M. Steinert & Sons’ Trade-Up Policy: When is the best time to use it?

by Stephen N. Reed


When choosing a piano, you’re also choosing the piano store that sells it to you.  For many years, M. Steinert & Sons has offered a Trade-Up policy that adds significant value to your purchase, allowing payments to be applied to a new piano later.

Steinway Lyre
Having sold pianos from the Steinway Family of pianos for over 150 years, M. Steinert knows that sometimes the ideal piano model is out of reach financially but could be obtainable in a few years.

Most piano companies offer some kind of Trade-Up policy. But unless a company is sound and will be around later to honor their Trade-Up policy, your policy won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

M. Steinert’s track record over 160 years makes our Trade-Up policy meaningful, as we are a piano company that will be around to help you convert your first piano payments to a second, better piano of greater value.

Having sold pianos from the Steinway Family of pianos for over 150 years, we know that piano needs can change for an individual customer or a family.   Perhaps the ideal piano model is out of reach financially but could be obtainable in a few years?

We want you to secure–whether now or ultimately–the right piano for you.  That’s what our Trade-Up policy is all about.  This article will explain the two Trade-Up policies M. Steinert offers and when to use them.

The Trade-Up Policies

The M. Steinert & Sons’ Lifetime Steinway & Sons Trade-Up Policy

Steinway Model A
M. Steinert’s Lifetime Steinway & Sons policy provides that any Steinway piano purchased from us receives 100% of the original purchase price for the life of the original purchaser towards any new, larger Steinway piano of greater value.

This policy provides that any Steinway & Sons piano, new or used, acoustic or digital, purchased from M. Steinert & Sons receives 100% of the original purchase price for the life of the original purchaser towards any new, larger Steinway & Sons piano of greater value.

The piano must be in reasonable, age-appropriate condition. Original purchase price honored excludes taxes and delivery.

Example 1:  You purchased a Steinway Model S in 2017 for $67,600 – get that amount towards a new Steinway & Sons Model B.

Example 2:  You purchased a Boston upright, Model UP-118E EP 46″  for $13,900–you’ll get that amount if you later decide to buy a Steinway Model S baby grand at any point in your life.

M. Steinert & Sons Full Value Trade-Up Promise (for other piano brands)

Receive 100% of your purchase price as trade towards any piano bought from M. Steinert & Sons (including Boston, Essex, and Roland lines) of double value for up to 5 years.

Example:  You purchased a Roland Digital piano for $4,000 on 12/1/2020, you will get that full amount towards any piano costing $8,000 or more until 12/1/25.

The right time to use the M. Steinert Trade-Up Policy/Promise

The reasons for Trading Up to a better piano are numerous.  M. Steinert & Sons piano consultants give these examples:

  • The piano student’s teacher notices that they need the upgrade because further growth is impeded with their current instrument. Some teachers refer to this by saying “the student is better than their instrument”.
  • A new or expanded home allows for a larger (or grand) piano.
  • The parents realize a child is becoming serious and excited about their piano study and are less apprehensive they might quit.  They are more willing to invest in their child’s future with an acoustic piano, whether an upright or grand.

When the time is right financially

Of course, a major factor as to the right time to use the Trade-Up Policy/Promise is when the time is right financially for you.  However, part of that financial equation, especially for the other brands included in the M. Steinert & Sons’ Full Value Trade-Up Promise, is to not lose your initial piano investment by waiting after the five-year limit.

Steinway heirloom grand
A new Steinway, purchased after your first piano, will be far more obtainable with the help of that initial piano investment and without having to deal with the hassles of a private sale.

Trading up within 5 years is akin to trading up to a larger home when the housing market is at its highest.  The larger home is made much more affordable by recovering the full value of the first home.

A new piano, purchased after the first one,  will be far more obtainable with the help of that initial piano investment and without having to deal with the hassles of a private sale.

That is the real value of the M. Steinert Trade-Up Policy/Promise:  a customer can be in a much more advantageous position towards obtaining the piano of their dreams, even as they purchase the right first piano for their needs right now.

Come talk with one of our piano consultants

As with all matters pertaining to a final decision towards purchasing a piano, a trip to the showroom to discuss any questions you have with one of our seasoned piano consultants can give you peace of mind.  M. Steinert &  Sons has based its reputation through customers who not only like their piano selection on the day of purchase but longterm in their home.

One of our piano consultants can answer any further questions you may have regarding the Trade-Up Policy/Promise or financing the piano that is right for you.  Make an appointment today to begin that important, ongoing discussion.

Meantime, learn more about the financing options available by reading this article from our Expert Advice section of our website:


What does a Boston piano cost?

by Stephen N. Reed


The Boston line was specifically designed to enable more piano buyers to obtain a piano with Steinway design but at a price more affordable than a handcrafted Steinway.

Boston piano plate
Boston pianos, along with its sister brand, Essex, are the only manufacturer pianos that benefit from Steinway’s engineers incorporating as many of these Steinway-designed features as possible.

Boston pianos, along with its sister brand, Essex, are the only manufacturer pianos that benefit from Steinway’s engineers incorporating as many of these Steinway-designed features as possible.

At M. Steinert & Sons, we’ve traced the progress of these two Steinway sister companies from the moment they rolled out in the 1990s. As the world’s oldest Steinway dealer, we have studied Steinway & Sons’ piano innovations for over 150 years.  The trajectory of Boston since its inception three decades marks this as one of Steinway & Sons’ most significant decisions.

But are the Steinway-design qualities sufficiently replicated in Boston’s grand and upright models to satisfy the discerning piano customer?  Further, has Steinway succeeded in finding a price point for its Boston models that is affordable for the ever-growing number of mid-market piano buyers?

At M. Steinert & Sons, we truly value helping customers find the piano that is just right for them.  We want you satisfied, not just at the point of sale but after your chosen piano has been in your home for years.

As a result, we not only ask customers to come in and try Boston models for themselves but to examine the quality and cost involved.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of Boston models and their individual costs.

Elements of the Steinway design in Boston models that directly affect costs

Boston grand strings
Boston’s cost is impacted by its Steinway design, including the low tension scaling, resulting in a longer sustaining tone.

Boston’s cost is impacted by its Steinway-design elements.  Particular materials (e.g. special woods) and the extra time spent in crafting a part of the design can add to the Boston’s cost but also its long-term value.  Such Steinway-design elements include:

  • Low-tension scaling– resulting in a longer sustaining tone.
  • Wide-tail design–for bigger sound in Boston grands. Such wider tails use more soundboard and rim material.
  • Sitka Spruce soundboard–providing a bigger, fuller tone and sustain. Sitka Spruce is found in the Pacific Northwest and is used for Boston’s tapered soundboard due to its unusually tight grain, which conducts the sound.  Out of all the 200-year-old Sitka Spruce that is harvested for these soundboards, only the top 3% of the wood is deemed usable.

The Boston line includes five grand pianos and five upright models, along with Steinway’s Spirio self-playing piano.

Boston models’ cost

As mentioned earlier, Steinway’s engineers had to determine how much of the handcrafted Steinway design could be transferred to a manufactured Boston.  So, too, the prospective piano buyer needs to determine if the Steinway design is worth the cost of a new Boston

After all, though most Boston models are less than half of a new handcrafted Steinway, this would still be a significant purchase.

M. Steinert & Sons has been privileged to see literally thousands of satisfied Boston piano buyers in our stores over the years.  However, only you can discern if the Boston has the value you need personally in your upcoming piano purchase.

Boston upright model UP-118-EP
The cost of the 46” Boston upright model UP-118-EP can vary from $13,900 to $15,900.

Boston Upright models’ cost (costs can vary depending on the external finish chosen).  Note:  These prices reflect the latest May 2022 updates.

  • The cost of the 46” Boston upright model UP-118-EP can vary from $13,900 to $15,900.
  • The 47” Boston upright model UP-120S EP  costs in a range of $9,800 to $11,500.
  • The 50” UP-126E EP goes for $16,400 to $19,200.
  • And the largest Boston upright, the 52” UP-132E EP has a price of $18,400.

 

 

Boston grand model GP-178A
The 5’10” Boston grand model GP-178A costs $36,900.

Boston Grand models’ cost

  • The 5”1’ Boston grand model GP-156 EP costs $25,400.
  • The 5’4” Boston grand model GP-163 EP costs $30,700–$37,800.
  • The 5’10” Boston grand model GP-178 costs from $35,200 to $37,900.
  • The 5’10” Boston grand model GP-178A costs $36,900.
  • The 6’4”  Boston grand model GP 193 costs $46,700.
  • The 7’1”  Boston grand model GP-215 costs $60,900.

