The Piano Stool: Overview of History and Function

Piano stool history is long and varied, the earliest models being standard equipment with pump organs and the spinet pianoforte. Various models existed in a multitude of heights and sizes. The current useful function of the stool depends on the build and the quality of construction.

The most common piano stool found in the antique market is the pedestal style organ stool, often sold with the upright piano and various home pianos of the early 20th century. Prices of these benches can vary but are usually quite reasonable, higher market prices being for the more sought after stools with carvings and clawed or inlayed legs. While these type stools can be an asset for the interior décor, they are of little value for the modern pianist and are unstable at best for proper seating.

With the development of the smaller console pianos and spinet pianos in the late 1930’s for usage in homes there was a shift away from piano stools to the now standard piano bench with music storage. While the more elegant stools may have fit the Victorian décor better, the traditional piano stool proved to be a poor choice for the serious pianist. The most important assets to piano seating are stability and comfort, the older stools proved to have neither.

Among educators and piano instructors the most common choice of a piano bench is the standard traditional bench with music storage or the adjustable bench. Various options of leg styles are available as well as many common furniture colors and finishes. While a piano stool may have aesthetic value to many, the practical purpose of a traditional piano bench greatly outweighs any advantages.