Having been an active concert pianist for 30 years I have had the privilege to play some of the best pianos in the world. Whether at smaller performance venues, in conservatory classroom or a rehearsal studio baby grand piano is a ubiquitous companion of mine and I had the pleasure of clocking in hundreds of hours playing this essential musical instrument. Time and again I discovered certain qualities that make a great baby grand piano stand out: the voluminous, rich sound, evenness of resonance across all registers and responsive, nuanced action capable of sophisticated touch and control. In this article I intend to highlight the top 10 baby grand pianos I think are the best. I will list them in my order of preference as it is such a personal subject matter to me. Objectively these instruments are all superbly made and are perfect contenders to land anywhere on that top 10 list. However the nature of the personal relationship between a pianist and a piano is subjective and therefore I will begin with the one I consider to be my dream baby grand.
1. Fazioli Model F156
Size: 5’2 feet
Price: from $120,000
In my personal opinion Fazioli F156 is the best baby grand out there. Like with most Fazioli pianos this baby grand is an Italian supercar under the hood despite its modest size. The action is super even across the entire keyboard with the brightness of the top balanced with the powerful base. The touch is very responsive and light, which is typical for Fazioli. I know that some pianists frequently voice an issue about all Fazioli pianos: that they are too loud. The reality is that they are very responsive to the touch and if the touch is not calibrated with understanding how sensitive the action is the velocity of playing is simply too much. The result – loud sound. Another words – if one is used to playing on any other brand of the piano one has to spend some time re-adjusting to Fazioli in order to truly appreciate what it can do in terms of the level of softness of the sound and the dynamic range. Once the touch is right for Fazioli – the piano sounds amazingly beautiful on altogether different level and frankly I have never been able to play as softly as I did on Fazioli. The lightness of the touch also contributes to the lack of muscle fatigue.
In terms of design this baby grand is a classic Fazioli beauty. Elegant proportions and clean lines afford this piano to look dazzling in a variety of available finishes: Black, Blue, Red or White lacquer and exotic wood veneers like Olive, Macassar, Pyramid Mahogany, Tamo and Olive. The latter options are more expensive due to the cost of rare woods and artisanal woodwork necessary. I believe that baby grands look better in exotic veneers or light colors – which optically downplays their modest size. But that is my personal opinion and must not influence your choices.
Across all components only the best materials are used and the entire piano is made by hand at Fazioli’s Italian factory. For a connoisseur of the performance pianos and lover of understated luxury of exotic woods it doesn’t get any better than this.
Fazioli model F156 comes with manufacturer’s 10 years parts and labor warranty transferable to future owners within the 10 year period.
2. Blüthner Model 11
Size: 5’1 feet
Price: from $87,000
This is a fantastic baby grand piano that I absolutely love for its beautiful sound, powerful resonance and easy and responsive action. The fabled Bluthner singing tone is present here in full-force with long decay of the sound. The balancing of the keyboard is great and the overall sound of the piano is that of a much larger instrument. While it is amazing to practice on it is also perfectly suitable for performances and recordings because its large and resonant sound never betrays the petite parameters of this piano. What is fantastic here is that Bluthner allows this model to be customized not only with 12 different wood veneers but also with its “art case” series called Bluthner Supreme turning this baby grand into museum-worthy piano baby grand adorned with bronze, inlays, gold-lief and what have you. This model can also be realized in fully transparent Bluthner Lucid iDyllic which makes it probably one of the most dazzling baby grands in the world. Naturally these customizations drive the price up but with the superb German craftsmanship and unique body designs this baby grand is the one for the ages and is well-worth it. In its most basic form model 11 is elegant and classic with gorgeous wood veneers or traditional ebony. If it’s good enough for some of the world’s leading musicians it’s certainly is good enough for you.
Bluthner Model 11 comes with manufacturer’s 5 parts and labor warranty to the original purchaser.