You’ll enjoy a showroom visit

M. Steinert & Sons Newton showroom
M. Steinert & Sons’ Newton showroom: Reading articles about Boston pianos allows you to make the most of your showroom visit, which is essential to any piano purchase.

Today, we can learn an enormous amount of information about the products and services we are interested in thanks to the internet.

The great advantage for you in learning about the Boston in articles like this is that you come to a piano store armed with questions from your readings. This allows you to make the most of your showroom visit, which is essential to any piano purchase.

At M. Steinert & Sons, we look forward to helping all customers to find the best piano for them.  We find that the process is more rewarding for those who have done a little homework, reading up on makes and models of the various pianos that strike a chord with them, no pun intended.

We would welcome the opportunity to field your questions about the Boston line of pianos and to let you try some Boston models.  See for yourself if Steinway & Sons’ entry into the mid-market has succeeded with the creation of the Boston.

Whether you’re looking for a new upright or grand, we believe you’ll be impressed with the design, construction, and price of Steinway’s sister brand, Boston.

In the article below, read more about the Boston and how it compares with Steinway.  You’ll learn more about the similarities and differences of both and how the Steinway-design elements in the Boston make it stand out from other manufactured pianos:


Boston vs. Steinway: A comparison of two sister brands

by Stephen N. Reed


Henry E. Steinway famously said that his company’s vision was to build the best piano possible.  As a result, Steinway pianos have been handcrafted for 169 years.

Steinway Model A grand piano
Steinway & Sons’ Model A grand piano. Only the handcrafted process can create the kind of high-quality instrument, “the best piano possible,” that Henry Steinway first envisioned.

Only the handcrafted process, with its combination of high craftsmanship and special materials, can create the kind of high-quality instrument that Henry Steinway first envisioned.  Steinway & Sons pianos have earned their stellar reputation thanks to continued dedication to excellence.

The Steinway-designed Boston line of pianos, created by Steinway in 1992,  is the culmination of Steinway & Sons’ decision to develop a new line of instruments that was imbued with much of Steinway’s design into a manufactured piano.

Through its adherence to Steinway design principles, Boston has distinguished itself within its price range.  After all, only Boston and the other Steinway brand, Essex, can lay claim to having Steinway’s design and 169 years of piano building experience behind it.

However, significant differences remain between the handcrafted Steinway & Sons and its younger sister brand, the manufactured Boston.  Understanding these differences, weighing the importance to you, is important, as you wouldn’t want to go home with a piano that doesn’t meet your expectations.

At M. Steinert & Sons, we’ve been helping piano customers make an informed decision regarding the best piano for their needs since 1860.  We have kept current with every new model of Steinway & Sons and Boston pianos and explain the similarities and differences between them on a daily basis.

By the end of this article, you will understand the differences and similarities between these two popular American piano companies.  This will enable you to decide which aspects of both piano lines mean the most to you.

Boston: Steinway’s little sister, now coming into her own

Boston upright
The Boston Piano Company was created in 1991 by Steinway in response to the growing mid-level piano market.

The Boston Piano Company was created in 1991 by Steinway in response to the growing mid-level piano market.  Steinway had a clear understanding that many buyers would love to own a handcrafted Steinway but simply couldn’t afford it yet.

Steinway leadership made a bold move.  They decided to enter the world of manufactured pianos, allowing for Boston pianos to be sold at a more affordable price than a handcrafted Steinway & Sons.

They contracted with a well-regarded piano manufacturer with the understanding that as many Steinway-designed features as possible would be included in their production process.

Over the past three decades, we at M. Steinert & Sons have studied the new Boston models as they have been released.  Obviously, we believe in all of our Steinway-designed pianos, including Bostons.  However, we still strive for objectivity when describing them to you.

Having said that, it is simply a fact that Bostons have grown so popular with their Steinway-design elements and lower price that today many customers prefer a new Boston to a used Steinway. But the discerning buyer still wants to know about the particular differences between these two sister pianos, as well as their similarities.

In the end, people want to know: Can a manufactured piano, built with Steinway design, rival the venerable handcrafted Steinway & Sons?  Just how far has modern piano engineering come?

Boston vs. Steinway pianos: The similarities

Boston's GP178-A grand piano
Boston’s GP178-A grand piano. Boston’s Steinway design gives it many of the same features as Steinway & Sons’ models.

Obviously, the challenge for Steinway engineers Susan Kenagy and John Patton when designing the Boston was to discern which elements of the Steinway design could be transferred to a manufacturing process.

Here are some of the key Steinway design elements placed into Bostons:

  • Low-tension scaling resulted in a longer sustaining tone than other leading manufactured pianos.
  • A patented, large, Sitka Spruce soundboard that provides a fuller tone;
  • Solid copper-wound bass strings, ensuring pure tone for the life of the instrument;
  • More sustain, dynamic range, and warmer tones;
  • Wide-tail design for a bigger sound;
  • Hard Rock Maple inner rim, producing less vibration and less absorption of sound.

In addition, one of the most important Steinway-design aspects infused into every Boston is the famed “Steinway sound.” This has often been described as an even, well-rounded tone.

The presence of the Steinway sound in Boston pianos is a pleasant surprise to many. While concert pianists likely can hear a broader range of color offered by a Steinway & Sons grand piano, for Boston buyers the Steinway sound is still there. No other manufactured piano comes so close to the Steinway touch and tone.

In short, Boston’s warm, even tone confirms it as a fully-credentialed member of the Steinway family of pianos.

Boston vs. Steinway pianos: The differences

Steinway & Sons' Maccasar Ebony grand piano from the Crown Jewel Collection
Steinway & Sons’ Maccasar Ebony grand piano from the Crown Jewel Collection. Having many skilled craftspeople working on every design nuance distinguishes handcrafted Steinway models from manufactured Boston models.

The most obvious difference between a Boston piano and a Steinway & Sons piano is the way they are made.  Having many skilled Steinway craftspeople working on every design nuance naturally creates the following differences between Steinways and Boston:

  • Steinway & Sons pianos are handcrafted in a year-long process in Astoria, New York and Hamburg, Germany.  Bostons are manufactured in a Kawai factory in Japan;
  • Materials selection in Steinway & Sons pianos is so rigorous that more than 50% of the excellent woods purchased by Steinway still don’t qualify for inclusion in a Steinway & Sons piano.  Both Steinway and Boston have Hard Rock Maple inner rims, but Steinway is more particular about some other woods;
  • Boston uprights have a muffler pedal, not a Sostenudo pedal as Steinway & Sons pianos do;
  • Different hammers in the action between the two brands.  Hammers pressed in a manufacturing process like Boston’s may make them consistent. However, this kind of hammer cannot provide the range of tone colors possible only in the slower hand-pressed approach found only in the longer, handcrafted process used by Steinway;
  • Boston generally has a tapered, Sitka Spruce soundboard. Steinway & Sons features the patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard, which is unique to Steinway & Sons.

The best way to choose between these two brands is to play them

Ultimately, when it comes to a choice between two or more piano brands, the choice comes down to each individual’s needs and priorities.  People who can afford a Steinway & Sons piano typically select one of their models.

However, the Boston is a very popular model for those who want many of the same features as a Steinway at a lower price, and want the option to trade up to a Steinway & Sons piano at some point in the future.

Boston piano plate and logo
Sharing much of Steinway’s design recipe, in order to make a less expensive yet high-quality piano, was a bet that has paid off for Steinway & Sons.

Steinway & Sons moved in a bold and unprecedented way when they decided to create a mid-level, production piano that still had as much of the Steinway design as the manufacturing process permitted.

Sharing much of Steinway’s design recipe, 16 decades in the making, in order to make a less expensive yet high-quality piano, was a bet that has paid off for Steinway & Sons.  Each year, thousands of satisfied Boston customers come away from Steinway dealers, choosing a new Boston over their other options.

Come into one of M. Steinert’s two showrooms in Boston and Nexton to sample some Steinways and Bostons for yourself.  Trying out such models will certainly inform your thinking as you determine your own priorities.

If you have an interest in a Boston piano, click on this article for more information:

Boston Pianos Review: How good are Boston pianos?

And if you are interested in learning more about the Steinway sound, read this article:

What is special about the Steinway sound?

 


Boston Pianos Review: How good are Boston pianos?

By Stephen N. Reed


Boston piano interior label
Designed by Steinway, the Boston uses a recipe with many Steinway-designed features developed from Steinway’s more than 160 years of premier piano-building and a commitment to continuous improvement.

The Boston Piano Company, a subsidiary of Steinway & Sons, was established in 1991 as a response to the growing market of piano buyers who were ready for the Steinway experience but couldn’t afford the Steinway cost.

