Review of the Steinway Model O: Is it the right piano for me?

October 8, 2021 Stephen Reed


You’re ready to buy your first Steinway, and you want the full grand piano experience.  However, you wonder if that’s possible, as your home has no room large enough for the larger grands, like the Model A (6’2”) or Model B (6’10.5”)

Steinway's Model O grand piano.

Considering the outlay of funds required, you want a Steinway grand that will fit in your home while giving you that full Steinway grand piano experience.  What to do?

Steinway has your answer.  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.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of the Model O, its place among Steinway’s “Miniature” grands, and its triumphant return as Steinway’s only grand piano of nearly 6 feet in length.

History of the Model O

A long and winding road to prominence for the Model O

The Model O was first produced in 1900, then was replaced in the New York factory by the slightly shorter Model L in 1924. The Model O looked like a permanently retired model.  Then, more than 80 years later, Steinway & Sons brought it back in 2006, ironically replacing the Model L, which had first replaced it.  But why this second switch?

Steinway Factor Germany

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.

Henry Ziegler and the “Miniature” Steinway grands

The O was the first of the “Miniature” grands designed in the first half of the 20th Century by Henry Ziegler, who was the son of Doretta Steinway Ziegler, the daughter of Steinway & Sons’ founder, Henry Steinway.

Ziegler proved to be a design genius, creating smaller grand pianos with great power and a rich tone.  In addition to the O, Ziegler designed the M (5’7”) and the L (5’10.5”).

By the time of the 2006 re-release, many technical improvements had been added to the Model O, including the Hexagrip Wrestplank, Steinway’s patented Diaphragmatic Soundboard, and Accelerated Action.

The Model O is also a pacesetter for style: its leg bottoms are squared.  The O was the first with this feature, which has now become standard on all Steinway grands.

The reintroduction of the round tail Model O in 2006 has delighted pianists with its balanced tone, rich bass and an ultra-responsive action.  The effect is to give the owner of the Model O as close to the experience of playing Model D concert grand as possible, packaged in the size of a Steinway miniature grand.

Steinway's Model O grand piano in a modern living room

Built with smaller spaces in mind

As compared to the Model M or Model S, the Model O has a fuller Steinway sound.  The Model O’s rich tone features a balance between a powerful bass register and clear treble keys.

Steinway wanted to maintain the Steinway sound and action in Model O pianos, while designing them with smaller spaces in mind.  Hence its nickname, “the Living Room Piano.”

Summary: The perfect home piano for the Steinway grand experience

Due to a well-engineered scale design, these pianos feature a rich sound and nuanced touch that surprises for a piano that is under six feet.

Those who have enough space in their living room or another accommodating room can’t go wrong with the Model O.  Imagine a Model D, scaled down from nine feet to nearly six, with a full Steinway sound that still doesn’t overpower you.

That’s the beauty and balance of a Steinway Model O.  Because of its design and the innovations that go into all of today’s Steinway grands, the O delivers the full Steinway grand experience to its amateur or professional player.

This is the piano for the person who wants a smaller grand that gives the impression of a larger Steinway in terms of projection and power.

Dimensions and Specs of the Model O

Click here for the complete dimensions and specs list of the Steinway Model O.

Cost of today’s Model O

Today’s Steinway Model O has a 2023 cost of $103,500 in an Ebony Satin finish.

Come experience the Model O for yourself

Steinway & Sons lyre symbol

Choosing a Steinway grand piano is a significant investment.  You’ll want to try several Steinways, including the Model O, in order to understand the different Steinway models.

Make an appointment with one of M. Steinert’s piano consultants today.  On a daily basis, they help people find the Steinway piano that is the perfect fit for their needs.

If you want a rich Steinway sound in an instrument that can fit in most homes or small venues, then the Model O may be the perfect Steinway grand for you.

Please continue to read more about some other Steinway models, also available at M. Steinert’s, serving Greater Boston since 1860.

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