A Brief History of Pianos

Pianos are renowned the world over, despite being just over 300 years old. A relatively short rise to fame compared to that of the guitar, whose beginnings can be traced back to around 3000 years ago. And yet they have been a prominent part of society almost since they were created. Today the piano is still often found in middle and upper class homes, and taught at schools across the world. In china alone, a survey counted over 40 million children learning to play the piano in 2015.

*The oldest Piano in the world

Considered a vital instrument for musical learning, the piano is here to stay. This is hardly surprising, as pianos have been found to enhance our performance in numerous ways, and brain imaging has shown that playing the piano actually physically changes our brain, forming more connections between both the left and right hemispheres. Pianists are a step ahead of the game in problem solving, language, spontaneity, decision making and social behavior. It’s no mental leap then, that parents and teachers alike would encourage learning the piano. Pianos have opened the gates to music for many people, they are relatively straightforward to understand and play. They provide an important basis of musical knowledge and have become a stepping stone, often allowing musicians to move onto other instruments. For many years pianos brought music into homes and the lives of people. Forming such an important role in our social history, the instrument has easily found its way into popular culture. Movies, books and musicians highlight it as a magical and versatile instrument.


Pianos were invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori in the 1700s, and by 1747, when they had been approved and endorsed by Bach himself, were quickly considered an important instrument, snapped up by kings and dukes alike to form part of their personal orchestras. They were more functional than a harpsichord, due to their ability to produce a louder sound and therefore be more easily heard in the larger halls and venues where the orchestra performed. Soon piano concertos were being performed across the western world, and piano composers were lauded as geniuses.

Curiously pianos were initially dominated by female players, as playing the piano was seen as an appealing talent for women, and a skill which made them more marriage worthy. Learning the piano at home became a vital part of any well-to-do child’s education. By the 19th century pianos were an esteemed household instrument, with players being able to share current compositions with family members before the advent of the radio.

The Great Depression of the 1930s sadly saw a downswing in the hefty pianos popularity, with the cheaper and portable guitar taking its’ place, however the advent of digital pianos is again seeing a rise in the pianos use.

*Famous Piano Players



Pianos are string instruments, although this is contentious, with some claiming it is a percussion instrument. All the important parts are usually hidden inside its hard casing. The strings are hit by hammers which are triggered by the visible black and white keys, on the exterior of the instrument. A piano player will press the keys, which in turn will cause the hammer to strike the string, producing the sound. The hammer is either released with a spring or with the aid of gravity. A piano is versatile in the that the sound produced can be varied by pressing the keys softly or with more force, as well as the ability to press more than one key at a time, allowing for complex notes and chords. Pianos have the widest range of notes out of all of the instruments, being able to produce sound in seven different octaves, allowing them to play over 8000 chords! Today pianos have been split into two types; Acoustic pianos and Digital pianos. Both kinds are valued for different reasons.


Acoustic pianos come in two forms, the Acoustic Grand piano and the Acoustic Upright piano. Grand pianos are probably as close to the original piano design as you can find today. They have their strings and hammers laid out horizontally in the body of the piano. The mechanism of the hammers striking and releasing the strings when the keyboard is played, is aided by gravity. Grand pianos take up more space in an environment, because of this arrangement of strings. To compensate for this, Upright pianos were designed to be space savers. They have their arrangement of strings in a vertical manner, and the mechanism for releasing the hammer from striking the strings is aided with the use of springs. Upright pianos are often cheaper than Grand pianos but are subject to wear and tear on their springs. The question most people ask when comparing a grand piano to an upright piano is whether the sound is different. It is difficult to answer this as pianos come in so many variations.  Many factors are responsible for the sound of a piano, the mechanisms of the hammer, the length of the strings, the workmanship of the piano, and also the materials that were used to make the piano itself. Some upright pianos may actually be taller and therefore have longer strings than a smaller baby grand piano, making them sound quite different. Whereas the soundboards of grand pianos are often bigger than Upright pianos giving them a larger tonality and greater volume. The biggest difference between a Grand piano and an Upright piano actually comes down to gravity. The mechanism of the hammer releasing the strings is much more even and almost instantaneous, allowing the pianist to play both faster and with more control. Understanding this difference between a grand piano and an upright should aid potential piano buyers in their choice. As much as a beginner would enjoy a Grand piano, it is probably unlikely that it would be necessary. On the other hand a master pianist that was going to perform in a concert hall may require a grand to perfectly execute difficult piece.


