I'm not certain whether it's just certain piano manufacturers, who had decided to have some upright pianos to have two pedals (without sostenuto). Some Zender acoustic pianos, for instance have two pedals. Then other brands like Kawai, had a few pianos with 2 pedals while most of their models have 3.

  • Please make it clear whether you are asking about grands or uprights, or both. – Tim Jul 21 '17 at 12:05
  • @Tim Uprights. My bad. I'll edit that. – Liberty Park Jul 21 '17 at 16:28
  • The very old ones would have 2 instead of the normal 3. – Maika Sakuranomiya Mar 19 at 4:08

As you may be aware, most, if not all studio/acoustic pianos have minimum two pedals - the soft, or una corda pedal, and the sustain, or damper pedal.

The third pedal (in the middle) found on some pianos, is a practice pedal, which locks in position. Usually this involves bringing a curtain in place between the hammers and the strings, to make it very quiet, even when played hard, in order to be able to practise without disturbing too many others.

On other pianos, the middle pedal is dedicated to sotenuto, whereby it holds the dampers off only the strings that are vibrating, and their keys pressed down, at the time the pedal is depressed - a sort of sustain for individual notes only.

Obviously, a sostenuto pedal will add to the cost of an acoustic piano, and will usually be used by more advanced players. They can be found on uprights, but are more common on grands. So the answer to your question is that most players won't use the sostenuto - it isn't marked in a lot of pieces - so far more 'ordinary' uprights will be marketable.

  • Are you sure? I've only ever seen the curtain between the hammers and strings instead of the traditional (and more aptly named) una corda pedal, because it's more expensive or more difficult to have the whole keyboard move slightly to one side. The cheapest pedal arrangements I've seen have omitted sostenuto and replaced actual una corda with the felt curtain (obviously on uprights). I've never seen una corda and the curtain on the same piano. – Todd Wilcox Jul 21 '17 at 11:25
  • @ToddWilcox - I use one in my studio - it's a Yamaha harp in a Steigerman case. The una corda pedal merely moves all the hammers closer to the strings, just as on every upright I've ever played. Mine has a curtain about 3" high that swings into place using the middle pedal. Una corda so called because it slides the hammers to one side (on grands) so they only hit one string rather than the 2 or 3. – Tim Jul 21 '17 at 11:37
  • I've never seen the mute strip on a grand piano. I've never seen a true 'una corda' on an upright. – Laurence Payne Jul 21 '17 at 11:47
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    @LaurencePayne - that's probably because grands don't need mute strips, difficult to achieve on grands; and 'una corda' is only technically correct on grands - a.k.a. soft pedal on studios. And actually, I'm talking about uprights - maybe the OP means grands... – Tim Jul 21 '17 at 12:02
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    @MaikaSakuranomiya - don't know, but players who play grands are doing so because they respond in better ways, and needing a practice pedal is less important than needing a sostenuto pedal. Also, the mechanism for quietening the whole piano would be more complex than on a studio piano. – Tim Mar 19 at 7:31

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