There’s something at once enticingly simple and complicated about playing the piano. Well, simple, because it is an instrument everyone has seen and heard – even if you aren’t an ardent piano listener, it’s hard to miss this instrument as it plays between the lyrics of your favorite songs, or at restaurants. It’s also simple in the sense that it doesn’t involve struggling with strings and chords or a bow or sticks.
But when you take the piano away from all the commonly associated ideas with it, you’ll know it is a complex instrument – there’s a lot to be mastered before you can play the right notes the right way, or enthrall your listeners with a perfect symphony.
To any musician, their instrument is their most prized possession. It goes beyond being a mere instrument – you develop a relationship with it. As a budding pianist, you definitely feel the need to own a piano of your own. It’s one thing to start off by learning and practicing at the music room in your school or college, but sooner or later, your fingers are going to long for a set of keys to run their fingers over, at any time you want. Sooner or later, you’re going to want your own piano, and that’s where it can get a bit difficult.
A piano is an investment. Yes, even an entry-level piano. Fortunately for piano lovers – hobbyists as well as entry-level players, there are plenty of options to choose from while buying a piano. Below is a carefully curated list of the best piano brands in the world, in no particular order of ranking. All of these brands are known for their flawless craftsmanship, have been making pianos for decades, even centuries and their creations have found a place of pride in many a concert.
Here are the 12 Top Piano Brands
Yamaha – The Premier Piano Brand
One of the most popular brands when it comes to musical instruments, Yamaha has been a big part of the musical instrument industry for years. Most commonly known for their digital keyboards, they also make affordable, competitively-priced pianos – while these may not be as elaborate or rich-sounding as high-end pianos, they are definitely a good option to consider if you’re just starting out.
Torakusu Yamaha, the brand’s founder began his journey by building reed organs in 1887 in Hamamatsu, Japan, traveling to the US in 1899 to research newer piano-building technology.
Today, Yamaha has a full line of pianos, from console-line and studio-line pianos, upright as well as grand pianos, including even concert pianos. The Yamaha CF6 grand piano has been touted as their most popular one, said to compete with some of the best piano brands in the world.
Typically, Yamaha pianos fall within a fairly competitive price range, especially when compared to some of the other brands on this list, in particular, niche brands that only make a limited number of pieces annually. Their entry-level vertical pianos start at $4,799, going up to $220,000 for their most expensive grand piano.
Bösendorfer – One of the Oldest Piano Brands
With its origins in Austria in 1828, Bösendorfer is one of the oldest luxury piano makers in the world. In fact, Ignaz Bösendorfer, the founder of this brand was bestowed with the honor of being the ‘official piano maker’ to the Emperor of Austria in 1830.
This brand has been a coveted dream for many musicians, and with ample reason to do so. Bösendorfer is famous for consistent quality (over a century, no less), impeccable workmanship and a rich, pure sound, in addition to constantly innovating their pianos.
Take, for example, their Imperial Grand Piano, which was originally an 88-key piano. By extending an octave with the added keys, this piano has become one of the most cherished concert pianos in the world.
Owning a Bösendorfer has always been a luxury and a matter of pride. After all, this brand only makes over a few hundred pianos each year, and each piece is carefully crafted by hand giving it both precision and charm, which are a decidedly old-world classic. And like anything with a classic charm, you’ll need to shell out quite a fortune if you want to get your hands on one of these pianos – their entry-level vertical piano is a little more than $75,000, with the most expensive one going up all the way up to $536,000.
Mason and Hamlin
(Image Source: www.pinterest.com)
One of the longest standing market leaders when it comes to making pianos, Mason and Hamlin are a US-based brand that has been a favorite with pianists for decades. Founded in 1854, in Massachusetts, this brand gets its name from its founders – a pianist named Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin, an inventor.
This brand lost some of its magic after the Second World War but was bought by Piano Disc in 1996. By continuing to make pianos under their original name, as well as keeping up with their standards of perfection, slowly, this brand found its old glory.
Today, Mason and Hamlin pianos are among the more expensive brands in the world but are the preferred choice for many concert halls as well as music schools. At 50 upright pianos and about 300 grand pianos a year, the focus is always more on perfection and quality rather than quantity. The Mason and Hamlin A and AA pianos are two of their most popular pieces, both grand pianos priced $100,000.
An example of this brand’s dedication to perfection? Every single piano produced by Mason and Hamlin is inspected no less than 12 times throughout the manufacturing process.
The most affordable Mason and Hamlin pianos are the vertical pianos starting at around $22,000, and even their grand pianos aren’t too ambitiously priced – the most expensive one will cost you around $170,000.
How do you describe a piano brand whose clientele includes the likes of by Queen Victoria, Liszt, Brahms, Tsar Nicholas II, and the legends Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky?
