Not all piano brands are created equal. Only a handful have the pedigree and virtuosity to create the best pianos for performance and prestige. Let’s celebrate their legacy and help you take your pick.
A piano is more than just an expression of musicality. It’s rather an emotion, a worthy keepsake, a status symbol, a worthwhile investment, and a cherished legacy. A Bluthner or Steinway grand is equivalent to a Rolls Royce with connoisseurs willing to lose a limb to own it. That’s how valuable it is!
Some even vouch for a piano to realize some physical, intellectual, and social abilities. Sounds like an exaggeration? Not when you see people across age groups and occupations turning to the keys. Some teachers even consider learning a piano a precondition for studying other instruments.
Even if you discount all that, it’s hard to resist the charm of an exquisitely crafted piano. The black and white keys laid on an expansive keyboard create a striking contrast, accentuated by a deftly-chiseled case. The sheer diversity of options means there’s a piano for every décor conceivable.
A Historic Context to the Piano Brands
These epitomes of melody and artistry trace their roots back to the 18th century when harpsichords and clavichords were ruling the music scene. Both were brilliant instruments for their time but harpsichords denied players control over their dynamics, while the sound of clavichords was too faint to stand out in a concert. It took a maverick to fix it and change the music scene for good.
Bartolomeo Cristofori’s ingenuity led him to swap the plucking mechanism of a harpsichord with a hammer in around 1700 AD. The prototype, thus born, allowed pianists to adjust the sound level as per the requirement. Interestingly, he christened it as “Clavicembalo Col Piano e Forte,” denoting a harpsichord capable of generating soft and loud sounds. That speaks for the etymology of the piano.
In terms of size, sound, and features, the pianos we use today are a far cry from the Cristofori prototype. The world took a while to take notice of this innovative instrument. But once it did, the fascination only grew stronger. With Beethoven and Mozart weaving timeless symphonies and music moving from courtrooms to concert halls and public gatherings, pianos exploded in popularity.
With entire Europe gripped in the piano-mania, each country developed a characteristic design and sound. Austrian pianos were characterized by a lighter frame and subtle sound whereas the British ones were bulkier and louder. Guess what? Even the number of keys was country-specific.
10 Best Piano Brands in the World
In the initial years, pianos were handcrafted, leaving a yawning gap between demand and supply. However, with the rapid industrialization in the post-French-revolution era, pianos went into mass manufacturing, giving rise to second-generation brands. Some faded into oblivion but some withstood the test of time and continue to go from strength to strength.
So, here are the best piano brands that ever existed.
Calling Leipzig home, Bluthner burst onto the scene in 1853 as a vision of a master craftsman and an innovator, Julius Bluthner. What started in an unassuming rented workshop soon emerged as one of the world’s leading piano brands with the top pianists, kings, and aristocracy as patrons.
Come 1890, the company came up with a massive 8500 square meter production unit, housing 1200 employees and multiple production departments. Soon, Bluthner was rolling out over 5000 pianos yearly, a big upturn from 10 in the debut year. An international sales and distribution network was in place soon afterward, giving the piano brand a wider reach and acceptance.
As the fifth-generation family foundation, the brand continues to support composers and pianists with the finest products and services. From grand pianos and self-play and silent systems to pre-owned pianos, there’s a Bluthner for your unique taste, needs, and budget. The option to design a piano to your specifications and expectations is also there should you need something bespoke.
Design and Construction:
Blüthner pianos are distinctive for their quality, aesthetics, and sound. Save for the Model 11, all Bluthners come with Aliquot Patent to guarantee a full pallet of soulful sounds. Lying beneath the precisely-crafted keyboard is a keybed made of Red Beech and German Pine. In conjunction with the Bavarian Mountain Spruce & ebony keys, it responds to every stroke with finesse, from pianissimo to fortissimo. The deftly-carved iron frame, one-of-a-kind cylindrical soundboard, and aptly-placed hardwood and walnut hammer render Bluthners with a qualitative edge.
Bluthner owns four in-house brands to cater to a wider customer base.
- Rönisch: Acquired by Bluthner in 2009, it is one of the oldest brands with a reputation for introducing 5-strut frames and providing exceptional tonal variations and impeccable build quality.
