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.

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