The world has hundreds of thousands of musical instruments. The most popular ones are piano, guitar, violin, saxophone, drums, flute, clarinet, cello, trumpet, and more. What’s your favorite musical instrument?
Most people learn to play such musical instruments while in school, which helps them experience faster brain development. Also, their motor skills, self-esteem, sensory development, and listening improve. Most parents and students choose piano because its instructors believe it should be a prerequisite for learning other instruments.
On the other hand, piano builders have been handcrafting extraordinary instruments surpassing others in performance and virtuosity. Actually, there are top-tier performance piano brands that are the most coveted, have infinitely higher quality, artistic designs, and are chosen by pianists that treasure excellence in sound and art. However, they are proportionally more expensive.
These beautifully sounding instruments make an individual statement with their finish and style. They are part of the ultra-luxury segment that contains high end cars, jets, and hi-tech gadgets with made-to-measure customization. Here are the world’s top 10 luxury piano brands.
1. C. Bechstein
The German company began making C. Bechstein pianos in 1853. The brand has two quality levels: higher-priced lines called C. Bechstein and lower-priced B series called Bechstein. While the company claims that both lines are manufactured in Germany, some components of the Bechstein are sourced from the Czech Republic because it’s cost-effective.
The C. Bechstein has sleeker and sophisticated cabinetry than the B series. Its plates have a royal hand-rubbed finish, higher sound quality, and actions hence a costly line. On the other hand, the B series’ plates are conventionally sprayed and have a warmer default tone quality.
The C series includes grand piano models such as D 282, C 234, B 212, M/P 192, L 167 priced between $119,000 AND $320,000 and, while the B series has B 228, B 208, B 190, B 175, B 160 priced between $67,000 and $110,000.
These high-quality pianos have been made in Germany since 1853. They have a warm, romantic, and lyrical sound compared to other German peers. Additionally, they have an excellent sustain at a low volume level, which gives it a refined tone, delicate character, and light but responsive action.
Bluthner pianos are built of superb materials, have unique technical features, and are ranked not only among the best piano brands in terms of quality but also for their corporate philosophy.
The lucid piano is Bluthner’s ambitious, transparent piano. The Bluthner Lucid Elegance comes in different veneers and iron frame coatings based on the client’s imagination and desires. For instance, your semi-transparent instrument can be uniquely designed with side panels that have ebony or exotic burl veneers or one whose frame has a rose gold or chrome finish.
The Bluthner grand piano models include Bluthner model 1, Model 2, Model 4, Model 6, Model 10, and Model 11. They are priced between $83,000 and $300,000 for models 1, 2, 4, 6, 10 and 11.
Ignaz Bosendorfer from Vienna, Austria, launched his luxury piano company in 1828. Franz Liszt endorsed Bosendorfer pianos, thus helping this brand to rise to fame. In fact, in 1830, this company was named the official piano maker in Austria.
Its Imperial Grand model has a special look and sound. The concert grand has more than 9’6″, a 97-key keyboard, and 8 octaves. Several composers such as Bartok, Busoni, Ravel, and Debussy have taken advantage of its extra bass keys.
In 2006 Yamaha purchased Bosendorfer and manages it as a separate business. The tier one boutique brand makes less than 500 pianos every year, and nearly half of them are sold in the US. Different artists use these pianos in concerts where they play other music, including chamber and classical repertoire music.
Bosendorfer has named its baroque designs after Lizst, Strauss, Chopin, and more. The classiness and quality of its instrument survived throughout its rich history.
The grand piano models are Bosendorfer 290, 280, 280VC, 225, 214, 200, 185, 170 and 155 and are priced between $118,000 and $520,000.
Paolo Fazioli, an engineer and concert pianist, began studying and refining pianos in 1978 with the aim of presenting an absolutely fine-quality instrument possible. Indeed, this manufacturer achieved his objective because he is recognized by both artists and famous piano makers across the world.
The brand has a huge following among pianists due to its flawless reputation in terms of performance quality, a wide range of customization elements, and reliability. Most of them use these pianos for concerts, competitions, and personal enjoyment.
Fazioli makes about 170 grands every year, ranging from 5’2″ to 10’2″. The six models have enormous dimensions of sound performance, and artisans have changed them into a stunning variety of art cases. These models can be individualized and custom ordered with innumerous embellishments of woods, semi-precious jewels, inlays, mosaics, paintings, etc.
The brand prefers rare and exotic woods and briers such as Amboina and California Walnut. They also customize the traditional ebony polish by adding an inscription and contrasting woods. The ultimate luxury piano has no limit to its imaginative touches. The newly unveiled Aria by Fazioli is an expensive and unique piano with a combination of art.
The grand piano models are Fazioli F308, F278, F228, F212, F183, and F156 and are sold between $120,000 and $500,000.
