12 Best Piano Brands for Every Kind of Pianist (w/Sound Clips!)

Best Piano Brands

When you’re in the market for a piano, the possibilities of piano brands can seem endless. Yamaha or Kawai? Digital or acoustic?

If you want to end up with the perfect piano for your budget, skill level, and musical goals, this guide is a great place to start. Any one of these 12 popular piano brands will offer you an excellent choice.

The 12 Best Piano Brands for All Pianists

Yamaha


This Japanese brand is recognized worldwide for its excellence and versatility. They build sturdy, high quality pianos and offer good digital options, as well. Their pianos are known for having a signature bright sound, yet there is still a roundness to the sound.

Yamaha is an innovative brand that is constantly improving and creating new models to meet a variety of needs. One of the coolest features you can find on a Yamaha piano is its silent piano option. The feature allows you to play an acoustic piano but hear the sound through headphones, so you can practice at any hour without disturbing others.

Many well-known musicians endorse Yamaha including Alicia Keys, Elton John, and Chick Corea. Its U1, and slightly larger U3, upright models are well-loved acoustic pianos that stand the test of time. Its CLP series is a popular digital option.

Yamaha also sells concert grand pianos. Their prices are fair for the quality, and they are a reasonable option for anyone looking for an upright piano.

Steinway & Sons

Quality and history come together to form Steinway & Sons, a favorite piano maker of many musicians. A German immigrant in New York City started Steinway, and it remains there today.

Steinway is a classical pianist’s dream. Many famous pianists endorse the brand including Lang Lang, Mitsuko Uchida, and Martha Argerich. Steinway offers different sizes of grand pianos, which are often selected based on the size of the concert hall they are used in.

Due to its long history, you can find many vintage Steinways for sale. Steinway’s grand pianos are their most well-known models, but their price range makes them a better choice for the most dedicated and serious pianists.

Luckily, they’ve also created two lines of pianos for those with a more limited budget: the Essex (entry level) and the Boston (mid-level).

Kawai

Kawai is another one of the Japanese piano brands that offers pianos at a reasonable price range. They are durable, well-made pianos with several unique features, including longer keys for increased technical ease and the use of different materials in their construction, like plastic and composite.

Their digital pianos were the first to be built with wood keys, offering the experience of an acoustic piano’s keys. Kawai upright pianos and digital pianos are good options for intermediate pianists who want a fairly priced, durable option. Artists playing Kawai pianos include Joe Yamada and Steven Curtis Chapman.

Bösendorfer

If you care about tradition and history when shopping for piano brands, you will value Bösendorfer. Established in 1828, the pianos have a rich and luscious sound. One innovation is the addition of keys beyond the typical 88.

This piano maker is best for connoisseurs and serious pianists who are ready to invest in a well-crafted piano, as their pianos are among the most expensive in the world. Their grand pianos are the bulk of their production, with a few upright pianos offered as well.

Artists who love Bösendorfer pianos include Kimiko Ishizaka, Beatrice Berrut, and Saskia Giorgini.

Fazioli

This northern Italian piano maker creates only the finest grand pianos. Its various models include creations made from unique materials like red elm, ebony, and even gold leaf.

Fazioli pianos are truly works of art, and their price range is very high for this reason. While it’s a relatively young piano brand (started in the late 1970s), Paolo Fazioli’s dedication to his craft quickly established his reputation in the piano world.

Herbie Hancock, Matteo Fossi, and Lucas Wong all treasure Fazioli pianos. This piano brand is perfect for a serious pianist who is ready to invest in a piano for life. 

C. Bechstein

Bechstein pianos have a long history, with endorsements from composers like Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy creating a worldwide demand. Vassily Primakov, Kit Armstrong, and Michael Dalberto are all well-known pianists who enjoy playing these gorgeous and elegant pianos.

The German pianos are ideal for concert hall performances as well as recording studio work. There is also a line of high quality upright pianos. The price range of the Concert pianos is high, but Bechstein has created three other piano brands to suit a variety of needs.

Beginners can explore the Zimmerman and W. Hoffman brands, while advanced players should look at the C. Bechstein Academy brand.

