There are countless piano manufacturers in the world and many pianists often find themselves at one point or another asking who makes the ‘best’ pianos in the world.
The term ‘best’ is highly subjective here as what may be considered ‘best’ to one person may not be the ‘best’ to another. For example the pianist playing at home will have a very different version of what is ‘best’ to a classical concert hall who needs the sound to fill the entire room.
Nonetheless, today as a bit of fun, we thought it would be a great idea to breakdown a handful of the brands who are widely considered to make the ‘best’ pianos in the world, giving a little information about their philosophies, who they are best suited for and why they have the prestige they do.
Let’s dive in!
The prowess of C.Bechstein pianos is known across the world as being the pinnacle of German piano craftsmanship. Produced by some of the finest piano technicians and crafters in the world in their stunning Seifhennersdorf factory in Germany, the C.Bechstein approach is all about precision, care and bringing out the colour of their instruments.
No matter which brand of piano, German components are almost universally considered the best in the world (you will notice that over half of the brands on this list are either German or of German decent) and because of this, C.Bechstein undergoes an immense level of component construction in house. For example they are one of the few piano manufacturers that do not outsource their hammer production in order to ensure quality control of every aspect of their pianos.
The reason we personally believe that C.Bechstein belongs on this list and why we are personally a certified supplier of them is due to their emphasis and understanding of providing quality pianos designed to suit the home user. Where many of the other brands focused on this list are primarily geared towards concert hallsor collages, C.Bechstein’s sensational range of high quality upright pianos (as well as their smaller grands) are ideal for home use, being compact enough to work in the home whilst still being powerful and broad enough to allow pianist’s wildest musical fantasies to come to fruition.
A fascinating example here is the C.Bechstein Concert 8 upright piano which is renowned around the world as being possibly the single best upright piano ever made. This being said even still, the C.Bechstein grand piano range is also brilliantly suited to concert halls and larger settings, the mighty C234 and D282 are excellent examples of this and are truly stunning to both the ears and the eyes.
Learn more about C.Bechstein here or their sister brands W.Hoffmann and Zimmermann here, or discover more in our guide to understanding the C.Bechstein design philosophy.
Steinway and Sons
Many heads would turn if Steinway & Sons were of course not mentioned on this list, widely considered by many as a real aspirational piano. Steinway & Sons are perhaps best known due to their active involvement within the classical piano world whereby they partner with hundreds of concert pianists and concert halls in order to get their brand seen in all the right places.
And this is for a good reason too, they produce sensational instruments, particularly in the grand piano market and feature more of an Americanised tone which has carried through from their heritage. The concert and education worlds are definitely where Steinway shine and each of their pianos are brilliantly crafted and designed to fill vast spaces.
It is worth noting, that particularly due to their name and brand authority, that some users and buyers of older Steinway pianos do fall into the ‘refurbished’ piano trap, whereby a 50-100 year old instrument may be classed as ‘restored’ without knowing what work has been done on it, learn more about this in our guide to buying reconditioned pianos here.
Italian producer of sensational instruments, Fazioli are positioned in an incredibly interesting place within the piano world as they produce only around 140 pianos a year, meaning their attention to detail and craftsmanship is sensational.
Due to this restriction and level of time and dedication that it takes to produce such an instrument, Fazioli famously only produces grand pianos. This is a testament to not only the level of quality and care that goes into each instrument but also the dedication of their art.
Most commonly found in conservatoires, again the Fazioli brand is a sensational instrument that any pianist would dream of playing.
Along with C. Bechstein, Bösendorfer and Steinway & Sons, Blüthner are another of the ‘big 4’ when it comes to pianos and are also produced in Germany. What makes Blüthner particularly interesting is their resilience and ability to adapt, for example after the Blüthner was destroyed in WWII it was rebuilt in 1948 and since then other factories have been produced in Leipzig and in 2009 merged with Karl Rönisch pianos.
One of our personal favourite quotes about Bluthner is a quote from Sergei Rachmaninoff who said: “There are only two things which I took with me on my way to America...my wife and my precious Blüthner". - A true testimony to their quality when one of the leading pianists to ever live places that much value in its performance!
Blüthner pianos are also famed for their outlandish designs and intriguing creations such as their famous Crystal edition grand pianos.
Also known for creating vibrant and extravagant concert pianos, the Bösendorfer pianos are vibrant and full of character. Being made in Austria and named the official piano maker of the Austrian Emperor in 1830, Ludwig Bösendorfer, was actively involved in Vienna's cultural scene and still remains to this day when they set up their piano salon to the rear of the world famous Vienna concert hall. Today, their signature mellow sound certainly lends itself to classical repertoire and chamber music.
What is a lesser known fact about Bösendorfer is that they are actually owned by the Yamaha Corporation. It is also worth noting the issue surrounding reconditioned pianos here as older Bösendorfer pianos are highly sought after and should always be checked.
Another vast name that we are sure many would expect to see on this list.
Within the world of pianos, perhaps along with Steinway, Yamaha are possibly the best known piano brand in the world. Also often associated with artist relationships such as Elton John, Paul Mccartney and a variety of other household names, whenever you do see either a televised event, 9/10 times it will likely be a Yamaha grand piano being used.
Yamaha are the first on this list who are part of the Japanese line of production and today are the largest musical instrument manufacturing company in the world, producing pianos, guitars, brass instruments and string instruments at mass volume. They do this incredibly efficiently and the same can be said for their pianos designed for home use, producing various pianos suited to different abilities and qualities.
Today, Yamaha pianos are produced all over the world and depending on where the piano is produced is often and indication of their quality with only the highest quality of Yamahas utilising German components and being assembled in Hamamatsu, Japan. Today, Yamaha pianos are perhaps also most easily identifiable due to their bright tone that lends itself well to popular music. Learn more about this in our guide to the different tonal properties between European and Asian produced instruments.
Another sensational Japanese supplier of pianos, Kawai too have a vast range of pianos suited for both home use and concert level performances. What makes them significantly different from the likes of their Japanese competitor, Yamaha is that Kawai only produces pianos. This specialism has put them on par with the German manufacturers and much like Yamaha, they still import German production parts for their pianos and assemble them around the world based on price point and design quality.
Also having a wider range of upright and grand pianos for home use, Kawai offers a slightly different tone and feel to the likes of German produced instruments, typically being a little brighter than the German instruments, but mellower than the likes of a Yamaha, putting them in a particular sweet spot that makes their sound rather versatile.
We hope you have enjoyed this very quick run through of some of the piano brands who many perceive as making the ‘best’ pianos in the world. Again, the term ‘best’ is highly subjective here and there are of course a plethora of other piano brands out there who do make some sensational instruments of various different uses. Here we have focused mostly on the most well known premium piano brands in order to give you a brief understanding of the differences between them.
Want to learn more about the piano market or looking for your next dream piano? Contact our experts today or learn more by visiting our showroom!