The brand of piano you buy will depend on your attitude towards musical instruments. Some pianists are pedants who swear by a handful of musical manufacturers. Others are content to get the most affordable model they can find. You might also consider the specialty of your piano maker.
Some companies focus on acoustic pianos – particularly grands. Others are more intent on perfecting piano technology. Their efforts are driven by enhancing soundboards or integrating keyboards with computing devices. Let’s look at the best piano brands that cut across all this.
The Best Piano Brand in the World List
Pianos manufacturers often have grand-sounding names that could easily belong to law firms. The C is for Carl Bechstein. This French-trained German piano craftsman started the company in 1853. Bechstein pianos come in a budget B series, a high-end C series, and a digital line.
Digital Bechsteins use Vario technology to facilitate ‘silent playing’. If you spot a Bechstein piano that just says ‘Bechstein’ without the C, it’s not necessarily a fake … it’s just part of the ‘B series’. Higher-end Bechsteins are branded ‘C. Bechstein’. All Bechsteins have a 5-year warranty.
This company was started in 1827 by Ignaz Bösendorfer. Just like some countries (even today) have an official poet laureate, Bösendorfer was the official piano maker for the Austrian Emperor starting 1830. The company developed a 97-key piano with 8 octaves and was known for its luxury grand piano models. These longer keyboards are popular with concert pianists.
Many immigrants anglicize their names when they get to the west. That was the case with Heinrich Engelhardt Steinweg. When he reached the US in 1850, he started Steinway & Sons, a company that still runs in the family to date. Many technicians vote the 6’ Steinway B as their top model, but the company prefers to position the 8’ Steinway D Concert as their flagship.
You probably think Yamaha only makes digital keyboards. They’re certainly famous for their silent piano software, which is commonly fitted on other brands. But Yamaha has their own quality line of both acoustic and digital keyboards. This Japanese brand is officially endorsed by some famous contemporary pop pianists including Elton John and Alicia Keys.
‘Kawaii’ means ‘cute, loveable, or adorable’ in Japanese. Think Pikachu or Hello Kitty. But the Kawai line of pianos is in no way childlike. Musicians that prefer this brand include gospel artists Steven Curtis Chapman and Joe Yamada. The company limits its production to 250 pianos a year to ensure quality. They use local wood and plastic, even in their acoustic piano models.
This German piano company is still owned and run by the same family that formed it in 1853. They release 500 grand pianos and 100 vertical pianos onto the market every year and are known for their dark, warm, lyrical sound, largely create through it aliquot stringing. The 4th string in the upper registers gives it a song-like tone. Their see-through pianos are popular too.
This piano brand takes its name from Paolo Fazioli, a pianist and engineer who set out to design himself the perfect piano. The company likes to keeps things small, releasing 170 pianos a year. They exclusively make grand pianos and these pianos come in six sizes that range from 5 feet to 10 feet. Their biggest model has a fourth soft pedal to compensate for the piano’s massive size.
If you’re looking for an American piano brand, here you go. Formed by a pianist and an inventor in Massachusetts (Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin respectively), they initially built award-winning organ harmoniums. They now build 50 upright pianos and 300 grand pianos per year. The company employs 70 piano handcrafters who vet every piano a dozen times before shipping.
Now we’re going to the world down under if you’ll forgive the cliché. This Australian brand is known for its extra-large pianos. They make custom pianos with either 97 keys (aka concert grand piano) or 102 keys (aka studio grand pianos). They even have a 108-key model.
They do make regular-sized pianos too though. They’re among the most expensive pianos on the market and are handcrafted from Tasmanian wood – mostly Huon Pine or Sassafras. It’s a young piano brand founded in 1990. But they’re contemporary classics are already beloved.
Shortly after he came to America and reinvented himself as Henry Steinway, Heinrich Steinweg’s son Theodor and his friend Friedrich Grotrian partnered to form Grotrian-Steinweg. As a result, the Grotrian piano brand carries some controversy, included court cases and rebranding. But its Grotrian Duo double-grand piano remains unmatched by other brands.
Some buyers prefer the bright sound of Asian pianos or the refined sound of European pianos. But if you want a more American-sounding piano, Sauter is a good place to shop. This German company started in 1819 and is still family-run in the Alps. They’re known for their customized decorative detail, and they produce over 1,000 pianos a year (800 uprights and 120 grands).
People often buy upright pianos because they don’t have the space for a grand piano. Schimmel gets this, so they built vertical pianos that closely emulate the sound of their horizontally-stringed siblings. Started in Leipzig, Germany, in 1885, their Konzert range is popular and their Cape (Computer Assisted Piano Engineering) technology keeps their pianos relevant.
A few decades ago, we wouldn’t even consider digital piano makers on a list like this. But these days, your first piano is likely to be computerized. Casio makes elaborate electronic keyboards and synthesizers, but it’s also popular for its hybrid pianos. Their digital models are portable so they’re good for gigs and contemporary stage work. They’re lightweight and versatile.
In 1852, Eduard Steingraeber started a piano company with innovation in mind. He designed the world’s first-ever cast iron grand piano, showcasing it at Paris’ 1867 exhibition. There, it was commissioned by romantic era composers Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt.
The company only makes grand pianos – about 80 per year including a customized model for differently-abled pianists. This tailored model is for piano players who can’t use their legs. It has a specialty Bluetooth pedal that the pianist can operate via wireless dentures as they play.
The company name sounds vaguely Dutch or German, but it’s a Japanese firm that specializes in electronic pianos. Many of their models are consoles, so they have the upright silhouette. Their range of pianos includes synthesizers and virtual keyboards so you get a comprehensive package. They also develop apps so you can pair your piano with integrated online tutorials.
