A console piano is a specific category of upright, or vertical pianos. The vertical piano differs from the grand piano in that the soundboard runs vertically rather than horizontally, with the strings stretching downward. The console piano is one of five categories of vertical pianos with the other four being the spinet, the consolette, the studio, and the professional.
The main difference in the five categories is the overall height of a piano. A true console piano ranges in height from 40 inches (101.6 cm) to 44 inches (111.8 cm) and is in the middle of height ranges for vertical pianos with the spinet piano being the shortest and the professional being the tallest. Almost all vertical pianos average 24 inches (61 cm) from the floor to the bottom of the keyboard and range in depth from only 21 inches (53.3 cm) to 26 inches (66 cm).
The console piano gained popularity in the early to mid 1900s as a piano that incorporated furniture style design with mid-range size and quality tone. It was originally a 40-inch (101.6-cm) piano, but taller versions began to emerge with the standard being 42 inches (106.7 cm) in height. The console and other upright pianos are typically less expensive than the grand piano and take up considerably less floor space. This and their furniture-like design make them an extremely popular choice for many homes today. Their appearance ranges from wooden finishes with intricate inlays to modern, lacquered finishes and sleek lines.
Though the grand piano is the optimal performing piano in terms of sound quality, the console piano satisfies the musical penchants of most hobbyists and home enthusiasts. The vertical strings and compact size can alter the tone and resonation of the music, but a piano of quality construction can produce a sound very near to the larger grand. This type is by far the most popular of all pianos sold, undoubtedly because of its practicality combined with performance.