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I'm basing this on no research whatsoever - but to me they're much brighter sounding than your typical grand. The treble gives it the best chance to cut through the drum kit and bass.

Second guess - jazz evolved in small clubs. An upright was cheaper, and easier to fit into the space. So it became the sound of jazz that we've grown accustomed to out of necessity, and not necessarily by choice.

I absolutely admit that I have no idea of these are valid guesses or not. Just hunches.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm basing this on no research whatsoever - but to me they're much brighter sounding than your typical grand. The treble gives it the best chance to cut through the drum kit and bass.

Second guess - jazz evolved in small clubs. An upright was cheaper, and easier to fit into the space. So it became the sound of jazz that we've grown accustomed to out of necessity, and not necessarily by choice.

I absolutely admit that I have no idea of these are valid guesses or not. Just hunches.
I like where your head is good sir! :)
 

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Despite jazz pianists use to amplify their instrument, which would enable upright pianos, they prefer grand pianos. Not only for the faster keys.

Jazz pianists almost unanimously prefer Bösendorfer, while classical pianists split among Steinway, Kawai, also Fazioli and rarely Bösendorfer. I ignore their reasons. To my ears, Bösendorfer keeps a clear elocution in very complicated music, while Steinway and co mix up the notes.
 

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Despite jazz pianists use to amplify their instrument, which would enable upright pianos, they prefer grand pianos. Not only for the faster keys.

Jazz pianists almost unanimously prefer Bösendorfer, while classical pianists split among Steinway, Kawai, also Fazioli and rarely Bösendorfer. I ignore their reasons. To my ears, Bösendorfer keeps a clear elocution in very complicated music, while Steinway and co mix up the notes.
Yes, you really notice this difference when you're tuning a Bösendorfer.
 

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I read somewhere, quite a long time ago, that when Michael Ponti recorded Scriabin's piano music for Vox/Turnabout, he played on an upright for the recording. Just in case someone's interested. Some of the quieter preludes are rather hard to hear.
 

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Despite jazz pianists use to amplify their instrument, which would enable upright pianos, they prefer grand pianos. Not only for the faster keys.

Jazz pianists almost unanimously prefer Bösendorfer, while classical pianists split among Steinway, Kawai, also Fazioli and rarely Bösendorfer. I ignore their reasons. To my ears, Bösendorfer keeps a clear elocution in very complicated music, while Steinway and co mix up the notes.
A Bösendorfer is also going to showcase shortcomings in technique more so than a Steinway will. It's not a very forgiving piano. I'm not surprised most classical pianists playing difficult concert repertoire opt for the Steinway.
 

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If you have a grand piano and a top-of-the-line upright piano as I did for several years, you will not find anything special about the upright. In fact, the upright will suffer by the comparison. After a number of years I sold the upright because I wasn’t using it. Not only is the sound of the grand far superior to an upright, the response of the keys is superior. Also, the left soft or una corda pedal works so differently on an upright that it is of limited or IMO no use (and can’t really be called ‘una corda’) after one experiences the benefit of its use on a grand.
 

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Respectfully disagree. I have a lovely 1925 Bechstein upright whose action, quality of tone and una corda pedal are at least as fine as their equivalents on the Kemble grand on which I have lessons. The grand does have a heft to its sound which isn't easy to achieve on the upright, but it's up to me as the pianist to find a way around that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Respectfully disagree. I have a lovely 1925 Bechstein upright whose action, quality of tone and una corda pedal are at least as fine as their equivalents on the Kemble grand on which I have lessons. The grand does have a heft to its sound which isn't easy to achieve on the upright, but it's up to me as the pianist to find a way around that.
I love my upright Baldwin.
 

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Respectfully disagree. I have a lovely 1925 Bechstein upright whose action, quality of tone and una corda pedal are at least as fine as their equivalents on the Kemble grand on which I have lessons. The grand does have a heft to its sound which isn't easy to achieve on the upright, but it's up to me as the pianist to find a way around that.
For one thing, I don’t know how the ‘una corda’ pedal on the upright can possibly be equivalent to the grand since it doesn’t do a true ‘una corda’.

Edit: Good luck trying to find a way around not only the lack of the relatively powerful sound of a grand, but the inferior tone of uprights compared to a good grand. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible.
 

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For one thing, I don’t know how the ‘una corda’ pedal on the upright can possibly be equivalent to the grand since it doesn’t do a true ‘una corda’.

Edit: Good luck trying to find a way around not only the lack of the relatively powerful sound of a grand, but the inferior tone of uprights compared to a good grand. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible.
I'm more interested in the effect produced than I am in the machinery producing it. One of my "party pieces" is Chopin's Etude in A flat op.25 no.1, two thirds of which requires the una corda pedal, and having played it numerous times on both instruments I have to tell you the effect of the Bechstein's pedal on the music is every bit as noticeable and evocative.

As for tone quality, a good deal depends on two things, (a) make of piano and (b) one's definition of "inferior". The Kemble grand at my music school has a bigger tone for sure, but not a sweeter or more musically attractive one.
 

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A little off-topic, but I think it's unfortunate that "piano sound" became so homogenized and standardized and centered on a handful of grand piano models. There isn't the variety and individuality that you have with violin-family instruments. No two of those are going to sound exactly alike and using different string sets/combos, bridges and bows differentiates even further. Harpsichords are also more individual. Now it's usually just the same old Steinway.
 

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For one thing, I don’t know how the ‘una corda’ pedal on the upright can possibly be equivalent to the grand since it doesn’t do a true ‘una corda’.

Edit: Good luck trying to find a way around not only the lack of the relatively powerful sound of a grand, but the inferior tone of uprights compared to a good grand. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible.
That's also true of even a grand most of us can afford. The vast majority of pianos won't hold up to a Steinway or Bösendorfer.
 

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Do top pianists actually have the freedom to choose which piano they want depending on the piece, or is it a case where they have sponsorship deals with Steinway and the like?
 

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Do top pianists actually have the freedom to choose which piano they want depending on the piece, or is it a case where they have sponsorship deals with Steinway and the like?
Even with a Steinway, pianists have the option of visiting the warehouse showroom. To test play all pianos on site. The one with the action and sound which best suits them will then be delivered to the venue where they're performing.
 
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