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The Grand Piano Overture

The piano, a centerpiece of musical performance and education for centuries, is an instrument steeped in history and intrigue. From grand concert halls to cozy living rooms, pianos have a universal appeal that transcends cultures and genres.

The Invention of the Piano

The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Italy in the early 18th century. It was initially named “gravicembalo col piano e forte,” meaning a harpsichord that can play soft and loud. Cristofori’s first pianos were quite different from today’s models, featuring a more delicate sound and a smaller frame.

Pre-Owned Steinway – Houston Piano Company


The Grand Piano and the Upright Piano

There are primarily two types of pianos: the grand piano and the upright piano. The grand piano has horizontal strings and can be more than 9 feet long, while the upright; a more compact version, has vertical strings.

  • The size and orientation of the strings in these two types significantly affect the piano’s sound projection and tonal qualities.
  • The modern grand piano action has an advantage over most vertical pianos as it works with gravity and will repeat more rapidly.                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  • Pre-Owned Inventory – Houston Piano Company

The Longest Piano in the World

The world’s longest grand piano, created by Adrian Mann, measures an astounding 18 feet and 9 inches. It was built by the New Zealand piano tuner over four years and offers a deeper bass sound due to its extended strings. He began building this piano when he was only 15 years old!


Pianos Are Made of Thousands of Parts

A standard piano comprises over 12,000 individual parts, with each component playing a crucial role in its operation and sound production. The complexity of its mechanism is a marvel of engineering.


The High Number of Strings

An average grand piano has about 230 strings, with each string capable of holding up to 168 pounds of tension. The total tension in a concert grand can reach over 20 tons!


The Origin of the Middle C

The Middle C on a piano is known as C4 because it’s the fourth C note on a standard 88-key piano. It’s a reference point in music theory and a common starting place for learning piano.


Pianos and Elephants

Historically, piano key tops were made from elephant ivory. Due to conservation efforts and ethical concerns, piano manufacturers switched to plastic in the 20th century, marking a significant shift in piano-making materials. Newer synthetic key tops can accurately simulate ivory without harming elephants.                                                                                               PIANO TIMELINE Archives – Houston Piano Company


The Piano’s Range

A standard modern piano has a range of 88 keys, covering seven octaves plus a minor third. This range allows it to cover the full spectrum of orchestral instruments, from the lowest note on a double bass to the highest note on a piccolo. Some models from the highly praised Bosendorfer have as many as 97 keys!                                                                                       Pianos I Houston Piano Company I Inventory New & Pre-Owned


The Pedals and Their Purpose

While most know of the sustain pedal, grand pianos typically have two or three pedals, each with a unique function. The left pedal una corda (soft pedal) changes the piano’s timbre, and the center sostenuto pedal sustains only the notes being held down when it’s pressed, and the right pedal is called the damper pedal which lifts all the dampers from the strings allowing them to continue to sustain until releasing the pedal.


Frequency of Piano Tuning

A piano should ideally be tuned twice a year. However, concert pianos are tuned before every performance, and recording studio pianos may be tuned daily. Maintaining a tuning schedule will increase the lifespan and enjoyment of the piano.    Piano Upgrades I Houston Piano Company I Tuning & Maintenance


From its rich history and intricate design to its vast range and cultural significance, the piano is an instrument of wonder and fascination. Each fact about the piano, whether it be about its construction, history, or place in the world, adds to the appreciation of this magnificent instrument. Whether you’re a seasoned pianist or simply an admirer of music, the piano’s multifaceted nature ensures that it continues to captivate and inspire generation after generation.


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