Top makes of used upright pianos
This is a typical Steinway model K upright from about 1910 to 1930. They are excellent when restored with a very rich warm tone and powerful bass.
If you haven’t got room for a grand piano, then there are certain good makes of upright piano which stand head and shoulders above the rest. The tables below shows the best common uprights available in the UK, placed in order of their quality. We’ve listed uprights which tuners and performers regard as the best, taking into account tone, touch and appearance.
There are hundreds of makes of upright pianos and we have only listed the top quality used and new ones you’re most likely to find. If you are interested in purchasing or selling a make not listed, please e-mail with details. Our “common makes” pages have a list of all the common makes available and a rating of each make.
Things that should be considered
Are you tall? Is there enough leg room?
Leg room on pianos varies in height from 58 -70cm (Measure your leg from floor to top of knee!). Grands and small modern uprights are usually about 62cm from the floor to the under side of the keyboard. With grands, this can be increased by about 3cm by using glass castor cups; the angle of the pedals may then need adapting as these are raised up too. (A Yamaha U3 upright has leg room of 62cm whereas a German Steingraeber 118 and many Kawai and Feurich uprights have 70cm and an older Blüthner 65cm. A small modern Zender has only 58.5cm!)
Do you need book holders?
If you use thick music books, then a couple of book holders can be fitted. Older uprights usually have them, but modern ones and grands usually don’t. Most serious musicians require them.
Book holders on a Bechstein 10
Bechstein upright pianos
There is a broad variety in Bechstein upright pianos, so it’s hard to generalise on prices. We deal mostly in models 10, 9 and 8. Model V (5) and IV also very common and often have an attractive inlay, but models I to V suffer a lot from loose tuning pins and will therefore need repining and often a new pin-block. Bechstein 8′s are normally found in black, rosewood or mahogany and have a rich tone but the action can be difficult to set up. Overall Bechstein 8’s are good all-round uprights with a serious rich tone. The much more common model 10 has a sweet singing tone with a longer tenor string than the overstrung model 9, which is generally good but often suffers from an unbalaned bass/tenor break point; this is a problem overcome by the straight strung model 10. See Bechstein page for more details.
Model 7’s are excellent but rare. Model 6’s is rarer still.
Knight upright pianos
Knight upright piano
Knight pianos are normally found in mahogany, sometimes walnut or teak. They are commonly a teacher’s favourite for the fact they’re made with great integrity and have an excellent touch and full singing tone. Older knights (pre 1950) are more varied in quality and often very worn. Post 1989 Knight pianos changed their original manufacturing design and as a result are inferior in tone. So the best period is between 1950 and 1989.
Modern English and European upright pianos (2017)
Welmar upright pianos
Welmar upright piano
Welmars are a good quality upright with a rich mellow tone and fine touch. The 30′s pianos are taller were made in collaboration with Blüthner, for whom they were the agents. The 1930′s style of Welmar were manufactured between 1928 and 1940. Un-restored these pianos are found for £300-£800. Restored, these pianos sell for around £2000 to £5,000 (2017)
Other upright pianos
Kaps are well made pianos, often decorative Art Nouveau and Art Deco with strong rich tone. Can vary in quality. Other less common good makes include Blüthner (pre 1900 ones very common but are usually over-dampers), Steinway, Förster (old ones good), Bösendorfer (excellent but rare), Feurich, Gors & Kallman (varied), Grotrian Steinweg (excellent), Ibach (pre 1910 ones common but over-dampers), Schimmell, Sauter, Seiler and Zimmermann (not recommended until 1995 when merged with Bechstein). Modern Bechsteins, Steinways, etc are not listed above because they rarely appear on the second-hand market.
Prices as of 2014
Other common good makes of English and European pianos include Chappell, Fazer, Hopkinson, Kemble (varied), Rippen, Rogers and Broadwood (varied). Plesae see our Common makes page for more details. Upright pianos can be rented @ 3% of the purchase per month or 5% with option to purchase. Follow the link for our rentals page. For all new and used upright pianos for sale, see our stocklist.