Yes, that’s only one of the feats that Blüthner, one of Germany’s oldest piano brands has accomplished in their century-old journey that started in 1853, by founder Julius Blüthner. Since then, this brand has gone on to win many accolades, including being the first piano to be used in an airborne recital when it crossed the Atlantic aboard the famous airship Hindenburg.
Keeping true to its culture of quality and innovation, Bluthner achieved yet another feat by creating and designing, possibly the world’s first piano for the left-handed – a completely backward piano, with the treble keys, hammers and strings on the left and the bass on the right.
From its factory being bombed in the Second World War to winning 5 gold medals at the Leipzig Fair for their handcrafted and stunning pianos, this brand has witnessed a golden history. Their pianos are known for their warm, lyrical and deep sound quality, and a refined, rich tone.
Blüthner is a luxury brand, and their vertical pianos start at $33,000, with an entry-range Bluthner grand piano costing no less than $82,234, going up to a whopping $285,000 for their high-end Crystal Edition. For those who can’t afford their premium range, Blüthner also offers the slightly more affordable Haessler and Irmler ranges, with a Haessler grand piano starting at around $75,000. Their most popular piece is the Blüthner 2, a 7-feet, 8-inch long grand piano known for its remarkable sound and elegant structure.
Kawai is another trusted Japanese company that has been making pianos since 1927. Apart from their rich sound and high quality of craftsmanship, the two things that set these pianos a class apart is the level of perfection – a quality that the Japanese are synonymous with, and the exquisite materials used to make these pianos.
The soundboard on every Kawai piano is made from one specific kind of wood – a species of trees found on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. This makes the Kawai piano an exquisite, unique and high-quality instrument, known for its beautiful, deep sound.
In addition, the action parts on Kawai pianos are made with ABS Styran plastic, which does not warp or shrink under humid conditions like wood, ensuring that they maintain proper regulation as compared to parts made with wood.
The owners of Kawai wanted to be world leaders in the field of piano manufacturing, and today, they have more or less succeeded – at a controlled production of 250 Kawai pianos annually, they are able to deliver consistent, high-quality sound in every single piece.
What makes a Kawai piano a great choice for entry-level musicians as well as professional pianists is their wide range of pricing. Depending on the piano you choose, it could cost you anywhere between $5,500 to $239,000, with the KPD90 being their most popular vertical piano.
Steinway & Sons
One of the most well-known and acclaimed piano manufacturers, in the world, Steinway & Sons make masterfully crafted pianos, each having more than 12,000 parts.
The founder of Steinway & Sons, Engelhard Steinweg began making pianos in his kitchen in Sessen, Germany, when he was all of 20 years old. Twenty-five years after he had built his first ‘kitchen piano’ and 482 other pieces, he decided to move to America and founded this brand in 1853.
This brand has not one or ten, but 127 patents to their name – a proof of their dedication to the art of making fine pianos. Professional pianists all over the world recommend Steinway & Sons.
Today, this brand makes two luxury lines called Crown jewels and Custom for their more discerning clients, as well as Essex and Boston, their more affordable, mid-level ranges. Their vertical pianos start at $35,300, going up to $259,700 for their most expensive grand pianos.
Among these, the Steinway and Sons B range of pianos, which has grand pianos measuring 10.5 feet in length, is the most popular one. Within this range, you’ll find pianos with varying veneers, finishes and exotic polished woods like dark cherry, mahogany, walnut and ebony.
Another super elite, niche piano brand is Bechstein. With the first piano built by Carl Bechstein in 1853, this brand’s pianos have found devoted support from legendary musicians like the Beatles, Elton John, Freddie Mercury and Claude Debussy who even went on to say, “One should only write piano music for Bechstein.”
Bechstein pianos are loved all over the world for their superior tone and flawless design, and the Bechstein Grand remains their most popular piano, with a gilded piece being purchased by none other than Queen Victoria, in 1885.
One of the richest piano brands in the world, Bechstein has invested over 18 million pounds in the pursuit of innovation, technology and design in the field of piano design, operating now out of their headquarters in Seifhennersdorf. It was this very pursuit of innovation that let to Carl Bechstein’s first piano being an instrument for versatile playing styles – from vigorous and energetic to subtle and delicate, making some of their pianos, such as the Concert 8 piano one of the most popular pianos in the world.
Today, each hammer and shank for the piano’s treble, middle or bass area is individually handpicked by Bechstein’s technical directors, in addition to also pioneering the unique art case piano – the last name in bespoke piano design, which creates uniquely embellished piano cases to give their luxury offerings a personal touch.
These pianos are not mere instruments, but pieces of art worthy of a museum display, and rightfully so – their vertical pianos start at $23,848, going up to over $110,000 for their grand pianos. But that’s only their mid-ranged pianos – if you want to go all out and invest in one of their niche brands, C. Bechstein, the costliest grand piano will go up to a whopping $300,000.
Baldwin is an American piano maker brand, which was started in 1862 as an organ making company by a piano teacher. Soon, this brand turned into a very successful piano brand, focusing on delivering high-quality instruments that produce clear, rich sound.
