Originally posted by squonk:
To those who have played the brands, do these 1-3 inch differences make a whole lot of difference, and if not, how much seems to (generalizing, only, of course)?
Your question is a completely subjective one. I am affraid my response may raise the ire of many. Anyway, here goes!
Size is merely one (1)component in piano building. If EVERYTHING else were to be equal, bigger would be better. Problem is, nothing is ever quite equal.
In a scale design, the guage of piano wire, tension scale, bridge placement, and pin placement all have effect on the overall sound. You might have two different makes of pianos using the same SIZE and QUALITY of materials, and have unique sound characteristics. Why? Piano companies value different characteristics in their sound and manipulate the design for it.
Within a specific brand there might be more of a consistancy, yet the larger and more expensive models (such as the C3 example given) a great deal of care is taken to produce specific harmonic response or accentuate specific intervals. Another term for this is 'partials". These scale designs, once the desired formula is achieved, typically stays the same for decades. in Yamaha's case, the 4'11"-5'3" pianos have had many model changes. The the C2 (5'8") and up was developed about 20 years ago and will likely continue for years to come. Baldwin's current scale has been the same since 1960.
Here is my message: find the piano that produces the pleasing sound you desire regardless of size. There is NO WAY a 5'7" Pearl River will ever sound like say a Baldwin M at 5'2" or a Steinway S. Choosing a piano on size is stupid! Buy the best piano you can and consider size secondarilly. This forum has always made too much of size in my opinion.