Choosing which piano to buy can be a hassle. There are many factors to consider such as size, acoustic vs digital, pricing, and upright vs. grand. If you want a piano that can fit in a relatively small space and is not too expensive, then an upright piano is the right way to go!
Table of Contents
- Quick History on the Upright Piano
- 7 Best Upright Piano Brands
- Steinway Essex
- W. Hoffman
- 5 Piano Reviews from Amazon.com
Quick History on the Upright Piano
According to musicologist Cesare Ponsicchi, the first known upright pianos were invented by Domenico del Mela (Source). The first upright piano is estimated to be made in 1739 (Source). It was essentially a grand piano with the strings and soundboard placed in a vertical direction instead of a horizontal direction.
Here is a picture of one of his original upright piano:
Notice how the strings do not run below the keyboard. Because of this, the Domenico pianos would reach very tall heights.
In Philadelphia in 1800, John Isaac Hawkins made drastic improvements to the upright piano. Calling it a “portable grand,” these instruments would cost around 250 dollars. In modern times, this would cost around 4,717 dollars (Source).
What made his pianos unique, in comparison to other attempts at making a solid upright piano, were the strings going all the way to the ground, use of iron in the frame of the piano (Alpheus Babcock would later make improvements on the frame of the piano using steel in 1825), and a suspended sound board which allowed for better resonance of sound.
Here is an example of one of his pianos:
7 Best Upright Piano Brands
Today’s upright pianos are made from steel frames, which are heavy but provides for a quality instrument. Good upright pianos generally start at around 3,000 dollars (source). If you are looking for a good upright piano that costs less, either look for a used upright piano or a digital piano.
The top 5 upright piano brands, in terms of popularity and quality, are mentioned in detail here.
Yamaha was founded by Torakusu Yamaha in 1897. He built his first reed organ ten years prior to the finding of this company. Since 1900, Yamaha begin its production of upright pianos. They have now been building quality upright pianos for over a hundred years, so you can be ensured that purchasing a Yamaha upright piano will be a great decision.
Yamaha is well known for building quality instruments for all levels of musicians, from beginning to concert artists. Their beginning instruments are well built and are made to be very affordable for the starting musician. They are among the best affordable upright pianos.
Yamaha upright pianos come in 6 different series :
B Series – Includes the b1, b2, and b3 upright pianos that cost between 4000 – 8000 dollars. The b1 is the smallest, and the b3 is the largest. These pianos are affordable and best suited for smaller spaces. Click here to see the B1 piano
Watch this exclusive video by Yamaha for the B Series upright pianos:
Also, watch this video to see an excellent demo of the Yamaha B series pianos:
SU Series – the highest quality of upright pianos offered by Yamaha. The SU7, currently the only upright piano for this series, can cost up to 40,000 dollars. This is around the same price range for a decent grand piano. Click here to see the SU7 piano.
Watch this video of a pianist on the SU7 piano of Yamaha:
YUS Series – A very high quality series of upright pianos made by Yamaha. These pianos can cost between 15,000 to 20,000 dollars. There are 3 pianos in this series, the YUS1, YUS3, and YUS5 (why aren’t they just called YUS 1, 2, and 3, I do not know). Click here to see the YUS1.
Watch this expert review on the YUS Series upright pianos with this video:
U Series – Ideal for educational environments and advanced musicians. These pianos are durable, has an extra wide stand for holding sheet music, and produces a large amount of sound. Prices are usually between 11,000 – 15,000 (notice that the price of this available on Amazon is much cheaper!) The U1 and U3 upright pianos are a part of this series. Click here to see the U1 piano.
Watch this expert review on comparing the Yamaha U series upright pianos with each other:
Watch Yamaha present their P series upright series with this video:
M Series – The best upright pianos for the money that Yamaha has to offer. A brand new M series piano can cost around 7000. The m560 is the only piano in this series. Click here to see it!
Watch a demonstration of this best upright piano here:
The Steinway Essex series includes 9 different upright pianos. These best acoustic upright pianos are made by the esteemed Steinway and Sons company.
The EUP-123S stands out from the rest of the Essex pianos, as it is more suited for professional use. Personally, I believe the difference between the other brands are very subtle, and decisions for choosing one of these pianos may only be based on aesthetic qualities.
These best sounding upright pianos are very affordable. From what I found online, there is not one upright piano that cost more than 10,000 dollars from the Essex series (please comment if you found an Essex upright that costs more than this). Unfortunately, Steinway’s website does not show the pricing for each individual instrument.
Watch this video to get an overall view of the Steinway Essex pianos:
Click here to read more about the EUP-123E
Watch a demo of this best sounding upright piano here:
Click here to read more about the EUP-123FL
Click here to read morea about the EUP-123Cl
EUP-123S – This model is recommended for those who plan to have performance with their upright pianos. This is the best professional upright piano by Steinway.
Watch a great expert review of this best acoustic upright piano with this video:
EUP-116FF – Formal French design. Includes an open rack and closed rack series.
EUP -116EC – English country design
Watch this professional review of the Steinway Essex upright piano here:
Click here to read more about the EUP-116QA
Click here to read more about the EUP-116CT
Founded in 1927 by Koichi Kawai. This company has been producing fine pianos for over 40 years.