Blüthner

Blüthner is a Leipzig-based, German brand that achieved acclaim in the time of composers like Brahms, Mahler, and Wagner. It also grew in popularity with The Beatles’ music.

These pianos have stood the test of time. Blüthner currently makes a wide variety of models including uprights and grands. Many artists are fans of Blüthner pianos, including Rima Chacaturian, Billy Childs, and Ying Feng.

Blüthner pianos are best for those who value tradition and creativity. The pianos create a memorable sound and are long-lasting. Known as the piano with the “golden tone,” the price tag reflects the quality of the brand.

Mason & Hamlin


This Massachusetts-based brand is a stalwart in the industry, making several models of grand pianos and a professional upright model. Their pianos are especially well-built and made to last.

Mason & Hamlin made several innovations in the design of their pianos, including the crown retention system, used in the soundboard. These pianos are a good choice for anyone interested in purchasing a quality vintage piano.

The pianos are on par with Steinway in performance, and their price tag reflects this. Artists playing the timeless pianos include Brian Culbertson, Jarrod Radnich, and Rod Tanski.

Stuart & Sons


Want to have your own custom-built piano? Australian brand Stuart & Sons builds pianos with high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. Custom orders can be placed directly with the piano makers.

The pianos come in concert grand and studio grand sizes, with either 97 keys or 102 keys. Choices of materials include Tasmanian Huon Pine and Tasmanian Sassafras. These pianos are unique works of art and as such, are best for those with a high budget who want a piano full of personality.

Artists playing Stuart & Sons pianos include Gregory Kinda and Fiona Joy Hawkins.

Casio


Casio is an electronic keyboard maker known for producing lightweight and compact keyboards that can go anywhere. Their price can’t be beat. The portable models are popular, but Casio also offers more advanced arranger keyboards and space-saving, discreet console pianos.

Their pianos offer many fun sounds that can transform your music making. This brand comes from Japan, and is popular with many singers, pop musicians, and stage performers. Rachel Sage, Larry Dunn, and Kyle Morrison all use Casio keyboards.

Casio keyboards are best for young beginner pianists, those with interests in rock, pop, or metal, and pianists who enjoy experimenting with unique sounds at the piano.

Korg


Korg is another one of the many Japanese piano brands that dominate this list. This modern, digital brand offers a wide range of models, from beginner to more complex. Korg is known for its technological advancements and their ability to produce a wide variety of piano sounds.

Korg offers many versatile digital pianos in a very reasonable price range. The C1 Air model is a good option with technological advancements like Bluetooth. Artists who use Korg digital pianos include Richard Clayderman, Herbie Hancock, and Tom Coster.

Roland


Roland, also from Japan, offers both digital and acoustic pianos in a moderate price range. They are aesthetically-pleasing pianos that are recommended for a variety of needs.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for a digital piano or a more serious pianist looking for a well-made acoustic, Roland has something for you. The F-120 is a popular model for a beginner looking for a digital piano. Jim Brickman, David Benoit, and Marcus Johnson all play Rolands.

How to Find the Best Piano Brands For You

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced pianist, there are some guidelines you can follow to make the process of choosing a piano easier. Before you decide, spend some time considering the following factors.

    • How much room do you have for a piano?
      • Answering this question will help you choose between a digital and acoustic piano, since digital pianos can take up much less room. It can also help you decide between an acoustic upright piano or an acoustic grand piano.
    • Do you prefer digital or acoustic pianos?
      • While many prefer the feeling of striking an acoustic piano’s keys, these pianos do come with some additional upkeep. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of annual tuning, which is essential for acoustic pianos. 
    • What is your budget for a piano?
      • Setting a budget will help you narrow down your options. Your budget will affect whether you buy new versus used, digital versus acoustic, or one piano brand over another.
    • What are your goals with playing piano?
      • Just because you’re a beginner who doesn’t need 88 keys right now, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Likewise, after a few years you might feel unsatisfied with a cheaper keyboard that doesn’t have weighted keys. Think about investing more so you can keep enjoying your piano over the years. Or if you’re just trying out piano, start small and upgrade once you’re more committed to playing.

