Piano Seats, Stools, Benches and More

by Jazer Lee
Piano Trivia


Know the different types

Many ask me if there is a difference on what kind of seat a piano player uses when at the piano. I answer back that it actually does matter. Not only will a good piano seat ensure that you enjoy your time spent behind the piano, but it’ll make playing on the piano more comfortable, regardless of one’s competency. 

Most piano teachers recommend at least a half an hour of practice each day, and it's not entirely uncommon for professionals to practice four or five hours a day. This is when one would appreciate having a good stool or bench for seating and support.
So what to choose? There are many to decide on. I have seen everything used like a normal chair, a stack of boxes, a kitchen stepladder, a computer chair (this one actually works) and even the side of one’s bed (*guilty look). 📷 Photo Credit: MsGie Cordova

The following are commonly used by students and professionals alike:

Traditional piano stool: You can see these in old-style Westerns saloons that feature those upright pianos. The piano player would be sitting on circular wooden stools that spin around. These are now hard to find. The seats spin around to raise and lower the seat. As such, this feature makes them unstable and less ideal for playing the piano for a long time.  

Piano chairs: These look like regular chairs without arm rests and has a small back on it. The sitting surface is pitched slightly forward, to encourage good playing posture. Some come with a padded seat and slightly upscale ones have the ability to be raised or lowered for the pianist’s comfort.

Regular old benches: This is the most common piano bench and is sometimes called a duet bench. Completely utilitarian, it is basically just that – a bench. Usually constructed mostly of wood, the common piano bench is a rectangular and unpadded. They cannot be adjusted in height. This makes for an uncomfortable seat after a long session at the piano.

Concert benches: Considered the Mercedes of piano seats, concert benches are very solid, stable, and durable. They are luxuriously (but firmly) padded and come with circular knobs on each side of the seat. Turning the knobs raises or lowers the sitting surface. With all the knobs and padding, it is not a surprise that these benches are heavy and not to mention fairly expensive.

Normally, benches/chairs are not included in the cost of a piano. You must buy them separately. It is important to choose what is best for you as piano benches play as a “driver’s seat” where the pianist can organize all the movements he has to do while playing and pedaling. Keep in mind that the most important contribution of a proper piano bench is the maintenance of comfort and posture of the pianist. So choose wisely.

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