3. Steinway Model S
Size: 5’1 feet
Price: from $74,000
Steinway is Steinway. For over 160 years this name has been recognized as the industry leader and indeed it is. Beautiful, dark tone of the Steinway makes this legendary piano maker one of the most beloved and desirable piano manufacturers in the world. Model S has all the properties of Steinway’s iconic larger grand pianos: amazing resonance, singing tone and sheer power of the sound. Steinway’s patented cross stringing contributes largely to its pianos’ distinctive sound. Everything about Steinway pianos is centered on quality and legacy of this American original brand. Action and sound are Steinway specialties and those who had the great fortune of playing these beautiful pianos know full well that one can identify Steinway piano with one’s eyes closed. Its action has more traction and is a little denser than that of its counterparts. It engages with the pianist and encourages a deliberate touch that produces its signature tone. With Model S Steinway offers 10 exotic wood veneer customization options as part of its Crown Jewel collection. Those are all gorgeous and will fit into virtually any interior. The form is traditional Steinway with its uniquely carved bases of legs. And of course its traditional black ebony is timeless. The way Model S is built essentially miniaturized all the qualities we have come to expect from the Steinway name as a concert stage fixture and it sure stands out among comparable grands as a classic example of Steinway excellence. Therefore I conclude that Steinway is always a great choice and this model is no exception.
Steinway offers its exclusive 5 year warranty.
4. C. Bechstein Model L167
Size: 5’6 feet
Price: from $126,000
Bechstein L167 is a tremendously beautiful larger member of the baby grand family. At 5’6 in length it is not as space conscious as its counterparts but let that not deter you from appreciating the beauty of its sound and details of craftsmanship. The rich and brilliant tone of this Bechstein baby grand piano suggests the grand piano of a larger size. The action is light but with enough resistance to aid the pianist in controlling it. Because of its physical presence this model stands out among the other baby grands as a more apt choice for frequent chamber music performances at a smaller to medium size venues. Ideal for galleries and salons this grand piano lends an air of formal event to a less formal surroundings. Its sound and action are terrific for both solo and chamber music -making and resonant volume will be great for piano quartets and quintets. Many of my colleagues consider this amazing baby grand piano to be the best in its class. And it very well may be for it checks all the boxes of the creme de la creme of baby grand pianos. The overall design is beautifully proportioned classic Bechstein with its simple lines and metal-capped legs. This piano can be ordered in both satin and gloss finishes in classic ebony, white lacquer and a number of beautiful wood veneers. This baby grand piano is handmade at Bechstein German factory with over 170 years of supreme reputation behind this wonderful legacy name. With Bechstein pianos you know you are getting legendary quality.
Bechstein L167 comes with 5 years manufacturer warranty.
5. Yamaha Model C1X
Size: 5’3 feet
Price: from $38,000
I have to give it up to Yamaha for delivering an extraordinary value and quality in this grand piano category with gorgeous C1X offering. Created as an extension of Yamaha’s flagship CFX performance concert grand lineup this smaller piano has all the qualities of its larger brethren. Brilliant and resonant tone and super smooth regulated action make this piano a fantastic choice for both practice and performance. Yamaha’s new music wire middle register enhancement does indeed enrich the resonance and even-out the brilliance of the registers across the keyboard. As with most Yamahas the action is light but balanced which allows for great control of the dexterity and dynamics without extra effort. Yamaha produces grands that can rival it’s European counterparts with technical parameters, quality and performance-grade superior manufacturing all the while delivering an unprecedented value in terms of the cost. This new model is one such example where you get tremendous baby grand from the top name in piano worlds at a very competitive price.
Yamaha C1X comes with 10-year warranty.
6. Bosendorfer Model 155
Size: 5’1 feet
Price: from $122,000
Legendary Viennese piano manufacturer is the oldest in the world. Revered by many as the best piano maker it is superb without a doubt. Bosendorfer name has adorned Vienna’s largest concert hall at the turn of the 20th century and was a prized possession of many a European Royal family. It is however a subject to personal taste and for me it is always just a little too base-heavy. Yes it is a gorgeous grand nevertheless. The brilliant treble has a beautiful tone but is thinner than the base register which in my opinion creates a certain imbalance which needs to be constantly kept in check. That being said it is by all means a deluxe piano with all the attributes one expects from the A-list legacy piano maker like Bosendorfer. It’s patented body engineering and only the best material used result in a tremendous resonance and power from even the smallest piano in Bosendorfer’s line-up. Brilliant and refined the sound is dark and powerful as it descends into the lower registers. Bosendorfer’s signature ‘orchestral’ sound is definitely present in this beautiful baby grand even though the extra keys and strings of brand’s concert Imperial models are missing. The action is amazingly responsive to nuanced touch and is light and precise just like the larger grand pianos in Bosendorfer family. Almost fanatical attention to detail of each element results in what is essentially a miniaturized performance instrument. A very contemporary and clean design devoid of curvaceousness and non-functional embellishments is glamorously simple. The sharp edges of the tapered metal-capped legs add a Viennese refinement to this timelessly elegant piano.