The brand was launched in 1853 by Friedrich Grotrian and C.F. Theodor Steinweg. The piano manufacturer has a rich history and has changed hands a few times.
Heinrich Steinweg immigrated to the US from Seesen, Germany in 1850 and established Steinway and Sons. Theodor (Steinweg’s son) formed a partnership with Friedrich Grotrian, but he sold off his shares to Wilhelm Grotrian (Grotrian’s son) and joined his father. The Grotrian family has been managing the business throughout the years until 2015, when Parsons Music Group, based in Hong Kong, bought a major stake. However, Grotrian is still a Braunschweig Germany product.
The Grotrian pianos have extraordinary treble sustaining characteristics have a subtle and light sound of attack. It also has a darker tenor with a powerful bass compared to other pianos. As a result, many famous pianists appreciate and endorse Grotrian pianos.
The Grotrian Duo has two grand pianos that joined together and played as a single instrument. Other luxurious piano models are Concert Royal, Concert, Charis, Cabinet, Chambre, and Studio192/208. They are priced between $67,000 and $165,000.
6. Steinway & Sons
As mentioned above, Heinrich Engelhardrdt Steinweg the father to Theodor Steinweg founded Steinway & Sons in 1853. Many manufacturers have adopted and imitated Steinway’s ideas while his patents revolutionized the grand piano by creating a richer sound, sensitive action, and stronger frame. Actually, the team strictly followed the founder’s standards throughout the generations.
Steinway models possess the quintessential American piano sound, which comprises a powerful bass, a treble with tonal color, and a resonant midrange. Among the best piano builders are the Steinway B, which is loved by many technicians, and Steinway grand pianos.
However, the change of ownership throughout the centuries has caused the Steinway grands’ quality to fluctuate. As a result, these models are at the end of the low end of the luxury instruments. Steinway should work with committed dealers with rich technical resources to manage this uneven quality of its models. Aside from this, its pianos are absolutely excellent.
For instance, most piano technicians and serious pianist, teaching or recording studio or small recital hall prefers 6′ 101/2″ model B. Concert pianist opt for the 8′ 113/4″ model D or the concert grand. It’s also the flagship of the Steinway line. The company has been signing up pianists throughout the past decades, and each one of them is required to buy and play a Steinway piano.
The Steinway grand piano models are Model A, B, D, M, O, and S, ranging between $66,000 and $215,000.
Ulrich Sauter, based in Spaichingen, Germany, runs the Sauter piano firm that has been making piano since 1819. The instrument’s structural and acoustic parts are customized from high-quality woods such as yew, pyramid mahogany, burl walnut, and ebony. The Sauter factory is located at the foot of the Alps and makes up to 120 grand pianos and 800 verticals every year.
Its piano has a wide variety of styles and finishes. Some of them have inlay work and intricate detail such as unique engravings, genuine ebony in their cabinets, and built-in features like a hygrometer to check relative humidity.
The renowned European designer Peter Maly and Sauter company have had an over 20 years relationship, and his designs have given this piano manufacturer several prestigious awards.
The Sauter Ambiente, which is 7′ 6″, is asymmetrically curved on the bass and treble sides. The 7′ 3″ model 220 has white inlays, and the soundboard is painted with colored lines.
The Sauter models are high-quality pianos with a lush singing tone closely linked to an American sound and different from other European pianos.
Sauter grand piano models include Concert 275, Omega 220, Delta 185, Noblesse 160/185, Alpha 160, Queen Anne 160, Chippendale 160/185, Ambiente, and Vivace. The range from $95,000 to $230,000.
8. Steingraeber & Sohne
Eduard Steingraeber founded this piano company in 1852 in Bayreuth, Germany, an old part known for the annual Wagner festival. His first cast-iron piano frame was exhibited at the Paris World exhibition in 1867. They began making pianos for Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner from 1872 and opened the first concert hall in Bayreuth in 1873.
Steingraeber targets the high end market, and its factory makes 80 grands per year. Their five grands sizes range from 5′ 7′ to 8′ 11″ models.
Steingraeber offers innovative technical improvements to its pianos. It’s known for introducing several unique features, such as the lightest lid with a honeycomb interior and nearly half the weight of conventional piano lids.
The company has a piano for physically handicapped individuals such as those without legs. It’s also working with furniture designers and consulting with Chinese Pearl River for a new line of premium pianos.
Its grand piano models are Concert Grand E-272, Semi-concert Grand D-232, Chamber Concert Grand C-212, Salon Grand B-192, and Salon Grand A-170. They are priced between $102,000 and $270,000.
9. Shigeru Kawai
Many people focus on European brands when it comes to luxury grand pianos; however, the Japanese have also joined this league.
