By 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 intensively research and shop for a piano. 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 Digital Piano Key to Specifications and Prices for explanation).