expert piano reviews, guides and advice

How to buy a Steinway piano?

If you are looking for a Steinway piano and want to receive good value to your money you should pay attention to a lot of issues (10 of which I evaluate in this article). First of all you should consider the year of manufacture. In general, the older the piano the cheaper it should be. Secondly, you should consider the length. All other factors equal, the longer the Steinway piano is, the more expensive it will be. Next, you should evaluate the condition of the piano. Lastly, a lot of people prefer Steinway pianos manufactured in Hamburg. Below is a more detailed explanation of what you should consider when looking for a Steinway piano.

This article is not intended for an advanced buyer, but rather to give a quick outline to someone who is new to this matter. We have collected a list of 10 pieces of advice that will be helpful for a start for anyone who plans to buy a Steinway piano.

How to buy a Steinway piano?

Advice 1 – The year is important

Year of manufacture of a Steinway piano tends to be one of the primary factors influencing the price (and value) of a Steinway piano. All other factors equal the older the instrument is, the cheaper. However, historical instruments with significant historical value, like for example this one are an exception to this rule. You should also take into the equation the condition of a piano – a factor that I explore later on in the article.

Advice 2 - Model (length) is important

Steinway manufactures its grand pianos in 8 different sizes. The shortest one – model S-155 has 155 cm (5 ft) and the longest one – Model D-274 has 274 cm (9 ft). Each model has its primary intended purpose. The list goes like this:

Steinway model S - Length: 155 cm / 5' 1''
Steinway model L – Length: 179 cm / 5' 10,5'' (not manufactured anymore)
Steinway model M – Length: 170 cm / 5' 7''
Steinway model O – Length: 180 cm / 5' 10,5''
Steinway model A – Length: 188 cm / 6' 2''
Steinway model B – Length: 211 cm / 6' 10,5''
Steinway model C – Length: 227 cm / 7' 5''
Steinway model D – Length: 274 cm / 8' 10,75''

Advice 3 - 85 or 88 keys

Last Steinway pianos with 85 keys were produced at the end of the 19th century. And there is a good reason for that. If you are serious about playing piano do not buy an 85-key Steinway piano. However if you want to buy furniture and/or if you are short on cash, an 85-key Steinway piano is a good alternative.

Advice 4 - After restoration

Restoration of a piano is an extremely broad term. One person will restore a Steinway piano with proper care exchanging old parts for new ones and the other one will perform budget restoration keeping old parts to save money etc. Both pianos will be advertised as after restoration but they won’t be equal in value. Unfortunately there is no industry standard for the term restoration/renovation/repair. When you buy a Steinway piano after any kind of repair it is good to inquire about the exact work that has been done and who renovated it.

Hamburg or New York

Advice 5 - Hamburg or New York

Currently one of the primary goals of manufacture of Steinway is to standardize the quality of production among its 2 factories. It is true that in the past differences in the quality of particular components have been considerable. A personal opinion from the author of this article, is that the difference is not noticeable – in general both factories have always manufactured excellent pianos and differences in particular components were equalized. However, it is important to mention that the market tends to value Steinway pianos manufactured in the Steinway European factory in Hamburg higher, than the ones produced in New York.

Advice 6 - Reputation of a seller

Usually when the price of a Steinway piano is low, it is low for a reason. Be very careful when buying a Steinway piano at a bargain price. If you are new to Steinway piano buying and you are not sure if the piano is in condition the seller claims it to be, I strongly advice you to find a local trustworthy piano expert and ask him for help inspecting the piano. Spending a few dollars/euros for advice from a qualified trustworthy technician can save you a few thousands spent on a piano that is not worth it.

Advice 7 - Know your budget

It seems like obvious advice with any purchase decision and so it is with the Steinway piano. It is a very good idea to start with precisely specifying the budget. If you do not have enough money to buy a good quality Steinway Grand Piano I personally think that it is better to buy a good quality Steinway or Bosendorfer upright piano than a poor quality Grand piano. The choice is yours, but you can have a difficult time trying to find a good Grand Steinway piano for 15,000 euros/dollars.

Advice 8 - Know your purpose

If you know what you need the piano for you can buy a piano just for that and you can be quite sure you won’t overpay. You really do not need a Steinway B if you keep it in the 20 m2 room. Knowing your purpose will definitely save you money.

Advice 9 - New or Used?

It depends on your budget. If you have enough money to buy a new Steinway piano it is usually the best choice. Steinway cares about its dealership network a lot, and you can be quite certain that you will be provided with excellent service. On the other hand there is plenty of piano shops with excellent reputation that sell used Steinway Pianos. If you consider your Steinway purchase as an investment, then you will be better off if you buy a used piano, they tend to lose value slower than new ones.

Can I buy the piano without playing on it

Advice 10 - Can I buy the piano without playing on it

Yes you can, but that's a high risk. Steinway pianos are hand made and even new Steinway pianos manufactured today differ in tone and sound. This is because the production process and the components differ in qualities. These differences are even stronger if you consider evolving technologies in manufacture of Steinway pianos in the past and extremely various conditions. If you are serious about buying a piano and you are planning on using it as a musical instrument (believe it or not some people buy Steinway pianos for the sake of owning a Steinway piano and treat it more like furniture) test it before a purchase.

Final words

A Steinway piano is a dream piano for a huge number of pianists. Hopefully this short list of advice collected through years of experience of our staff and thousands of advice given to piano buyers on Klaviano.com will be helpful for you. We wish you a wonderful journey and success finding your perfect Steinway piano. You can start your journey with our piano search engine, where at the moment of writing this article you can find 755 Steinway Grand and Upright pianos around the world. These pianos are available from top Piano Shops as well as a huge number of private sellers that show the pianos they have for sale.