- Haessler: “Handcrafted pianos at attractive prices,” Haessler pianos are a result of top-notch craftsmanship and attention to detail.
- Irmler: Designated as an entry-level brand though, its tonal and mechanical features stand out. Silent variants of each Irmler are available.
If you can’t afford one of Blüthner’s high-end instruments, you may still choose from the Haessler and Irmler lines.
The following statement by Marlene Dietrich sums up Bluthner:
“My new Blüthner piano is even more fascinating than my beloved first one. Its wonderful sound is reaching the depths of my soul.”
From $59,950 to $950,000 and above
|Grand Pianos||Upright pianos||Self Play & Silent Systems|
|Designer Pianos||Bespoke Pianos||Pre-Owned Pianos|
|Stevie Wonder||Marlene Dietrich|
|Arthur Rubinstein||Sergei Prokofiev|
|Franz Liszt||Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|Max Reger||Claude Debussy|
- Since: 1853
- Founder: Julius Blüthner
- Headquarters: Leipzig, Germany
- Company Type: Private
- Website: bluethner.de
With a pedigree in innovation, design, and craftsmanship, Steinway & Sons is one of the best piano brands ever to exist. For many, it is even synonymous with pianos. In over 160 years, the brand has unleashed many coveted innovations that changed pianos forever, earning over 125 patents and a loyal global client base. Going by a conservative estimate, over 95% of performing artists embrace Steinway pianos without even being compensated. How’s that for organic brand loyalty?
From some of the most recognized pianists and starters aspiring for greatness to concert halls and collectors, everyone vouches for Steinway’s legendry sound and mesmerizing looks. They deliver a quintessential “American” sound that blends deep bass, bright high treble, and resonant middle. History credits the brand for enriching pianos with sturdy frames, immersive tones, and great responsiveness – traits that define the best pianos. No wonder, Steinways are an investment.
Henry Engelhard Steinway, a German craftsman, ventured into the US to pursue his American Dream after selling his ownership in another leading piano brand he founded a few years back. He set up a small factory in Manhattan in 1853, initially named it Steinweg & Sons, but later changed it to Steinway & Sons for a more Americanized feel. Six years later, the brand’s first patent, cross-stringing emerged, rendering Steinway pianos an unparalleled resonance and sound.
Steinway made remarkable strides in capacity, capability and popularity, becoming the first ever US brand to be a recipient of the prestigious Gold Medal of Honor at the Paris piano exhibition. As the demand grew exponentially, the company came up with a factory in Hamburg in 1904, helping it roll out one instrument in one hour.
Design and Construction:
- The brand leverages the “Diaphragmatic” Sitka Spruce soundboards with optimal grain density for an improved tone and maximum range and sustain.
- The Hexagrip Pinblock, a permanent fixture across Steinway models since 1963, allows for long-lasting tuning and higher precision.
Steinway constructs its soundboard bridges from vertically laminated hardwood with a horizontal grain, capped with solid maple. Each Steinway bridge is notched by hand for precise, individual string-bearing, another advantage to a handcrafted piano.
Steinway’s popular Model D and Model B have a single-piece bridge. It is one long continuous bridge from the highest treble to the deepest bass.
This design ensures optimal sound transmission from the strings to the soundboard. It also allows for the instantaneous transfer of the vibrations of some 233 strings throughout the bridge and the soundboard, creating more colors to the Steinway palette.
This wide range of colors to the piano’s tone is one of the main reasons professional pianists prefer playing a Steinway: they simply have more ways to express their experience of the music. The piano becomes an extension of their inner passion. They channel their emotions into a more complex and subtle expression of music via the Steinway keyboard.
Between $66,000 and $215,000 are the price ranges of the Steinway grand piano models.
The Sauter piano company, founded in 1819 in Spaichingen, Germany, is operated by Ulrich Sauter. Woods such as yew, pyramid mahogany, burl walnut, and ebony are used in the instrument’s structural and sonic components. Around 120 grand pianos and about 800 vertical pianos are made each year at Sauter’s plant at the foot of the mountains.
In terms of style and finish, it provides a broad range of options. Inlay work, real ebony in the cabinets, and built-in functions like a hygrometer for checking relative humidity are all common characteristics of some of these instruments.
