Tricky Question: Should You Go with an Upright or Grand Piano?

One of the most common questions our Bay Area piano specialists get is: “should I go with an upright or a grand piano?”

The choice can powerfully influence not only your budget but also how you practice and care for your instrument. It’s not one you should take lightly!

The conventional wisdom among piano tuners and teachers is straightforward: all things being equal, the standard upright trumps the baby grand. But that recommendation comes with caveats.


Baby grands look beautiful but often yield somewhat compromised sound quality. A nice sized grand — at least six feet and ideally closer to seven feet — can sound decent, but some critics argue that only instruments in the $10,000+ class are worth respecting.

Obstacles also await you if you opt for an upright. Your upright, ideally, should measure at least 120 cm. Since Pianos Plus is an authorized Yamaha piano leader–and we’ve been selling high quality Yamaha instruments for over four decades–we are obviously biased in favor of Yamaha uprights. But many respected, neutral critics also roundly adore Yamaha’s U1 and U3 models.

[Also Read: Guide to Awesome Digital Pianos]

Piano Look vs. Piano Sound

A piano’s aesthetics don’t necessarily represent its sound quality, and vice versa. If you’reU Series Upright Yamaha Piano buying a decorative piece of furniture–i.e. a piano that no one will ever really play, except perhaps at a cocktail party–then maybe a baby grand is the right choice. Sometimes, it does make sense to choose style over substance.

On the other hand, if you want a durable instrument–i.e. a piano that your child can “grow into” as he or she matures as a pianist–choose substance over style.

You may need help to find the ideal instrument for your budget, practice/composition needs, style, and space needs. The team here at Piano Plus would be happy to talk with you. Give us a call, or find out more about how we can help at