Grand pianos come in many different sizes and baby grand pianos are the smallest of those. But there appears to be no clear consensus on the difference in dimensions between grand and baby grand varieties. At which point does a baby grand become a fully-fledged grand piano? It’s important to establish what the difference is, as this may affect how the piano is priced, and possibly the quality of sound. Here we investigate this issue by comparing the different available sizes of pianos.
Generally, the bigger the piano, the better the sound quality. Longer strings mean a richer sound and greater harmonic precision. If you’re looking at pianos for sale online, make sure you pay attention to the dimensions. Two so-called “baby grand piano” can have very different sizes and tonal qualities. For instance, if you were browsing Kawai pianos online, you could easily get the impression that there is no such thing as a Kawai baby grand piano. All of their pianos appear to be marketed as “grand”, but the lengths actually vary from 150cm right up to 227cm. If you compare the lengths of the smallest of these, to the lengths of Yamaha’s baby grands, you’ll find that at least three of the Kawai models could easily be classified as baby pianos. Kawai’s GM-10K, GM-12, and GE-20 all have lengths of less than 160cm, whereas Yamaha’s GC1 Baby Grand has a length of 161 cm.
Similarly, the Yamaha GC1 has the exact same dimensions as the Yamaha C1L Grand, except the latter is slightly heavier. Despite there being no difference in length, these two models are marketed differently. So based on the Yamaha catalogue, one might think that it is the weight, and not the length of a piano, that determines its classification. This is an example of how two very similar instruments are put into different categories, which is likely to affect the price. So make sure you pay attention to the dimensions rather than just the name.
The Baby Grand variety usually have shorter, thicker strings which may produce less precision in sound. They are smaller and more convenient for use at home, but there may be the slightest trade-off in the quality of frequencies, from a highly technical perspective. However, any difference is likely to go unnoticed by most accomplished musicians. If you’re thinking about buying a baby grand piano, consider getting the longest one you can practically accommodate, so you get the best possible sound quality.