' and more/less significant price bumps for new pianos?

I do of course, take heed of the maxim to just play the pianos and choose the one that you love the most, regardless of size. But I'd love to get a better sense of everything else as well.


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I look forward to learning new things from all the replies to this.

My take is not objective (or even informative) at all, but 50 years of playing/40 of tuning has just made me always feel like a 7' is a fully grown piano, a real piano, a serious piano, and under that, I just don't get that feeling. It kicks in at 7' for me. No facts to help you, just my feelings. Definite inflection point in my perceptions at 7' when I play.

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Originally Posted by An Old Square
I look forward to learning new things from all the replies to this.

My take is not objective (or even informative) at all, but 50 years of playing/40 of tuning has just made me always feel like a 7' is a fully grown piano, a real piano, a serious piano, and under that, I just don't get that feeling. It kicks in at 7' for me. No facts to help you, just my feelings. Definite inflection point in my perceptions at 7' when I play.

What about a Steinway B that's just under 6'11?

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Originally Posted by noyes
Originally Posted by An Old Square
I look forward to learning new things from all the replies to this.

My take is not objective (or even informative) at all, but 50 years of playing/40 of tuning has just made me always feel like a 7' is a fully grown piano, a real piano, a serious piano, and under that, I just don't get that feeling. It kicks in at 7' for me. No facts to help you, just my feelings. Definite inflection point in my perceptions at 7' when I play.

What about a Steinway B that's just under 6'11?

Ah, bit of a special case there, those have always been 7's in my unofficial book.

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Originally Posted by An Old Square
I look forward to learning new things from all the replies to this.

My take is not objective (or even informative) at all, but 50 years of playing/40 of tuning has just made me always feel like a 7' is a fully grown piano, a real piano, a serious piano, and under that, I just don't get that feeling. It kicks in at 7' for me. No facts to help you, just my feelings. Definite inflection point in my perceptions at 7' when I play.

My first grand piano was a pre-owned, Japanese made Tokai G180, ca 1987. When I bought it, I didn't really know what I was looking for, but knew my budget limitations. The Tokai, at 5'10", which was supposedly a close copy of a Steinway "O", was located close to home, affordable, adequate and became rather enjoyable to play after some regulation and voicing.

But, alas, after a while playing the Tokai, I decided there was a better piano to be had, out there somewhere. During a piano shopping visit at a large piano dealer in the Atlanta area, they had an older Yamaha C7, 7'4". (They added 2" to the length of the C7 around 1980 or so, and the later C7s are 7'6").

Anyway, despite the older Yamaha C7 being old, and warn, the tone appealed to me a lot, and more than any other piano I had played, new or used; particularly the low bass. I played a pre-owned Young Chang 7 footer and the Yamaha C7 side by side, and liked both pianos, but preferred the C7. I asked the salesman to give me a price on both pianos, which included a trade-in on my Tokai G180. The prices they offered were probably average retail from a dealer, but I decided to hold off and keep looking, especially for a Yamaha C7 I could afford.

Not long after that, I saw a Yamaha C7 on eBay being sold by a large Church in Tennessee, a bordering state. I contacted the music director and asked some questions about the C7, but was unable to go look at it before the eBay auction ended. Luckily for me, no one else bid on the piano, and they did not relist it. So, I figured I'd make an offer on the C7, sight unseen, to the Church. Not long after I made the offer, they made a counter offer, which was very attractive to me. I scheduled a time to go look at the C7, and it was on a Sunday morning, so my late wife (who was disabled and in a wheelchair) and I got up very early and drove to the Church in Tennessee for Sunday services and to look at the C7.

After a great service, and very friendly Church members, the music director escorted us to the adjacent building where the C7 was located. It didn't take me long to make up my mind that I wanted the piano, and asked the music director what form of payment they wanted, and how I could secure the purchase of the C7 until I could have the piano moved. They agreed to hold the piano for me until I could have it moved, which was that next Wednesday. The entire ordeal was a blessing for sure, if you believe in that sort of thing...

The Benefits of hitting 7 feet? It's hard to describe... you just have to experience it, like An Old Square said. smile

Rick


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A Direct vs. Cantilevered bass bridge appears at 7'+


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Originally Posted by Rickster
Originally Posted by An Old Square
I look forward to learning new things from all the replies to this.

