Posts tagged agrafe
This is the most frequent misnomer in the piano biz. True story. On a daily basis people come into my shop and whisper to me “Do you know that i have an upright grand at home?” I think they’re hoping my eyes will pop out of my head in amazement at such a rare and wonderful find – that we’ve truly discovered the queen’s jewels! Sadly… i’m a skeptic at heart…. possibly even cynical. Y’see… the term “upright grand” was started in the 1920’s as a sales feature. When you lifted the lid on some pianos there was this embossed slogan “Grand piano in upright form”. This got bantered about so much so that it became a coined phrase – the “upright grand”. And customers would then feel proud about their acquisition of a piano they thought was so much more grandiose than any other upright piano. So what exactly were they referring to? Well… size is one thing. Very tall old upright pianos (usually about 55 inches in height) have similar string length and soundboard area as about 5’8″ – 6’1″ grand pianos. That said, a tall upright WILL deliver similar depth of tone as some grand pianos, granted. But the bigger difference that started all of this is a small little piece that was usually only found on grand pianos called an agraffe. Agraffe is a french word that means ‘staple’. In fact… check out the picture of my box of staples from my desk drawer. See that? It says agrafes (missing an F for some reason…) Agraffes on grand pianos ‘staple’ the exact position of the string to the cast iron in a piano. It sets the left-right position spacing of the strings and also the ‘downbearing’ of the string (how much pressure the string is placing on the bridge). Because agraffes are usually found on grands, some manufacturers who put them on upright pianos started calling their verticals upright grands. Most don’t know of this crazy little factoid but that’s in my mind the true meaning of the term. Ok wait… it gets better… recently someone came in and told me they had a “Concert Upright Baby Grand!” Oh for heaven sakes… from the sublime to the ridiculous!