Steinway wanted to capture the mid-level piano market that was growing internationally without having to compromise the Steinway & Sons approach to materials and craftsmanship.

So Steinway designed the Boston and created a manufacturing OEM relationship (like Apple does with iPhones)  to develop a top-quality manufactured piano at a price lower than handcrafted Steinways.

Designed by Steinway, the Boston uses a recipe with many Steinway-designed features developed from Steinway’s more than 160 years of premier piano-building and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Boston grand piano front
Through its adherence to Steinway design principles, Boston markets its models as the best piano available in the mid-level priced market.

Through its adherence to Steinway-design principles, Boston markets its models as the best piano available in the mid-level priced market.

So at about half the price of the least expensive Steinway model, Boston’s price is certainly more affordable. But how good are they?  And if a Steinway-designed piano isn’t handcrafted like Steinway models are, can it really provide the Steinway sound?

For over 150 years, we at M. Steinert & Sons have had a front-row seat at the many piano innovations Steinway & Sons has introduced to the public.  As an Authorized Steinway Dealer, we watched with curiosity ourselves when Steinway decided to challenge other leading piano companies for the piano industry’s large mid-market.

Over the past three decades, we have studied the new Boston models as they have been released and have seen how versatile an instrument they are.

By the end of this review, you’ll become better acquainted with the Boston line and how their pianos appropriate much of the Steinway design to create one of the most popular new lines of pianos in the last 30 years.  Obviously, we believe in our Steinway-designed pianos, including Bostons, but we still strive for objectivity when describing them to readers.

Boston Pianos integrate elements of the Steinway-design

Boston grand
Low-tension scaling in the Boston results in a longer sustaining tone than other leading manufactured pianos.

Steinway engineers Susan Kenagy and John Patton designed the Boston from the ground up at Steinway & Sons’ Astoria, New York factory. Low-tension scaling resulted in a longer sustaining tone than other leading manufactured pianos. Other Steinway-design features in the Boston include:

  • More sustain, dynamic range, and warmer tones;
  • Wide-tail design for bigger sound;
  • A large, Sitka Spruce soundboard providing a fuller tone;
  • Hard Rock Maple inner rim, producing less vibration and less absorption of sound;
  • Solid copper-wound bass strings, ensuring pure tone for the life of the instrument.

The Boston Performance Editions

Everything that Steinway knows about pianos from their long experience is considered in the design of the Boston—musicality, longevity, durability, and future residual value.

Performance Edition II Boston
Boston’s Performance Edition II rolled out includes increased sustain, better tone clarity generally, and a deeper, clearer bass.

By 2009, Boston rolled out its first Performance Edition, which included the aforementioned maple inner rim. This provided less vibration.  The first edition also featured the patented Octagrip pin block, which gives the Boston a smoother pin turn and more consistent pin torque.  This allows for more precise tuning,

Boston’s Performance Edition II rolled out in 2016 and had several upgrades. For example, a rescaled bass and treble wire lower string tension provides increased sustain, better tone clarity generally, and a deeper, clearer bass.

The Performance Edition II also includes a Pomelle Sapele veneer on the inside rim of Ebony finish grands and a rose-gold colored plate.  Black felts have been added for the plate, under the fallboard, and around the pedals. All of these improvements are consistent with Steinway’s effort to constantly improve their piano models.

Steinway DNA in Boston pianos produces an even, well-rounded tone

Statistically, it is well-documented that over 95% of concert pianists worldwide performing with major symphony orchestras prefer Steinway pianos.  They are not remunerated by Steinway for their preference.  The Steinway touch and tone have largely defined what many concertgoers come to expect from a piano performance.

If the Boston’s design did not closely approximate the Steinway touch found in handcrafted Steinways, it would still be a high-quality piano.

Lang Lang playing a Boston grand piano
Boston’s warm and even tone has a direct design link to the Steinway sound and is played by modern-day Steinway Artists like Lang Lang.

However, the subtlety present in the wide range of colors in the Boston is what clinches the deal for many buyers. Steinway-designed pianos like Boston have a subtlety to their touch and tone that allows the pianist to achieve color changes and new dynamics in exactly the way the artist wants to express.

The piano literally becomes an extension of the performer’s musical expression.  Overarching this subtle, dynamic range of color in the Boston is an even and well-rounded tone, akin to the Steinway sound.

Classical Steinway Immortals like Sergei Rachmaninoff to jazz great George Gershwin preferred the Steinway sound.  Boston’s warm and even tone has a direct design link to the Steinway sound and is played by modern-day Steinway Artists like Lang Lang. To the degree possible in the manufacturing process, Boston yields piano models that have inherited the Steinway-design and sound.

Try a Boston for yourself and see how it compares to Steinway and other top lines

Thanks to this Steinway pedigree, the Boston sounds better, plays better, and lasts longer than any other piano in its price range.  So how good are Boston pianos?

For both high quality and affordability, they can make the argument that they are the best-manufactured piano on the market.

The best way to experience a Boston is to try a few yourself.  Compare it to the Steinways in one of our two showrooms in Boston and Newton.  You’ll find that the Boston is up to the challenge.

For more information about the Boston line of pianos, click here.


Which upright piano is best? Yamaha, Kawai, or a Steinway-designed model?

by Stephen N. Reed


Upright piano
Upright pianos have long had a welcome place in many American homes. For those who don’t have the space or the budget for a grand piano, uprights can be a perfect fit.

Upright pianos have long had a welcome place in many American homes. For those who don’t have the space or the budget for a grand piano, uprights can be a perfect fit. But which among the modern top quality uprights is the best model and why?

Let’s explore the main contenders for “best quality upright” among the models produced today.  After all, who would want to select a new upright, only to find out later that a better upright would have only cost a bit more?

Here at M. Steinert & Sons, we’ve sold thousands of upright pianos over the past 160 years, including the period at the turn of the 20th century when they were intensely popular in America.  As an Authorized Steinway Dealer, we naturally believe Steinway pianos have a lot to offer.  However, so do other high-quality piano brands, some of which we’ll examine in this article.

Then and now, we have helped our customers find the best pianos for them, many of which were upright pianos, whether serving as a beginner’s first piano or a starter piano that could lead eventually to a further investment in a grand piano.

By the end of this article, you will understand the upright piano’s background and will be familiar with the top upright piano models across several top-quality brands.  From these top models, we’ll explain which one is the best upright.

Background to the Upright

Sir John Issac Hawkins' portable grand piano, circa 1800.
Sir John Issac Hawkins’ portable grand piano, circa 1800.

The immediately noticed difference in an upright piano is that the strings and soundboard run vertically, perpendicular to the keyboard.  Early uprights had strings that started upward from the same level as the keys.

As a result, these earlier instruments were considerably taller, providing ample space on the case for a variety of decorative designs.

The strings in today’s upright pianos run upward from the bottom of the case, that is, near the floor.  This design dates back to 1800, created by Sir John Isaac Hawkins,  a leading English piano maker living in Philadelphia.

Taller uprights now the standard

Uprights have come in a variety of heights.  The shortest ones are cons0les or spinets.  Due to their shorter strings and smaller soundboards, they have less power and quality to their tone.  The larger upright pianos (more than 50” tall) took off in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and remain the preferred size for uprights today.

Who is a good candidate for an upright piano?

One important difference between the grand and the upright is in the action of both. Grands have a quicker, more responsive action due to the horizontal strings, which allows the hammers to fall naturally back into place thanks to gravity after they strike strings.

The upright’s action returns to a resting position with the help of springs rather than gravity alone.  As a result, the upright has a different touch.

Uprights, therefore, are not made for the concert stage.  A practice room, yes.  Definitely the home, especially one with a premium of square feet.

What are some of the top modern upright piano brands and models?

Yamaha’s U series

Yamaha’s U-series uprights, like this 48″ U1, have refined scale designs, as well as wider music desks for the player’s sheet music or music books.

Yamaha has put considerable effort into a comprehensive redesign of their U series of upright pianos. These uprights have refined scale designs, as well as wider music desks for the player’s sheet music or music books.

Steve Hauk, Sales Manager for M. Steinert & Sons, says that Yamaha’s U Series of upright pianos are well-regarded.  He notes that the U-1 (48” tall) and the U-3 (52” tall) are popular first pianos for many piano students.

“Beginning piano students are often enamored with the brightness of the Yamaha sound,” said Steve.  “In a way, it compliments a lot of the early repertoire, like Bach and Handel.  But as students progress musically, more tonal complexity is desirable.”

Kawai’s K series

Steve Hauk says that Kawai K-series uprights compete with the Yamaha U-series and have a similar tone.