In addition to Concert 275, Omega 220 and Delta 185 grand piano models from Sauter are available: Noblesse 161/185, Alpha 161, Queen Anne 161, Chippendale 161/183, and Vivace are available in the $95,000 to $230,000 range.
Bayreuth, Germany’s famous Wagner festival, is where Eduard Steingraeber started this piano manufacturer in 1852. In 1867, he displayed his first cast-iron piano frame at the Paris Universal Exposition. With the opening of the first concert hall at Bayreuth in 1873, they started building pianos for Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner in 1872.
Steingraeber’s pianos benefit from cutting-edge technological enhancements. One of its most notable characteristics is its lightest lid, which has a honeycomb inside and weighs less than half that of a traditional piano.
E-272, D-232, C-212 Chamber Concert Grand, B-192, and A-170 are the models of grand pianos it offers.
They are available in the range of between $102,000 to $270,000.
In an industry dominated by German piano brands, this Japanese brand makes a bold statement with some prestige acoustics and feature-rich digital and hybrid options. A broad selection of e-synthesizers, keyboards, and MIDI controllers is also available. Whatever the brand makes, it makes with conviction and meticulous precision through traditional techniques and modern technologies.
As one of the best piano brands, it demonstrates a strong quality focus across the value chain, from material sourcing to design, manufacturing and finishing. The result – is great-looking pianos with an immutable range of tone and dynamics, an effortless pianissimo, and a great playing experience for concert artists and learners alike.
Kawai is the brainchild of Koichi Kawai, a piano builder, who, while serving at Yamaha, was partly responsible for introducing pianos to Japan. In 1927, he decided to chart his own course, hence, Kawai Musical Instrument Research Laboratory. His son, Shigeru Kawai took over the company leadership in 1955 and ushered in an era of expansion with new production facilities.
His successor, Hirotaka Kawai not only extended the piano portfolio but also integrated hi-tech robotics into production for quicker lead times and greater precision. Under him, Kawai went global, with manufacturing facilities the world over. On the last count, Kawai is serving 80 countries across 5 continents.
Design and Construction:
An outcome of top-grade materials and cutting-edge technologies, Kawai pianos stand apart. Kawai Millennium III Grand Action makes the most of the composite materials to add consistency and stability to performances and prolong the instrument’s life. Unlike wood, composite materials stay immune to changes in the environment and breakage.
The brand has spearheaded other innovations that went on to become the industry norm, including aluminum action rails, slow-close fallboards, and more. They also credit it with incorporating wooded keys into digital pianos and introducing performance yet reasonably-priced digital pianos with wooden soundboards.
in addition to a one-year warranty that includes a visit from a Kawai master technician to guarantee correct setup and top-notch service quality.
SK-EX Concert Grand, SK-7 Semi-Concert Grand, SK-6 Orchestra Grand, SK-5 Chamber Grand, SK-3 Conservatory Grand, and SK-2 Classic Salon Grand are some of the grand piano models available from the manufacturer. From $64,000 to $239,000, Shigeru Kawai’s pianos may be yours.
The piano-making tradition runs deep in Grotrian, since 1853. Operating out of Braunschweig, the German luxury brand has been enthralling professionals, amateurs, and learners with grands in six sizes (5 to 9 feet), and uprights in five sizes (44.5 – 52 inches). These impeccably-crafted pianos bear exceptional treble-sustaining capabilities, a subtle sound assault, and a stunning breadth of tone – ideal for classical works. The deeper tenor and robust bass just add to their compatibility.
The company burst onto the scene in 1835 when Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg built an unassuming factory in Braunschweig, and Friedrich Grotrian joined in as a partner in 1856. While Steinweg migrated to the US soon afterward to found Steinway & Sons, Grotrian took over the reins. With top pianists of the era embracing Grotrians, the company established a well-equipped concert hall and several sales houses across the country and beyond.
Come the 1920s, the brand peaked, rolling out over 3000 instruments annually through a modern facility and 1000-strong workforce. In the wake of WW2, the sales dipped and the factory was shut down. However, the fortunes reversed in the 50s with the rebuilding of the facility. In 1960s, Grotrian stormed into the US market only to be embroiled in litigation with Steinway & Sons on the use of the brand name, Grotrian-Steinweg. The court ruled against Grotrian, forcing it to use Grotrian Piano Co to sell in the US.
