Buying a piano is a big investment. They are expensive, heavy, and represent a significant amount of time and effort to learn how to play. To call them simply an “investment” is an understatement, as a fine piano is made to outlast everyone. And yet, pianos are frequently one of the most purchased and proudly displayed items in many homes. This is because a piano, under the right hands, makes beautiful music. Even more, a piano adds to the overall beauty of the room itself. For these reasons, you might be looking to buy a piano for yourself. Because they can be so expensive, though, it’s important to make sure that the piano you’re getting is worth the money. To help with this, we’ve compiled a list of 10 piano brands that are known for their quality, innovation, and overall legacy. Each brand description will also come with a link to the company website, so you can get more information and start the process of purchasing your own piano right away.
#01: Steinway and Sons (The United States/Germany)
Founded in Manhattan, New York, in 1853 by Heinrich Steinweg, a German immigrant, the name Steinway today is synonymous with quality. Among professional musicians, there is probably no piano company more respected or highly regarded than Steinway. This is because, over its 160+ years, the Steinway and Sons factories in New York City and Hamburg, Germany have produced stunning pianos of superior quality. In addition, Steinway and Sons is known as an innovator, holding more than 125 patents for pianos and related technology, with its first one in 1857. Steinway is still registering patents to this day, as new technologies are constantly being developed.
Steinway and Son’s share of the market for professional-level grand pianos is greater than 80%, which says something about how well-respected and trusted this company is when it comes to manufacturing high-quality instruments. If you are looking for a piano that will be unmatched in sound, performance, and visual appeal, then Steinway and Sons should be high up on your list.
This award-winning company has been receiving gold awards almost since the beginning, with its first one granted in 1855. Since then, dozens and dozens of awards have flooded in, solidifying this company’s unparalleled reputation in the music community.
Buying a Steinway is definitely an investment that can pay off. However, keep in mind that with so much domination of the market, Steinway and Sons isn’t without its critics. Because they command such a presence, they are able to charge whatever they want. This means that Steinways are typically some of the highest priced pianos you can find. Are they worth it? We’ll leave that to you to judge. You should know, however, that Steinway does actually produce pianos under other names, as well, if you’re interested in saving some money. The brand name “Boston” is a mid-level piano, and the name “Essex” is a beginning-level piano. Both brands are under manufactured by Steinway, however.
To learn more, go to https://www.steinway.com/ and see for yourself.
Editor Choice Best Steinway and Sons Pianos
Baldwin is another company that has a long tradition of making high-quality instruments. Started as a piano dealership in 1862 by piano teacher Dwight Baldwin in Cincinnati, who bought an existing piano retail store, Baldwin eventually grew to become the largest piano dealership in the midwestern US by the 1890s. During this time, Dwight Baldwin vowed to build “the best piano that could be built.” The company produced its first piano in 1891, and its first grand piano in 1895.
Since then, Baldwin has gone on to win its fair share of awards, but has also branched into other areas both musical and non-musical, buying companies such as Gretsch guitars, producing Hamilton organs, and owning a large stock in many investment and financial companies as well. The company has had its share of ups and downs as it weathered various financial crises. Today, Baldwin pianos are made in China, and the company itself is owned by Gibson, the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in America. Baldwin pianos have not been produced in the United States 2008, which means that all current pianos are manufactured solely in Asia.
Because of this, depending on where you live, a brand new Baldwin can be hard to find. Your best bet is to look for a used one in good condition. However, if you want a new one, you should know that Baldwin pianos still command a great deal of respect. They are prized for their big, bass-heavy sound, the clear resonance of the high notes, and the overall big “American” feel that one of these pianos brings to a composition,
To learn more, or to buy, go to http://www.baldwinpiano.com/.
Editor Choice Best Baldwin Pianos
Today, the Yamaha Corporation is known for having its hand in just about everything. The Yamaha website lists such various things as high-end audio equipment, motorcycles, communication technology and golf products as all falling under the Yamaha name. Did you know, though, that Yamaha got its start repairing organs and manufacturing pianos? With a legacy like that, it’s no wonder that the Yamaha brand is one of the most well-known and trusted when it comes to musical instruments. Starting in 1887 with the production of organs, Yamaha was making uprights by the start of the 20th Century, and by 1902 was manufacturing grand pianos. After World War II, Yamaha began to branch off into other areas, but today it is still the largest producer of musical instruments in the world, for both students and musicians.
Because of this varied instrument line, the quality of Yamaha pianos can really vary depending on what you purchase. However, regardless of the line, Yamaha has built a reputation of dependable, beautiful-sounding pianos.that have won numerous awards over the years. In addition, Yamaha has a full line of pianos for you to choose from — uprights, baby grands, concert grands, clavinovas, “silent” pianos, and a host of digital pianos and accessories as well. Whatever your taste is, whatever you’re looking for — Yamaha has a piano to suit your needs and your budget. Each piano is backed by the full Yamaha guarantee, as well.
