How many keys are on a piano?

28th April 2021

A typical full-sized piano has 88 keys! However, other pianos are shorter and have 44 to 72 keys! Some are even longer than the standard size and have 97 keys such as the Imperial Bösendorfer Piano that is 290cm long. The largest piano has 108 keys (the 9 octave piano), but these are rare. Of the 88 keys found on the typical full-sized piano, there are 52 white keys and 36 black keys. The white keys are known as natural music notes, while the black keys are sharps and flats. Some of the black keys are also labelled on extended pianos to make it clear to the musician that it is extended.

When was the first piano invented?

An Italian man, Bartolomeo Cristofori, invented the piano in 1700. Cristofori was an inventor and instrument maker. Perhaps his most outstanding achievement was making the piano, an invention which he is well known for. He discovered that musicians had problems controlling the volume on the harpsichord and decided to replace the plucking mechanism with a hammer. The modern-day piano was first called the "gravicembalo col piano e", meaning "a harpsichord that can play soft and loud noises". The name was later shortened to 'piano'. Cristofori's early versions of the piano had thinner strings than modern-day pianos that were quieter but more sustained.

Who created the first 88-key piano?

The piano manufacturer Steinway was the first to come up with the idea of an 88 key piano. They did this in the 1880s, and many other manufacturers have since followed suit. 88 key pianos (including most grand, upright, hybrid and most digital pianos) have seven octaves plus three lower notes below the bottom C.

Why did piano manufacturers stop at 88 keys?

Most advanced musicians want to make use of the full 88-key range. This forces manufacturers to produce pianos and keyboards with 88 keys as the demand for these is higher. With the development of new music genres each day, perhaps we may see the larger pianos becoming more popular.

Do I need 88 keys?

If you are an experienced player it's best you get an 88-key piano as it gives you room to do much more! However, beginners will be fine using a piano with less keys as it's unlikely that you will be using the full piano key range when you first start learning. You also don't always need a full sized piano/digital piano if you are looking at a piano or keyboard purely for composing purposes.

At Broughton Pianos, most of our pianos are standard 88 key pianos available within our acoustic, digital and hybrid range. Visit our showroom to give these a play and find the best piano for you! Alternatively give us a call on +44 1562 731113 or see the rest of our website for the wide range of piano brands that we sell including C.Bechstein, Yamaha, W.Hoffmann and Kawai!