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The New-Piano Market Today: Staff Picks (Recommendations)

LARRY FINE

Due to the highly subjective nature of piano ratings, in “A Map of the Market for New Pianos”, we purposely avoided making too many judgments about the quality of the various brands. Instead, we provided, as a frame of reference, a summary of the way pianos are presented in the marketplace by manufacturers and dealers. However, we feel we owe some specific recommendations to the many readers who have requested them, in part to simplify the buying process for shoppers who lack the time, ability, or interest to make their own discoveries. To emphasize the subjective nature of these recommendations, we provide them in this list rather than through the Map. This way, too, we don’t have to pass judgment on each and every brand and model.

It’s important to understand that in any artistic field, “expert” recommendations are only partially recognitions of inherent quality; in other ways, they are simply personal preferences. Thus, while you can probably count on pianos recommended by us to be “good” instruments, it doesn’t follow from that that you will necessarily like them as much as we do. Our recommendations also say virtually nothing about brands and models that are not on the list. Either we haven’t had the opportunity to try them out (or, at least, not under favorable conditions), or they just didn’t stand out to us as being really special — but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them, or that you wouldn’t want to take one home with you.

This list focuses on home- and studio-size instruments and does not include concert grands. A work in progress, it is by no means comprehensive, and will likely grow and evolve with future issues of Piano Buyer.

Classics/Perennial Favorites are models with a long-standing reputation for performance and durability. They are generally top sellers from well-known manufacturers.

Musical Standouts represent pianos that play and sound great to us. Although the list understandably tends to favor larger instruments, we’ve also included several smaller models that are noteworthy for having great sound for their size.

Good Values are pianos whose performance per dollar, in our opinion, is particularly attractive.

Vertical piano sizes are shown in inches, grand piano sizes in feet and inches. Prices shown for acoustic pianos are the Suggested Maximum Prices (SMP) of the least expensive style and finish (significant discounts from these prices are likely — see Model & Pricing Guide). Prices shown for digitals and hybrids are the Estimated Prices of the least expensive finish (Digital Piano Key to Specifications and Prices for explanation).

 