To learn more about Yamaha pianos, check out their web page here.
Editor Choice Best Yamaha Piano
Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Company is another Japanese brand that has established itself as a maker of high-quality instruments. Founded in Hamamatsu, Japan, in 1927, as an offshoot of the Yamaha corporation, Kawai was founded when Koichi Kawai and seven others left Yamaha and, driven by a passion for great music, began working on their own line of pianos. Since then, Kawai has won dozens and dozens of international awards, with its GL Series winning the coveted “Product of the Year” MMR Dealers Choice Award.
One thing Kawai is known for is innovation. While other companies are still using traditional materials to make their pianos, Kawai has researched the use of alternatives. In the 1970s, Kawai began using ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene) to help circumvent the problems associated with wood, such as shrinkage and warping. The result can be seen in their line of durable, strong pianos that have the strength and rigor to last, while still sounding and looking beautiful. Since then, new products (such as ABS-carbon) have improved the Kawai line even further.
This doesn’t mean that Kawai only markets to the high end, though. With both their grands and uprights, Kawai has a wide range of pianos to suit every possible need or lifestyle. Kawai also has a line of digital and hybrid pianos –which have also won numerous awards — for those musicians ready to embrace the new century.
For more information about Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Company and the award-winning pianos that carry its name, check out their website.
Editor Choice Best Kawai Piano
#05: Charles R .Walter
The Walter Piano Company is another Mid-Western US success story. Born in Illinois in 1927, Charles R. Walter graduated with a degree in engineering and soon joined the Conn company in their piano development and engineering division. Walter worked closely with their Janssen piano division until it was discontinued in 1969, after which Charles Walter decided to strike out on his own. In 1975, the very first Charles Walter piano was introduced to the public. In the years that followed, the Walter piano company developed a reputation for superior quality and sound, and the company grew as a result. At the same time, the Walter company grew as his own family did — and the Walter family is still carrying on Charles Walter’s legacy of producing high-end pianos.
The Walter piano company approaches its piano manufacturing with the attention to detail and specifics that you would expect from a company born of science and engineering. Each piano is crafted with attention to the most minute details to help ensure unmatched quality. All parts are custom manufactured and custom installed, which means the each part, on each piano, was built specifically for that piano and that piano alone. In addition, each piano is inspected by a member of the Walter family before it is allowed to go on sale. Because of these reasons, every piano sold at Walter is guaranteed to be of the utmost quality and superior performance.
For more information about the Charles R. Walter piano company, its full line of grands and uprights, and its commitment to excellence, go to their website.
#06: Mason and Hamlin
Mason and Hamlin was started in 1854 in Boston by Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin. For the first thirty years of its existence, Mason and Hamlin produced reed organs and melodeons, and did not actually make and sell its first piano until 1883. Over the next couple of decades, Mason and Hamlin continued to produce pianos that were increasingly recognized for their sound and performance quality. Even famed composers like Rachmaninoff and Ravel took note of the Mason and Hamlin pianos, with Ravel calling them “a real work of art.” In short, Mason and Hamlin pianos were well-known and highly respected. After World War II, Mason and Hamlin changed hands several times, and it seemed like the company might not be able to recreate its former glory.
Now, Mason and Hamlin is owned by Burgett, Inc., but is starting to make a comeback in the piano market. With a line of uprights and grand pianos, Mason and Hamlin still produced high quality pianos for every occasion. Its Model A baby grand is considered by many to be the finest, highest quality grand piano under 6 feet in length. In addition, Mason and Hamlin sells retrofit systems that can turn into modern piano into a self-playing piano, perfect for a night in or entertaining guests.
Mason and Hamlin pianos are made with a combination of natural materials, such as wood, and composite and carbon fiber material, representing the ultimate in technology. These materials help ensure long life and durability under any sorts of conditions.
For more information, go to Mason and Hamlin’s official website here.
Bechstein Piano for tefabrik AG is a German company that more often goes by the name Bechstein. This company as founded in 1857, who set out to build a piano that could withstand the punishment and demands that the current pianists were putting on their instruments. The result was a piano that soon won the endorsement of contemporary musicians and celebrities like Franz Liszt, Maurice Ravel, and Bela Bartok. Soon, Bechstein pianos could be found in every concert hall across Europe, and Bechstein pianos were even the favorite piano of royalty such as Queen Victoria.
