Piano Stools: Everything You Need to Know
The skill of every artist can be greatly magnified if they have high-quality tools for their art form. Musicians, being considered artists in their own right, can elevate their performance to reach new heights when they’re given the chance to work with quality instruments, such as piano stools.
When it comes to pianists, the main thing we tend to focus on is the piano. However, there’s an inconspicuous object that easily evades the eyes, hidden in plain sight just beneath the pianist– the piano stool.
A piano stool is a resource that allows you to sit properly at the piano, and, by doing so, forms an essential part of every pianist’s technique. It is a very important, yet overlooked aspect of your playing, and taking the time to understand how to use this resource to your best advantage will help you in the long run.
In today’s article, we are going to discuss what piano stools are, what to look for in a piano stool, their similarities (or differences) with a piano chair, the different types of stools available and other pertinent information you need to know to determine which one is best for you.
As with many different instruments and musicians, the saying “the devil is in the details” rings true; one change can be very crucial in improving your level of playing. When it comes to piano, selecting the stool that is the best fit for you might be the edge you’re looking for to improve your technique.
Hidrau, a company that specialises in creating piano stools for beginners up to top-notch performers, has been in the industry since 1975. One of its aims is to manufacture piano stools that grow alongside the pianist using it, creating a strong bond through their journey as a musician. Academic institutions among the top 50 in America have been choosing Hidrau products for decades now, mostly due to our commitment to the highest standards of quality when it comes to piano stools.
What is a Piano Stool?
First off – let’s answer the big question: “what is a piano stool?” Unsurprisingly, many people do not know that a particular stool exists for pianists.
Simply put, a piano stool is a tool a pianist sits on when playing the piano. However, it is not necessarily a simple tool. It is easy to make the mistake of dismissing its importance just because it is not directly used to make music. But, think about it this way: you wouldn’t dare drive a vehicle with a broken seat, or competitively play a sport with damaged shoes, right? It’s pretty much the same situation when it comes to piano stools.
Piano stools are important because of the role they play, acting as a “driver’s seat” where the pianist can organise all the movements they have to do while playing and pedaling. The piano stool’s most important contribution is maintaining the comfort and posture of the pianist.
What Should One Look for in a Piano Stool?
Price is, of course, a factor to consider, but it is only one factor. Aside from that, many other considerations need to be taken into account. The following paragraphs detail what your main considerations should be if you want to sustain your performance and avoid possible injuries brought about by ill-fitted equipment.
Long periods of sitting down in poor and awkward positions cause stress on your spine and the muscles in your back, neck, and thighs. Muscles are often put to the test when they are contracted or extended for long periods, and holding a particular position for a long time affects the blood flow in that area, leading to fatigue. If you continue bad habits of sitting incorrectly, the worst case is that it will lead to more permanent and serious injuries such as back and disc problems.
To avoid all of those mentioned above, observing proper posture and choosing to be comfortable is key. However, there is only so much we can only ourselves, and we also have to rely on our tools to keep us on track. It may not appear so, but piano stools play a huge part in keeping us safe from injuries (if you select the right one that fits). Therefore, to help you make that choice, we came up with a practical guide to the key criterion for piano stool selection:
It is imperative to think about how comfortable you are with the tools that you have. A piano stool is where you’ll be sitting for hours on end when you’re playing, so if you’re not comfortable sitting on it, your performance will undoubtedly be affected. Many companies have spent countless years trying to perfect their craft and deliver the right piano stools that can match each individual’s requirements while delivering comfort.
For a pianist to avoid strain, they must observe proper posture. Their back should be straight, their arms should be relaxed from the shoulder, their elbows should be slightly elevated just above the keys, and their feet should be firmly planted on the floor where the pedals (of the piano) are within their reach.
At a minimum, a decent stool should be able to help you with that. Additional features, such as added back support, are not required but certainly are helpful to ensure that you maintain good posture. Without proper posture and back support, it’s easy to slouch forward adding unwanted strain to your back, thighs, shoulders, and neck.
Stability and Durability
Stability and durability are two factors that should not be compromised (especially for the sake of price). In fact, the stability of your stool will actually affect you more than you may realise!
There’s nothing more annoying than a squeaky or wobbly chair. For starters, it just does not feel right and can throw off your playing. A lot of this comes down to the design of the stool itself and that’s why some stools use a hydraulics system to be as silent as possible during playing and adjusting. These noiseless designs are perfect so that a pianist can do what they do best without being distracted by the tiniest noises. Remember not to underestimate the accumulation of those small details.
Entry-level stools usually come with legs that can be adjusted over time and are attached by bolts, allowing for easy tightening to remedy squeaks or wobbling. They are just as stable and durable with the minor condition of dedicating a minute from time to time to adjust the bolts. The more expensive stools typically have their legs either directly glued or screwed into the frame.
It’s a difficult task to find a piano stool that fits you truly and perfectly, but, fret not; there are adjustable stools that give you the ability to comfortably adjust the height to meet your requirements– even if they are changing. This factor is particularly important if the intended user is still young and thus choosing an adjustable stool will help them reach both the piano keys, as well as the pedals below it with relative ease.
