Piano was the first keyboard instrument in which sound volume could be adjusted by the amount of force used to strike the key.
Piano is an abbreviation of the word Pianoforte, which is an Italian word for the instrument. It is a stringed instrument, which produces sound when keys are pressed, which in turn causes hammers to strike the steel strings with various intensities. The hammers then rebound causing the strings to vibrate at their resonant frequency. Bartolomeo Cristofori created the gravecembalo col piano e forte in early 1700s. The changes that were made to the early invention became the basis of what today's pianos are. They were originally large and horizontal, and used to take up much of the floor space. As the need arose, and thanks to technology, pianos were turned up vertically. As of today, there are two types of vertical pianos - console piano and spinet piano. Here, we will have a detailed look at the console piano.
What is a Console Piano?
Console piano is the most popular of the upright or vertical pianos, with other four being spinet, the consolette, the studio, and the professional. They are smaller than the usual pianos that most people have. It was developed in the 19th century keeping in mind the space-saving factor unlike the Grand pianos that are horizontal and large. It gained popularity in the 1900s as a piano of mid-range size and enhanced tones. So, if you are particular about your decor complementing the piano, then console is the one for you. It comes in a variety of choices. Owing to the digitized world, composing music has become easy and fun these days. Its design has made it a popular choice for many homes these days. The appearance ranges from wooden finishes with ornate inlays to modern sleek lines. The most renowned manufacturers of quality console pianos are Steinway, Kawai, and Yamaha.
The major difference in the five types of upright pianos is the height. The height of the console piano ranges from 40 inches to 43 inches. The height of the console piano falls in between the heights spinet and professional pianos, with spinet being the shortest and professional being the tallest. The tallest piano is about 55-60 inches in length and 21-25 inches in depth.
It weighs slightly more than the spinet. It also depends upon the material used for making a console. It usually weighs between 300-500 lbs. The action is considered to be the heaviest part of the piano. It is still lighter as compared to grand piano, which is 1300 lbs. Their light weight makes it easy to move them around, and are portable.
Other than height, pianos are distinguished on the basis of action also. The action of a piano is the mechanism that causes the hammer to strike the strings when a key is pressed. Console pianos have direct-blow action i.e. the action is above the keys. In indirect blows, the action is below the keys.
They have the same string length as grand pianos. It is directly related to the action. The strings are perpendicular to the keyboard and vertical to the performer. The longer strings give better sound quality. The length of the strings is usually around 10-12 inches long from action to the top of the soundboard. The soundboard is vertical and the strings are stretched downwards. Consoles with indirect blow usually have shorter strings.
These days, console pianos are mostly made with three pedals. The leftmost pedal is the soft pedal. The rightmost pedal is the sustaining pedal (damper), which gives out the sound ring when the fingers are released from the keys. The middle pedal is usually called the 'sostenuto pedal' i.e. it sustains only those notes which are depressed prior to and while holding the pedal down. It does not sustain any notes that are depressed after holding it down.
The console pianos are less expensive than grand pianos. The average price of a console piano ranges from $1000 to $3000, whether digital or not. The consoles of concert quality can retain their value and even appreciate with age.
Although grand piano is preferred for performing in terms of sound quality, the console satisfies the music lovers and enthusiasts. It retains much of the volume of the grand piano. Larger soundboards, longer strings, and more hammer leverage gives console piano an enhanced tone that is enough to fill a large concert hall.
Choosing a piano for your home should be a fun experience. Get your whole family involved in selecting a piano. And most importantly, decide whether you will go for upright or grand pianos keeping budget into consideration. Console pianos are the most popular of all by far, mainly because of the practicality and near-to-grand performance. So, all the piano lovers out there, play it away to glory!