The skill of every artist can be greatly magnified if he has high-quality tools, such as piano benches. 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.
One thing we focus on when we’re talking about a pianist is the piano. However, there’s one inconspicuous object that easily evades the eyes – the piano benches.
A piano bench is something you use and learn how to sit properly at the piano, and by doing so it forms an essential part of every pianist’s technique. It is a very important, overlooked aspect of your playing.
In today’s article, we are going to discuss what are piano benches, what to look for in a piano bench, their similarities (or differences) with a piano chair, the different types of benches available, and other pertinent information you need to know so that you can figure out which one is best for you.
As with many different instruments and musicians, the small details can be very crucial in improving your level of playing. When it comes to piano, selecting the bench that is the best fit for you might be the edge you’re looking for to improve your technique.
Hidrau, a company specializing in creating piano benches, has been in the industry since 1975. One of its aims is to manufacture piano benches that grow alongside the pianist using it, creating a strong bond through his or her journey as a musician. American academic institutions in the top 50 have been choosing Hidrau products for decades now, mostly due to our commitment to the highest standards of quality when it comes to piano benches.
What is a Piano Bench?
First off – let’s answer the question: “what is a piano bench?” Unsurprisingly, many people do not know that a particular bench exists for pianists.
A piano bench is simply the tool a pianist sits on when playing the piano. However, just because a pianist does not use it to make music, you can easily dismiss its importance! Think about it this way, you wouldn’t dare drive a vehicle with a broken seat or to competitively play a sport with damaged shoes, right? It’s pretty much the same situation when it comes to piano benches.
Piano benches are important because of the role they play as a “driver’s seat” where the pianist can organize all the movements he has to do while playing and pedaling. The most important contribution of a piano bench is the maintenance of comfort and posture of the pianist.
What Should One Look for in a Piano Bench?
Price is just one factor to consider; but aside from that, there are many other considerations that need to be taken into account. The following should be your main considerations 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. Holding a particular position for a long time affects the blood flow in that area and thus causes fatigue. If you continue these bad habits in how you sit, 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, we can only do so much so we also have to rely on our tools to keep us on track. Piano benches might not look like it, but they do play a huge part in keeping us safe from injuries (if you selected the right one that fits). Therefore, we came up with a practical guide to help you out:
One crucial aspect that you need to think about is how comfortable you are with the tools that you have. A piano bench is where you’ll be sitting for hours on end when you’re playing; so if you’re not comfortable sitting on it, it will affect your performance. Many companies have spent countless years trying to perfect their craft and deliver the right piano benches that can match your personal requirements.
For a pianist to avoid strain, he has to observe proper posture. His back should be straight, his arms should be relaxed from the shoulder, his elbows should be slightly elevated just above the keys, and his feet should be firmly planted on the floor where the pedals (of the piano) are within his reach.
A decent bench should at least be able to help you with that. Additional features such as an added back support are not required, but sure are handy to ensure that you maintain a 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 because of price); however, the actual stability of your bench will affect you more than you know!
There’s nothing more annoying than a squeaky or wobbly chair. It just does not feel right. A lot of this comes down to the design of the bench itself and that’s why some benches 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 he does best without being distracted by the tiniest noises.
Entry-level benches usually come with legs that are bolted on and can be adjusted over time. This can easily be remedied by tightening, which takes next to no effort. They are equally stable and durable with the small condition that from time to time we dedicate one minute to adjust the bolts. The more expensive benches typically have the legs either directly glued or screwed into the frame.
When it comes to choosing piano benches, it’s hard to get one that truly and perfectly fits you. However, you do not have to worry, as there are adjustable benches. They can be adjusted comfortably to meet your height requirements. This factor is particularly important if the intended user is still young and thus choosing an adjustable bench will help him or her reach both the piano keys, as well as the pedals below it with relative ease.
For example, Hidrau manufactures high-end piano benches that enjoy a hydraulics system for easy height adjustment. This proprietary Hidrau technology can be operated without effort and activates without too much pressure, making it ideal for children. The benches made by Hidrau can activate its hydraulics with only 110 pounds of pressure (50 kilograms), while most of the benches in the market require more than 143 pounds (65 kilograms).
At Hidrau, we offer our clients the BM41HP piano bench from the Academy Series, which is ideal for children. This model enjoys a cutting-edge hydraulic system that activates with only 77 pounds of pressure (35 kilograms).
As an aside, if your chosen bench has space for storage, it can be a convenient space to store your music books and other related materials.
What is paramount in choosing the best piano bench is your needs. So, think about what you need considering your height and weight, how much time you spend each day sitting on it while playing the piano. Are you buying one for yourself, or is it for a school or studio?
Another important concept that has recently gained traction these days is ergonomics. It is the science of wise choice and the use of machines to lessen workplace injuries. As a pianist, bad posture brought about by incompatible tools will spell injuries such as lumbar pain and circulatory damages in your extremities (legs), among others.
Is It the Same Thing as a Chair for Piano?
Piano chairs are also often confused with piano benches and for good reason.
The difference mainly lies in the piano benches’ design, as they are primarily created with longevity in mind; whereas, piano chairs are more affordable and less specialized. Piano benches are designed with more care such that they offer more benefits as far as comfort, posture, and durability are concerned.
Metal Piano Bench vs Wood Piano Bench
If you’ve reached this part of the article, we’re sure that we have already piqued your interest. We know you’re excited, which may have prompted you to search on a few types of piano benches – metal benches and wood benches.