For example, Hidrau manufactures high-end piano stools that are known for their easy adjustment. Their proprietary technology that employs a hydraulics system takes little to no effort to operate and is activated at relatively low pressure, making it ideal for children. The stools made by Hidrau can activate their hydraulics with only 110 pounds of pressure (50 kilograms), while most of the stools in the market require more than 143 pounds (65 kilograms).
At Hidrau, we offer our clients the BM41HP piano stool from the Academy Series, making it an excellent choice for children. This model makes use of a cutting-edge hydraulic system that activates with only 77 pounds of pressure (35 kilograms).
On a side note, if your chosen stool has space for storage, it can be a convenient space to store your music books and other related materials.
Ultimately the most important aspect to consider when choosing the best piano stool is your needs. Take some time to think about what might you need considering your height and weight, how much time you spend each day sitting on it while playing the piano, and for whom you are buying the piano stool. Are you buying one for yourself, or is it for a school or studio? Different needs may take different priorities depending on the situation.
Another important concept that has been gaining more traction recently is ergonomics. It is the science of wise choice and the use of machines to lessen workplace injuries. As a pianist, the injuries you are exposed to due to bad posture brought about by incompatible tools include lumbar pain and circulatory damage in your extremities (legs), among others.
Is It the Same Thing as a Chair for Piano?
Piano chairs are also often confused with piano stools and for good reason.
The difference mainly lies in the care and specialisation of the design. Piano stools are primarily created with longevity in mind and therefore designed with more care such that they offer more benefits as far as comfort, posture, and durability are concerned. Whereas, piano chairs are less specialised but more affordable.
Metal Piano Stool vs Wood Piano Stool
If you’ve made it this far in the article, we know we’ve got your attention and that you’re excited about getting a stool. This means at this point you may have even done some research on a few types of piano stools – metal stools and wood stools.
Metal piano stools are more shock-resistant and can definitely take more of a beating than other materials. Additionally, many of them have a more effective hydraulic suspension and height adjustment system, allowing for relatively easy and noiseless adjustment. Offering both durability and convenience in one package, metal stools are often the preferred choice, especially in the education sector. The metal framing proves to be sturdy and able to withstand the wear and tear of frequent everyday use incurred by at a music school or studio.
Hidrau’s metal piano stool, featuring a modern design with a metallic body, is one example of this. The pneumatic system, which is silent and wobble-free, can be easily be activated using levers. The upholstery is made with ergonomics in mind, providing maximum support for your posture. It also helps in relieving pressure build-up in the arteries of your thighs brought about by prolonged sitting. Despite being modern, it retains some classic elements through its velvet, synthetic leather, or genuine leather upholstery.
However, for those looking for a classic, more distinguished look and custom-made stool, wood piano stools remain the stool-of-choice. The beauty of wood piano stools seems to exude the same allure as the piano itself. They are often bought to match the style of the piano including its color and patterns. At Hidrau, we use wood that has sustainable origins, sourced from providers that follow environmentally respectful standards.
As with the metal piano stools, we use the same state-of-the-art and Hidrau-patented engineered suspension mechanisms and height adjustment systems.
Proper Height of a Piano stool
The short answer to the concern of the proper height of a piano stool is that it depends. A piano stool should not be a one-size-fits-all endeavor. In the earlier paragraphs, we have highlighted the importance of choosing a stool that allows you to adjust its height in accordance with the height and weight of the pianist.
When it comes to standard sizes of stools, they are usually described in terms of the kind of piano you are using. Grand piano stools generally have a height between 18 and 24 inches tall and are 35 inches wide. The width is usually proportional to the instrument so that, when taken in together, it contributes to the elegance of the grand piano.
For all other upright pianos, the standard size is between 21 and 25 inches wide and 19 inches high.
Piano Stools for Children
The right choice of piano stool for your child is directly related to posture while playing, and this has crucial effects on almost every aspect of a child’s playing. Therefore, here we have outlined a few tips and tricks to deal with the problem.
If you remember the previous segment, good piano posture occurs when your forearms (elbow to your fingers) are right above the keys and are parallel to the floor. In years past, people have had to make home adaptations to ensure this posture for children, resorting to the use of things ranging from phone books to foams. But, in today’s world, hydraulic suspension and mechanic mechanisms make this task easier, especially the former.
Of course, this does lead to you wondering where this leaves their feet. Good posture dictates that your child’s feet should not only touch, but be planted on the floor. So, how do you manage this? Fortunately, the solution is simple and all you need is a pedal extender.
You also have to consider that your child has to maintain correct back posture– that is, they should not be too far away from the piano, causing them to lean forward, or be too close to the piano so as to be leaning backward. That being said, take note of your child’s necessary distance between the piano and the stool.
Hidrau has several models that are embedded with pneumatic suspensions, which make it easier to adjust to your desired height, and are triggered with less weight as compared to products from other companies. While most products in the market require at least 143 pounds to activate the adjustable hydraulics, Hidrau stools only require 110 pounds. If your child has trouble reaching the pedals, Hidrau addresses that with pedal extenders to help your children.
