What Type of Instrument is a Piano?

What type of instrument is a piano? We all know that the piano is a versatile and timeless instrument, but is it a percussion or a string instrument?

This article explores the unique attributes of the piano. Additionally, we will delve into how the piano produces sound, which defines its musical instrument category.

Historical Background

The piano is one of the most iconic and beloved musical instruments. Moreover, it holds a special place in the hearts of musicians and music enthusiasts alike. With its rich history, remarkable versatility, and expressive capabilities, the piano has also played a crucial role in shaping the music world for centuries.

The piano’s origins can be traced back to the early 18th century when it evolved from the harpsichord, a keyboard instrument that lacked dynamic control. Bartolomeo Cristofori, an Italian instrument maker, is widely credited with inventing the piano around 1700.

The new instrument allowed players to control the volume and expressiveness of the sound by pressing keys that activated hammers to strike the strings. This innovation revolutionized the world of keyboard instruments, and the piano quickly gained popularity across Europe.

Mechanics and Sound Production

piano hammer action

The piano’s remarkable mechanism contributes significantly to its distinctive sound and expressive capabilities. Inside the piano, a series of hammers connected to the keys are poised to strike the strings when the player presses a key.

The strings are stretched across a soundboard, responsible for amplifying and resonating the sound. The combination of hammer, string, and soundboard creates a vast range of sounds. They span from delicate and gentle to powerful and thunderous.

Versatility and Range

One of the piano’s most outstanding characteristics is its unparalleled versatility. Its broad range spans over seven octaves, allowing for the reproduction of a vast array of musical styles and genres.

From classical compositions to contemporary pieces, jazz to pop, the piano’s adaptability ensures it remains a staple in various musical settings. Its ability to play both melody and accompaniment simultaneously has also made it a popular choice for solo performances.

Expressive Potential

The piano’s expressive potential is unmatched by many other musical instruments. The pianist’s touch and technique have a profound impact on the sound produced. Therefore, the variation in the pressure applied to the keys allows for a wide range of dynamics.

The play can be a soft and melancholic pianissimo to a loud and triumphant fortissimo. Moreover, the piano’s pedals – the sustain, soft, and sostenuto pedals – offer further means of expressing emotions and shaping the sound.

Is the Piano a String or Percussion Instrument?

upright piano insight

Despite its appearance as a keyboard instrument, the piano’s classification is based on its method of sound production.

The sound of a piano is produced by striking strings with hammers when the player presses the keys. This action makes it similar to other percussion instruments, where sound is produced by striking or hitting an object.

On the other hand, strings are stretched across a soundboard when you peek inside a piano. The vibrations the struck strings produce are amplified and resonate within the piano’s wooden chamber, resulting in the instrument’s characteristic sound. Hence, the piano is also a chordophone instrument, meaning a string instrument.

What Type of Instrument is a Piano? Nowadays, the piano is generally considered to be both a string and a percussion instrument. Therefore, the piano is one of the most complex and extraordinary instruments ever created.


With its historical significance, mechanical ingenuity, and unparalleled versatility, the piano is uniquely positioned in music.

Its ability to convey a broad spectrum of emotions, from tender and introspective to vibrant and triumphant, makes it a cherished instrument among musicians and audiences alike.

Whether found in grand concert halls, intimate gatherings, or private living rooms, the piano’s timeless appeal continues to captivate hearts and enrich the human experience through the universal language of music.

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