Kawai's K-800 upright piano
The 53″ tall K-800 is part of Kawai’s K series. Kawai calls this series its “Professional Upright Pianos.”

Kawai calls this series its “Professional Upright Pianos.”  Popular with some parents and teachers, these pianos are produced with the Kawai Upright Action with plastic/composite parts rather than wood.

Kawai swears by this composite action, citing its stability.  Others maintain that a quality wood action, despite its occasional swelling and shrinking, is still the standard.

Merriam Music has an unbiased take on the wood vs. composite action debate.  They state that a composite action might last longer than a low to mid-grade wooden action.  However, a top-quality wooden action can last just as long.  Additionally, composite actions appear to have no impact on tone.  Also, they have no discernible benefit or risk to resale value.

Steve Hauk says that, like the Yamaha U series, Kawai’s K series uprights remain a popular choice for first-time piano students.  They come in three sizes:  the K-400 (48”), the K-500 (51”), and the K-800 (53”).

The Essex upright pianos: The beginning of the Steinway sound

Steinway-designed Essex pianos, the least expensive of the three brands in the Steinway Family (Steinway, Boston, and Essex), are considered the gateway to the full Steinway sound.

Essex's EUP-123 upright piano
Essex uprights, like this 48″ EUP-123, share many features with the more expensive Boston and Steinway uprights, including a tapered solid spruce soundboard.

Steve Hauk cites four popular Essex uprights:  the smaller EUP-108 (42”), the EUP-111 (44”), the EUP-116 (45”), and the EUP-123 (48”).

“The Essex uprights are excellent for everyday use in the home,” says Hauk.  “And they are quite affordable.  They share many features with the more expensive Boston and Steinway uprights, including a tapered solid spruce soundboard for long sustain, lower-tension scale design for a richer tone, and a responsive all-wood action made from high-quality maple.

One benefit to buying an Essex upright is that any payments on a new Essex (or Boston) can be applied to a later Steinway purchase, per Steinway’s Lifetime Trade-Up Policy.  This is due to their being a part of the Steinway Family of pianos.

Boston upright pianos: High-grade production pianos

Boston is a step up from its Essex cousin, both in materials and design.  Aside from being a production piano in contrast to a handcrafted Steinway, the distinctions between Bostons and Steinways can be hard to discern.  Both have the Steinway touch and tone.  Both have enormous power in their grands, as well as their uprights.

Boston upright models, like this 49.5″ UP-126E, have an exceptional sustain and clarity, due to Steinway’s renowned lower-tension scale designs.

“When Steinway engineers started to consider their designs for Boston pianos, they decided to get feedback from many music professors,” says Steve Hauk.  “To a large extent, what you see in today’s Boston pianos is what the music professors wanted in a piano.  They are built with music conservatories in mind, as well as for residential use.”

Steve notes three popular Boston uprights:  the UP-118 (46”), the UP-126 (50”), and the UP-132 (52”).

“All of these models have an exceptional sustain and clarity, due to Steinway’s renowned lower-tension scale designs,” notes Steve.  “The soundboards are of the highest quality.  They each have the Hard Rock Maple you see in classic Steinways,  including the patented Hexagrip pin block.  All Boston uprights feature the staggered backposts for added structural integrity.  In short, Bostons play better and last longer.”

Boston’s launch in the early 1990’s was the most successful in modern piano-making history.

Steinway’s handcrafted K-52 upright piano

Steinway & Sons is best known for their iconic grand pianos, whether for the stage, practice room or home.  However, they are quick to point out on the upright piano page on their website that their famous Model K-52 is handcrafted in the same Astoria, New York factory as their grands.

Steinway’s uprights continue to have the same materials, techniques, conditioning processes and craftspeople.  They are simply built in the “vertical department” at the Astoria factory, where the processes are vertically oriented.

Steinway's K-52 upright piano
Introduced in 1903, the 52” K-52 uses the highest grade of materials and features a larger soundboard than many grands, giving it an unusually resonant voice for an upright.

Steinway’s 1098 upright is no longer in production, though one can still find several of these models on the used piano market.  It was a small upright, 46.5” in height.

Currently, Steinway is putting all of its upright focus on the K-52, a large, powerful instrument. Introduced in 1903, the 52” K-52 uses the highest grade of materials and features a larger soundboard than many grands, giving it an unusually resonant voice for an upright.

Many professional piano players seeking an upright piano buy the K-52, because of that resonance and power.  Additionally, they like the structural integrity that the solid wood, staggered backposts provide the K-52.

“Steinway doesn’t want to cede any part of the piano market,” says Steve Hauk.  “That’s why they have intentionally chosen to retain and refine the K-52 upright over the last hundred years. What gives it that rich, deep sound is its design.

Hauk believes that the K-52 simply has one of the best-engineered scale designs of any piano, grand or upright.

“Obviously, many people need an upright for its smaller size.,” notes Steve. “But you know what?  When a potential buyer sees that they can get this kind of Steinway sound in a much less expensive package, that speaks to them, too.”

What’s the best upright piano?

For the aforementioned reasons–a well-engineered scale design, the highest grade of materials, a larger soundboard, and a deep, rich Steinway sound–Hauk believes that the K-52 is simply the best upright piano built today.

“The others we’ve mentioned are all respected piano brands and models,” says Steve.  “Yamaha and Kawai each have something to offer.  For example, some pianists may prefer the quicker composite-based action in the Kawai piano.  Similarly, some jazz pianists may prefer the brighter sound in Yamahas.”

But Steve maintains that Steinway’s K-52 is unique, particularly its bell-like Steinway sound.

“It’s handcrafted, and that adds so much to every dimension of a piano, especially an upright, with its super responsive action,” says Steve.  “There’s a reason Steinway has been making the K-52 since the turn of the 20th century.  Professionals and regular players just like them.  They like the power, the resonance, and that warm Steinway sound.”

Any payments made on a new K-52 can be applied to a later Steinway grand, per M. Steinert & Sons lifetime Trade-Up policy.

Learn more about the cost of modern upright pianos by reading the following article:

How much does an upright piano cost?

 


How much does an upright piano cost?

by Stephen N. Reed


Ever since the first true upright (i.e. vertical) piano was built by John Isaac Hawkins in 1800, these pianos have been quite popular. Their smaller size has made them perfect for use in the home.

Upright piano in modern parlor
Upright pianos have helped introduce piano playing to millions of people, especially in America, where they became a fixture in many families’ parlors.

Uprights have often been seen as a good first piano, especially for beginners.  Culturally speaking, they have helped introduce piano playing to millions of people, especially in America, where they became a fixture in many families’ parlors.

Like all musical instruments over the years, the cost for upright pianos has steadily increased.  You may wonder if they are still the most cost-effective way to enjoy an acoustic piano.  Unless an upright is at the end of its life cycle, the answer is yes.

However, uprights come in many brands and models, new and used, and the smart buyer will investigate the range of upright options in the current market.

Here at M. Steinert & Sons, we have listened well to our customers for over 160 years, allowing us to help them find the right piano for each of them.  In matters of price, size, and learning to play the piano, uprights can be a good first piano for many.

By the end of this article, you will become familiarized with several upright models across a range of prices. As a result, you’ll be in a better position to choose the upright piano that is best for you.

Low-end uprights: $0 to $1,000

At the low end of the upright spectrum, one can expect to find many free pianos, which are generally worth what you pay for them.  We examined this before in a previous column.

Occasionally, a used upright piano from a less expensive line, of fair quality, may be possible if an upright owner simply wants to expedite the sale of their piano.  Craigslist and other sites like it might have the occasional deal in this range worth a look.

Threshold of reliably playable used uprights:  $1,001–$3,000

Within this range, a recent and more lightly-used upright is possible in a fair to good condition if from a reputable brand.  The difference between these uprights and those in the $0-$1,000 range is the quality of the brands of the used pianos available.

Examples in this range, as advertised online*, include:

  • Used Kawai 48” professional upright, $2,980
  • Used Young Chang upright, U-131, $3,000

*Please note that used piano prices posted here and online are ballpark figures and not actual values. Those can only be estimated after review by a trained independent technician.  Age and musical quality are key factors in determining value.

The better used and new economy/stencil uprights:  $3,001–$5,000

In this price range, we see even better quality used uprights and even the beginning of some brands’ economy new uprights. Naturally, these uprights are better than the prior range categories.

However, for many buyers the relatively low cost does not make up for the instability and poor tone quality found frequently in used pianos within this range.  Stencil and economy pianos are manufactured to a single design.

Stencil and economy pianos tend to use lower-quality materials and easier-to-build designs.  They are built to meet a price point rather than a standard of quality.

