9 Unique Pianos Collage

9 Unique Pianos that Redefine the Instrument

Rick Austin
February 8, 2024

When you think of a piano, what do you think of? A 6’ long shiny black instrument that ties your space together? Maybe the piano you grew up playing at your grandparent’s house?

However, the world of pianos is incredibly vast and diverse, highlighting innovation and creativity that goes beyond the norm and challenges the status quo.

Today, we’ll dive into 9 unique pianos that redefine the definition of what a piano can be. From futuristic designs to hidden features, every piano on this list is a testament to the inventiveness of piano makers.

1. The Schimmel Pegasus Grand Piano

Starting off with one some may be familiar with, the Schimmel Pegasus Grand Piano takes the concept of a grand piano to new heights.

Designed by Luigi Colani, this piano features bold, sweeping curves that give it the appearance of the majestic winged creature it’s named after.

Beyond its futuristic design, the K208 boasts impeccable sound quality and craftsmanship, living up to Schimmel’s renowned standards.

It’s a conversation starter, a blend of aesthetics and functionality that brings a touch of magic to the world of pianos.

2. The Imperial Egg

Turns out the goose that laid the golden egg was actually a goldfinch!

Enter the world of The Imperial Egg Grand, a piano that serves as a stunning visual centerpiece. This golden orb is the most ornate piano I have ever laid mine eyes upon.

This was a project from Goldfinch, Edelweiss’s bespoke piano design studio. The studio has created multiple masterpieces over the years, but this piano of the gods is their most embellished creation and a personal favourite.

Goldfinch strives to work with passionate artisans on their pieces and this piece was clearly no exception, totalling around 100,000 hours of work! The exterior of this 1/1 piano was resin cast and finished with 24 karat gold too. . . no big deal.

3. The Tilting Wing by Nico Rippen

If something about this piano’s design feels off-kilter, you would be on the right track.

The Tilting Wing by Nico Rippen challenges the conventional static nature of pianos. The innovative design instrument allows the player to tilt the entire piano onto its side for easy storage and mobility.

This piano comes from Dutch company Nico Rippen and features a classic mid-century modern design with sleek style and gorgeously angular silhouette.

This instrument was unveiled in the 1970s, a time when home decor and function was all the rage. This innovation by Rippen is was decades ahead of its time. Even today, a piano that’s easy to move truly would be unique!

4. The Maene-Viñoly Concert Grand

Rafael Viñoly, an astounding New York City based Uruguayan architect, and ingenious Belgian piano maker Chris Maene combine their artistic expertise in the shape of a concert grand.

The Maene-Viñoly Concert Grand features a curved keyboard meant to reduce strain put on the joints of players ie. fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders. Pianos are fun to play, but they can have intense “biomechanical demands” over time, as Viñoly puts it.

Besides its curved keyboard, it also has straight-strung strings, a build which Maene is no stranger to. . .

5. The Straight Strung Grand Piano

Chris Maene strikes again! This time in partnership with Daniel Barenboim to create the Straight Strung Grand, a piano that challenges the tonal expectations of a piano.

Departing from the traditional layout of strings, this piano features a straight strung design where the strings do not overlap the same way they do in a traditional grand piano. This not only gives the piano a distinct visual appeal but also impacts the instrument’s tonal characteristics, creating a unique auditory experience.

Barenboim and Maene secured support from Steinway (who originally patented the first overstrung piano harp in 1859!) and believes the piano to be “the only artistically relevant alternative” to a Steinway piano.

Barenboim was inspired by the sound of Franz Liszt’s rebuilt piano. He was surprised by its tonal properties and concluded that it was due to the physical orientation of the unique piano’s strings.

6. Stuart & Sons Big Beleura: 108-Key Piano

Expanding the sonic horizons of the piano is the Big Beleura by Stuart & Sons: the 108-key piano!

Venturing beyond the standard 88 keys, this piano unlocks a range of musical expression that was not before possible. With additional keys in the bass and treble registers, this piano opens up new possibilities for composers and performers to explore a broader sonic palette. It challenges the limitations of traditional piano design and invites musicians into uncharted musical territories.

The world’s first 108-key piano was just finished by the small Australian piano brand in 2018. Composers and musicians didn’t hesitate to start taking advantage of its additional notes though, many recordings being available for listening on their website.

7. Bluthner Aliquot Grand Pianos

This inclusion isn’t any one specific piano, rather it’s one feature highlighting unique Bluthner craftsmanship.

The Bluthner Aliquot stringing system introduces a unique string arrangement by adding a fourth string per key above the traditional three.

While it isn’t struck like the other three are, it does ring sympathetically. This enhances the piano’s tone, providing a fuller and more resonant sound.

Julius Blüthner came up with the in 1873, and the brand continues to use it in all their grand pianos today!

8. Edelweiss Sygnet G52: Smallest Grand Piano

The Edelweiss Sygnet G52: a piano that proves good things come in small packages.

At 4’ 4”, it’s currently the world’s smallest grand piano. In fact, Edelweiss has dubbed it the world’s first “apartment grand,” being even shorter than what a baby grand’s length typically is.

Beyond its size, it’s distinguished by its “butterfly wing” lid design. And since they’re each made upon request, they even allow you to configure your Edelwiss’ design ie. finish, color and leg design. In any case, a PianoDisc player system is also factory installed!

9. Pleyel Duoclave Double Grand

This is possibly the most peculiar piano on the list, but it’s a dueling pianist’s dream!

The Pleyel Duoclave double grand is a massive 9’ 6” piano with a keyboard on either side of the instrument, both sides sharing one enormous lid and soundboard. The instrument was engineered for duets in smaller concert halls where two pianos couldn’t fit.

These pianos are exceedingly rare as only 74 were produced in Paris around the turn of the 20th century. Over half of them are unaccounted for at this point, but there is a Pleyel Duoclave in the Quad Cities that was fully restored in 2018!

The video linked above was made by the Federated Music Teachers Association in the Quad Cities, who own perhaps the only playable Pleyel Duoclave on this side of the planet. Even crazier, it was purchased for just $50! The Pleyel Restoration Project then came together in 2010 to raise money for fixing it up, pianists and music enthusiasts from all over donating to the cause. Truly amazing story and incredibly well documented too!

Unique Pianos: Can’t Wait for More!

Wrapping up our exploration of these nine unique pianos, we’ve covered everything from flying horses to golden eggs, really shaking things up in the piano scene.

Every piano on this list proves that there is no standard for what a piano has to be; they’re works of art just like the music they play!

With technology and creatives doing their thing, there’s a whole world of mind-blowing pianos in the works. Piano makers and creatives across the globe are constantly turning the piano world upside down and challenging the status quo, and we can’t wait to see what’s next!

Any pianos you think should’ve made the list? Send us an email or tag us on socials!

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