To many first time piano buyers, it can be confusing to understand how much upright pianos can cost. Today we aim to break down the upright piano market, the things to consider and the factors that will help determine how much an upright piano can cost.
The beautiful thing about upright pianos in particular is that they can genuinely be priced anywhere between £100 to £40,000+. This is comparable to industries such as the car market where it is possible to get a vehicle for a few hundred pounds, but equally you can get souped up sports cars worth millions, both technically do the same thing (driving from A-B) but the latter will likely do it faster, more comfortably or have a number of added features that add into the experience of driving the car.
In the exact same way, with such a wide price range, you wouldn’t expect a more affordable piano to be the same as the more premium instruments and as we move through the market, a number of features and functions become available, which we will delve into further in this article. This is where your own requirements come into play as much like driving the car, it is important to understand what you want to achieve from the piano and how much you are willing to invest. If you are unsure which pianos might look good in your home, read our guide to interior design and pianos before delving further.
Generally speaking the upright piano market can mostly be broken down into secondhand or historical pianos and then new modern upright pianos and finally into premium pianos. Let’s firstly review the secondhand piano market as these instruments generally come in at a lower price point and are the starting point for many when looking at upright pianos.
Secondhand Pianos (£500-£2500)
Because they are second hand instruments, these pianos have likely seen some use and were perhaps produced anywhere from 30-100 years ago. Many of these pianos are still fully functioning and perhaps may need some refurbishment work, but ultimately are still perfectly suitable for new or returning players. Whilst it is possible to get these pianos for very cheap or even free on second hand selling sites, we’d often recommend not going down this avenue, as outlined in this buyers guide here as these instruments normally have a number of potential issues if they have not been looked over by a technician.
The more affordable options typically come in between £500-£2500 and you can generally pick these up from almost any trusted piano dealer. The things to often note about these instruments is that you will usually be restricted to wood finishes or less popular designs, however as long as they are fully functional, are still a great place to get started with piano. Learn more about the things to look out for when buying a secondhand piano here.
It is also worth noting here that many people shy away from acoustic pianos because they would like to be able to play them silently, with the innovation of silent technology however, even these older instruments can be fitted with aftermarket silent piano systems.
That being said, as acoustic pianos to famously hold their value better than that of digital pianos, it’s not uncommon to find secondhand instruments that easily go up to £3,000-£10,000+ if they are a sought after model or brand such as a C.Bechstein or Steinway. A great example of this would be the Yamaha U-series, these instruments were mostly made in the 1970s and 80s but are still highly sought after. The thing to note here is that just because these instruments are still popular, they are coming to the point in life where they will likely need some refurbishment so despite having brand authority, it is worth considering these instruments against their newer alternatives. Learn more about this in our guide to refurbished and reconditioned pianos here.
New Upright Pianos (£3,000-£8,000)
As we reach the £3000 mark, this is often the entry point for new acoustic upright pianos. These instruments are typically made with either more modern cabinet designs and finishes such as polished black or whites. These instruments are often produced in Asia and in more recent times, we have been incredibly impressed with the high quality manufacturing coming from China, in particular the state of the art Pearl River factory who produce our Ritmuller Range of pianos.
These instruments are often ideal for families, those just getting started with the piano who want to learn on a quality instrument and those looking to perhaps upgrade their instrument from a digital piano and move into the acoustic piano sphere.
This is where in our showroom, our experts will begin to give into the concepts of tonality and touch response in order to help find the right piano for you. Whilst they do have more sophisticated actions and feel than that of digital pianos, these instruments will often carry the player to around the grade 4 or 5 level. This is typically due to the speed of the response of the action as during more complicated pieces, the player will need a faster repetition in order to effectively play the piece, this is just one sign that your current piano may be holding you back.
Towards the higher end of this price point, we move into the superior lines of the Asian produced instruments, for example in the Ritmuller Range the RS Series or even into some Japanese manufacturing such as the pianos produced by Kawai. The main differences between these instruments is typically either a taller cabinet to produce a more colourful sound or the introduction of European parts such as strings, which brings us brilliantly onto…
European Upright Pianos (£8,000 - £14,000)
At this price point, we move into the handcrafted pianos from European production such as the W.Hoffmann range which is produced in the Czech Republic under the watchful eye of C.Bechstein. These instruments are often assembled by European piano crafters and feature Germanic or European components across their entire body. The result of these components is often a broader dynamic range as well as exceptional levels of touch response. Here the pianist is often able to draw out more expression from the instrument in order to enhance their playing further. There are a number of tones within this price range, with each trying to achieve a different goal, so here it is often paramount that these pianos are tried first before making a purchase as they are truly best experienced in person.
The use of European components as you can imagine, also gives what we like to refer to as a more traditional European sound. This is often associated with a warming feeling and almost velvety texture to the piano that lends itself brilliantly to the likes of classical and jazz music.
These instruments are ideally suited for those not only looking to invest in their future learning and have an instrument that will maintain its value well into the future, but also for those who are approaching the higher grades and are in need of an instrument that will support a faster repetition and more expression.
German Crafted Upright Pianos (£14,000 - £40,000)
Here we find the pinnacle of upright piano craftsmanship and this market is almost exclusively defined by German crafted instruments such as the C.Bechstein upright piano range. These pianos represent the finest craftsmanship in the world and are put through an exceptional level of quality control and craft in order to deliver the precise needs of the musician.
Taking anywhere from 6-18months to build from start to finish, the actions within these instruments are built with the finest level of precision and care in mind in order to allow the pianist’s imagination to run free and for them to be able to feel every subtle nuance within every note.
Ideal for those who are looking to invest in a piano that will support them throughout their entire piano career and lifetime, these instruments are truly the finest of piano craftsmanship.
We hope this brief overview of the piano market has offered some insight into the costs of upright pianos and what kinds of things help offer some advice into which instruments may suit your requirements. To learn more about these instruments or to try them for yourself first hand, we’d highly recommend contacting our experts or booking a showroom demonstration today.