Design and Construction:
Grotrian takes pride in its piano-making traditions, handed down from generation to generation. Innovation also has been central to the piano brand’s exponential success over the years.
History credits it for introducing the iron frame tied to the back frame, which allows for unrestricted vibration and the defining sound. The design is the norm for all uprights today.
It also came up with the homogeneous soundboard, which enables the hammer to precisely target strings at the sweat spot. The star-shaped back frame has been another defining trait of Grotrians.
Through the Wilhelm Grotrian brand, Grotrian also offers performance pianos at entry-level prices. Characterized by Renner action, Kluge keys, and Sitka spruce soundboards, Wilhelm Grotrian is designed by Grotian but manufactured by a third party at a Chinese facility. The arrangement works well to ensure quality while restricting overheads.
The Grotrian Duo fuses two grands, allowing you and your partner to play it as one. If need be, feel free to detach the pianos from one another and play them individually.
From $67,000 to $165,000
|Grotrian Grands||Grotrian Uprights||Wilhelm Grotrian Grands|
|Wilhelm Grotrian Uprights||Special Models||Equipment|
|Clara Schumann||Paul Hindemith||Julie Andrews|
|Jacques Loussier||Walter Gieseking||Hans Werner Henze|
- Since: 1835
- Founder: Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg
- Headquarters: Braunschweig, Germany
- Type: Private
- Website: https://www.grotrian.de/
For many pianists, connoisseurs, and collectors, some of the best pianos ever made are Faziolis. While other top brands roll out thousands of models a year, Fazioli restricts the number to 140 a year for exclusivity’s sake. Add to it the Fazioli pianos’ balanced acoustic profile, flawless design and construction, and great projection, the brand has achieved cult status. Fazioli’s are used across Europe, the USA, Russia, India, the Far East, and beyond for concerts, contests, and recreation.
For Fazioli, it all began in the late 1970s when a young man, in the pursuit to create the best piano conceivable, built a few prototypes. Upon the incorporation of Fazioli Pianoforti SRL in 1981, these prototypes were refined and unleashed as F183, F156 and F278 models. In the hindsight, one thing is obvious – Paolo Fazioli achieved what we set out to achieve. His background in furniture manufacturing and his degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Piano Performance, and Music Composition helped his cause.
By 1985, the world’s top pianists were taking a liking for Faziolis and orders from various concert halls started pouring in. Gradually, as the demand grew, the company shifted production to a new ultra-modern facility in 2001, helping it roll out 100 units a year. A few years down the line, The Economist just reflected what many artists believed – “Fazioli now makes the best pianos in the world.” Come 2003, Fazioli pianos featured in the high-profile memorial event for the victims of 9/11 in the Big Apple.
$120,000 to $500,000
|Grand Pianos||Concert Pianos|
|F308 Concert Grand||F212 Semi-concert Grand|
|F278 Concert Grand||F183 Baby Grand|
|F228 Semi-concert Grand||F156 Baby Grand|
|Aldo Ciccolini||Daniele Lombardi||Martha Argerich|
|Angela Hewitt||Herbie Hancock||Alfred Brendel|
|Vladimir Aschkenazy||Lazar Berman,||Nikita Magaloff|
- Since: 1981
- Founder: Paolo Fazioli
- Headquarters: Sacile, Italy
- Type: Joint-stock company
- Website: https://www.fazioli.com/en
Nestled in Vienna, the city of music, Bösendorfer continues to set benchmarks in piano design and manufacture. For the past 184 years, the piano brand has been handcrafting grands, uprights, and collector’s items for the quality-savvy. The products stick out for their full array of tonal range, tuning stability, immersive sound and awe-striking looks, and personalized finishing. Interestingly, each Bosendorfer grand accounts for 6 years and thousands of quality checks before leaving the facility.
Bosendorfer was established in 1828 by Ignaz Bösendorfer, a former apprentice of the most popular piano maker of his era, Joseph Brodmann. The family business shot to overnight fame when the legendary pianist, Franz Liszt chose to perform on a Bosendorfer in an event. Interestingly, no piano he played earlier could endure his virtuoso play.