By the turn of the century, Bechstein had established large showrooms in all the major European cities, and was the favorite piano of royalty, stars, and musicians throughout the continent. The world wars were not kind to Bechstein, however, and the construction of the Berlin Wall only served to make things worse. By 1963, all of Bechstein had been sold to other companies, including Baldwin. After the reunification of Germany, however, Bechstein was bought by a German businessman names Schulze, who has once again put Bechstein on the map in the world of high-end pianos. In 2007, Bechstein won the iF Gold Award.
Bechstein pianos are still known for their overall quality. Uprights and grands display a German sense of engineering and precision, and produce excellent tones and response. Each model is available in a wide array of beautiful finishes, which means that not only will these pianos sound great, but they will perfectly match the style of whatever space you ask them to fill. The long tradition of Bechstein excellence is still alive today in its latest generation of pianos.
For more information, go to their website.
#08: Stuart and Sons
Stuart & Sons Terra Australis Pty Limited is an Australian company that has only been on the scene for a short time, but has already started to make a name for itself. Founded in 1990 by Wayne Stuart, this company at first glance might seem to be an odd choice to make this list. It’s relatively new status on the field means that it hasn’t had as much of a chance to garner the accolades and awards that some of the other piano manufacturers have. What’s more, unlike some of the other companies that produce a large array of products that cater to every style, Stuart and Sons only produces two piano models — a studio grand and a full concert grand.
With that in mind, though, Stuart and Sons makes this list because what it lacks in time or volume, it more than makes up for in quality and innovation. The pianos are crafted from the finest wood and other materials available, all seen under the eye of a master piano craftsman, Wayne Stuart. Each piano is made to order, and even though there are two basic model designs, individual requests can be discussed, and the pianos tailored to suit your needs, with custom finished and materials.
The most exciting thing about Stuart and Sons, though, is that their pianos have a wider range than has ever been possible before. These instruments come with either 97 keys or 102 keys — and still boasts clarity and resonation all along the 8½-octave range. Stuart and Sons states that that no other pianos are able to make such a boast.
For more information, go to their website here.
Fazioli Pianoforti is another newer company on the world stage. Founded by Paolo Fazioli in Italy in 1981, Fazioli is a smaller company, producing about 100 pianos a year from their single factory. With a degree in engineering from the University of Rome, and a diploma in piano from the G. Rossini Conservatory, Fazioli had a unique combination of skills, knowledge, and passion, which he used to design his hand-built pianos. The result is a piano that has taken the musical world by storm and turned plenty of heads.
Fazioli manufactures six different styles of grand pianos, with the largest being the F308 — a full-sized concert grand piano which also happens to be the largest piano available on the market today. This piano also has a unique fourth pedal which acts similar to a soft pedal on an upright. Each model of grand also has variations depending on materials and finished, giving you plenty of ways to customize your piano to your style and needs.
In its short time, Fazioli and its piano have gained the respect of musicians all around the world, from Herbie Hancock to the Juilliard school of music in New York. This is because each stage of manufacturing, from the choice of spruce wood from the alps to the sanding and finishing of the final product, is seen to with the most meticulous detail.
Fazioli pianos have received rave reviews in the press due to their superior performance and unmatched sound. To learn more, see the models available, or request more information, go to their website here.
The last manufacturer on this list, L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH, is one of the oldest piano companies in the world today. Founded in Austria in 1828 by Ignaz Bosendorfer, this company has a long history of producing high-quality pianos along with an unmatched legacy. By 1830, Bosendorfer was the official piano maker for the emperor of Austria, and in the following century the pianos were played in some of the finest concert halls all over the world. The company has changed hands several times over the years, and now resides in the hands of BAWAG and Yamaha.
Bosendorfer pianos are considered to have a unique sound, both warm and brilliant at the same time, due in part to the manufacturing process and use of materials such as spruce, a wood ideal for instrument production. Bosendorfer also feature some unique innovations, including a removable capo d’astro bar, and single-stringing, which give it more volume and clarity in the treble range than other, comparable models. In addition, several models feature extra notes either above or below the standard range of a piano. Recently, Bosendorfer has branched into digital technology as well, with its newly created CEUS reproduction system, which records a performance and plays it back, along with capturing keyboard data for later analysis. It’s fitting that the oldest manufacturer of premium pianos is still on the front lines, embracing innovation and new technology to keep themselves relevant and on the cutting edge.
To learn more about Bosendorfer, go to their website here.
Editor Choice Best Bösendorfer Pianos
The companies on this list, and the pianos they produce, represent a cross section of some of the finest instruments money can buy. Whether the company is almost two centuries old, or barely more than two decades, the innovation and dedication on display here demonstrate a commitment to excellence that is unmatched. If you are in the market for a finely-crafted piano of superior quality, any of the ten brands on this distinguished list here are worth checking out.