Bosendorfer can customize you baby grand piano in variety of precious wood veneers and further elaborations which of course reflects in elevated price point. If you are looking for a dark powerful sound and bell-like brilliant top register – this is the one for you. While Bosendorfer is now owned by Yamaha Corporation the production remains in its Vienna factory and none of Bosendorfer’s almost 200-year-old traditions are overlooked or compromised in any way. By choosing Bosendorfer you are getting one of the the best new grands in the world.
Bosendorfer offers 10-year parts and labor warranty.
7. Steingraeber & Söhne Model A-170
Size: 5’7 feet
This remarkable baby grand piano from Wagner’s town of Bayreuth, Germany is a very special specimen. Tremendously sonorous and colorful sound is a result of Steingraeber & Sohne’s patented design of extra wide tail of the body. One cannot overstate the uniqueness of this piano engineering solution. This feature allows for a wider soundboard and longer bass strings, which in turn produce a bigger, more dimensional sound. Indeed it is the sound of this baby grand piano that truly makes it stand out. Already a lightly larger instrument that its counterparts it truly sounds like a grand piano. Rich and dark. This alone makes model A-170 one of the rarest pianos out there in this category. The keyboard action is very light and responsive to nuance. Choosing Steingraeber & Sohne you’re looking at a performance baby grand instrument that will be invaluable in a professional setting of the theater, opera or studio as well as any home for the piano lover. Due to it’s ‘fatter’ look I personally like the appearance of exotic veneers on the body – and Steingraeber & Sohne offers a generous customizations from traditional ebony to rare wood veneers. That is of course reflected in the price range. Since one is going to live with one’s new piano for a while I would always recommend giving the finish of the piano a serious thought as it can truly change the appearance.
Steingraeber & Sohne offers 5 years parts and labor warranty transferable to the future owners within the warranty period.
8. Sauter Model 160
Size: 5’3 feet
Sauter is a small but well known brand of superb German pianos that focus as much on innovation and invention as they do on tradition. Sauter is constantly inventing new ways to add resonance to the body and precision to the action while reinventing the design of their beautiful pianos. Compared to German and Italian counterparts Sauter 160 offers great value for the refinement and beautiful sound of its smallest baby grand. It does have a beautiful and rich tone distributed evenly across the registers and a very well regulated action. Not too light it engages with the fingers and encourages control and traction while being very responsive. It’s slightly larger at 5’3 and with Sauter’s special patented soundboard technology it really does fill the room with the sound of a larger instrument. The design is very classic and traditional but Sauter offers two finished: satin walnut or gloss ebony. One would be remiss not stressing the value proposition of Sauter pianos. An absolutely top-notch manufacturer produces some of the best pianos in the world. However as it’s name is not on everybody’s lips in Sauter a discerning buyer finds a great value and none of the compromise.
Sauter offers 5-year warranty.
9. Kawai Model GX-2BLK
Size: 5’11 feet
Price: from $42,000
Kawai GX-2BLK is a great example of Japanese obsession with quality and craftsmanship. Made by ‘piano samurai’ of Kawai’s famed factory every detail of this baby gran piano is well thought out, crafted and put together. Small as it may be it is beautifully designed to satisfy even the most demanding professional pianist. The GX series is branded BLAK and are the premium quality instruments that feature Kawai’s most advanced technologies such as Millennium III action, tapered soundboard and more precise weighting of the keys. Having a more mellow tone than its other Japanese counterpart – Yamaha – Kawai GX-2BLK is has also a more resistant action. While super responsive and evenly weighted it requires a bit more traction to control. This piano is a remarkable value in term of quality and level of craftsmanship as it relates to price. Truly a performance piano in an elegant and classy package. Design of this Kawai is simple, minimal and classic. Kawai offers 8 veneer finishes in both gloss and satin.
Kawai comes with 10-year manufacturer warranty.