Brand/Model Classics⁄
Perennial Favorites
Musical Standouts Good Values Price ($) Comments
ACOUSTIC PIANOS
Verticals 43"–45"
Hardman, Peck & Co. R45F (45")     X 4,790 Beautiful cabinet, well constructed.
Perzina GP-112 Kompact (45")     X 8,000 Impressive low-bass performance from a small, inexpensive vertical.
Walter, Charles R. 1520/1500 (43"/45") X X   18,000 Proof that a 43" piano can be musical, and it's made in the U.S.A.
Yamaha Silent Piano b2SG2 (45")     X 9,498 An affordable acoustic with the flexibility of a digital.
Verticals 46"–52"
Bechstein, C. Concert 8 (51.5") X X   70,070 One of the all-time great upright pianos.
Hailun HU5-P (50")   X X 9,316 A “total package” — balanced tone, responsive action.
Hessen, J.F. 123 (48")   X   12,800  
Kawai K300 (48") X   X 9,990  
Kawai K500 (51")   X   12,790  
Kayserburg KA-132 (52")   X   16,190 Lovely, singing tone.
Knabe, Wm., WKV132MD (52")   X X 9,198  
Pearl River EU122 (48")     X 5,590  
Perzina GP-122 (48")   X X 9,090  
Perzina GP-130 (51")   X   11,460 A vertical piano that can hold its own against some far more expensive peers.
Petrof P125F1 (49.25")   X   19,900  
Ritmüller UH-121RA (48")   X X 7,790 One of our favorite vertical pianos at this price.
Schimmel K132 (52")   X   35,794  
Schulze Pollmann SU122A (48")   X   10,390 A warm, round tone quality and beautiful case finishes.
Yamaha U1 (48") X X   11,199 The standard against which every 48" vertical is inevitably compared.
Grands 4' 10"–5' 4"
Cunningham Studio Grand (5' 4")   X X 20,890  
Geyer, A. GG-150 (4' 11")     X 9,590  
Ritmüller GH-148R (4' 10")   X X 11,590 Amazingly good performance for such a small piano.
Seiler, Johannes, GS-160 (5' 3")   X X 18,798 Pleasantly mellow with an elegant look.
Story & Clark H60A (5' 3")     X 17,495 When you take into account all the technology it comes with (player piano and MIDI record), this piano is a great value.
Weber W150 (4' 11")   X X 11,580 Surprisingly musical and satisfying tone for such a short grand.
Grands 5' 5"–5' 11"
Baldwin BP178 (5' 10")     X 23,390  
Estonia L168 (5' 6")   X X 39,608 Estonia grands are an excellent value among high-end pianos.
Hailun HG178 (5' 10")   X X 22,312  
Kawai GX-2BLK (5' 11") X     34,990 A must-try for those shopping for a grand under 6' long.
Mason & Hamlin A (5' 8") X     61,255  
Perzina GBT-175 (5' 10")     X 19,640 Nicely balanced scale. Some of the nicest wood-veneer case finishes we've seen at this price.
Pramberger PS-175 (5' 9")     X 15,598  
Steinway & Sons M (5' 7") X     69,700  
Steinway & Sons O
(5' 10.5")
X     78,400  
Grands 6'–6' 10"
Baldwin BP190 (6' 3")     X 27,790  
Bösendorfer 200 (6' 7") X     132,598 A lovely and distinct chamber instrument.
Brodmann PE187 (6' 2")   X X 20,380 Design said to be based on that of a Steinway model A.
Estonia L190 (6' 3")   X X 48,139 The tone has lyrical beauty and is without harshness.
Estonia L210 (6' 10")   X X 57,949  
Förster, August, 190 (6' 4")   X   63,578  
Grotrian Cabinet Grand (6' 3")   X   86,117 Uniquely diverse timbre. Subject of book Grand Obsession, by Perry Knize.
Haessler 186 (6' 1")   X   74,233  
Mason & Hamlin AA (6' 4")   X   69,779  
Seiler ED-186 (6' 2")   X X 33,198 Clear treble tone and good sustain.
Steinway & Sons A (6' 2") X     89,700  
Weber W185 (6' 1")   X X 16,980 Satisfyingly beautiful tone at a good price.
Yamaha C3X (6' 1") X     51,470 A workhorse in countless teaching studios and institutional practice rooms.
Yamaha C5X (6' 7")   X   57,198  
Grands over 6' 10"
Blüthner 2 (7' 8") X X   124,350  
Bösendorfer 214VC (7')   X   147,998 Updated design combines improved projection with classic Bosendorfer sound.
Boston GP215PE (7' 1")   X   51,400  
Kawai, Shigeru, SK-6 (7')   X   78,600  
Mason & Hamlin BB (7') X X   79,047 Prodigious bass register sounds like that of a concert grand.
Sauter 220 "Omega" (7' 3")   X   135,000 An incredibly capable tool for any serious pianist — and for fun, take a look under the lid.
Schimmel C213 (7')   X   62,264  
Schimmel K219 (7' 2")   X   80,800 A fantastic instrument from Schimmel's new Konzert series.
Wilh. Steinberg Signature 212 (6' 11")   X   55,932  
Steingraeber & Söhne C212N (7')   X   133,041 Remarkable tonal subtlety.
Steinway & Sons B (6' 10.5") X X   101,800 Very popular model in college and conservatory teaching studios, and the standard against which other high-end grands are measured.
Yamaha C7X (7' 6") X     73,598 Very popular in recording studios; musically versatile in the hands of the right technician.
Yamaha CF6 (7')   X   119,598 A 7' grand that can compete with the best in the world.
DIGITALS & HYBRIDS
Blüthner e-Klavier PRO-88 EX   X   3,326 An interestingly-styled slab with a unique piano sample.
Casio CGP-700     X 799 Huge feature set and powerful speaker system.
Casio Privia PX-5S     X 999 A professional instrument at a consumer price.
Casio Privia PX-160 X   X 499 One of the first models mentioned when considering better entry-level digital pianos.
Casio Privia PX-860     X 999 Impressive sound from a shallow cabinet.
Kawai CN37     X 2,599 New display and samples are a noteworthy improvement over the previous model CN35.
Kawai CA97   X   4,655 Solid action performance, Soundboard Speaker System, and nice variety of piano samples.
Kawai VPC1   X   1,849 Not a digital per se, but rather a dedicated controller keyboard for software (virtual) pianos, with Kawai's great RM3II action.
Kurzweil CUP-2   X   2,999 An extremely compact contemporary design conceals a wealth of voices and features.
Roland FP-30     X 699 A fine example of high-end piano sound generation trickling down to an economy model.
Roland HP504     X 2,199 A way-above-average starter instrument with Ivory Feel keyboard.
Roland V-Piano Grand (GP-7)   X   19,950 Enclosed in an elegant grand-piano cabinet, the V-Piano gives you the technology to design your own piano.
Yamaha Clavinova CVP-705   X X 6,455 A price/performance sweet spot in ensemble digital pianos.
Yamaha Arius YDP-181 X   X 1,700 A direct descendant of the venerable YDP-223 from 2002. A perennial best-seller.
Yamaha AvantGrand N2/N3X   X   12,635/
18,816
A game changer that redefined our expectations for the sound and feel of a non-acoustic piano.

Bush & Gerts


Bush & Gerts




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