There are four different series of upright pianos with the Kawai brand. They are as following:
K Series Professional Uprights
K Series Professional Uprights – Includes 5 different pianos. The K-200, K-300, K-400, K-500, and K 800 (Why does Kawai skip 600 and 700, I do not know). The K-200 is estimated to cost around 6000 dollars, and each successive piano (K-300, K-400, etc) is of a higher quality and costs more as well.
Watch this great comparison of the K Series upright pianos:
Watch an expert review on the UST 9 upright piano here:
Watch a pianist play on the 506N Upright piano:
Furniture Consoles – or Decorator series. Includes the 508 Decorator, 607 Designer, and 907 Designer pianos. These pianos are valued for their design.
Watch this expert demonstration of this best vertical piano here:
Continental Uprights – The Kawai K-15 is a part of this series. This upright piano has received a lot of attention for being the best priced upright piano in terms of quality. This best upright piano for beginners costs around 5000 dollars. Click here to read more about it.
Watch this great video with the Kawai K 15 here:
Hoffman upright pianos are made by C. Bechstein. Bechstein is a reputable German piano manufacturer that makes some of the best pianos. These affordable upright pianos are meant to not be too expensive, and are made in Germany.
The upright pianos in the T series are the T122 and the T128.
The MSRP for a Hoffman T128 is around 16,000 dollars (source).
- Back made from medium hard pine
- Soundboard made of solid spruce
- Multiplex beech
- Sand cast plate
- Hardware of solid brass
In this video, you can watch Rachmaninov being played on a Hoffman T128:
This upright piano by Hoffman is essentially the same as the T-128, but is smaller in size, and produces less sound.
MSRP of around 14,000 (source)
Here is a review of the Hoffman T122 upright pianos:
This company started in 1862 by Dwight Hamilton Baldwin. It is currently owned by Gibson.
Baldwin’s vertical pianos come in 3 series – The B, BH, and BP. All together, Baldwin produces 9 different vertical or upright pianos. These pianos cost between 8500 – 12500 dollars. You can see these prices here.
B series – Includes the B342, B442, B243, B49, and B252 vertical pianos. This series is the most popular series of Baldwin. The B243 is the most popular piano sold by Baldwin, with over 500,000 sells! The B252 is the best vertical piano of this series.
Watch a demonstration of the B342 upright piano here:
BP Series – Includes the BP 1, BP 3, and BP 5. This series is known for the large amount of sound that they can produce. The BP 1 is known for being the smallest and most affordable of all the Baldwin upright pianos.
Take a listen to the BP 1 upright piano here:
BH Series – The BH 122 is the only vertical piano of this series.
Watch a demonstration of this best upright piano here:
Zimmermann is an upright piano brand made by C. Bechstein. They were acquired by Bechstein in 1992. Main production site is in China.
These upright pianos are meant to be inexpensive. They are more affordable than the W. Hoffman upright pianos, which are also made by C. Bechstein. In my opinion, the quality of these pianos are less than the W. Hoffmann. If your budget can’t handle a W. Hoffman, then I would recommend looking at these (or a Yamaha).
MSRP of around 9000 (source).
- Spruce soundboard that is laminated
- Solid wood ribs
- Laminated beech & maple pinblock
- Cast iron CNC
- Roslau strings
- Spruce & beech key frame
- European felt hammer
MSRP of around 8000 (source).
This piano is just like the Zimmermann HZ 120, but smaller and produces less quality sound.
Here is a review made by C. Bechstein on the Zimmermann pianos:
While being a well-known upright piano brand, most pianists will not recommend buying one of these pianos. The key action is either extremely light or horrendously heavy, and the sound that these pianos produces is quite awful.
This company began in 1853 by Rudolph Wurlitzer, a German immigrant. It was about thirty years later that they began to produce their first pianos.
See a demonstration of a Wurlitzer upright piano here:
5 Piano Reviews from Amazon.com
These upright pianos can be bought on Amazon.com. It is highly recommended to physically test these pianos out at a local piano retailer before purchasing. Chances are, you will find a better price for these pianos on this page than at any piano store.
Being one of the earliest manufacturers of quality upright pianos since 1900 (Source), Yamaha has a long history of producing fine instruments.
This Yamaha upright piano features good key action and sound that is suitable for both beginning and advanced pianists. It is a solid instrument to build piano chops on.
This upright piano is made by Steinway, the world’s leader in producing quality pianos.
Words alone are lacking in describing this musical instrument. Watch this video to see a great demonstration of this fine instrument:
Schiller Special Edition 45
This is one of the best upright pianos that you can find that costs under 4000 dollars when bought new.
Take a look at the other models of upright pianos that Schiller offers.
Suzuki is well known for making quality instruments for educational purposes.
Costing around 4000 dollars, it is quite affordable. Its beautiful and simple design makes this piano suitable for any environment.
Kimball has a long history of creating pianos. They were founded in 1857, and stopped producing pianos in 1996. You can read about some of their history here: https://www.chuppspianos.com/kimball-pianos/. They produce low to middle tier pianos that are very affordable.
While being well known for producing upright pianos, I personally am not a big fan of Kimball pianos. The key action is way too light and unresponsive, it goes out of tune very quickly, and does not produce a good sound.
This Kimball upright being features is a used upright piano, and is recommended for young beginners who wish to purchase an acoustic piano.
Here is an video example of a Kimball piano: