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I now have a kawai upright (height 135cm) and I'd like to upgrade to a small grand piano (around 170 cm I think). I'm wondering how much louder it will be. I don't really need a louder piano, my current piano is just right at the moment. I want a better instrument, dynamically more sensitive and with a richer sound.

The reason I'm asking is twofold:

  • I'd like to know if my neighbours will be a lot more annoyed by my playing than with my current upright. And if I have to take some actions in this respect (maybe move the new piano to another room?)

  • I'd like to know if its loudness will annoy myself. I don't want the new piano to overwhelm the room.

I play a grand at my music school and it never seemed a lot louder than my upright at home, but of course that's in a larger and less intimate classroom, which probably differs (psycho-)accoustically.

  • Difficult to quantify. Depends how you play to an extent, but with a practice pedal instead of a sostenuto, Neighbours will be happier anyway. Depends also where in the room - a studio piano against a wall can sound loud - especially to those on the other side! And there's always the piano pedal, which often works in a better way on grands. – Tim Oct 30 '18 at 17:36
  • @Tim: With the ‘piano pedal’ you mean the una corda? – Tim H Oct 30 '18 at 19:27
  • Yes - the term was temporarily out of my head...actually una corda should only apply to grands - it doesn't work the same way (playing one string) on studios. – Tim Oct 30 '18 at 20:12
  • What are the dimensions of the room you plan to place your piano in? Do you have carpet or hardwood flooring? – TooCleverFox Nov 7 '18 at 21:19
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I would say that all other things equal, a grand of the size you mentioned (right around the line between a baby and a 'parlor' grand) will not necessarily be louder than an average upright.

HOWEVER, there are a lot of factors at play. This question is a few months old so I don't know if it's still relevant to the OP but here are some ideas for anyone wondering about piano volume, based on my experience of owning pianos.

I find any piano placed in an empty room is too loud. The resonance and 'buzz' that it creates can be annoying. In order to mitigate that in my home back when I had a upright and now for my 7' grand, I did the following:

  • If the piano is on hardwood, be sure to place it on a thick rug. Or two.
  • Put as much soft material on the walls as your interior design style permits. Many music studios basically have thick rugs on the walls - this helps dampen the buzz. We actually have 3 sound panels in the room too.
  • I don't think keeping the lid down really dampens the sound much - it muffles the sound, but doesn't affect volume. However, it certainly helps psychologically!
    • MOST IMPORTANT: piano tuners can pretty easily adjust the level of the hammers to control the touch of the keys. A shorter distance between the hammers and strings will inhibit the ability to play as loudly.
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You can keep the lid closed to reduce loudness. I have a baby-grand and with the lid up (about 45 degrees; it looks like a piano), it sounds like the house is shaking when played ff.

To keep the neighbors happy, just set a fixed time (like 10:00 or 10:30 pm or so) and stop playing at that time every night. I did this with a western-swing dance band (even louder than a piano with the amplifiers) but we just rehearsed from about 7:30 to 10:00 in the evening with 10:00 being a sharp cut-off. The neighbors not only noticed the cut-off; they hired us for a few of our first gigs.

  • I agree that the best thing to do is to be nice with the neighbours, hoping that they're reasonable people and have an agreement in on the time slot you could practice. Unreasonable people will complain even for silent piano or digital pianos used with headphones... – Michele L'Intenditore Apr 1 at 7:59

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