The upright piano was invented to fit into small homes. By tilting the strings onto a vertical, and reducing the size of the keyboard, the upright piano could be owned by practically anyone with a dining room or music room.
Modern-day homes don’t tend to have dedicated rooms for music lessons, and we have pesky interferences like central heating that pose a serious hazard to pianos. So while it’s possible to choose a piano for a small space in the home, it’s wise to do your research before falling in love with a particular instrument.
As middle-class British families moved into semi-detached houses after the war, British piano makers became good at adapting their instruments for the market. As a result, we advise people not to discount older, used models.
You can pick up an excellent small piano up made in the last century, and it will still play as well as it did when it was made back in the 1960s. Make sure you get our expert advice before you hand over any cash, or ask us to find a used piano on your behalf.
If you’re dead set on buying a new piano, you’ll be looking at the affordable uprights made in China. Many respected manufacturers have moved operations to China in recent years, so there’s nothing to fear in terms of quality. The tone may be brighter and sharper than a used model, so the key is to play a few and see how you respond.
Small spaces will always limit piano positioning. In general, the normal rules apply; keep the piano away from heat, sun, moisture, vibration and anything else that could change the tuning or damage the casing. Don’t discount areas like hallways, providing the piano won’t get in the way (or be used as a shelf). Corners are ideal, but you need to avoid moving the piano or making it inaccessible for play.
Small pianos are obviously more suited to children and smaller adults, but that doesn’t mean you can’t own one if you’re tall. Try a range of piano stools to make sure you can operate the pedals comfortably and sit at the piano without your knees touching any part.
Don’t compromise on having 88 full size keys, though, since the experience will be very different once you come to play on a full-size piano – at an exam, for example.
Buying a piano is not like buying an item of furniture for the home. You need a certain amount of space around it, and the right conditions, to make it enjoyable to play. Bad positioning could ruin your investment and cause damage. Plus, a piano squeezed up behind a sofa is never going to be played at all.
If you’re stuck and need help, ask Piano Workshop for advice and help. We’ll point you towards some of our best small pianos, or help you source a good quality used model at a price you can afford.