I have a Korg SP-250, but the builtin banks of regular pianos are dull to the degree I loose interest, I used to play the violin. The samplings are just too perfect and streamlined, and I actually like the honkey, character-full, sprawling sound of many up-right pianos. Hence, I'm looking for VSTs that has that, or at least are different from the builtins of my digital piano. Anyone knows of any? I'm a student, cost matters.

(My DAW of choice will likely be Ableton on a MacBook 2017, if that matters.)

  • Keyscape by Omnisphere is worth mentioning. Although it can burn a hole in your pocket :) – user65387 Dec 31 '19 at 17:10

If it is in your price range (about 130 euros for the cheapest "stage" version) consider Pianoteq.

All the versions have the same basic sounds, the difference is the amount of customization you can do (and at the top end, that means about 30 parameters you can change separately for each of the 88 notes!). You can select two "piano packs" with the cheapest version and one of the options is an upright. Check out the demos here: https://www.modartt.com/u4


I've sometimes used Addictive Keys Studio Grand. It has a jangly 'pub piano' preset you might like. Also an 'aged strings' one, and others, with the mikes in a variety of arrangements. The presets are radically different from each other. There are about 35 of them and they're very easy and enjoyable to edit. They also do a 'Modern Upright' which might suit you if you'll never need a real concert grand sound. It is 150 Euros. I expect they both are.

Native Instruments' The Gentleman is a good upright, based on a Bechstein Model A from 1908. It can't do 'jangly' though. And their The Giant replicates the Klavins Piano Model 370 12ft upright grand. Very expressive, but with a tight thumpy bass if you need it. These two both sound good but they lack Addictive's wide range of presets and aren't as rewarding to edit. Last time I looked they cost 89UKP.


Before spending money, check out SFZ libraries. I know for sure that there are many decent free or <20$ grand pianos in SFZ, so maybe some uprights too. SFZ player VST is free. And I think I saw SFZ-to-Korg converter the other day, so maybe you can load them into your gadget.

Pianoteq Player has too loud hammer sound for live playing, and you can't tune it in this version.


I'm giving another vote for Pianoteq v.6 Standard Edition. It allows you to modify your piano`s sounds to the nth degree including slightly detuning the piano if desired. I'm not sure why someone stated that it can't be used live as I've been doing this for several years without complaint from the audience or my bandmates.

Another advantage is a working demo that you can download and evaluate for yourself.

  • I edited my post to be more clear. I talk about Player version. Hammer hit sound is heard as loud as player hears it, which is too loud for transmitting or recording. Only a select few presets alter it, and "Hammer noises" fader in Actions does not affect the hit sound. In high treble is sounds more like drums than piano. – Barafu Albino Jan 1 at 21:49

For completeness, as you're looking for 'non-perfect, characterful' sounds: the MacOS contains (somewhat ancient) Roland General MIDI samples, which include 4 different piano samples, plus a 'honky-tonk'.

The library can be difficult to access: it's easiest using apps which directly play the sample to incoming MIDI, such as DLS-MIDI-Synth on the Mac App Store. But it can be accessed via Apple's Audio Units, if Abelton can use those in addition to VSTs.


I personally love The Grandeur and Noire for Kontakt by Native Instruments. Incredible sampling, lots and lots of options, especially with the Particle Engine on Noire. Check out the examples on their website. In regards to below comment and my mistake in reading the question. Check out The Gentleman and The Giant for upright

  • .. and both are not uprights. – Barafu Albino Jan 1 at 21:45
  • @BarafuAlbino Edited – Halest Jan 1 at 21:48

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