Piano Bench Buying Guide & FAQ:

Choosing a piano bench can be difficult, with the numerous styles, brands, and pricing available on today's market. Thus we have assembled this beginners guide to buying a piano bench for those who are unsure of what they want or need.

What is the difference between a grand piano bench and an upright piano bench?:

An upright piano bench is typically 30 inches wide, whereas a grand piano bench is 35 inches wide, and comfortably seats two (hence also being called a duet). If you have a grand piano, it's important to get a grand piano bench, because it will be proportional to the size of your piano. An upright piano bench would look awkward infront of a grand piano.

What type of piano bench should I get?:

There are three primary types of piano benches: Wood Top Piano Benches, Upholstered Top Piano Benches, and Adjustable Piano Benches. Each piano bench carries with it its own advantages, and you should select the one that best fits your needs. Here are some of the pro's of each style of bench:

Wood Top Piano Bench:
Wood top piano benches are known for their elegance, as their beautiful finish compliments your piano and produces a luxurios look. Wood tops are also very durable, and will last decades. Years after you buy it, a worn wood top piano bench can always be refinished, producing a like-new bench. This style of piano bench is also something you may want to consider if you have kids. Spilling juice on the bench top won't damage it, as it could with vinyl or leather, and there is also no upholstered top to rip.

Upholstered Top Piano Bench:
Upholstered top piano benches provide both style and comfort. With a similar design to the traditional wood top piano bench, the benefit of an upholstered top piano bench is its padding, as sitting for long hours on a piece of wood can become quite uncomfortable. Another advantage is that vinyl and foam padding are less expensive materials than finished wood, so an upholstered top piano bench will be a little less expensive than a wood top piano bench.

Adjustable Piano Bench/Artist Bench
Adjustable piano benches and artist benches offer the ultimate in style, comfort, and usability, and have become the prefered choice of musicians. First, they are the most comfortable piano benches on the market, as they will have more padding than even an upholstered top piano bench. Second, their adjustable height mechanism allows the pianist to adjust their piano bench to the optimal playing height. The correct playing position and posture is important for all pianists, and these adjustable benches will definitely allow you to find yours. Consider the average fixed-height piano bench is either 19 or 20 inches high. An artist bench or adjustable piano bench, depending on the brand, lets you adjust the bench between 18 inches and 21 or 22 inches. Finally, artist benches are considered to be the most aesthetically pleasing piano and bench combination. As an example, when you see a Steinway Piano in a concert hall, it will have an jansen artist bench with it. In sum, adjustable piano benches and artist benches are deservedly the most popular piano benches on the market.

What is the difference between an adjustable piano bench and an artist bench?:

While both are adjustable, an artist bench has a "skirt" around the lower part of the seat, hiding the adjustable mechanism of the piano bench when fully raised. With an adjustable piano bench on the other hand, you will see the raising mechanism when the bench is raised. Of the two styles, artist benches are considered superior, and thus will cost more. All higher-end adjustable height piano benches will be artist benches.

Leather Piano Bench vs Vinyl Piano Bench - which upholstery material should I get?:

Deciding between leather and vinyl for your piano bench can come down to a number of factors, depending on the buyer's situation and preferences.

The advantages of a vinyl piano bench:
Perhaps the biggest advantage of vinyl is it's durability. For people with children, a vinyl bench is great, because vinyl is easy to repair--you can get a repair kit at your local Fred Meyers. Leather on the other hand, cannot be easily patched up. As well, vinyl does not absorb stains like leather does. With regards to looks, the quality of the material used is important. On many of the cheaper imported piano benches found on the market today, the vinyl used looks cheap, and is not particularly comfortable. For the piano benches sold on this site however, you do not have to worry about that, as we only carry benches made with top quality materials (Jansen for example uses a furniture grade, naugahyde vinyl).

The advantages of a leather piano bench:
Leather offers unparalleled comfort and durability, in addition to an enhanced appearance. Leather bench tops "breathe" slightly better than vinyl, therefore it is more comfortable to sit on over long periods of time. Many piano owners also prefer leather for its elegance. In general, the advice we give to customers who ask this question is, if you're going to walk by your piano bench the next 20 years and think to yourself "I wonder if I should have got leather," then you should get it. It may cost a little more, but in over 15 years, I've never heard of someone saying they regret getting it.