16. August Förster
You may not have heard this name, but they’ve been making pianos for over a century. They began the business in 1859 and they pride themselves on transparency so buyers can visit their plant and observe their piano-making process. The company builds 120 vertical pianos and 80 grand pianos per year. Their upright pianos have an easily recognizable boxy silhouette.
17. Charles R. Walter
The Walter Piano Company began informally when Charles Walter took over the discontinued line of Jansen pianos in 1969, before expanding his series of keyboards in 1975. All Walter Pianos have a 12-year warranty and some of their features include nickel strings, brass trim, delignit pin blocks, Sitka/spruce soundboards, treble + bass notches, and cast iron piano plates.
Today’s consumers will often pick convenience over convention, so digital grand pianos and hybrids are quickly outpacing acoustics. Roland produces digital pianos in upright, grand, and portable formats. It pioneered touch-sensitive pianos (light touch for low volume, heavier fingering for louder notes) in 1974 and continues to match modern tech in every new model.
For pedantic pianists, Baldwin can be a conundrum. It’s an American company, yes, and was started in 1862 by a piano teacher, Dwight Hamilton Baldwin. It’s actually a Gibson Guitars offshoot and is known for its true scale. But since 2008, most of their pianos are built off-shore. Still, its pianos are loved by artists as diverse as Liberace, Aaron Copland, and Miley Cyrus.
Gerhard Wein opened a workshop in Weinbach, Germany. It was 1887 and he began with organs before switching fully to pianos in 1893. In 1956, Petrof joined the stable. The company now began manufacturing middle-range pianos under the Petrof masthead. Petrof pianos have the rich, lyrical tone that is preferred by many American musicians.
This company has been handcrafting grand pianos and concert grands since 1893. It sources components from all over Europe include pre-seasoned, sand-cast iron plates from Finland and birch rims from the north. The keys are built into the piano rim. The rest of the piano is spruce logged in the Italian Alps. Estonia uses 20 layers of beechwood to make its piano pins sturdier.
This new-ish South Korean company was founded in 1958. Most of its instruments are built at their Indonesian factory, and the company has its American HQ in Gallatin, Tennessee. The company’s pianos are mostly under its sub-brands – Seiler, Kohler & Campbell, Wm. Knabe & Co., Gebrüder Schulze, and Symphonia for digital models. Seiler dates back to 1849 in Leipzig.
23. Young Chang
Sometimes, a piano company will go out of business. A new company might then start making pianos using the old name under the licensing of the original owners. Or they might make up a new classic’-sounding name to look experienced. These are sometimes called stencil pianos.
Young Chang was started in 1956 by three brothers. They make stencil pianos under the Weber brand, as well as Pramberger, Fridolin, and Bergman brands. Samick makes stencil pianos too and had tried to buy out Young Chang in 2004 before anti-trust laws stopped the deal in 2005.
You might see an old piano bearing this name. They may ‘player pianos’ which were self-playing models sometimes called pianolas or reproducing pianos. The company was a subset of Wm Knabe which now belongs to Samick. Many world-famous pianists including Sergei Rachmaninoff played and recoded pieces for the Ampico, which is basically a ‘jukebox piano’.
25. Pearl River
At a time when digital pianos are in high demand and acoustic piano lovers are rushing for antiques, Pearl River has been winning awards for its acoustic line since 2015. Some call it the world’s best-selling piano brand even though it only joined this business in 1956. The pianos have wet sand-cast plates and seasoned spruce soundboards and durable contemporary finishes.
Ever heard of the square piano? Alpheus Babcock invented them in the 1820s, with his patented iron frame and steel square stringing or cross stringing. He also introduced cloth covers for piano hammers. The fabric helped the hammers sound better and last longer. These pianos aren’t in regular circulation, but you can find them at museums, antique sales, or eBay.
Bartolomeo Cristofori is considered the original inventor of the piano. He invented them back in the year 1700 and we believe three Cristofori pianos survived. They’re all in museums, and they sound different from modern pianos because they were developed from harpsichords so they sound more ‘plucked’. Cristofori was a harpsichord maker before he started playing with pianos.
Sometimes, a heritage piano maker will introduce a newer, budget line, such as Schimmel’s Fridolin (manufactured by Samick). Boston Pianos are a Steinway sub-brand aimed at schools and training institutions. It has a signature ‘wide tail’ that lets it fit a larger soundboard. Because it’s a ‘training piano’ you can trade it in and upgrade to a Steinway within 10 years of purchase.
29. Schulze Pollman
Started in 1928, this Italian piano brand has three lines of pianos – masterpiece, academy, and studio. Each series has both grand and upright models. They also have a hybrid piano line with virtual features. They call it ilPiano and it cuts a cute figure with its pale brown exterior, compact size, and hi-tech features that include hi-fi samples sounds, hammers, and headphones.
We mentioned Blüthner earlier, and you may have spotted their weird designs. Haessler veers more towards the traditional. It has a distinct sound when compared to other Blüthners, with its rich harmony and light, brilliant notes. Haesslers – like Blüthners – carry a 5-year warranty. Haesslers are upright pianos while Blüthners are more traditionally grands and concerts.
We close our list with a quintessential Middle-America piano. The whole rear surface of this upright piano is taken up by its soundboard. It has a fallboard that runs right across its keyboard hood, doubling as a music stand. The company was started by Raymond Astin and Donald Weight in 1956 and started working on their first piano in 1959. They offer a 25-year warranty.
What piano do you routinely practice on? Show us a photo in the comments, we’d love to see it!