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 page 199 for explanation). Prices shown for digitals and hybrids are the Estimated Prices of the least expensive finish (see page 261 for explanation).
|Musical Standouts||Good Values||Price ($)||Comments|
|Baldwin R1 (5' 8")||X||31,300||Classics for decades, Baldwin Artist Grands are no longer being made, but many are still on dealers’ showroom floors.|
|Baldwin L1 (6' 3")||X||32,460|
|Baldwin SF10E (7')||X||X||46,056|
|Bechstein, C., |
Concert 8 (51.5")
|X||X||52,800||One of the all-time great upright pianos.|
|Blüthner 2 (7' 8")||X||X||118,415|
|Bösendorfer 200 |
|X||115,998||A lovely and distinct chamber instrument.|
|Brodmann PE 187 |
|X||X||17,647||Design said to be based on that of a Steinway model A.|
|Cunningham Studio Grand (5' 4")||X||X||16,890|
|Estonia L168 (5' 6")||X||X||36,693||Estonia grands are probably the best value among high-end pianos. The tone of the L190 has lyrical beauty and is without harshness.|
|Estonia L190 (6' 3")||X||X||43,764|
|Förster, August, 190 |
|Grotrian Cabinet |
|X||79,472||Uniquely diverse timbre. Subject of book Grand Obsession, by Perry Knize.|
|Hailun HU5-P (50")||X||X||7,736||A “total package” — balanced tone, responsive action.|
|Hardman, Peck & Co. R45F (45")||X||4,590||Beautiful cabinet, well constructed.|
|Kawai K-3 (48")||X||X||8,790|
|Kawai RX-2BLK (now GX-2BLK) (5' 11")||X||33,190||A must-try for those shopping for a grand under 6' long.|
|Kawai, Shigeru, SK-6L (7')||X||71,200|
|Kayserburg KA-132 (52")||X||15,590||Lovely, singing tone.|
|Knabe, Wm., WKV 131 (52")||X||X||10,700|
|Mason & Hamlin A |
|Mason & Hamlin AA |
|Mason & Hamlin BB (7')||X||X||64,454||Prodigious bass register sounds like that of a concert grand.|