What is a “spinet”?

Spinets are vertical pianos, 35 to 40 inches tall, whose hammer mechanisms are located completely or partially below the level of the keys. This arrangement was invented in the 1930s to satisfy consumer demand for a shorter, more compact piano. Spinet actions (key-and-hammer mechanisms) work less efficiently than other types of action because of the way the keys and hammers are connected, and the difficulty of accessing or removing the recessed spinet actions makes even small repairs and adjustments complicated and expensive. The small size of spinets also means their tone will be compromised. New spinets are no longer being manufactured, but many older ones are still on the used-piano market. Beginners can learn to play on a spinet, but expect to have to upgrade to a better instrument soon. See this article in “Piano-Buying Basics” for more information about piano types and sizes.

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