My take is not objective (or even informative) at all, but 50 years of playing/40 of tuning has just made me always feel like a 7' is a fully grown piano, a real piano, a serious piano, and under that, I just don't get that feeling. It kicks in at 7' for me. No facts to help you, just my feelings. Definite inflection point in my perceptions at 7' when I play.

My first grand piano was a pre-owned, Japanese made Tokai G180, ca 1987. When I bought it, I didn't really know what I was looking for, but knew my budget limitations. The Tokai, at 5'10", which was supposedly a close copy of a Steinway "O", was located close to home, affordable, adequate and became rather enjoyable to play after some regulation and voicing.

But, alas, after a while playing the Tokai, I decided there was a better piano to be had, out there somewhere. During a piano shopping visit at a large piano dealer in the Atlanta area, they had an older Yamaha C7, 7'4". (They added 2" to the length of the C7 around 1980 or so, and the later C7s are 7'6").

Anyway, despite the older Yamaha C7 being old, and warn, the tone appealed to me a lot, and more than any other piano I had played, new or used; particularly the low bass. I played a pre-owned Young Chang 7 footer and the Yamaha C7 side by side, and liked both pianos, but preferred the C7. I asked the salesman to give me a price on both pianos, which included a trade-in on my Tokai G180. The prices they offered were probably average retail from a dealer, but I decided to hold off and keep looking, especially for a Yamaha C7 I could afford.

Not long after that, I saw a Yamaha C7 on eBay being sold by a large Church in Tennessee, a bordering state. I contacted the music director and asked some questions about the C7, but was unable to go look at it before the eBay auction ended. Luckily for me, no one else bid on the piano, and they did not relist it. So, I figured I'd make an offer on the C7, sight unseen, to the Church. Not long after I made the offer, they made a counter offer, which was very attractive to me. I scheduled a time to go look at the C7, and it was on a Sunday morning, so my late wife (who was disabled and in a wheelchair) and I got up very early and drove to the Church in Tennessee for Sunday services and to look at the C7.

After a great service, and very friendly Church members, the music director escorted us to the adjacent building where the C7 was located. It didn't take me long to make up my mind that I wanted the piano, and asked the music director what form of payment they wanted, and how I could secure the purchase of the C7 until I could have the piano moved. They agreed to hold the piano for me until I could have it moved, which was that next Wednesday. The entire ordeal was a blessing for sure, if you believe in that sort of thing...

The Benefits of hitting 7 feet? It's hard to describe... you just have to experience it, like An Old Square said. smile

Rick

That is a very lovely story, truly, thank you for sharing it! smile

And by the way, the Yamaha C7 is one of my very favorite pianos in the whole world. I liked tuning them (and then playing them hard for half an hour, then touching up unisons) so much, I almost felt guilty charging for it, lol. If I ever have space for a real piano, it'll probably be a used C7 with a light touch and an extra clean treble, that I can then regulate and voice the bejeezsus out of. Probably add tungsten to the front of the keysticks and get in the 40-50 gm quasi-Horowitzian range.

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Trying to link specific lengths to specific qualities is a silly approach. The idea that at 7' some special magic appears that's not available at 6'11" or even 6'9''is IMO nonsense.

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Not all changes are linear, but the precise inflection points are probably model-specific.

I get the same thing in certain boats. They will behave one way when the true wind is 13 knots, then 14, 15, etc. You make incremental changes to adjust, but it is the same logic in each situation. There is a point around 19, though, when everything changes and you have to plan sail trim with a completely different strategy.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Trying to link specific lengths to specific qualities is a silly approach. The idea that at 7' some special magic appears that's not available at 6'11" or even 6'9''is IMO nonsense.

I've always wondered if this was a general rule of thumb that eventually took on a life of its own, particular at the magical, oft-cited 6ft point? But then, most concert grands are right around 9ft, must be for a reason, right? Is that the greatest length that fits in a freight elevator?


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Trying to link specific lengths to specific qualities is a silly approach. The idea that at 7' some special magic appears that's not available at 6'11" or even 6'9''is IMO nonsense.

I've always wondered if this was a general rule of thumb that eventually took on a life of its own, particular at the magical, oft-cited 6ft point? But then, most concert grands are right around 9ft, must be for a reason, right? Is that the greatest length that fits in a freight elevator?
There is no magical 6' point and it's not oft cited.

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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Trying to link specific lengths to specific qualities is a silly approach. The idea that at 7' some special magic appears that's not available at 6'11" or even 6'9''is IMO nonsense.

I've always wondered if this was a general rule of thumb that eventually took on a life of its own, particular at the magical, oft-cited 6ft point? But then, most concert grands are right around 9ft, must be for a reason, right? Is that the greatest length that fits in a freight elevator?

My playing experience is limited, but I think there is a much bigger difference in the tonal qualities of a grand piano from 5 feet to 7 feet than from 7 feet to 9 feet. I have played several 9 foot concert grands, including Kawai, Yamaha and Steinway, so I have had some experience to base my perception/opinion.

On the other had, I've also played some very nice sounding 5'8" to 6' grand pianos. As for any size grand piano being magical, I'm not sure. I guess it depends on what one's definition of magical is. smile

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Looking at Kawai GX-5 (6'7") vs GX-6 (7'), the bigger one lists 21 special features, the smaller one only 20. The lone feature that the smaller one doesn't have is "Continuous Bridge – For smoother transitions between bass and treble registers". But it seems that this difference has more to do with the premium (+$) rather than the size (+5").


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It is all about the bass.


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Many pianos in the 7-foot+ class have a continuous or "ring" bridge, while almost nothing smaller does. That alone doesn't mean much to me.

It has been my experience that most 7-foot and larger pianos are voiced and set up to be quite powerful. Many of the 200-205cm class of instruments I've run across seem better suited to a home or office environment, and less "shouty". Of course, this can be adjusted to some extent by a technician.

A lot of 7-foot pianos have that "just right" zone of fairly even balance/projection between the bass and treble registers, which is not as ideal in smaller (and oftentimes larger) grand pianos.


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Originally Posted by Rickster
The Benefits of hitting 7 feet? It's hard to describe... you just have to experience it, like An Old Square said. smile

Rick

There's experience and then there's experience? Some of the effects are obvious (the more sonorous bass) if you sit down and play a 6ft vs a 7ft piano but living with a 7ft+ piano and playing it day in and day out gives you an appreciation that just playing on a grand for a few hours won't. I'd rather say you have to live it smile. I managed to get to a Grotrian dealer late last year who had a new 192 in stock. There's definitely a family sound compared to the 225 I have. But it's not just the louder bass, it's the palette of sound you have to work with especially when you have to shade things at lower volumes. There's things you notice living with the 225 that are missed on the 192 and I wouldn't ever swap mine for a shorter piano. TBF, comparing to the 208 might have been closer in spirit to what the OP was asking but the dealer didn't have a 208 in stock.

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My take on this question is there are 2 main benefits to going up to 7':
- Longer keys make the feel of the action closer to that of a concert grand.
- Longer bridges and bass strings make for fewer compromises in the string and soundboard scale designs. Deeper bass, more even tone.


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I think almost all would agree that, everything else being equal, moving from 6' to 7' will improve the tone and possible the touch(due to longer keys). But that wasn't the OPs question. He thought(or asked) if moving from 6.5' or even longer but less than 7' up to 7' would make a big difference. He seemed to think that 7' was some magic cutoff length where there was sudden improvement. To me, that's just silly. Does anyone seriously think, for example, if Steinway increased the length of their model B from 6'10'5' to 7' there would be some dramatic improvement?

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I appreciate all the responses here, thank you.

I'm not coming in with any real preconceived notions, just trying to pressure test some things I've heard repeated throughout the years, and again very recently as I've been looking more into acoustic grands.

Hyperbole of "magic" language aside, as an uninformed layperson I do want to know if some justifiable threshold due to things like minimum string speaking length that allows for vibration at a full multiple of wavelength (just making that up), or enabling usage of a single/non-cantilevered bridge (which seems to be real, but sounds like doesn't necessarily make much difference). And I'm not trying to draw some hard line at 7.00ft to exclude the Steinway B, maybe some makers can get it at that 6'11" or 6'10.5" mark with specific designs (just make shorter white keys?).

Anyways, it's been and continues to be interesting and educational, so thanks again everyone.


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There is no cutoff length where some great things happen that can't happen at less than that length. It's a continuum where, everything else being equal, longer pianos allow for longer bass strings and other advantages that KawaiDon mentioned. But length is just one of numerous factors that affect the tone and touch. That's why some people whose budget is x$ choose a higher quality but shorter piano over a longer but lesser quality piano. You are overthinking piano length when it's just one of MANY factors in selecting a piano. Whoever told you what you said about 7' pianos was IMO mistaken.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/10/22 09:25 PM.
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