Within two years of incorporation, the company went on to receive the coveted status of the official piano maker to the Emperor of Austria. The company changed hands in 1909 with Carl Hutterstrasser as the new owner. The Hutterstrasser family sold Bosendorfer to Jasper Copr. in 1966, who sold it to BAWAG PSK Gruppe in 2001. Presently, the brand is a subsidiary of Yamaha Co who bought 100% stakes in 2006/7. Despite the acquisition, Yamaha’s interference in Bosendorfer’s production is minimal.
Design and Construction:
The brand draws upon an evolved design philosophy and construction principles to deliver some of the best pianos that money could buy.
- On the controllability front too, Bosendorfer fares well, supporting delicate pianissimo and fierce fortissimo alike.
- The craftsmen at Bossendorfer spin the bass strings uniquely to allow for the characteristic sonorous bass.
- No piano brand other than Bossendorfer uses detachable Capo d’Astro for easy and accurate adjustments and the instrument’s longevity.
- From incorporating veneers to emblems, the company conforms to your brief down to the last detail.
- The frame is an outcome of conventional forging techniques and top-grade materials, hence stable under 20 tons of string tension.
- The open pin block, featuring tightly-fitted triple-layered sawn maple, delivers the ultimate tonal stability.
The Imperial Grand exudes great visual appeal and unique sound, rendering it an iconic status in the annals of concert pianos. It comes with a 97-key keyboard, 8 octaves, and a height of more than 9’6″. Bartok, Busoni, Ravel, and Debussy have all used the instrument’s additional bass keys to weave magic. Throughout its illustrious history, the grand has maintained its elegance and elite craftsmanship.
From $118,000 to $520,000
|Disklavier Edition||Silent Edition||Ultimate Design|
|Franz Liszt||Sir András Schiff||Tori Amos|
|Stephen Hough||Nareh Arghamanyan||Beatrice Berrut|
- Since: 1828
- Type: Subsidiary
- Founder: Ignaz Bösendorfer
- Headquarters: Vienna, Austria
- Parent Company: Yamaha Corporation
- Website: https://www.boesendorfer.com/
9. C. Bechstein
No list of the best piano brands is complete without C Bechstein. Our’s is no exception either. The German brand has a tradition of handcrafting grands, uprights, and special editions with immaculate precision and hallmark workmanship. Crafted from the 1200 meters tall spruce woods seasoned for up to 5 years, these masterpieces deliver the characteristic singing tone that resonates with pianists, ambitious newbies, and music fans globally.
Founded by Carl Bechstein in 1853 in Berlin, C. Bechstein built pianos that not only delivered the elusive singing tone but withstood the ferocity of the virtuoso pianists. Within two decades of incorporation, it emerged as one of the leading piano brands, thanks to endorsements from the likes of Franz Liszt and Hans von Bülow. Later, the company also crafted bespoke art-case pianos as a keepsake for royalty and elites. These art cases were a splurge, embellished with gold and precious stones.
As of now, Bechstein is associated with two reputable subsidiary brands, W Hoffmann and Zimmermann. While Bechstein oversees the design and production of the former, the latter is manufactured by the Hailun Piano Co in China. The company is also busy honing the skills of piano apprentices through quality training programs. Lately, it came up with the Vario series, which blends the best of acoustic and digital features.
Design and Construction:
- The brand’s quality focus reflects optimally in the credo of “Measure, Test, and Evaluate,” implemented on each piano leaving the facility. Together with ISO-certified processes and leading-edge technologies, they guarantee flawless construction, seamless performance, and minimal warranty claims.
- A team of 150 talented craftsmen pieces together the entire acoustic assembly with precision for better tone quality, and sound development, projection and sustain. The best quality seasoned wood just amplifies the color of tone.
- C. Bechstein stays on top of the materials-and-processes-related technological breakthroughs to constantly make qualitative improvements in the action assembly and the hallmark sound.
- C series: From $119,000 to $320,000
- B series: From $67,000 to $110,000
Products & Services:
|Franz Liszt||Hans von Bülow||Lipatta|
|Bob Dylan||Dave Stewart||The Beatles|
|Elton John||David Bowie,||Lou Reed|
- Since: 1853
- Founder: Carl Bechstein
- Headquarters: Berlin, Germany
- Type: Corporation limited by share ownership
- Website: https://www.bechstein.com/en
The largest musical instrument manufacturer just walks into any list of piano brands for its sheer popularity. Ours is no exception either. The likes of Elton John and Chick Corea vouch for the sumptuous tone and responsiveness of these pianos while the students love them for their variety and affordability. The piano brand produces some luxury models but the focus is on performance-oriented and aptly-priced instruments that bode well with learners and amateurs.
