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The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for

Buying New, Used, and Restored Acoustic Pianos and Digital Pianos

Fall 2016 Edition

STAFF PICKS

by Piano Buyer staff

Due to the highly subjective nature of piano ratings, in "A Map of the Market for New Pianos" (page 40), 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 (see explanation).

Brand/ModelClassics⁄
Perennial Favorites
Musical StandoutsGood ValuesPrice ($)Comments
ACOUSTIC PIANOS
Verticals 43"–45"
Hardman, Peck & Co. R45F (45")X 4,790 Beautiful cabinet, well constructed.
Perzina GP-112 Kompact (45")X 7,500 Impressive low-bass performance from a small, inexpensive vertical.
Walter, Charles R. 1520/1500 (43"/45")XX 15,000 Proof that a 43" piano can be musical, and it's made in the U.S.A.
Yamaha Silent Piano b2SG2 (45")X 9,498An affordable acoustic with the flexibility of a digital.
Verticals 46"–52"
Bechstein, C. Concert 8 (51.5")XX70,600One of the all-time great upright pianos.
Hailun HU5-P (50")XX9,316A “total package” — balanced tone, responsive action.
Hessen, J.F. 123 (48")X14,200
Kawai K300 (48")XX9,790
Kawai K500 (51")X12,390
Kayserburg KA-132 (52")X16,190Lovely, singing tone.
Knabe, Wm., WKV132 (52")XX8,998
Pearl River EU122 (48")X5,590
Perzina GP-122 (48")XX8,590
Perzina GP-130 (51")X10,960A vertical piano that can hold its own against some far more expensive peers.
Petrof P125 (49.25")X19,900
Ritmüller UH-121R (48")XX7,790One of our favorite vertical pianos at this price.
Schimmel K132 (52")X35,794
Schulze Pollmann SU122A (48")X10,390A warm, round tone quality and beautiful case finishes.
Yamaha U1 (48")XX11,199The standard against which every 48" vertical is inevitably compared.
Grands 4' 10"–5' 4"
Cunningham Studio Grand (5' 4")XX20,890
Fridolin F157 (5' 2")XX12,980Excellent action performance in a low-priced piano.
Geyer, A. GG-150 (4' 11")X9,590
Ritmüller GH-148R (4' 10")XX11,590Amazingly good performance for such a small piano.
Seiler, Johannes, GS-160 (5' 3")XX15,398Pleasantly mellow with an elegant look.
Story & Clark H60 (5' 3")X17,495When 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")XX11,580Surprisingly musical and satisfying tone for such a short grand.
Grands 5' 5"–5' 11"
Baldwin BP178 (5' 10")X23,390
Estonia L168 (5' 6")XX39,608Estonia grands are an excellent value among high-end pianos.
Hailun HG178 (5' 10")XX22,312
Kawai GX-2BLK (5' 11")X 33,990A must-try for those shopping for a grand under 6' long.
Mason & Hamlin A (5' 8")X 56,360
Pramberger PS-175 (5' 9")X 15,198
Steinway & Sons M (5' 7")X 68,300
Steinway & Sons O
(5' 10.5")
X 76,900
Grands 6'–6' 10"
Baldwin BP190 (6' 3")X27,790
Bösendorfer 200 (6' 7")X128,998A lovely and distinct chamber instrument.
Brodmann PE187 (6' 2")XX18,580Design said to be based on that of a Steinway model A.
Estonia L190 (6' 3")XX48,139The tone has lyrical beauty and is without harshness.
Estonia L210 (6' 10")XX57,949
Förster, August, 190
(6' 4")
X63,578
Grotrian Cabinet Grand
(6' 3")
X77,281Uniquely diverse timbre. Subject of book Grand Obsession, by Perry Knize.
Haessler 186 (6' 1")X74,233
Mason & Hamlin AA (6' 4")X64,191
Seiler ED-186 (6' 2")XX26,998Clear treble tone and good sustain.
Steinway & Sons A (6' 2")X87,900
Weber W185 (6' 1")XX16,980Satisfyingly beautiful tone at a good price.
Yamaha C3X (6' 1")X51,470A workhorse in countless teaching studios and institutional practice rooms.
Yamaha C5X (6' 7")X57,198
Grands over 6' 10"
Blüthner 2 (7' 8")XX124,350
Boston GP215PE (7' 1")X51,400
Kawai, Shigeru, SK-6 (7')X76,400
Mason & Hamlin BB (7')XX72,707Prodigious bass register sounds like that of a concert grand.
Sauter 220 "Omega"
(7' 3")
X128,100An incredibly capable tool for any serious pianist — and for fun, take a look under the lid.
Schimmel C213 (7')X62,264
Schimmel K219 (7' 2")X80,800A fantastic instrument from Schimmel's new Konzert series.
Steingraeber & Söhne C212 (7')X135,414Remarkable tonal subtlety.
Steinway & Sons B
(6' 10.5")
XX99,800Very popular model in college and conservatory teaching studios, and the standard against which other high-end grands are measured.
Yamaha C7X (7' 6")X73,598Very popular in recording studios; musically versatile in the hands of the right technician.
Yamaha CF6 (7')X119,598A 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-700X799Huge feature set and powerful speaker system.
Casio Privia PX-5SX 999 A professional instrument at a consumer price.
Casio Privia PX-160XX499One of the first models mentioned when considering better entry-level digital pianos.
Casio Privia PX-860X 1,099 Impressive sound from a shallow cabinet.
Kawai CN35X 2,299 A great feature package for the price.
Kawai CA97X 4,655 Solid action performance, Soundboard Speaker System, and nice variety of piano samples.
Kawai VPC1X 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-2X 4,299 An extremely compact contemporary design conceals a wealth of voices and features.
Roland FP-30X699A fine example of high-end piano sound generation trickling down to an economy model.
Roland HP504X 2,499 A way-above-average starter instrument with Ivory Feel keyboard.
Roland V-Piano GrandX 22,455 Enclosed in an elegant grand-piano cabinet, the V-Piano gives you the technology to design your own piano.
Yamaha Clavinova
CVP-705
XX 6,455 A price/performance sweet spot in ensemble digital pianos.
Yamaha Arius YDP-181XX 1,700 A direct descendant of the venerable YDP-223 from 2002. A perennial best-seller.
Yamaha AvantGrand N2/N3X12,362/
18,698
A game changer that redefined our expectations for the sound and feel of a non-acoustic piano.



TEXT CONTINUES BELOW
This International Section is a paid advertising space for brands that are not generally distributed in North America, but whose makers desire exposure to Piano Buyer’s readers, many of whom live outside North America. Statements made in this section are those of the advertisers, and have not been checked for accuracy by Piano Buyer.

Mendelssohn Pianos




TEXT CONTINUES BELOW
This International Section is a paid advertising space for brands that are not generally distributed in North America, but whose makers desire exposure to Piano Buyer’s readers, many of whom live outside North America. Statements made in this section are those of the advertisers, and have not been checked for accuracy by Piano Buyer.

Strohmenger Pianos




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