In 2008, Baldwin stopped producing pianos in the US, moving operations to China, but this has done little to impact the brand’s long-standing credibility with pianists – both professionals and students. From Dave Brubeck to Miley Cyrus, this brand has been acknowledged and praised by many famous musicians.
Be it their bridges or sounding boards – Baldwin’s success lies in their constant focus on quality and technological innovation through the years. Their BP190, a six-foot, three inch grand piano is among the best pianos currently in the market.
Most experts in the field agree that the key of Baldwin’s success lies in the technological innovations of piano-making. A lot of thought is being given to the construction of sounding boards, bridges, strings, etc. The most affordable Baldwin piano will cost you around $10,000, the most expensive one, $65,000, which is still more affordable than most of the other brands on this list.
Wilhelm Schimmel founded the Schimmel brand in Leipzig, Germany in 1885 and has celebrated over 130 years of producing impeccably designed pianos, known all over the world for the quality of the actions and tone.
Schimmel’s pianos under their Konzert range, also their most popular, is the perfect example of this brand’s focus on innovation – the upright pianos in this range have been modeled so as to sound exactly like a grand piano in terms of tone and performance, in particular the K132, which has been the most popular for a while now.
This can be attributed to their patented Computer Assisted Piano Engineering (CAPE) system of designing and building pianos, making them one of the most awarded piano makers in Germany.
This brand is also known for its gorgeously designed piano cases, crafted with intricate precision and taste, making their designs timeless classics. For a brand that puts in so much excellence into their pianos, Schimmel would probably have to be the most affordable within the high-end segment of pianos – their least expensive vertical piano is priced at $24,915, going up to over $300,000 for their most expensive grand piano, however, you can also get a decent, entry-level Schimmel grand for under $70,000.
Charles R. Walter
If you are one of those looking to buy a unique, niche piano, look no further than this brand. Founded by Charles Walter in in 1975, these are simple pianos that deliver in terms of sound quality and tone.
While these pianos may have none of the dramatic histories of their German counterparts or elaborate designs, they are built around the philosophy of simplicity and warmth, lending each of their pieces a rustic, countryside feel – similar to the difference between gourmet dining and a well-made plate of comfort food. Their most popular piece is the Charles Walter 1520, 43-inch vertical piano.
(Image source: www.londonderrypiano.com)
In addition, these pianos are priced competitively, making them ideal for students and entry-level musicians. You can get your hands on a vertical piano starting at a little over $16,000, and even their most expensive grand piano is priced under $100,000
It would be impossible to overlook this Italian brand while making a list of the best piano brands in the world. Italy’s obsession with and contribution to classical piano is legendary and this is only reflected even further in the design and craftsmanship of Fazioli pianos.
This brand was founded in 1981, by Paulo Fazioli who was himself a concert pianist, as well as a cabinet maker. He created a piano that would eventually come to have an unmatched quality of touch and tone, and his expertise both, as a musician and an artisan helped him do exactly that.
(Image source: www.fazioli.com)
Fazioli pianos certainly don’t come cheap – their price tag ranges from $100,00 to as much as $300,000, but you are talking about a brand that makes only 120 to 130 pianos a year, which means if you buy a piano from them you can be reassured of unmatched quality, precision and attention to detail. However, Fazioli only makes grand or concert grand pianos and no upright models. Their F308 concert grand piano is not only their most popular piece, but also is the longest piano in the market.
Stuart and Sons
Stuart and Sons are the youngest piano makers on this list – a brand that was founded in the 1990’s in New South Wales, Australia. Their limited years of experience, however, are more than made up for by the qualities of their limited but excellent range of pianos. To this date, this brand has only built about less than a hundred pianos, but these pianos are pieces to watch out for.
With two grand piano types – a studio grand and a concert grand (measuring 7.2’ and 9.5’ respectively), the range of pianos by this brand is definitely limited, but each of their pianos has a phenomenal range, with 97 to 103 keys, allowing them to reach a pitch that few other pianos can. While both these pianos are spectacular in their own way, the concert grand has been used at many Australian music conservatories and institutions, making it the more popular of the two.
What truly makes them statement pieces are the stunning timbers they are made from, lending them an exquisite, rich look. These pianos are priced between $155,000 to $310,000 – which will fetch you not only a gorgeous-looking piano, but also a statement piece in your home or studio.
Stuart and Sons can be best described as a young brand, who, in their pursuit of excellence and innovation, continue to respect tradition and beauty.
What is your Favorite Piano Brand?
If you take your piano playing seriously, there is no doubt that these are the pianos you must aspire to own. There are sites where you can compare the prices of the various models and ranges, but before you jump in to make a purchase, it is definitely worth thinking about what kind of piano you need, and why. If you’re just starting out, and have a few years to go before you decide whether you want to pursue playing the piano more seriously, you can always start with an affordable one, and work your way up.