Examples include:

  • Used Baldwin 248-A professional upright, $4,740
  • Used Yamaha M-1A upright, $2,650
  • New Economy Yamaha upright B-1, $4,999

Good new and quality used uprights:  $5,001–$10,000

Within this range, one’s options greatly expand when it comes to buying a good, production upright, whether it is new or used.  The quality of both new and used uprights in this price range is higher.

Essex EUP-123
The Steinway-designed Essex line has new uprights between $5,001–$10,000.

Buying new in this range allows for some significant benefits, including multi-year warranties and, for Steinway-designed models, a Trade-Up policy that allows all of one’s investment in a new upright to be applied later to a new Steinway if desired.

This range begins to allow for some used handcrafted pianos, like Steinway and Bosendorfer.

Examples include:

  • New Kawai 506N upright, $5,895
  • New Young Chang upright Y-131, $7,590
  • New Yamaha P22-D upright, $8,099
  • Essex EUP 111E upright, $6,900

 Top quality production uprights, along with best used models: $10,001–$20,000

This range essentially covers most quality new production brands and top used models. For example, the Boston, Steinway’s top brand next to Steinway itself, has some new upright models within this range.  Also, better quality used handcrafted pianos are available.

  • Kawai upright K-400, $12,795
  • New Boston upright 126E, $14,700
  • New Yamaha upright YUS1, $16,099
  • Used Steinway upright Model 4510, $13,500
  • Used Bosendorfer upright 130, $12,557

 

Best new production uprights and some new handcrafted models: $20,001–$50,000

Steinway Model 1098 upright piano
The Model 1098 has been Steinway’s most popular upright model.

This is the range in which one’s quality options for a new upright piano really kick into high gear. The selection includes a wide variety of excellent new production pianos, as well as a growing number of new handcrafted pianos.

Examples include:

  • New Yamaha upright SU7, $39,999
  • New Steinway upright K-2, $46,500
  • New Kawai upright K-800, $24,895
  • New Brodman PE 132 V,  $21,390

A good upright is better than a poor grand

Hopefully, the examples of used and new uprights above give you a better idea of what you can get within each price range.  Now we’d like to offer one thought for your consideration on your buyer’s journey.

A poor or mediocre quality grand is not better than a fine quality upright. Indeed, there are fine uprights several times more costly than lower quality grands. It is not merely the design that establishes the overall quality of a piano, but the materials and workmanship as well. Only the best grands are better than the best uprights.

But if a grand piano really isn’t an option right now, then getting the best possible quality upright is a fine choice, especially in terms of fitting the space available in one’s home as well as the space within your checkbook.

In the end,  a good quality vertical piano will outperform and outlast a poorly made, inexpensive grand piano.

Age is a significant factor in an upright’s price

The best way to get a feel for the differences between upright models is to try some models for yourself.  We encourage you to go to other stores first to try their models.  Then come to M. Steinert & Sons to look into the uprights in the Steinway family of pianos;  Steinway, Boston, and Essex.

The upright models in all three of these brands possess the Steinway tone and much of the same materials.  Boston and Essex are production uprights, while Steinway’s K-52 is handcrafted.  Any payments on a new Boston and Essex can be applied to a later Steinway purchase, per Steinway’s lifetime Trade-Up policy.

For more information on New vs. Used pianos and how pianos age, click here.


What is the difference between the Boston and Kawai pianos?

by Stephen N. Reed


The Boston piano line is produced in a Kawai factory in Japan but is designed by Steinway engineers. Some understandable confusion has resulted from this arrangement.

True, despite having many of the same features as a Steinway, the Boston is built outside the Steinway Factory by an Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM.  Kawai is the chosen OEM partner for the majority of the Boston line of pianos currently.  So is the Boston just a Kawai?

Boston grand piano's soundboard
Since Boston’s rollout in the early 1990s, their pianos have been among M. Steinert & Sons’ most popular models for customers looking for a high-quality piano at a reasonable price.

Actually, Kawai is simply one of the OEM providers for Steinway, hired to produce the Boston in Japan to Steinway’s strict specifications.   As a result, even though the Boston is built in the same facility by some of the workers who build Kawai’s line of pianos, Boston’s design and materials are quite different from Kawai pianos.

In order to better understand the OEM / Designer relationship, let’s explore a well-known product outside the piano industry; a product that you probably have in your pocket right now, you may even be using it to read this article: a smartphone.

Everyone is familiar with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android-based phones.  Did you know Google Android phone and Apple’s iPhone are both manufactured by the same factory?  It’s true.  Foxconn is an Original Equipment Manufacturer for many different brands of smartphones.

Despite being manufactured by the same company, no one considers the iPhone just another Google Android phone.  This is because the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s role is to simply produce the phone as designed and specified by the designer.

Google’s design and specifications differ greatly from Apple’s design and specifications.  It is the same with the Kawai factory and Steinway & Sons.  Kawai’s role is to simply manufacture the Boston piano according to Steinway’s design and specifications.

M. Steinert & Sons has been in the piano business for over 160 years, helping individuals and institutions to discover the best piano for their particular needs.  Since their rollout in the early 1990s, Boston pianos have been among our most popular models for customers looking for a high-quality piano at a reasonable price.

By the end of this article, you will understand the differences between a Boston and Kawai piano, most importantly in the overall design but also in the materials used to create the Boston.

What is the Boston Piano?

Steinway & Sons set out to build the best piano possible beginning in 1853 in New York.  Over the years, that mission statement has resulted in well over a century and a half of proud Steinway owners and inspired musicians.  Over time, the costs of producing Steinway & Sons pianos have increased precipitously.

In the early 1990’s Steinway & Sons recognized that while their pianos were still the best in the world, the price-point was becoming unattainable for many musicians and institutional clients (schools, churches, etc.).  So, they took their century of piano design and manufacturing experience and set out to design a new line of pianos called Boston.

Boston 178 grand piano
Steinway & Sons’ designed 5 distinct Boston grand pianos and 4 distinct Boston upright pianos at their New York factory.

Steinway designed 5 distinct grand pianos and 4 distinct upright pianos at Steinway & Sons’ New York factory.   Once the designs were completed in New York, Steinway set out to find an Original Equipment Manufacturer.

The Kawai factory was known for having a consistent output and consistent product.   It was for this reason that Steinway & Sons entered into an OEM/Designer relationship with the Kawai Corporation.

As Kent Webb, Steinway & Sons’ Manager of Technical Services and Support, has noted,  a great chef can prepare two different recipes in any sufficiently-equipped kitchen.

That is the case here.  Steinway recognized the consistency of the Kawai factory’s production and their ability to produce a piano to a set standard of quality. Together, they have proven that two quality piano lines–different in nearly every respect–can be built in the same production facility.

The Kawai design

Kawai produces consistent quality production pianos and has deservedly attained greater acclaim in the past two decades.  What easily distinguishes them from other production pianos is their ABS plastic and carbon fiber components for their pianos’ newer actions.

Kawai piano action
Kawai pianos have an ABS plastic and carbon fiber action, whereas Steinway-designed pianos like the Boston have an all-wood action.

Kawai suggests that ABS plastic and carbon fiber material makes their actions stronger than all-wooden actions in other lines like Boston.

This is a key selling point for Kawai.  As a result of this ABS plastic and carbon fiber action, Kawai maintains that they are more consistent than all-wood actions. However, Kawai continues to make its keys and hammer shanks of wood, so they seem to still value some wooden parts.

In contrast, Steinway-designed pianos like the Boston have all-wood actions, which avoid the risks involved with having plastic/wood parts that aren’t as compatible.

For example, while wooden action parts expand and contract as a result of ambient humidity changes, they are doing so at the same rate.  The entire action expands and contracts together.

As a result, all-wood actions have less of a chance of having the glue joint break.  Thus, all-wood actions are known for their stability.

Wood action parts also have different tensile strengths when compared to plastic, which affects the overall feel for the pianists.  Pianists tend to enjoy playing a wood action.

Still, Kawai aggressively markets their actions, highlighting what they call long-term precision and a highly stable touch and tone.

Kawai grand piano soundboard
Japanese pianos from Yamaha to Kawai have often been described as having a clear, simple tone, not very complex.  Bostons, like Steinways, have a warmer, more rounded tone, and have much of the same complexity as a Steinway.

Japanese pianos from Yamaha to Kawai have often been described as having a clear, simple tone, not very complex.  Bostons, like Steinways, have a warmer, more rounded tone, and have much of the same complexity as a Steinway.

Let’s take a look at some of the other Steinway-design features built into the Boston that makes them different from Kawai and other piano lines.

The Steinway-design elements present in the Boston

Susan Kenagy is one of the Steinway engineers who designed the Boston from the ground up at Steinway & Sons’ New York factory, calling upon 165 years of piano manufacturing.