For example, Hidrau recently launched a piano stool for the Academy Series which has been designed for children. This one is the BM41HPM model and can be conveniently used by children starting at 77 pounds.
Can a Piano Stool Work as an Organ stool?
Organ stools are often made with larger dimensions. Thus, most piano stools may not fit the bill. However, might we recall to your attention the aforementioned Hidrau Academy stool (BM45HL model), as it might be perfect for organ players looking for a stool with adjustable height. Aside from its ingenious pneumatic mechanism system, what sets the Academy stool apart is that it comes with a metallic body and a modern design.
Principles in ergonomics were also considered in laying out its upholstery, thus even if an organist sits on the stool for an extended time, they will still feel comfortable with little to no pressure on their thigh arteries. And with its metallic body, it can surely withstand the test of time and use.
How Much Does a Piano Stool Cost?
The good news of the day is that companies such as Hidrau offer many options depending on your requirements, preferences, and budget. There are good options for every need and budget.
For example, let’s say you are shopping for a music school or a studio. Chances are you’re looking for something that not only addresses your different students’ needs for comfort and posture but one that’s also durable and can withstand heavy regular use. In this case, you may very well be better off choosing metal piano stools. Hidrau’s Academy Series metal stools are a great choice because of their metallic build and automatic lever-activated lifting features. The upholstery retains its ergonomic purpose of not putting a lot of strain and pressure on your thighs and lower back even after hours of playing. This is ideal for music schools and conservatories where its intensive use is definitely guaranteed.
Can a Piano Stool be Used as a Piano Practice Chair?
If you have ever asked the question if you can use a piano stool even if just for practice, that answer is a resounding yes! Again, here we emphasise the importance of comfort and posture when playing the piano. The choice of a piano stool or a piano chair plays a huge part in the quality of your playing. If you’re not comfortable or the chair/stool puts a lot of strain on your posture, how can you expect to have a lasting and sustained performance?
While we know that a stool does not directly help you create the music, choosing the right stool will have long-lasting effects on your technique as a pianist. We have a tendency to overlook small details like this, but in reality, they play a crucial role in making or breaking your career as a musician. Every tool counts!
Where Should You Buy a Piano Stool?
When it comes to Piano stools, you can find more guarantees to get a better bang for your buck if you invest in a brand you can trust. Hidrau is a ubiquitous name in the world of quality piano stools. Originally from Spain, Hidrau has partnered with the biggest musical providers in the U.S. and all over the world to make it easy for you to access our stools.
Are you still not sure what Piano stool is right for you? You can check the online catalog on our website here and see the products for yourself. We have segregated our products into different categories for your convenience.
Hidrau has been one of the leading European companies providing the world with top-quality piano stools since 1975. We have been manufacturing piano tools and providing excellent customer service to our patrons in the music industry for years. In the United States, the Hidrau brand provides high-quality products to many of the universities in the top 50.
Hidrau commits heavily to researching and developing our products, causing us to be the leading piano stool technology company worldwide. While our piano stools and accessories have always been on top, our drive for constant improvement and evolution leads our products to be sought in not only Spain, but also in several foreign markets. Hidrau strikes the balance between striving for more without compromising functionality, quality, and beauty.
Do Pianos Come with a Stool?
Pianos, especially entry-level ones, often do not come with piano stools or come with low-quality ones that don’t last too long. The primary goal of these types of pianos is affordability, and adding a piano stool to the mix might just add to the overall cost. On the other hand, high-end pianos usually come with their own stool because the stool is made to have the same design and build as the piano itself.
Although high-end pianos may come with their own stool, we respectfully recommend considering purchasing your own. Remember, while design matters, it is not the primary factor to consider, but rather comfort is. These stools might not suit your preferences or might not be adjustable. The aesthetic is just an added factor, which is great if possible, but it is something you can do without if needed.
Having a clear grasp of what you need in terms of quality, features, durability, and other benefits should still be the primary consideration in choosing a stool. After all, your performance– albeit indirectly, rides on it. Take the time to consider and value your priorities and needs.
What about Cello Stools and Harp Stools?
Are piano stools limited to pianists and organists? Of course not! Cellists and harpists also need to have reliable stools to help them reduce the strain on their lower back and thighs while playing while offering them maximum comfort. Fortunately, they do not have to look for a chair or stool that is custom-made for them. Our piano stools fit the bill!
However, we would just like to stress that these musicians are playing an entirely different instrument and therefore have a different standard to observe when it comes to proper posture and comfort. Cellists and harpists also have to consider their build (height and weight) in the choice of which piano stool to buy. All in all,, we have a wide range of products available here at Hidrau no matter what your preferences are.
Choosing a Leading Brand
For decades, Hidrau has represented a market-leading manufacturer of high-end piano stools. Our dedication to innovation and to creating extraordinary products has led Hidrau to be present in the top institutions in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Serving students and professionals alike, our piano stools have a definition of their own.
No matter what your budget is, Hidrau offers a wide array of options when it comes to piano stools. Whether you are buying an individual piano stool or purchasing for an institution, our products provide the degree of quality, comfort, convenience, and innovation necessary to contribute to the greatness of so beautiful an artistic process as playing the piano.