Incorporated in 1897 as Nippon Gakki Co, Yamaha came up with its first piano, an upright, in 1900, which went well with pianists of the time. Gradually, it diversified its range to include other piano designs and instruments like guitars, drums and more. In 1949, it got listed in Tokyo Stock Exchange and by 1960, it made forays into the US with a subsidiary Yamaha International Corporation. Despite making inroads into multiple industries and sectors, pianos remain its mainstay and passion.
Design and Construction:
Yamaha’s design philosophy has evolved in parallel with the brand. Disregarding “authenticity” in designs, it focuses on ergonomics, performance, and practicality. Aptly reflected in its pianos, innovation has been the cornerstone of the brand’s phenomenal success. Unobtrusiveness, aesthetics, and structural integrity are other components of Yamaha’s design credo. And for manufacturing, the piano brand relies on state-of-the-art technologies and top-grade materials.
When it comes to the luxury segment, the Yamaha CF series deserves a mention. The line is characterized by a robust rim made of mahogany and maple, along with German strings and hammers for a richer sound. It includes three prime variants –
- CFX (9′ model)
- CFA (6’3″ model)
- CF6 (7′ model)
An industry experience of over a century culminated in Yamaha CFX, one of the world’s most storied models ever. Unleashed in 2010, the model is the leading concert grand for its prolific tone, lasting sustain, and exceptional responsiveness. Not much effort is needed to generate torque, making it a highly convenient option for lengthy concerts and competitions. Yamaha unleashed the latest iteration of CFX just recently with an array of additional features and design modifications. The $171000+ price tag is staggering but commensurate with the quality.
|Sir Elton John||Luke Bryan||Alicia Keys|
|Chick Corea||John Legend||Luke Bryan|
|Red Dot Award||iF Design Award||Design For Asia Award|
|Good Design Award||German Design Award||Kids Design Award|
- Since: 12 October 1887
- Erstwhile: Nippon Gakki Seizo Co., Ltd.
- Founder: Torakusu Yamaha
- Company Type: Public
- Headquarters: Shizuoka, Japan
- Website: https://www.yamaha.com/
The best piano makers make instruments that will last forever and make sounds that can’t be beaten in terms of power, tone, or range. So, picking the best piano makers is a matter of opinion. However, over the years, we’ve listened to what pianists, tuners, players, and sellers have to say, and you can consider some of our recommendations in choosing the best piano brands:
Blüthner is the world’s best piano brand because of its quality and sound, manufacturing over 5000 pianos in a year. The second on the list is Sauter, the oldest piano brand in the world. In terms of style and finish, it provides a broad range of options and pricing. The last brand on the list is Grotrian featuring delicate and light sound assault. It has a deeper tenor and a more robust bass compared to other pianos.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the oldest piano company?
Sauter is the oldest piano company in the world and one of the few that makes all of its instruments in-house using only parts made in Germany. It is still one of the most well-known piano companies in the world today.
2. What’s the most expensive piano?
The Fazioli Brunei is the most expensive piano being made in the world right now. It has a sequoia burr case with flowers made of mother-of-pearl and less expensive stones in different colors. This piano costs about $400,000 in stores.
3. How much does tuning a piano cost?
The average cost to tune a piano is between $65 and $225, but the price can go up by several hundred dollars if the piano needs to be tuned more than once or if it needs to be fixed. Tuning a piano is a skill that should only be done by people with a lot of experience.
4. Do pianos get better with age?
It depends, is the answer? With regular care and maintenance, old pianos can continue to sound great for a long time. However, even pianos that have gotten worse can often be fixed up and made to sound even better than when they were new.
5. Why are old pianos so heavy?
The heavy cast iron harp gives a piano most of its weight. Small upright pianos weigh between 300 and 400 pounds because their cast iron harps are smaller than those of big upright pianos. Big uprights weigh between 600 and 800 pounds. Big, old player uprights can weigh up to a thousand pounds.
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