Spinet vs Console Piano

Introduction

There are four different types of vertical piano, listed from shortest to tallest: spinet, console, studio and upright. Each type has a slightly different look and sound. We’ll explain the differences between Spinet and Console Piano to help you narrow down which instrument might be best for your family.

What is a Spinet Piano?

Upright or vertical pianos come in various different sizes and the spinet piano is the smallest of the upright pianos measuring between 36” and 40” tall from the floor to the top of the lid and weighing about 300 pounds. The keyboard is approximately five feet wide, like most pianos. But the spinet varies from other uprights not merely in size. Originally introduced in the 1930s, spinets were designed to be smaller and cheaper than other uprights, and to accomplish this, is a different kind of action was introduced called a drop action or an indirect blow action with rods or “elbows” under the keyboard connecting each key to the action.

Also, the keys on a spinet piano are shorter. The top of the piano is just a few inches above the keys and the action is located below, this does save space and dimensions, but it results in a lack of control.

That benign said, there were brands of spinet that found great favour over the years. Baldwin’s Acrosonic spinet piano was considered one of the better spinets as its action was well designed and built to be removed in one piece for service. The string scale was one of the better spinet scales and reasonably easy to tune (as much as any spinet is). Other commercial brands included Wurlitzer spinet pianos which were modest models, reasonably priced, as were Kimball spinet pianos. These days most manufacturers have stopped producing spinets entirely.

Youtube Reviews

YouTube Review #1 – This video talks about how we’re the spinet pianos made and why were they made that way. Also, the video answers the question if the spinet piano is the right one for you.

Youtube Review #2 – By watching this video you will know what NOT to do when looking for a piano.

Is it Worth it?

Spinets were usually the least expensive entry-level pianos a company would manufacture, and most are not worth repairing. Many of these small, cheap pianos were so poorly designed and constructed that, even when new, and regulated and tuned as well as possible, they played poorly and sounded terrible.

Quality

Spinets are space savers and usually less expensive than other uprights, but a lesser quality of sound is the tradeoff. A spinet is not capable of producing the nuanced sound, touch and volume required by professional musicians due to their smallness and action design. The other drawback is that spinets are more difficult to maintain, thus more expensive to tune and repair. Tuners and technicians generally avoid working on this type of piano.

Spinet piano advantages 

Spinet pianos are smaller and more lightweight than consoles. They are ideal for small apartments and homes, small performance venues and consumers wanting a piano but not wanting to make the major investment needed to acquire a large concert quality instrument.

Spinet piano disadvantages

It has adequate volume for smaller venues (a home, a small club stage) but cannot filla large hall. They also require tuning more frequently than larger more stable console cabinets. As an investment, spinets rarely retain value through the years.

What is a Console Piano?

The console piano is the next largest upright, and is somewhere between 40” and 44” tall, – compact and space-saving, but with better performance than a spinet. Manufacturers today are using actions from larger uprights in consoles to give console pianos bigger performance, and while the original consoles were 43” tall, the continental console designs have crept upwards to 44 inches. Because of the popularity of the console piano, manufacturers continue to improve the design.

May manufacturers build console pianos that continue to enjoy robust sales today. Yamaha, Baldwin, Pearl River, Pramberger, Charles R.Walter, Kawai and Young Chang – just to name a few.

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Price

The price of a console piano can vary from 5500$ to 12000$. When buying a piano you should consider how seriously do you take your piano game. A good piano is an expensive investment so you should take all of the aspects into consideration when buying one!

Benefits:

Take Up Less Space

The design of these compact pianos will save you the necessary space. Their width is 5 feet (1.5 m) on average, including both the keys and console. Since they are only 2 feet (61 cm) deep, it is an excellent option to place along the wall.

On average, upright models are at least 50 inches (1.3 m) high, but you can find higher models, as well. On the other hand, you can purchase a spinet, the smallest possible version of a vertical piano that is 37 inches (0.9 m) high.

All parts of these pianos, including action parts, strings, springs, and hammers, stand straight up. Thanks to the lid’s top position, you will get more sound without changing the piano position. Plus, the practical thing is that you can place the piano bench underneath the keyboard area.

Lower Price

Upright pianos are far less expensive than grand pianos because of the simple design, less labour and material used, and a quicker building process. You can find this instrument for the price of $3,000, but you should pay at least $5,000 to $8,000 for a higher quality model. If you want to save money, you can buy a used, antique upright piano for $500.

Quality

The sound quality of the console piano is absolutely satisfactory for most home pianists. Unlike spinets, console pianos have a normal action that sits directly on top of the keys, and the hammers sit in an upright (not dropped) position. Just as it should, a hammer strikes the string, which releases the key, and a spring pulls the hammer back into position. The action of a console piano (and most of the uprights) is not as immediately responsive and tonal quality and dynamics are not as rich as that of a grand piano, but it definitely preferable to the spinet piano’s touch and tone.

Console piano advantages 

Console pianos retain much of the volume and dynamic range of the grand piano. Larger sound boards, longer strings and greater hammer leverage gives the console a deep resonant tone able to fill even the largest concert hall. Concert quality console pianos retain their value and can even appreciate with age.

Console piano disadvantages 

The same features giving the console piano its advantages also works against it: size, weight and cost. Console pianos can weight as much as many grand pianos and also have an equal cost. The same amount of labor needed to move and install a grand piano is also required for the console.

Who Is It Best For?

Consol pianos are for anyone who wants to learn how to play the piano. Console pianos are easy to manage and control, especially if you’re new to playing the piano. The best part is that they are reasonably priced compared to Grand pianos.

Pros and Cons of upright pianos

ProsCons
Vertical pianos are far less expensive than even the smallest grand pianos.Quick depreciation lets you find a young, used piano for a good price.High-quality uprights have rich voices that age well.Upright pianos tend to depreciate in value quickly.Uprights are sensitive to temperature fluctuations because of the soundboard’s position. The sostenuto pedal is commonly omitted from verticals, but this allows space for the volume-decreasing “practise rail” pedal.

Pianos today

Nobody makes spinet pianos anymore. At some point they lost favorability with consumers and have since been replaced by less expensive consoles that don’t have to sacrifice the quality of the actions.

Despite spinets having different actions, there were some higher quality models – the Baldwin Acrosonic being a classic example – that were decent pianos. The inherent limitations in console and spinet pianos lies more in the size of the pianos more than anything else. With a smaller soundboard and shorter strings, the pianos are limited in the amount of sound they can produce.

Generally console pianos are superior to spinet pianos because of the regular style actions and the slightly taller size of the instruments which offers a more rewarding sound.

If you like this article and found the provided information useful, you might want to check out our other reviews at AalbergAudio.com