Metal piano benches are more shock-resistant and can definitely take a beating better than other materials and many of them have a more effective hydraulic suspension and height adjustment system. They are more in-demand in the education sector as they offer both durability and convenience in one package. You can just adjust the height of the bench with relative ease and noiselessly. Metal benches are often the preferred choice, especially if you’re buying them for a music school or studio where many people often use them. The metal framing proves to be sturdy and can take the beatings of everyday use.
Hidrau’s metal piano bench is one example of this. It features a modern design with a metallic body, the pneumatic system can be easily be activated using levers, and the system itself is silent and wobble-free. Its upholstery is also made with ergonomics in mind, to provide 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.
Wood piano benches remain the bench-of-choice for those who are looking to go for a classic, more distinguished look and custom-made bench. Wood piano benches seem 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 benches, we use the same Hidrau-patented engineered mechanisms suspension and height adjustment systems that are state-of-the-art.
Proper Height of a Piano Bench
The short answer to this concern is that it depends. A piano bench should not be a one-size-fits-all endeavor. In the earlier paragraphs, we have highlighted the importance of choosing a bench that allows you to adjust its height depending on the height and weight of the pianist.
Standard sizes of benches are usually pegged against which kind of piano you are using. Grand piano benches usually have a height between 18 and 24 inches and are 35 inches wide. The width is usually proportional to the instrument and when taken together, it adds elegance to the grand piano.
For all other upright pianos, the standard size is between 21 and 25 inches wide and 19 inches high.
Piano Benches for Children
Good posture on the piano has crucial effects on almost every aspect of a child’s playing, so the choice of a piano bench for your child is important. Therefore, here are 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 just right above the keys and are parallel to the floor. Years ago, people had to use things ranging from phone books to foams just to ensure this for children, but now, especially hydraulic suspension but also mechanic mechanisms, make this task easier.
Now the next thing you have to consider is that your child’s feet should touch the floor (planted on the floor should be the correct term). How do you deal with this? Well, for problems like this, all you need is a pedal extender.
You also have to consider that your child has to maintain his back posture, that is he should not be too far away as causing him or her to lean forward, or be too near as to lean backward. That being said, take note of the distance from the bench to the piano.
Hidrau has several models that are embedded with pneumatic suspensions, making it easier to adjust to your desired height. They 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 benches only require 110 pounds. If your child has trouble reaching the pedals, Hidrau addresses that by coming up with pedal extenders to help your children.
For example, Hidrau recently launched a piano bench 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 Bench Work as an Organ Bench?
Organ benches are often with larger dimensions. Thus, most piano benches may not fit the bill. However, Hidrau has a product (mentioned earlier) called the Academy bench (BM45HL model), which might be perfect for organ players looking for a bench with adjustable height through an ingenious pneumatic mechanism system. What sets the Academy bench 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 bench for an extended time, he will still feel comfortable with little to no pressure on his or her thigh arteries. With its metallic body, it can surely withstand the test of time and use.
How Much Does a Piano Bench Cost?
What is great 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.
If you have a music school or a studio, for example, chances are you’re looking for something that not only addresses your students’ comfort and posture, but one that’s also durable and can withstand the beatings of constant use. You might be better off by choosing metal piano benches. Hidrau’s Academy Series metal benches are a great choice because of their metallic built and automatic lifting features easily activated through levers. 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 Bench be Used as a Piano Practice Chair?
Can you use a piano bench even if you’re just practicing? Of course! Again, we emphasize the importance of comfort and posture when playing the piano. Your choice of a piano bench or chair plays a huge part in the level of your playing. If you’re not comfortable or the chair/bench puts a lot of strain on your posture, how can you expect to have a lasting and sustained performance?
Choosing the right bench will have long-lasting effects on your technique as a pianist. We know that a bench does not directly help you create the music, but we tend to overlook small details like this. 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 Bench?
When it comes to Piano Benches, you might be better off if you invest in a brand you can trust. Hidrau is one of the ubiquitous names when it comes to quality piano benches. Originally from Spain, Hidrau has partnered with the biggest musical providers in the U.S. and all over the world, so that you can get your hands on our products with ease.
Are you still not sure what Piano bench 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 benches 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 has committed heavily to researching and developing our products, and nowadays we are the worldwide leading company in technology for piano benches. Our piano benches and accessories have always been on top, constantly improving and evolving, yet always maintaining their functionality, quality, and beauty. Because of that, our products are not only sought in Spain but also in several foreign markets.
Do Pianos Come with a Bench?
Pianos, especially entry-level ones, often do not come with piano benches or come with low-quality ones that don’t last too long. The goal of these types of pianos is just really to be affordable, and adding a piano bench to the mix might just add to the overall cost. On the other hand, high-end pianos usually come with their own bench because the bench has the same design and build as the piano itself.
Although these high-end pianos come with their own bench, we respectfully recommend you still get your own because these benches might not suit your preferences or might not be adjustable. Again, the primary factor you should consider is not the design, but how comfortable you are when sitting on the bench. The aesthetic is just an added factor, which is great if present, 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 bench. After all, your performance rides indirectly on it.
What about Cello Benches and Harp Benches?
Are piano benches limited to pianists and organists? Of course not! Cellists and harpists also need to have reliable benches 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 bench that is custom-made for them. Our piano benches fit the bill!
However, we would just like to stress that these musicians also have a different standard to observe when it comes to proper posture and comfort. The choice of which piano bench to buy also greatly depends on their build (height and weight). Either way, 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 benches. Our dedication to creating extraordinary products and innovating has led Hidrau to be present in the top universities in the United States. Serving both professionals and students, our piano benches have their own definition.
No matter what your budget is, Hidrau offers a wide array of options when it comes to piano benches. For individual and institutional customers alike, our products provide the degree of quality, comfort, convenience, and innovation that is demanded to achieve greatness in an artistic process such as playing the piano.