10. Story & Clark Model H60A
Size: 5’3 feet
A very compelling case can be made for this great new baby grand piano made by the leader of the music tech developers – Story & Clark (who are also QRS Music Technologies). These very well made entry-level baby grand pianos come with fully integrated PNOmation system that has playback and silent capabilities and is fully integrated into the body of the piano so there are no boxes and unsightly gadgets visible anywhere. Just as a side note – when this System is installed on pianos of other brands the cost is about $9,000 – $13,000. So if you factor-in that this baby grand comes with system already installed it’s really an unbelievable value. And as far as the piano itself is concerned it’s a very nicely manufactured and regulated instrument. Reliable action feels light yet even and the sound is bright and resonant. Simple lines of its classic design lend themselves easily to three traditional finish options: ebony, white and mahogany. One can choose satin or gloss. As far as new pianos are concerned the fact that it is a perfectly nice baby grand piano that is native self-playing piano is a huge asset. For music students it’s an opportunity to practice silently (with headphones of course) and record your playing for immediate or later playback. QRS Technologies specializes in installing player mechanisms on other manufacturer’s instruments so they certainly know what they are doing when it comes to creating their own digital pianos from ground up. With this choice you are getting something really new to the market – a totally native acoustical/digital piano made by specialists of both.
Story & Clark offers 15-years warranty on the piano and 1 year warranty on the tech.
What makes it a good quality baby grand piano?
Is there such thing as a best baby grand piano? As the beauty is in the eye of the beholder a lot depends on your personal preferences for the sound and feel of the piano. There are those who subscribe to the belief that German made pianos are the best. There are Fazioli fanatics who see no other than their beloved Italian maker. There are those who are looking for value as well as quality. For some the digital integration is important as well as the name recognition of the brand. Here you’re looking at great options that should satisfy all these parameters and deliver the grand that suits your needs best.
In conclusion let me leave you with some important things to remember when looking at the piano.
First determine the size parameter and whether you are indeed in the market for the grand piano or if you should perhaps be looking at some of upright pianos. Once you make that determination your quest for the perfect baby grand piano can commence.
Second is determine your budget and stick to it. Be realistic but keep in mind that this is a serious purchase that will last you years and years and in many ways it is not only a financial investment but also investment in yourself, your loved ones’ music endeavors and endless joy that having a piano at home will bring over the course of many years to come. Most piano manufacturers and dealers have great financing offers to make the purchase easier to manage and not accrue a burden of debt. Research and ask questions. There are no stupid questions so ask away.
Once you have the ceiling of price – consider the usage of the piano. Are you playing yourself? What’s your piano playing experience’ preferences? Are you a professional or amateur? Or is your child taking piano lessons? All those are important elements of what the piano will be used for and should be factored into your choice. Some pianos’ action is more responsive than others’ and is lighter to the touch. That can seriously affect the experience of playing the piano and ideally you should try a number of different instruments to find the right feel for you.
Think about what features are more useful to you. Is it the beauty of the tone? Is it the volume? Is it the art-finish options of the bodywork or the player system feature? Are you going to be using it for hours and hours of professional practicing and teaching or is it going to be used for an occasional sing-along? Are you going to have performances and salons with multiple musicians playing chamber music? Does your child need a digital piano option for silent practice? Honest answers to these questions will narrow your search to the pianos best suited for these activities. Objectively the quality of the pianos may be equal but the particular idiosyncrasies of each brand will make some pianos better choice than others.
Location of the piano will also affect the user experience: are you looking at pianos for your beach house or an urban apartment? Is it dry and humid? Of course there are devices for everything but generally it is wiser to choose the instrument that would be capable of better weathering those different conditions by design.
Generally, made by hand pianos will always be better than pianos coming off an assembly line. Quality strings and action materials and seasoned spruce soundboard will deliver a better sound. Longer keys and strings generate more sonority and therefore add depth and color to the sound of pianos. If you have a very small space where the piano will be placed perhaps the volume should not be at the top of your priorities’ list.
The aesthetic quality of pianos are before your eyes on a daily basis. Consider your interior, your personal style and listen to your instinct. If you truly are dreaming of a modern and unorthodox design perhaps one of Bluthner Lucid pianos is in the cards for you. Once the piano is in your home you want to be absolutely certain your made the right choice and not be left dreaming of another piano you didn’t go for.
If you don’t’ play at all I highly recommend bringing a professional pianist along for the piano tryout and not exclusively rely on the sales team of the showroom. Listen to the sound when the piano is played in different styles: fast, slow, loud, soft – and go with what appeals to you the most.
Here I picked my top 10 pianos as I personally feel about them. In their price categories each one is a top quality instrument and all are supremely well made. Among the small pianos these have the best sound and action and the resulting quality of playing experience is a definite pleasure.
If you are interested in one of the above models or have any further questions with regard to choosing the baby grand piano please contact us here. We are dealing with most top quality piano manufacturers and will be happy to answer whatever questions you may have.
Happy piano playing