Kawai has been making some fine quality grand pianos since 1927. Shigeru is the son of Koichi Kawai, the company founder, so Shigeru Kawai is his dream product. Each year Shigeru Kawai brings to the market 300 limited-edition pianos, which are made at a separate special facility where six SK models and Kawai’s EX concert grands are built.
The brand is known for various reasons, such as using the latest technology, high-quality woods, traditional craftsmanship, and a visit from Kawai master technician within the first year to ensure proper setup and assure top quality service.
Thus, Shigeru Kawai is ranked as one of the world’s finest instruments used in international piano competitions. Thus conservatories and leading musical institutions across the globe have been recommending Shigeru pianos.
Its grand piano models include SK-EX Concert Grand, SK-7 Semi-Concert Grand, SK-6 Orchestra Grand, Sk-5 Chamber Grand, SK-3 Conservatory Grand, and SK-2 Classic Salon Grand. Shigeru Kawai sells its pianos between $64,000 and $239,000.
Yamaha grand pianos are popular and appreciated by many artists globally. The company has two premium collections, such as CF series comprising 9′ model CFX, the 6’3″ model CFA and 7′ model CF6.
The collection is made up of pianos produced in separate factories in order to ensure high standards. Also, the Yamaha Premium Collection uses different materials from those used in the economy line. The rim is made from mahogany and maple, making it more rigid in order to ensure tonal power. The German strings and hammer give a more mellow tone.
The latest CF-series pianos have a more substantial structure and a thicker rim than their predecessors. Yamaha’s craftsmen, designers, and engineers took 19 years of research and development of the CF series.
Some notable musicians that endorse and use Yamaha concert grand are Olga Kern, Michael Tilson Thomas, Elton John, and Chick Corea.
Its grand piano models include DCFEX3PRO, CFX, CF6, and CF4, priced between $105,000 and $260,000.
The World’s Most Expensive Pianos
Steinway & Sons Pictures at an Exhibition: It is priced at $2.5 million and has opulent artwork details. This masterpiece piano derived its name from the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s seminal composition dubbed Pictures at an Exhibition.
Steinway & Sons Fibonacci: The piano is sold at $2.4 million. Franck Pollaro designed this grand piano. The stunning instrument would make both Fibonacci and Mr. Steinway very proud.
C. Bechstein Sphinx: Sold at $12 million. The masterpiece is a historical replica of what Bechstein made for a special exhibit in London in 1886. The grand piano is covered in fire-gilded figurines from a combination of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman motifs in a Napoleonic Empire style.
Bluthner Lucid EXO: It goes for $960,000. The world’s leading luxury piano manufacturer has utilized 3D printing capability and carbon fiber Lucid EXO. The piano has a high-performance mechanism brought about by the integration of the asymmetrical lucite panels into the design of its body.
Bosendorfer Opus 50: With $750,000, a pianist can get hold of this fabled semi-concert grand piano handmade by the oldest piano manufacturer. The masterpiece was the 50,000th piano the brand had made and was built to mark the company’s 185th birthday. It’s indeed majestic and elegant.
Fazioli M Liminal by NYT Line: The post-modernist luxury piano goes for $695,000, and the designer was inspired by the shape of a luxury yacht. Although it looks like a baby grand when compared to Pictures at an Exhibition or Steinway & Sons Fibonacci, it’s an amazing piano with the sound of ages.
Fazioli Gold Leaf: You can get this F228 model at $450,000. The piano is covered in 24K gold leaf, which is applied with hands. A polyester coat is used to seal and protect it as well as increase the gold’s iridescence and luminosity, thus giving it an ever-changing appearance.
Bluthner Supreme Edition with 24K Gold inlaid lid: Bluthner has priced this luxury piano at $420,000. For over a century, Bluthner and Steinway Sons have been in competition in terms of high-quality performance and market share. This one-of-a-kind artwork has an open lid that reveals the artwork inlay of 24K gold. It’s actually the most expensive part of this masterpiece.
Boganyi: This is a new entrant on the luxury piano space, designed by industrial designer Peter Uveges and goes for $390,000. It’s an aluminum/carbon fiber monolith, and they are very few in the world.
Bluthner Lucid Hive Extravaganza: The crystal piano goes for $200,000 and above. The bee-hive-like skeleton enhances the industrial-grade lucite that is used to mold this expensive piece of artwork. It’s available in different sizes ranging from 5′ 1″ to 9′ 2″. You can customize its color, and the inner lighting is optional.
The article has highlighted the top 10 luxury piano brands and the world’s most expensive masterpieces. Bluthner, Steinway, and Fazioli have a large market share in this high-end marketplace due to their stellar reputation, experience, and ingenuity.
Still, other legacy brands have a vision powered by their industrial know-how and experience; thus, every year, they bring into the market huge volumes of baby grand piano and concert stage models with great features.
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