Perhaps the earliest choice made when selecting a piano is whether to buy a grand piano or an upright piano. Here we will provide several points of comparison, some technical differences and a few reasonable generalities.
Pianos come in many shapes and sizes from spinets (or spinettes) to full concert grands. Upright pianos were originally developed to solve the customer's need for a space saving design. Prior to uprights, square grands enjoyed a generation of popularity (in the mid 1800's) before their outmoded design was replaced. The square shape was appealing and easy to plan a room around. The upright grand (very tall uprights) soon followed. Later designs became smaller due primarily to fashion and were placed in many homes and churches. Today we enjoy many choices from utilitarian designs sought after by institutions, console pianos that mimic many traditional furniture styles and new contemporary designs that embrace clean lines with exotic or fashionable materials.
While the overwhelming majority of grand pianos today are ebony, upright buyers still like wood finishes making ebony vs. wood tone a more even split.