In a recent conversation with M. Steinert & Sons, Kenagy noted that, while the Boston and the Kawai do have the same legs and pedals, when it comes to the features that determine touch and tone, the two brands are quite different.

Steinway-design on Boston fallboard
Steinway-design: The Boston has the same kind of Hard Rock Maple used in Steinways for its inner rim. This produces less vibration and less absorption of sound than the Kawai.

The Boston now has the same kind of Hard Rock Maple used in Steinways for its inner rim. This produces less vibration and less absorption of sound than the Kawai.

“The Boston has a different wide-tail design rim shape, cast iron plate, low tension scale and string length, bridge, pin block, action, and front-end aesthetics,” notes Kenagy.  “Plus the Boston now has the same kind of Hard Rock Maple used in Steinways for its inner rim.”

This provides more stability of the soundboard and less absorption of sound into the rim than the Kawai.

Kenagy also notes that the entire Steinway family of pianos–Steinway, Boston, and Essex–all have similar tonal characteristics because of their design.

This tone is distinctive, quite different from the Kawai.  The Steinway family of pianos has a tone that is noted for its longer, sustaining tone, warmth, and greater dynamic range.  “They have this same kind of tone due to the design recipe they share,” Kenagy notes.

But Kenagy says that having brands with a range of tonal qualities is not a bad thing at all.  “That’s the great thing about humanity,” she says.  “We like different things.”  Some pianists may prefer a more clear sound, while others like the warmer, even tones of the Steinway family of pianos.

“Different brands have a different tonal target,” Kenagy notes.  “One brand may be aiming towards a different part of the market, which is fine.”

Other Steinway-designed features used in the Boston include:

  • All-wood action, providing greater stability and touch profile preferred by pianists;
  • Sitka Spruce soundboard, providing a bigger, fuller tone;
  • Solid copper-wound bass strings, ensuring pure tone for the life of the instrument.

Kenagy notes that Steinway and Kawai teams work very closely to adhere to quality standards.  She notes that the two companies act very collegially and meet frequently online and in-person to review any spec or design changes.

Boston has more differences through innovation

Boston’s engineers are always innovating and improving their instruments. Of course, the great advantage for Boston pianos is their relationship to Steinway.  Everything that Steinway has learned about piano design and construction from their long experience is considered in the design of the Boston—musicality, longevity, durability, and future residual value.

Boston grand piano
Everything that Steinway has learned about piano design and construction from their long experience is considered in the design of the Boston—musicality, longevity, durability, and future residual value.

The Boston 178 PE II grand piano. The PE II series has several improvements, including a lower-tension scale, resulting in a deeper, clearer bass, better treble sustain, and more transparency in the tenor range.

In 2009, 18 years after the launch of Boston in 1991, Boston’s first Performance Edition models were rolled out, further distinguishing Boston pianos from other brands.

This first Performance Edition included the patented Octagrip pin block, which gives the Boston a smoother pin turn and more consistent pin torque.  This allows for more precise tuning.

In keeping with Steinway’s design experience, Boston pianos are constantly improving. The Performance Edition II rolled out in 2016, includes a lower-tension scale, resulting in a deeper, clearer bass, better treble sustain, and more transparency in the tenor range.

Additionally, the PE-II features a luxurious Pomelle Sapele veneer on the inside rim of Ebony finish grands and a rose-gold colored plate.  Black felts have been added for the plate, under the fallboard, and around the pedals.

Playing a Boston and Kawai is the best approach

As you’ve learned, no, the Boston is not a Kawai.  They are two separate pianos designed by two different companies.

Boston piano logo
When you purchase a Boston from M. Steinert & Sons, you get our Lifetime Trade-up Promise: full value trade to a new Steinway for your life.

This matters on several levels, including Boston’s trade-in policy. When you purchase a Boston from M. Steinert & Sons, you get our Lifetime Trade-up Promise: full value trade to a new Steinway for your life.

The best way to discern the differences between the Kawai and Boston lines is to test some of their models for yourself.  At M. Steinert & Sons, we encourage our customers to make informed decisions, so that they have no regrets later.   We want you to have the best piano for you.

Going to a Kawai dealer, then coming to one of our two showrooms in Boston and Newton, will allow you to determine which piano is best for you. One of our senior piano consultants will be glad to show you our Bostons and any other Steinway-designed models.

Until then, you can learn more about Steinway-designed pianos by reading these articles:

Differences between cheap and expensive pianos

Going from vertical to grand: one customer’s story

 


What does a baby grand piano cost? Pricing breakdown by type

by Stephen N. Reed


Couple using a baby grand template
A baby grand can be the perfect piano for the buyer who has a space in their home that is too small for a full grand but which can accommodate a grand that i a little bit smaller.

You’d really like to buy a grand piano, but your space is limited.  What to do?  A baby grand can be the perfect piano for the buyer who has a space in their home that is too small for a full grand but which can accommodate a piano that is a little bit smaller.

The term “baby grand” has been prevalent for decades but without universal agreement about the exact size of this kind of piano. One aspect that has consensus is that a grand piano under 6’ in length is in the baby grand category.

In addition, the smaller size allows for some savings in the cost.  The case and the soundboard all require a lesser amount of expensive materials.

While a baby grand piano can’t deliver the power of a full-sized grand, it can still produce more volume than an upright piano.  So the buyer comes away experiencing many of the aspects of a grand piano, just in a smaller size and cost.

But what does a baby grand cost?  That depends on whether it’s new or used, what brand it is, how old it is, and what condition it’s in.  We’ve seen a wide range of baby grands at M. Steinert & Sons.  We have been helping customers for 160 years to find the best possible piano for their needs.

By the of this article, we will give you a better idea of what kind of baby grand piano you can buy across a range of prices.

Used baby grands: What do you get for your money?

The used piano market is huge.  Some buyers will try out different used pianos at different piano stores, hoping to find a great deal, while still securing a piano with most of its life still ahead.

Others with less money take a look at “for sale by owner” types of pianos, including baby grands.  These are not certified and typically are sold “as is,” as the individual seller is usually not interested in making repairs.  They just want to get rid of the piano, which is why they are willing to offer it for a low price.

“Free pianos abound in our marketplace,” says Steve Hauk, Sales Manager for M. Steinert & Sons.  “Hire yourself a reputable guild technician to assess it before accepting it.”

How much does a lower-end baby grand piano cost?  $501–$10,000

chipped piano keyboard
A free piano is a case of “you get what you pay for.” The quality of such pianos is often so poor as to have no musical value.

You can usually find a free baby grand or one for $500 or less if you try hard enough.  But the value of such pianos is often so poor as to have no musical value, and we’ve written an additional article on the questions to ask before accepting a free piano.

A look at the Boston-area Craigslist shows the kinds and qualities of baby grands at the next lower end of the price spectrum, $501 to $10,000.

For example, a 1968 Yamaha G3, 6’, high-gloss mahogany, said to be in superb condition, goes for $7,500.

A 2000 Young Chang rosewood baby grand, Pramberger series is offered at $4,900.

On any given day, one can find a baby grand with no musical value, offered for less than these.  Others in good condition can fetch a price up to or over $10,000, depending on the brand.

The main problem in buying a less expensive model is that, unless you are a piano technician or bring one with you, you may never know how little you’re getting until you bring this sizable piece of furniture home.  That is true whether one buys a new or used piano.

Pre-owned Certified and some new baby grand pianos: $10,001–$20,000

This is not to say that good, used baby grand pianos don’t exist.  They do.  But they are more likely to be found at an authorized piano dealer as Certified Pre-owned pianos for whichever brands you want to try out.

Certified Pre-owned are typically are not older than 30 years and in good condition, having been checked by a professional piano technician.  Certified Pre-owned pianos can run into the $20,000-$30,000 range easily and more for newer models.

Also, this range incorporates new Essex baby grands, the most affordable of the Steinway-designed pianos.  A new model in this line is possible in this price range.  Read more about their smaller grands here, like the EGP-155C Classic Grand and the EGP-155F French Provincial, both at $14,300+.  Or you could look into the small Yamaha GB1K Baby Grand Piano, starting at $14,999 – $19,179.

You could take your chances on a used Steinway in this range, but unless you luck into a really good deal, to the buyer beware.

Mid-priced brands and some good used Steinway baby grand pianos: $20,001–$40,000

Yamaha C1X piano
The Yamaha C1X costs between $36,000–$39,000.

In this range, some good, new mid-high brand baby grands are available.  For example, if you want to move up to a higher quality Steinway-family piano, a new Boston baby grand, the 5’1” GP-156 New Performance Edition II can be bought for $22,600.

