Buying A 85 Keys Piano?

Japan Used Piano Yamaha U3E

Today, we have a customer dropping by our center and enquired about the different on 85 keys piano and 88 keys piano. It was really an interesting topic for discussion and we would like to share a bit here for you, if you come across a 85 keys piano in the future.

Now, Let’s get started and explore a little bit into piano development history.

The great inventor of Piano is Bartolomeo Cristofori. He was born in May 1655 and died in Jan 1731. He spent his youth and adolescene serving as the apprentice to the Nicolo Amati, one of the best Italian violin makers of his time.

In 1688 he caught the attention of the Ferdinando de Medici, son of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III. Then he was recruited to become his official violin maker and musician. Along his career with Ferdinando, Cristofori started working on new instruments. His first work was on keyboard instruments.

Cristofori apparently invented the first piano in 1709. By 1726, he had arrived at the all essentials of the modern piano action.

From the year of 1726, piano evolved thru upgrades over centuries. The keyboard of a Mozart era piano (late 18th century) had only about 5 octaves of keys. During Beethoven’s lifetime, he worked closely with piano builders increasing the range and capabilities of the piano. So, later works of Beethoven not only cover a wider range of keys on the piano than his earlier works, but also place greater demands on the range of volume and speed of notes played.

Eventually a standard of 85 keys developed in the late 19th century. For more details, in 1850, the piano keys moved 4 full octave to 6 octave. Then the keys reached 85 keys, at the middle to late of 19th century. At that time period the 85 keys, 7 octave from A0 to A7, was the standard piano. 

And as composers were getting more readily to write music for a wider range then 85 keys to the full 88 keys, some pianos were built with 88 keys. And eventually that 88 keys range became the absolute standard on pianos in 1960s.

Why buy an 19th century’s 85 keys piano, where you already know you MUST change this piano to a 88 keys when you go higher grades? Do you agree?