I remember once overhearing a young woman in a coffee shop saying to her friend across the table, “I hope someday I get so rich that I can own a piano!” I was charmed and amused, but it was at that point I realized that “baby grand” is such a common phrase that some people might think any three-legged piano is a “baby grand.” The fact is this popular instrument called a “baby” is so named because it’s smaller than other “grand” pianos. Grands are categorized by size, and as you can see the “Parlor” and “Drawing Room” categories (below) reflect the popular piano sizes for rooms of a bygone era. (More categories than needed, if you ask me, but tradition sticks!)
Concert Grand – 8’11” and longer. (10’ is the current longest).
Semi Concert Grand – 7’4” – 8’10”
Parlor Grand – 6’8”
Drawing Room Grand – 6’4”
Professional Grand – 6’
Living Room Grand – 5’10”
Medium Grand – 5’7” to 5’9”
Baby Grand – 5’ to 5’7”
Petite Baby Grand – under 4’7” up to 5’
Different piano manufacturers have added to the confusion by developing their own names and sizes for the categories, making them somewhat arbitrary. Steinway, for instance, makes a Model B that is 6’11” and they call it their “Classic Grand.” It fits somewhere between the size of Semi Concert Grand and a Parlor Grand. Steinway’s Model A is 6’2” and called their “Salon Grand.” It’s just a little bigger than the Professional Grand. So depending on the brand, the exact sizes fluctuate a bit, but this gives you a ballpark idea of their dimensions. To make matters even more complicated, European and Asian pianos are measured in centimeters, so you need to keep the conversion multiplier handy if you want to know their footage. One inch equals 2.54 cm. But we’re talking baby grands, so I’ll tell you right now a baby grand is in the neighborhood of 155 cm. (as an example Steinway baby grand dimensions are 5’1” or 155 cm). (and they named it “City Grand”) By any other name, it’s still a baby grand.
What’s the Point of All These Categories?
That would be a reasonable question. What was/is the point in breaking down grand pianos into so many categories? The first consideration would be performance quality.
The soundboard and strings of a grand piano are positioned lengthwise inside the piano case. As you press down a piano key, the hammer of the key hits the strings from below to produce sound. The size of the soundboard and the length of strings influence the tonal quality of a piano. Larger soundboards and longer strings produce greater volume and resonance of tone, also an increase in tonal variety. For a more detailed look at the workings of grand piano check out How A Grand Piano Works on our blog. The piano with the longest length would be the concert grand, made to be heard throughout the concert hall, to the rafters and back rows. A piano that powerful would be overkill in most homes, so over the generations, various sizes were developed to fit the needs of parlors, drawing rooms, small professional venues, etc. Many of our homes are smaller today than the Victorian drawing rooms of the past.
Floor Space for the Piano
The second reason for breaking down grands by category is that the dimensions of the piano are a serious consideration for the buyer. This large instrument needs to fit the floor space available, leaving additional room for a piano stool or bench. So measurements are not only necessary, but make a visual difference in the balance and decor of a room, furniture to space. Currently the “baby grand” is the model of choice for home use because its volume and tone are sufficient to “fill” the typical living room, and its size makes it appropriate for modest homes as well as high end luxury homes.
What Are the Dimensions of a Baby Grand Piano?
Shopping for a new piano is fun. Most buyers have an eye for a beautiful case, and when they see something they want, they don’t go much further than inquiring about the price. If it’s a baby grand, then it should fit the room, right? Where’s my checkbook? It must be said that there are some variations in sizes of baby grands, so it behooves the buyer to examine the specs of each piano under consideration. The dimensions of a piano will impact the space available.
Grand pianos are typically named and defined by their lengths. The standard length (from the keyboard to the tail) of a baby grand piano is generally between 5ft to 5ft and 7 inches. A petite baby grand piano length is usually under 5ft. The width of most baby grand pianos is approximately 5 feet.