A 5’3” Yamaha Model C1X costs $36,000-$39,000.

A 5’11” Kawai Model GX-2BLK costs from $40,000 – $43,000.

Some good, used Steinways can be found in this range with some effort.

Upper-range baby grands:  Steinway Certified Pre-owned baby grands and more new models, $40,001–$85,000

Once the range is between $40,001–$85,000, much higher quality baby grand pianos are possible.  For example, a Steinway Certified Pre-owned baby grand piano under 6’ falls into this range, at different places depending on the age and condition.

The quality advantage of getting a Certified Pre-owned model comes from knowing that all Steinway parts have been used in any repairs.  Steinway Authorized Dealers only certify pianos that are 30 years old or less.

Steinway rosewood Model S baby grand
The Steinway Model S comes in a variety of special finishes.

This upper-range of cost yields several advantages to the buyer who is in a position to pay more for a new baby grand.  A new baby grand has a longer life, as it is freshly made.  Plus many piano companies offer a warranty with a new piano.

Steinway & Sons also offers a trade-up policy for any purchase of a new Steinway, Boston, or Essex piano.  When you purchase any new or Pre-owned Steinway, you will receive 100% of the original purchase price in trade toward a new Steinway or Steinway-Designed piano of greater value for the lifetime of the instrument.

Prices for high-quality new baby grands start within this $40,001–$85,000 range and go beyond it, too.  Within this range, a Bechstein 160 costs $62,000. A Mason Hamlin B is $76,173.  A Model S from Steinway costs $80,100. The cost for other new baby grands can go well beyond $85,000, as with the Fazioli F-156, which costs $184,500.

Baby grands may not need as much space as you think

The best way to see if a baby grand is the right piano for you is to play some.  We would enjoy showing you what baby grands are like from the Steinway-family of pianos.

In the meantime, enjoy reading some additional information about how a baby grand often can fit in the same space as an upright piano:

Will a grand-style piano fit?


What first piano should I get for my child?

By Stephen N. Reed


One of the most common desires expressed by piano shoppers, especially those making a purchase for their child, is to buy the cheapest possible piano that still does the job.  Those are the two main considerations:  cost and general performance by the instrument.

After all, the future is unknown.  Will the child stick with piano lessons for the long haul or give up after a while?

Boston Grand Piano
A Boston grand would be a more afforable choice than a Steinway for a first piano, if one has room for it at home.

At M. Steinert & Sons, we identify with any parent’s need to find the best piano for their needs.  Spending hard-earned money on a large musical instrument deserves focused attention.

But focus is also needed to find an affordable piano that will give one’s child every chance of success at the keyboard.  No parent wants to go to the trouble of purchasing a piano without their child wanting to play it.

However, that unintentionally happens frequently.  A child who feels that their family piano is not worth their hours of practicing can often give up too easily.

Then the family is stuck with a rather large and heavy piece of wooden furniture that collects dust in the corner of a room–or a digital piano that is given away to a relative.

Through the eyes of a customer

In this article, we will track the thoughts of one of our customers, Chris of Arlington, Massachusetts, whose daughter is about to begin piano lessons.  As a result, Chris is beginning to explore what kind of piano to purchase for her.

Balancing that with Chris’s present budget and space in his home will be a key factor in his upcoming purchase of their family’s first piano.

Before getting into the options available for beginners, we spoke with Chris at length about what was behind his interest in supporting his daughter’s upcoming lessons.

He explained that his father was quite a piano player, though he played by ear, not by sight-reading.  Chris hopes that this daughter may have inherited some of his father’s abilities at the piano.

In addition to Chris having a piano in his home growing up, he has become a musician himself, playing both the mandolin and the guitar in a local music group.

He’s bought top instruments for both of those efforts, so he’s aware of the benefit of having a quality musical instrument, especially for the ongoing motivation of a young beginner.

However, he still wants to be careful with this first piano, as he waits to see if his daughter “takes” to her piano lessons or not.

Narrowing down best options

Essex EUP 111-E
The Essex EUP 111-E is a popular upright model for first-time piano buyers who want an acoustic piano at a more affordable price.

Chris has a second-story townhouse, reached by a narrow staircase.   As a result, a grand for his daughter’s first piano might be a tall order, both in terms of space and in hauling it up that staircase.

That leads us to recommend options in upright piano models like Essex, a Steinway-designed, less expensive brand, as well as digital pianos like Roland. Roland makes a credible case that a good, digital piano can serve well as a first piano.

Chris is committed to read some articles on our M. Steinert & Sons website to learn more about pianos in his price range.  Then he can start to know some actual options.

Rent-to-Own can be a viable compromise

We suggested that one way for Chris to slice the Gordian Knot on price/quality would be to rent a quality piano for a number of months.

That way, Chris can wait to see if his daughter seriously takes to playing the piano, while giving her every opportunity to succeed with a quality upright piano that Chris doesn’t have to buy.

Roland Digital Baby Grand
Digital keyboard options include Roland’s Baby Grand.

Chris would be putting a “toe in the water of acoustic pianos” without having to make a huge investment yet.  That could wait for their second piano some time hence.

Giving his daughter an acoustic piano to play will give her a better idea of the pianos yet to come in her life, as opposed to the still good but much different experience of playing a digital piano.

Simply put, one shouldn’t expect to replicate the acoustic piano experience through a digital model.

Chris found this renting idea to be an interesting one and said he’d keep it in mind as he did his reading and research. To allow for the possibility of purchasing the piano he is renting, Chris will want to look into a rent-to-own arrangement.

M. Steinert’s commitment: the right piano for you

Chris echoes the concerns raised frequently by parents wanting to do right by their promising child while still making a wise choice for a piano.

Until enough time has passed to determine the seriousness of the young student’s genuine interest, a parent has every right to wait and see.

Nevertheless, a parent like Chris also wants to give his daughter every chance to enjoy playing the piano as a lifelong pursuit.  That begins with one’s very first piano and whether the young student feels empowered to play it.

In short,  Chris realizes that he can’t just give his child anything to play.  His choice needs to be one that his daughter looks forward to playing.

True, a beginner need not have the most expensive of pianos. However, getting the cheapest piano can backfire, too.  Young students can be surprisingly sensitive to the pianos they play.  If the piano given to them is not inviting and seems more like a temporary arrangement, so, too, can their interest in playing music become temporary.

M. Steinert logo
M. Steinert & Sons: Finding the right piano for each customer since 1860.

Finding just the right piano for you–that is what has set M. Steinert apart since 1860.  Each of our tens of thousands of customers has known that their concerns and needs were heard by our experienced piano consultants.

If you are considering a piano purchase for a young person in your family or simply to enhance your home with live music, come visit one of our two showrooms in South Boston and Newton.

Meantime, start your own research with these articles to learn more about what could be your very first piano!

 


Boston vs. Yamaha: Which is the best piano for me?

by Stephen N. Reed


With several good options for buyers looking into new pianos today, making the best possible decision is important for a number of reasons.  First, this is a serious investment, perhaps done only once in a lifetime.   A well-built piano can easily outlast one generation in a family, becoming an heirloom for the next.

A purchase of this kind of importance and duration needs careful attention.  Otherwise, you may purchase a piano that can become less a gift than a burden to give your children someday.

Photo of the interior of a Boston grand piano
The Boston line was specifically designed to enable more piano buyers to obtain a piano with the Steinway design at a more affordable price.

Will they inherit a treasured family instrument or a large piece of furniture nobody plays?   Choosing the best instrument, one that brings out the best among those who play it, is key.

Since becoming a Steinway dealer in 1869, M. Steinert and Sons has been helping a range of customers discover the best piano for their needs.  Since 1991, this has included offering the Boston line of mid-level grand and upright pianos.

The Boston line was specifically designed to enable more piano buyers to obtain a piano with the Steinway design at a price more affordable than a handcrafted Steinway.

Steinway has built a line of Boston pianos that has proven competitive in a market served by a range of piano brands, including Yamaha.

But which piano brand is better for you between Boston and Yamaha?

In this piece, we will take a look at the origins and strengths of Boston and Yamaha pianos, allowing you to learn more about both brands as you continue your journey towards buying a new piano.

Yamaha History and Production Design

Yamaha Piano History

Photo of Yamaha piano keyboard
After Yamaha’s founding in 1900, the company focused on manufacturing pianos for the Japanese market.  Still, Yamaha had international aspirations.

The first piano made in Japan was an upright built in 1900 by Torakusu Yamaha, founder of Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd. — later renamed Yamaha Corporation. Just two years later, the Nippon Gakki factory produced its first grand piano.

