Glossary of Common Piano Terms
Just a few of the common terms people use in connection with pianos, and their intended meanings
baby grand: a grand piano no longer than 5ft
boudoir grand: not a precise term, but a grand of around 5-7ft
concert grand: not a precise term, but a grand of around 7-9ft
cottage piano: a small upright. Not a specific term, mostly used in early 20th century
cross-strung: same as overstrung. A term seldom used in the trade.
full grand: a ‘full-size’ grand – whatever that might mean! Presumably as ‘concert grand’ above.
grand: a piano with strings running horizontally, away from the keyboard. Any length, from ‘baby’ to ‘concert’.
highly-strung: (!) not a piano term. Maybe applies to a few concert pianists or piano tuners though!
iron framed: all modern pianos are iron (or steel) framed. The full, one-piece iron frame was developed from the mid 19th century and gradually became the norm. Some makers continued making wood-framed pianos into the first decade of the 20th century, but these are to be avoided as their tuning is very unstable.
loud pedal, soft pedal, practice pedal etc...: see our pedal page!
oblique strung: as straight-strung, but with strings at a slight diagonal to the casework
overdamped: dampers are situated above the hammers
overstrung: bass strings crossing diagonally over middle/treble range of strings
parlour grand: not a precise term, but a grand of around 6-8ft
ship’s (yacht) piano: very small piano, sometimes with keyboard able to fold up, flat against front of piano
straight-strung: all strings run parallel (or nearly so)
underdamped: dampers are situated below the hammers
under-strung: no such thing!
upright grand: a term used by some manufacturers in the early 20th century, presumably indicating a large upright. Has nothing to do with a grand piano!
vertical strung: upright piano, same as straight strung