For new pianos, this is a complicated and potentially controversial subject because every brand has its enthusiastic promoters and detractors. The best we can do is to refer you to the article “The New-Piano Market Today,” and specifically the section “A Map of the Market For New Pianos,” for a run-down and comparison of pianos from different parts of the world. Be sure to read the text and not just the “map.”
Of course, depending on where you live, not all brands may be available to you. You may need to call local dealers or look at their websites to see what’s available in your area. Once you find out which brands are available, also look up their profiles in “Brand & Company Profiles.” Based on your budget, the available brands, and what you read in the above-mentioned articles, make a list of brands to check out at your local dealer. You may also find our Searchable Database handy for this purpose. It allows you to quickly home in on the specific brands and models that meet your criteria for price, size, furniture style, and more. Leave yourself open, however, to the possibility of being introduced to brands you might not have included on your list for some reason, but which you might like.
For used pianos, recommending brands is even more problematic because thousands of different brand names have been produced over the years. The article “What to Buy: A Historical Overview” in “Buying a Used or Restored Piano” will introduce you to some of the most important and commonly-found brand names. Be prepared, however, to run across many brands not mentioned there.
One very important note: Many famous brand names of the past are now made by companies entirely different from the original, to different design and quality specs, and in different factories and parts of the world. Nothing remains but the name. Therefore, be careful about becoming too attached to a name.