As an example, the Yamaha baby grand piano dimensions vary slightly from model to model. The C1X baby grand is 5’9” (175 cm) while the GC1 measures 161 cm, and the GB1K model measures only 151 cm. The Kawai baby grand piano dimensions for their GE-30 Model are 5’5” (164 cm) long, so you can see that the classification for “baby grand piano dimensions inches” can vary by a quite a few inches or centimeters. The difference of a few inches can have a big impact on a space. Designers often draw out their own floor plans. Before buying the piano, the dimensions of the baby grand piano should be calculated into the space available.
The floor space allowance for the baby grand should be at a minimum 5′ wide by 6½’ long, including bench space. Anyone can draw a simple scale floor plan on graph paper. This gives you the freedom to experiment with furniture configurations without having to move a single piece of real furniture. Mark in features such as windows, doors and fireplace on your graph. On a separate piece of paper box-draw the furniture items that you want to remain in the room.
If you use inches or half inches to represent feet, and you use a tape measure, you can draw a scale outline of each item. Cut them out, and start to experiment with the floor plan. Doors and windows need to open with no furniture blocking them. Leave plenty of space to walk around the room and between furniture without being crowded and overfull. There are even drag and drop websites that allow you to move furniture around to arrange your rooms.
How Wide Is a Piano?
There are slight variations in piano widths from brand to brand, but not more than an inch or less, usually. Five feet is the standard width of grand pianos as well as uprights and spinets.
It makes sense that if everyone uses the same piano keys to make music, there must be a modicum of standardization so that pianos are useful to and usable by the widest possible market. Unlike the length of pianos (which increases the quality with length), width does not affect the value of the instrument.
Standard pianos normally have 88 keys, and five feet width accommodates them. Digital pianos and keyboards might have 61 keys. Lower-end synthesizers may have as few as 25 keys, although most home-use keyboards come with 49, 61, or 76 keys, so the widths may vary from the standard five feet, for the purpose of making them portable or extra space-saving.
When purchasing an instrument, it is always smart to look at the specifications and match them to your intended space for the piano.
Should You Buy the Smallest Baby Grand?
You will sometimes find really tiny instruments which qualify as petite baby grand piano dimensions under five feet. But there often is a loss of sound quality associated with really short petite grands (less than 5ft). Larger soundboard and longer strings produce greater volume and resonance of tone. As you can see, a petite baby grand is not even as long as it is wide. Never Forget: The longer the piano, the better the performance. It might be worthwhile to take a look at the beautiful new uprights available today if your floor space can’t accommodate more than a petite baby grand. The performance quality of high-end uprights surpasses that of most petite grands.
What Other Dimensions Can Affect a Baby Grand?
Besides the overall dimension of the piano fitting into your room, there is one other dimension to consider. A small piano with a wider tail can house longer bass strings and has space for a bigger soundboard. Additionally, it has a better receptive area for its bridges. Pianos that include a wider tail make for a superior piano because the bass tone is so much richer. See the comparison in wide versus narrow tails below, assuming the pianos are the same length.
So, in summary, baby grand piano size dimensions play an important role in the choice of the piano you select for your home. The dimensions determine the quality of sound and the traffic flow or functionality of your space. We have a list of favorite baby grand pianos as well as other educative documentation on our blog.
We would be remiss if we didn’t plug our own inhouse-designed acrylic baby grand piano called “The Aire” (so transparent it looks like it floats on air!) It qualifies in size as a baby grand. There’s just something about the acrylic that makes this piano less dominant in a space.
About Euro Pianos Naples
Euro Pianos Naples is a respected distributor of European luxury musical instruments. The company’s origin dates back to 1965. Euro Pianos represents world renowned brands such as Sauter, and it has recently become a manufacturer of its own acrylic instrument – The Aire. Apart from being a successful retailer, consultant, and entrepreneur organization, Euro Pianos is actively engaged in the artistic and community life of Naples, Florida as an organizer and supporter of musical events throughout the years.