A review of 6 Steinway piano models: Which is the best grand for me?
by Stephen N. Reed
Pursuing the purchase of a Steinway & Sons piano can be both exciting and perplexing. After all, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime investment, so you want to get it right.
You’ve heard about Steinway’s different-sized grand piano models and how size correlates to the prices across the spectrum of Steinway grands. Is a bigger model worth the added cost?
At M. Steinert & Sons, helping people make the right Steinway choice is our bread and butter. We have been selling the different Steinway models for over 160 years and pride ourselves on customer service and satisfaction.
In this article, we will take a brief look at the main Steinway grand piano models, with links to a further description of each model. That way, if you see one you want to investigate further before coming into one of our showrooms, you can access that information directly through this article.
An array of Steinways
Steinway Model D: The concert grand
Over the years, the nearly 9’ Model D and other Steinway grands have possessed a strong bass to go along with their broad tone and a timbre some have called “spine-tingling.” The sheer power in a Model D allows it to project to the back of any concert hall.
This sophisticated action is the reason so many professional pianists prefer the Model D: they feel at one with the instrument and believe that its range of tone and color brings out their musical best.
A quite popular model for institutions of higher education and symphonies, the Model D is the official piano of hundreds of musical venues, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Juilliard, and the New England Conservatory.
Over 200 colleges and universities are officially designated as All-Steinway Schools, with the Model D taking center stage on their campus’s performing arts centers and music departments.
Moreover, if you’ve listened to a classical or jazz piano recording lately, chances are that you were listening to a Steinway Model D.
To learn more, read our Steinway’s Model D: The iconic concert grand piano of choice.
Steinway Model B: Steinway’s best-seller
The 7’ Model B is Steinway’s best-selling model and has been acclaimed for having the top Steinway sound and touch outside of the concert grand models. The Model B is well-known for its constantly refined tone, touch sensitivity, broader dynamic range, longer sustain, and nuanced color.
Most Steinway Artists own Model Bs or Model Ds–or both. The Model B is not too large for many living rooms yet is also large enough to be appropriate for a smaller concert hall or a church sanctuary.
It is the most versatile of the 5 smaller grands by Steinway. It is often the choice of serious amateurs or professional pianists who do not have the budget or the room for a 9’ concert grand Model D.
To learn more, read our Steinway Model B: Is the B the perfect piano?
Steinway Model A: The game changer
For many, Steinway’s Model A, known as the “Parlor Grand,” is the perfect piano. It is a close cousin to the better-known Model B, known as the “Living Room Grand.”
The two pianos have a similar scale and the same width at 4’10”, though today’s Model A, with a length of 6’ 2”, is 9 inches shorter than the Model B with a length of 6’ 11”.
This difference in length makes the Model A an easier fit in many homes than the Model B. However, the Model A is still long enough to accommodate those looking for a full Steinway grand that provides a concert-quality Steinway sound despite the smaller size.
The early Model A featured some of C.F. Theodore Steinway’s innovations, secured by several patents. As a result, the Model A is seen as Steinway’s game changer.
For example, the Model A featured the new, continuous bent rim case, which gave both a stronger cabinet and excellent soundboard vibrations. Theodore Steinway’s bent rim innovation is still used on Steinway grands today.
To learn more, read our A review of the Steinway Model A: The game changer
Steinway Model O: The small grand with the full grand sound
Close to six feet in length, the Steinway Model O, referred to as the “Living Room Grand,” is the largest of the smaller Steinway grand pianos with a length of nearly 5’11”.
Patrick Elisha of M. Steinert & Sons’ educational division notes that the Model O’s size begins to usher in the full, rich sound of the larger Steinway grand piano experience.
The Model O offers a full, resonant sound of exceptional warmth and depth. Often used for homes and teaching, the Model O has a rich bass register that is bolstered by the ample string length and the patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard.
The Astoria, New York Steinway factory had historically produced the Model L, while Steinway’s Hamburg, Germany plant made the Model O. Over time, a consensus emerged between these two Steinway divisions that the scale design of the O was preferred.
As a result, the decision was made to select just one nearly 6 foot piano to bear the Steinway name. The O had won on its merits.
To learn more, read our Review of the Steinway Model O: Is it the right piano for me?
Steinway Model M: In the middle of the Steinway grand spectrum
Introduced in 1911, the Steinway Model M occupies a cherished place for many in the Steinway spectrum of grand pianos. At 5’7”, the Model M is situated between the smaller (5’1”) Model S and the larger (5’10”) Model O.
Steinway has called the M their “Studio Grand.”
Though smaller than other models like the O and the A, the Model M still retains a sound that richly fills a home or small venue without being overwhelming. This is due to its Steinway soundboard. Its responsive action produces a touch that can engage any style of music.
Because of its more compact size as Steinway’s “Studio Grand,” the Model M has proven itself as a consistent favorite for those needing a somewhat smaller grand piano for the home or small venue.
To learn more, read our A review of the Steinway Model M: Is the M the right piano for me?
Steinway Model S: the baby grand
The Steinway Model S is a well-conceived piano that conveys the famous Steinway sound despite its small scale design. At 5’1” (155 cm), the Model S is the smallest of the Steinway grands. The first ones were made in mahogany.
According to M. Steinert & Sons President Emeritus Paul Murphy, to compete with smaller and less expensive pianos built by Steinway’s competition, the S was introduced in 1936 at $885.
Steinway’s Model S is not for everyone. A professional concert pianist will want to have a Model B or D, which will allow them a wider dynamic range due to their larger size.
However, if you want the Steinway sound but have real space considerations, the Model S can be the perfect fit for their home or small venue. The S is a special order piano from Steinway, only a little smaller than the Model M.
For more information, read our A review of Steinway’s Model S: the baby grand.
These new Steinway grand pianos range between $75,000 and over $300,000, depending upon style and finish. M. Steinert & Sons piano consultants can keep you updated on the current price for each model.
The good news: It’s a Steinway
As mentioned earlier, a purchase as important as a grand piano can feel daunting. The differences between two or three Steinway models can be either subtle or significant.
The good news is: it’s a Steinway. The legendary quality, craftsmanship, tone, and longevity that has made Steinway famous is in each of their grand piano models.
Come visit one of our two showrooms in Boston and Newton to begin the pleasant process of trying out these Steinway models yourself.
Our experienced piano consultants enjoy learning about your needs and aspirations when it comes to having a piano in your home. They can serve as your guide through the interesting process of choosing a Steinway.
Meantime, continue reading about Steinway’s uniquely handcrafted pianos below: