Piano brands

Svetlana November 11 2021

This article lists the better-known brands of the piano.

Although piano brands were not officially documented in music records (such as sheet music covers) until 1890, pianos were uniquely named in English since about 1726 with no official documentation to prove any distinction between names. The only evidence that exists to find out when piano brands were first made is by studying their evolution in design and materials used. This article attempts to emphasize the better-known phonetically similar names of many famous, reputable, well-known old or new brands of pianos.

Bechstein

A German piano brand, even though Bechstein was originally a Berlin-based company, it is now a member of the Steinway & Sons family of brands. Its popularity derives from its use by concert pianists and composers.

Bösendorfer

A Viennese piano brand that bases its design on its grand pianos, which are still handmade today with extensive use of premium Austrian spruce for the soundboard, as well as cast iron plates to increase their strength and durability. Bösendorfer pianos have been used by artists such as Vladimir Horowitz and Alfred Brendel.

Broadwood

Broadwood pianos were manufactured in England starting from the 18th century – particularly known for their square pianos that many composers at the time preferred for their tone and design.

Chickering

American piano brand founded in 1830, which was a type of early piano often used in saloons and dance halls because of its durability. One of Chickering's more notable customers was Franz Liszt who had 57 grand pianos, one number short of being considered the most valuable customer ever. In 1911, after changing hands several times, Chickering became a member of the Aeolian-American Corporation, credited for introducing player pianos known as orchestrions – an automated version of a piano – into bars and public areas to attract crowds with music during the Great Depression.

Cable

An old American piano brand that produced pianos as early as the 1850s, especially known for selling less expensive alternatives to Steinway's pianos – but without the same quality and appreciation. The cable also became a major supplier of pianos to public schools during the 19th century, which was very common among American brands. Today, Cable is a subsidiary of Kohler Company and continues to produce some models of upright and grand pianos.

Cecilio

A Japanese piano brand is known for making hybrid pianos – a cross between digital and acoustic pianos that are mostly used by students because of their affordability.

Conn

An American piano brand that started out as one of the first companies to make tine-based upright pianos (instead of sounding boards), which became famous during the 20th century during World War I, where its instruments were used to entertain soldiers. Pianist George Gershwin even owned 65 Conn instruments at one point in his life. Conn merged with other companies in 1954 to become Conn-Selmer, which is now the world's largest maker of musical instruments.

Cramer

One of the oldest piano brands in existence, but nowadays considered a mass-market brand instead of a high-end classical one like it used to be during its early history because of its simple design and affordability. The company was bought by Stein way in 2002.

Daewoo

A Korean piano brand that is known for trying to offer cheaper versions of high-end brands like Steinway and Bösendorfer. Daewoo has been associated with Yamaha pianos before its bankruptcy in 2000 and is now a subsidiary company of Hyundai Development Company.

Grotrian

An old German piano brand whose modern instruments are praised by many pianists for their sound quality. Grotrian was also one of the companies that invented the double escapement action, which reduced key noise on piano actions, but had never been truly implemented until being used by Steinway & Sons decades later. The company merged with other German piano manufacturers in 1969, and today, some of its pianos are built by the Schimmel Company.

Yamaha

One of the most popular piano brands in existence, which makes a wide range of pianos from entry-level to professional levels – especially known for their upright and digital pianos. The Yamaha Corporation was founded as an organ company, before opening a piano manufacturing plant in 1916. Today, Yamaha has grown into one of the world's largest makers of musical instruments, with various locations throughout Japan and key plants around the world.

Kawai

A Japanese piano brand famous for being behind more recent models of Fazioli pianos made since 2001. Kawai is also famous due to its history of making high-quality pianos at affordable prices, and even for making pianos that were used by big bands in the 1920s and 1930s.

Kemble

An old English piano brand dating back to its establishment in 1812, which was known for producing square pianos instead of upright ones like most other piano brands during the 19th century. Some Kembles are still made today, but this is not the main focus of the company anymore.

Kimball

A historical American piano brand that produced low-end pianos, whose catalog included 2,000 serial numbers and 88 keys instead of 88 notes – considered one of Kimball's trademarks until beginning to decline since World War II. Kimball also invented the console piano, which was a favorite among pianists during the 20th century. Kimball is now a subsidiary of Gibson Guitar Corporation and closed down its last American factory in 2010.

Lipp

A German piano brand whose instruments could be considered to be on par with Steinway's pianos until its bankruptcy in 2001. Lipp also produced high-quality pianos under different brands besides its own name, including the well-known Julius Blüthner piano brand that still exists today.

Mason & Hamlin

An old American piano brand that was established in 1854 and has been constantly associated with high-quality upright and grand concert pianos ever since – known for having one of the largest factories build upright pianos during the 20th century. Today, Mason & Hamlin is a subsidiary of the South Korean Samick corporation, which also produces Kawai pianos under license.

Baldwin

An American piano brand that has produced high-quality acoustic and digital pianos for many years. Baldwin was once one of the world's largest manufacturers of pianos, especially upright ones; however, it had to file bankruptcy in 2004 due to financial issues.

Schulze Pollmann

A German piano brand that specialized in producing upright pianos, whose high-end models are considered to be of extremely high quality. Schulze Pollmann filed bankruptcy in 2013, but the factory still exists today.

Grotrian-Steinweg

An old German piano brand whose modern instruments are praised by many pianists for their sound quality. Grotrian Steinweg was also one of the companies that invented the double escapement action, which reduced key noise on piano actions, but had never been truly implemented until being used by Steinway & Sons decades later. The company merged with other German piano manufacturers in 1969, and today some of its pianos are built by the Schimmel Company.

Estonia

Another old German piano brand was one of the first companies to produce upright pianos with overstrung scale systems, and thus became popular among many pianists. Estonia also invented a double escapement action system at some point during its history, but it never caught on as much as the Grotrian-Steinweg version due to certain technical disadvantages. Today Estonia is part of the Feurich & Söhne company.

Schimmel

A German piano brand whose instruments are considered to be masterpieces of art and engineering – famous for their extremely high quality and relatively large price tags. Schimmel has been known since 1873 and was even used by artists such as Franz Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Glenn Gould in the past.

Sauter

A German piano brand that specializes in producing high-quality grand pianos, known for their extremely even quality levels across the entire Sauter product line since its establishment. The company's instruments are chosen by many famous pianists for exclusive concerts, despite being relatively unknown among the general public until recently.