American Made vs. Chinese Imports: What are the differences and what determines the price of the piano benches?:

With the high number of cheap Chinese imported piano benches flooding the American market, we felt this is an important question to address. The number one overriding factor in determining the price of a piano bench is the quality of materials used, and that is what distinguishes American made piano benches from Chinese imports. Taking these factors in mind, you should then evaluate the type of bench you want based on (1) Price, (2) Durability/How Often you Play, and (3) Quality and Aesthetics.

Quality of wood:
First and foremost is the quality of the wood. American manufacturer piano benches use hardwood (primarily maple) from the East Coast and Canada. This wood is far superior to that used by the Chinese. The easiest way to tell this is by comparing the weight of similar style piano benches. Take for instance the Jansen Artist Bench vs. the OSP imported artist bench (which is the highest quality Asian imported artist bench available). The Jansen artist bench weighs 45 pounds, whereas the OSP artist bench weighs 22 pounds. While some of the difference comes from the adjustable mechanism (which is another huge difference in quality between imported and American made benches) and the fact that the Jansen has a thicker padded top, it's clear that there is a big difference in the weight of the wood. I once asked one of our manufacturers why this was, and he explained to me that the wood used from the East Coast and Canada has a tighter gain, which makes for a stronger and more solid wood.

Related to the quality of the wood, is the wood's grain and how it takes a stain. You need an attractive piece of wood with smaller grains to produce a truly beautiful finish. This is what you get with American made piano benches. You'll notice that the chinese imported benches make up for their inferior wood quality by using a high polish lacquer. This does not mean these piano benches are unattractive, when in fact they can produce a very nice high polished look, but it is something you want to consider when deciding on a piano bench. Another thing to consider with this thick lacquer and high polish gloss is that it is known to chip, especially on the cheapest of imported benches.

American Made vs. Chinese Imports: Which piano bench is right for me?:

With the above considerations in mind, there tend to be three factors customers consider when deciding between an imported bench and a piano bench made in the United States: (1) Price, (2) Amount of use/need for durability, and (3) Desired Quality of Bench.

(1). Price Range:
Price tends to be the primary consideration for most customers when it comes purchasing a piano bench, and foreign imports are a great way to get a piano bench at an affordable price. Cheaper materials and labor, combined with a high number of manufacturers competing for business, allows the consumer to be able to buy a decent quality piano bench at a much lower price than they wood be able to from an American manufacturer. The key then, when looking for a less expensive piano bench, is to choose the right one (as some are very good quality, and others are, simply put, pieces of junk). We have evaluated a number of foreign imported benches, and have compiled what we believe to be the highest quality and best value. If you're looking for an artist bench, we recommend the OSP Artist Bench. It is by far the best imported artist bench, and is an incredible deal starting at $129.99. If you are looking for a fixed height piano bench, we believe Schaff imports the nicest of this style. Have a look at: the Schaff Upholstered Top Imported Piano Bench and the Schaff Wood Top Imported Piano Bench.

(2). Amount of Use & Need for Durability:
The quality of the piano bench you need can very well be related to how often you play the piano. If you are someone who occasionally plays, then you do not necessarily need a heavier and stronger piano bench. An imported piano bench can be a great light-use piano bench. As well, if the piano bench is for children, then something like the OSP artist bench, which weighs 22 pounds, would be absolutely perfect. If on the other hand, you are the type of person who plays often and spends many hours at the piano, we recommend going with a higher quality American made bench. The quality of the wood and craftsmanship will prevent your bench from breaking down over time.

(3). Quality and Aesthetics:
The final consideration to be taken into account is quality and attractiveness. If you're looking for the highest quality piano bench, buy one manufactured in the United States (in particular, we recommend looking at Jansen piano benches). Remember a high quality piano bench can last decades, so sometimes it's worth spending the extra money. The related to quality is attractiveness. The more expensive, USA made piano benches tend to be more attractive, as they don't look cheap. A piano bench is a piece of furniture, and can be an ideal accessory that helps bring out the beauty of your piano. If your piano is the focal part of your room, we recommend getting a nice looking, high quality piano bench to compliment your piano.

What is the highest quality grand piano bench?:

The highest quality grand piano bench is made by Jansen. In particular, their artist benches are world renown. If you're seen a Steinway Piano in a concert hall, the artist bench with it is a Jansen Artist Bench.