Digital pianos also come in two forms, designed to replicate the look and sound of the original Grand Piano and the Upright piano. Digital pianos are advanced keyboards, they have 88 black and white keys, but this is where the similarity ends. Without the need for strings or hammers, the look of the piano is purely fabricated. One of the many advantages of digital pianos is that they are portable and affordable when compared to traditional acoustic pianos. You no longer require a huge body encasing the pianos mechanism in order to produce a sound. Read more on our Essential Guide to Digital Pianos.

In addition, technological advances have meant that digital pianos sound like classical acoustic pianos, but with the added convenience of being easily amplified or connected to headphones providing a whole host of opportunities for the modern day pianist, from volume control to recording your music. The mimicry of digital pianos is done with the use of sound files. “Sampling” has been the key to unlocking the digital piano revolution, by giving each key played an authentic sound.

Digital pianos are a step ahead of keyboards, because in addition to a better sound, the main difference between a keyboard and a digital piano is “feel” of the keys. The keys are weighted, imitating the hammers releasing from their strings in an acoustic piano. Digital Pianos are sleek and often smaller than classical pianos, a comfortable option for those wishing to use them in an apartment or hotel. Without the need for actual strings and their protective casing, the digital piano can easily be toted in a bag and set up almost anywhere. You can rent digital pianos with us for the best rates in Barcelona. 


Of course a digital piano cannot create the same textured and tonal sounds of a good acoustic piano, but, a top quality digital piano can far surpass a cheap upright piano. These days digital pianos have the added bonus of interfacing with computers and other recording or producing rigs, allowing musicians to be creative with their sound and to easily record their music. Digital pianos can be played in total silence too, the pianist being the only one to hear the music via headphones. A valuable tool for the modern world. These technological advances transport the piano into the future, making enjoyment of the piano accessible again to many more people, and continuing to inspire musicians just as it did 300 years ago.

Kraftwerk on 4 Digital Pianos



Understanding the piano as an instrument, how it works, and your requirements for it, should answer the all important questions of rental vs buying too. Understanding your needs, and the different kinds of pianos also helps to narrow down a brand or make of piano that would work for you.

Students or first time piano players may choose to initially rent a digital piano, trying out as many kinds as they want, or getting a feel for the instrument before they decide to invest in the real deal. Travelling musicians may already have a trusted instrument at home, but prefer to leave it there when performing in different cities.

Needless to say the options for renting a piano are endless and the benefits can be clearly seen. Renting instruments makes the world of music much more accessible. For musicians who are just beginning their musical journeys, renting a piano provides them with tactile knowledge which they can apply to the process of buying a piano. It’s worthwhile to become familiar with different brands, and understanding the piano effectively answers questions about which make of piano would suit them.


Barcelona Instrument Rental has a wide range of digital pianos for rent as well as acoustic pianos for rent. Whether you are a professional musician looking to rent a piano for a performance, or a beginner in need of a piano for practice, we have an instrument for you. We offer long term piano rentals for students as well as short term piano rentals for weddings, event companies, concerts, festivals and other similar activities. Our rental plans can be adapted with the option to buy your piano.

Our stylish rental digital piano range includes trusted brands (such as Yamaha, Casio and Roland) and range from compact digital pianos that can fit into a bag easily transported by hand, to larger models with a more traditional look and feel of a classical acoustic piano, with built-in casing and stand. The larger models require transportation via vehicle.