During this early period, the company focused on manufacturing instruments for the Japanese market.  Still, Yamaha had international aspirations.  Just as Henry Steinway had done with his pianos a generation before, Torakusu began to win international recognition soon after he founded Yamaha.

For example, Torakusu entered one of his pianos at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, where it won an Honorary Grand Prize.

Yamaha learns Western piano production techniques

By the 1920s, Yamaha sent its craftspeople traveling overseas to understand the latest European piano production techniques. Yamaha’s piano production picked up again after the war years.

In 1950, Yamaha produced the FC concert grand piano.  In 1956, the company completed work on Japan’s first computer-controlled artificial drying room. In 1958, Yamaha set up a grand piano assembly line at its headquarters in Hamamatsu.

Yamaha International is born

At the start of the 1960s, Yamaha made a significant investment, creating a new company in the U.S.A. to import and distribute its pianos: Yamaha International Corporation. By 1965, Yamaha was producing more pianos than any other manufacturer.  By 1970, Yamaha’s manufacturing facilities had produced one million pianos.

Yamaha production details

Japanese manufacturing is known for its attention to detail and quality control.  Like Steinway, Yamaha models go through a series of stringent quality control tests, from construction methods to wood selection.

Yamaha uses spruce for its soundboards and uses other traditional piano parts including:
  • Beech bridges
  • Pine backposts
  • White wood hammers
  • Cast-iron frame

Yamaha’s range of production pianos offers a variety of results for the musician, from entry-level to conservatory-worthy.  For grand pianos, these series are:  GB1K/GC, CX, SX, and CF.   Yamaha has even more upright series, which are:  U, YUS, b, P22, and Gallery Collection.

Yamaha currently sells a mind-blurring number of grand and upright models:  32 of various kinds and different qualities.

Yamaha’s quality varies across their different series–and even within each series.  For example, in the CX grand piano series, the CX7, CX6, CX5, and CX 3 models have spruce wood for their backposts, the CX2 and CX1 have Merkus pine.

Another example is in the composition of the keys across the different series.  In the GB1K/GC series, you will find that the white keys are made of Acrypet (methacrylic resin), while the other Yamaha series use Ivorite for their white keys.  Ivorite is Yamaha’s attempt to create plastic keys with the feel of ivory keys.

Not all Yamahas are created equal

The point is, although each model has the Yamaha name on its fallboard, not all Yamahas are created equal.

Photo of pianist playing Yamaha keyboard
An informed piano buyer will want to study the specifications of each Yamaha piano series as differences are not always obvious initially.

An informed piano buyer will want to study the specifications of each of their piano series as differences are not always obvious initially.  The importance of materials cannot be overstated.

For example, Many Yamaha pianos, especially their lower-priced offerings, use softer woods and a higher-tension scale design.  Consequently, these models are characterized by a considerably brighter tone.

This can be an appealing sound at first, especially for beginning pianists, but some find it limiting as you advance in your musical studies.  M. Steinert & Sons often receives Yamaha vertical pianos in trade for Steinway and Boston grands.

Having said that, Yamaha has become the preferred model of some international music festivals as well as several jazz and contemporary pianists.

Boston piano history and design

Boston history

The Boston Piano Company was founded in 1991, a subsidiary of Steinway & Sons.  Steinway wanted to capture the mid-level piano market that was growing internationally without having to compromise the Steinway & Sons approach to materials and craftsmanship.

Steinway designed the Boston and contracted with Kawai to develop a better, top-quality manufactured piano at a price lower than handcrafted Steinways.

Boston’s Steinway design

The Steinway elements present in the Boston
Photo of Boston grand piano
As a Steinway-designed piano, the Boston is characterized by a rich, even tone.

Steinway engineers Susan Kenagy and John Patton designed the Boston from the ground up at Steinway & Sons’ New York factory, calling upon 165 years of piano manufacturing. Steinway-designed features used in the Boston include:<

  • Low-tension scaling resulting in a longer sustaining tone
  • More sustain, dynamic range, and warmer tones
  • Sitka Spruce soundboard, providing a bigger, fuller tone
  • Hard Rock Maple inner rim, producing less vibration and less absorption of sound
  • Wide-tail design for bigger sound
  • Solid copper-wound bass strings, ensuring pure tone for the life of the instrument.
Boston and the Performance Editions

Boston pianos have all parts assembled manually. Boston’s design roots can be traced back to 1836 with the creation of the first Steinway in Germany and subsequently in New York in 1853.

Everything that Steinway knows about pianos from their long experience is considered in the design of the Boston—musicality, longevity, durability, and future residual value.

In 2009, 18 years after the launch of Boston in 1991, Boston’s first Performance Edition model was rolled out.

This first Performance Edition included a maple inner rim and the patented Octagrip pin block, which gives the Boston a smoother pin turn and more consistent pin torque.  This allows for more precise tuning.

Boston’s Performance Edition II rolled out in 2016, added several upgrades.  The Performance Edition II features a luxurious Pomelle Sapele veneer on the inside rim of Ebony finish grands and a rose-gold colored plate.

Black felts have been added for the plate, under the fallboard, and around the pedals. A rescaled bass and treble wire lower string tension provides increased sustain, better tone clarity generally, and a deeper, clearer bass.

Boston has picked up endorsements

Steinway Artist Ling Ling performing on a Boston grand
Steinway Artist Lang Lang performing on a Boston grand.

Steinway and Boston’s even tone has been endorsed for pianists across musical genres.  Indeed, the company’s rosters of piano greats, Steinway Artists and Steinway Immortals, have always been well-represented by famous jazz and contemporary pianists.

Just 30 years on the market, Boston has become the preferred piano brand of several musical groups.  The American Piano Quartet, The Gryphon Trio, and The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh use Boston pianos.

The Boston line includes five grand pianos and five upright models, along with Steinway’s hybrid Spirio self-playing piano.

The tone of the two pianos

Yamaha’s bright tone liked by some performers in modern musical genres

Yamaha has learned how to incorporate Western expectations into their pianos and has sold many over the years.  Still, the fully-manufactured Yamahas have a bright, clear tone.

While this makes them less preferred among most of the world’s professional concert pianists, that kind of tone has been better received by some jazz pianists like the late Chick Corea.

One area Yamaha and Boston have in common is in their power. Both Yamahas and Boston project well, especially in concert auditoriums.

Steinway DNA in Boston pianos produce an even, well-rounded tone

As detailed above, Boston has inherited much of the Steinway design or DNA. What does it mean for a piano to have Steinway design?

Steinway-designed label on Boston fallboard.
Steinway-designed pianos like Boston have a subtlety to them that allows the pianist to achieve color changes and new dynamics exactly what the artist asks of it.

Statistically, it is well-documented that over 95% of concert pianists worldwide performing with major symphony orchestras choose to play on Steinway pianos and are not remunerated by Steinway for their preference.

Steinway-designed pianos like Boston have a subtlety to them that allows the pianist to achieve color changes and new dynamics exactly what the artist asks of it.

In addition to this nuanced range of color and dynamics, Boston, like Steinway, has an even and well-rounded tone.

Boston’s tone has been endorsed for pianists across musical genres.  As part of the Steinway family of pianos, Boston takes pride in the rosters of piano greats, Steinway Artists and Steinway Immortals. Both lists have always been well-represented by famous jazz and contemporary pianists from George Gershwin to Aaron Diehl.

Re-capping main differences between Boston and Yamaha

 

Boston Yamaha
Even, well-rounded tone Bright, clear tone
Low tension scale design High tension scale design
10 models–a single quality standard 32 models–varying quality standards

Pricing

Larry Fine’s website at pianobuyer.com is a widely used source for piano information. Under Brand Profiles for Yamaha, he distinguishes between what typical Yamaha dealers LIST their pianos at (MSRP) and what they should actually sell for if priced fairly (SMP).

Under the Brand Profile for Boston, the MSRP and the SMP are identical–in other words, Boston piano prices are not inflated by Steinway dealers and then discounted to a fair selling price.

Which piano is best for you?

The best way to decide on a new piano is to play some models for yourself.   Whether tone, design, or price is most important to you, an informed piano buyer will get a feel for different models and brands.

At M. Steinert & Sons, our seasoned piano consultants will listen well to your priorities for this important purchase.  Some of our piano consultants have worked for both Yamaha and Steinway dealers, allowing them to fairly present the better attributes of these two legendary piano makers.

So while we naturally feel that the Boston is the better piano for many people, we acknowledge that Yamaha has produced some good models, as well.  What is most important is that you find the best piano for you.

Please consider a visit to one of our showrooms in Boston or Newton. Meantime, continuing reading some additional pieces below:

What does a piano cost?

How the pandemic brought life back to our living rooms

How to choose the right piano for me?

 


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Newton, MA 02465
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