The short answer: somewhere between $70,000 and $150,000.
For many musicians, a Steinway grand piano is their dream piano. Most serious musicians have played one and recognise them to be some of the very best pianos that exist. While there are more expensive pianos, namely luxury models by Bosendorfer and Fazioli, the Steinway represents the goal for the aspiring classical pianist; the piano everybody wants to own.
Unfortunately, while not the priciest piano you can buy in the world, a Steinway grand piano is not far off. That’s why owning one remains a dream for the vast majority of people; Steinway pianos are just far too expensive. The most expensive model, designed for huge concert halls, costs in the region of $200,000. You could buy a house for that kind of money!
Fortunately, there are cheaper models, so your dreams of owning a Steinway may not be shattered just yet.
First off; buying new can be challenging
Now, I don’t write this to scare you off buying a new Steinway. A new Steinway won’t ever let you down and will be one of the best instruments you'll ever own. However, buying a new Steinway is potentially quite difficult. Firstly, Steinway doesn’t actually publish prices for their new pianos. You have to call them up or if you’re near London or New York, you can visit a showroom.
I’ve actually been to the Steinway showroom in London, and they have a significant selection of pianos there, both new and restored. I will say that you will struggle to get change out of $100,000 if you want to buy a piano there. I’m presuming it’s much the same in New York. If you’re elsewhere in the world, you will need to visit a Steinway dealer to try a piano and get a quote. As I understand it, even Steinway dealers won’t publish prices for new Steinway pianos.
Of course, you won’t want to call Steinway if you’re not actually in the market for a piano. I’ve managed to collate rough pricing for the most popular Steinway models produced today. Bear in mind that this list is not designed to be 100% accurate, and if you want accurate pricing information for a specific model, you should contact Steinway.
Note: this pricing is for New York Steinway models. They tend to be slightly cheaper than Hamburg Steinways for various reasons. I was unable to find reliable pricing information for Hamburg Steinways, so if you require this information, you will need to contact Steinway.
Steinway Pricing Table (Jan 2020)
Estimated Price (USD)
School/University practice pianos
Practice piano at home for large spaces
Home use for serious pianists
Small concert spaces
New York vs Hamburg?
Steinway has two factories where they make pianos. One is in Queens, New York, and the other is in Hamburg, Germany. Both factories make extremely high quality pianos, and the manufacturing methods are essentially exactly the same, but pianists claim that there are differences between pianos made in the two locations.
I’ve never played a New York Steinway, being based in Europe, so I don’t actually know whether the differences are as pronounced as people claim they are. However, it’s worth mentioning that if you’re in the US, Canada or Mexico, you will overwhelmingly find New York Steinways available for sale, and if you’re in Europe, you will overwhelmingly find Hamburg Steinways available for sale. Unfortunately I have no idea what’s available in other parts of the world. Always ask your dealer; if it’s a genuine Steinway it should have documentation indicating where and when it was built.
Both factories produce the same models to the same specification. However, Hamburg manufactures the model C, which is a 7ft 5in long concert grand, which at the time of writing is not produced in New York.
Unlike new Steinways, it’s actually very easy to find pricing for used Steinways. This is because they’re sold by third party dealers and individuals who aren’t subject to Steinway’s whims. Steinway pianos keep their value exceptionally well. Sometimes, as long as it’s been looked after, it’s very possible to actually sell an older Steinway piano for more than what was paid for it. Steinway pianos are so revered by pianists that they actually appreciate in value.
There is a theory that buying a used piano can actually be better than buying a new one. This is because sometimes it takes a piano a long time to acclimatise to a home environment, and after a while you may notice that you get a better quality of sound from your piano, or the piano begins to “open up,” so to speak. This period of time can be very long; up to two or three years. The point I’m trying to make here is that if you buy a new Steinway, you may have to wait two or three years before the sound it generates reaches its full potential; a two or three year old used Steinway may already be producing sound to its full potential and may be a better buy.
The other thing to realise is that these pianos are built to last. They aren’t like cars, where the working life is around a maximum of twenty years. As long as you look after your Steinway, and it was built within the last few years, it will likely outlive you without needing major restoration work. As a result, there’s no real difference in terms of longevity between a Steinway that was built yesterday and say, one that was built in 2015. If you can get a Steinway that was built a few years ago for a significant discount over a new one, it might be worth doing.
Pitfalls to avoid in the used market
Now, we’ve spoken about why buying a used Steinway can be a good investment. However, there are many reasons why it may not be, and why you might want to be careful when looking at the used market.
There are many Steinway pianos available on the used market that are advertised as “reconditioned.” However, there are two different types of reconditioned Steinway:
- Factory reconditioned; a piano that has been bought back from its owner by Steinway themselves and refurbished by Steinway with genuine Steinway parts
- Third-party reconditioned; a piano that has been sold to a dealer or a piano workshop that has been refurbished by someone other than Steinway with either genuine or non-genuine Steinway parts.
Obviously number 1 is going to give you the most reliable instrument without any problems, but it’ll also be the most expensive. There’s nothing inherently wrong with number 2, as there are many third party piano workshops and re-conditioners that do excellent work. Unfortunately there are also many third party workshops that will try to sell you a “Steinway” that has had all its’ internals replaced with parts made by someone else. At that point it’s no longer a Steinway; it’s more of a Stein-was.
Steinway does sell some genuine parts to third party retailers.There are other parts that Steinway will not sell to anyone under any circumstances. This includes the soundboard. Generally if anyone is trying to sell you a piano that’s been completely restored by anyone other than Steinway, I would steer clear. A minor restoration is fine, and that’s completely possible to do with genuine Steinway parts by a non-Steinway restorer or workshop. My advice; ask to see documentation, and don’t buy anything that seems like it’s a deal or it’s too good to be true.
Ultimately, if you want the true Steinway experience from a used piano, by an unrestored Steinway made within the last ten to fifteen years, or a piano restored by Steinway themselves.
One final thing to take note of here. You may find yourself offered an ex-conservatory or school piano. I would caution you to stay away from these pianos if you’re not getting one from Steinway themselves, however good a deal you are offered.
Generally, schools lease their pianos from Steinway. This enables them to keep their piano stock up-to-date with relatively new pianos as Steinway will lease out a piano for a few years, and then take the piano back, replace it with a new one and restore the old piano and sell it to someone else.
Now, if you’re buying an ex-conservatory piano from Steinway, this is fine. You can be sure that the piano will be in tip-top condition. The issue arises when a third party dealer has got hold of an ex-conservatory piano in some way. This could be because the school bought the pianos from Steinway and then sold them all off, which is entirely possible.
However, buying an ex-conservatory piano that may only be less than ten years old is likely going to cause you some problems. While the piano itself may be quite young, it is likely to have been played upwards of 16 hours per day by college students. This puts quite a lot of wear and tear on the piano, and while schools might claim their pianos are well maintained, in practice this is usually not the case.
Often a school will have one piano technician for the whole school, whose job may be to look after upwards of 100 pianos. It’s not possible to give them all the care and attention they need. As a result, the piano may have had significant wear and tear and could be hiding serious problems. This is the kind of thing you want to stay away from.