Monday, August 29, 2011

Piano Phrases and Vocabulary You Should Know Before Buying a Piano

Investing in a piano is a great idea. They hold their value, add sophistication to a room and enrich the lives of you and your family through music. If you are thinking of buying this beautiful instrument, there are a few terms and phrases you should be familiar with. This is a big purchase, so educate yourself with these piano vocabulary basics:

Vertical or Grand

These are the two types of piano. A vertical, also known as an upright, is the model that sits flush with wall. The grand is the large curvaceous model that is associated with professional pianists. Both have their merits and either is a good choice provided you don't skimp on quality. Both styles come in different sizes to suit anywhere from the tiniest of spaces to largest concert halls. Whether you want a basic or a professional model, either style adds a touch of class and beauty to any room.

The Back

This is the backbone of the instrument and good sturdy quality materials are essential in making a durable instrument. Always inspect the frame and the back before purchasing.


In the finest instruments, spruce is used to create this essential component. It is responsible for the tone produced by the strings as they vibrate against the board. Spruce is used because its fine straight grain is naturally conducive to moving sound.

Action and Hammers

The action of a piano is quite complicated because it involves the concert movement of over 7,000 parts. As the term "action" implies, this is the active workings of the instrument. The chain reaction that happens when the keys are hit, the hammers fall and the strings vibrate. The hammers are covered in felt and may be either 9 or 12 pound hammers. The weight refers to the weight of the felt used.


A piano must be regularly tuned to maintain optimum sound quality. Over time, whether you play a lot or not at all, the strings need to be tightened and adjusted for proper sound. Frequent playing as well as simple aging weakens the strings and throws off the tone and key of the instrument. Humidity also wreaks havoc on the strings so the instrument should be kept in a controlled environment.


There are two pedals, sometimes three, at the base of the instrument, and each one has a specific purpose. One is called the damper pedal and it inhibits the strings from vibrating. When this pedal is depressed, the sound continues after you've played the note. Another of the pedals mutes the sound when the note is played. If there is a third pedal, its purpose is to prolong just the bass notes.

Educating yourself about the piano is the best way to make sure you choose the right one for you as well as aid in your learning and playing abilities. Just knowing these terms and phrases will help you prepare questions for the dealer. Remember this is a big investment so you want to know exactly what you are getting. It also helps you determine what is important to you and what you can live without.

Halls Piano Company, Metairie, is Louisiana's exclusive Steinway dealer thanks to their commitment to excellence in piano sales and service. Visit them at to download a free piano buying guide.

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