Lastly, always try a piano in person before you buy it. Choosing a piano is a very personal decision with many factors unique to each individual, such as the feel of the piano. Trying different piano brands in person is the best way to gain insight into the right piano for you.

If you still need help deciding between the many piano brands that are available, try seeking advice from an experienced piano teacher.

Now that you’ve explored all of the best piano brands, start improving your playing skills in the free piano classes at TakeLessons Live. There are daily classes available for every kind of pianist. Here’s to your new piano!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn French? Find Out Here.

How Long Does it Take to Learn French

Learning a new language takes patience, and many students start to wonder: “How long does it take to learn French?”

Every person learns differently depending on their goals, learning style, and ultimately – their level of self discipline. If you develop a practice schedule and get into the habit of sticking to it, you will be much more productive and efficient.

The amount of time it takes to learn French also depends on your methods and goals. To make better progress, use learning methods that suit your personal learning style. For example, if you’re a visual learner, try watching movies in French.

Your curriculum should be structured around your goals: Would you like to have casual conversations with family and friends, or do you need to be fluent for work?

After considering these factors, you’ll have an easier time answering the question – how long does it take to learn French? But rather than just coming up with your own estimates, let’s look at what the experts say for how long it takes to become fluent.

How Long Does it Take to Learn French?

how long does it take to learn french fluently

There are a couple of different sources that provide us with estimates we can use as a reference for how long it takes to learn French.

For starters, check out the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. These guidelines describe different language levels in detail, so you can get an idea of how much time you would need to learn French.

According to the CEF, you’ll need between 1,000 and 1,200 hours of study to reach a “B2 level” of fluency in French. B2 is a higher, intermediate skill level.

On the other hand, the U.S. Foreign Service Institute has a different method for measuring language acquisition called the Interagency Language Roundtable Scale.

This resource states that the amount of time it takes to reach a “higher intermediate level” in French is between 575 and 600 hours.

These numbers won’t be exact for every language learner, but you can use them as a guideline to set realistic goals. If you’re already bilingual, or already speak a Romance language, the amount of time it’ll take you to master French will be closer to the 600 hour mark.

Are you hoping to speed up the amount of time it’ll take you to learn French? There are several steps you can take right off the bat that will make learning a language much easier. 

3 Tips to Learn French Fast

French isn’t spoken just in France, but all over the world! So speaking French is becoming increasingly important if you work for an international business, or simply like to travel. 

If you’re ready to start learning this fun and unique language, follow these three important steps to set yourself up for success.

Practice Daily

How long does it take to learn french

Include French in your daily life so you can continue learning wherever you are. There are countless way to do this, but here are just a few:

  • Write your shopping list in French
  • Read the world news in French
  • Watch TV and listen to music in French
  • Change the language settings on your devices to French

Get creative and you will find lots of new opportunities to practice French everyday.

Talk to Natives

how long does it take to learn french fluently

Talking to natives is the best way to learn French quickly. The more often you speak French, the faster you will learn the language, and listening to natives can really refine your pronunciation.

There are many apps and websites you can use to find other French speakers. Look for a language partner who can help you stay motivated and answer your questions about the French language and culture.

Keep in mind that it isn’t necessary to meet with your language partner face-to-face. Video chats are just as effective and helpful.

If you want to go the extra mile to immerse yourself in the French language and culture, travel as often as you can to French-speaking countries. It’s much easier for students to learn French when they’re surrounded by it!

Take Lessons

how long does it take to learn french

If you’re really serious about becoming fluent, you can take French classes or private French lessons – all online. A French teacher will structure their lessons according to your goals and learning style.

When it comes to reading and writing in French, the guidance of a personal tutor is invaluable. Tricky grammar concepts are a breeze when you have a live instructor walking you through them step-by-step.  

So, how long does it take to learn French fluently? The truth is – there isn’t just one correct answer.

The exact amount of time it will take to learn differs from student to student, but if you are motivated, you will improve your language skills much faster!

Guest post by Lena Konstantinidis from CourseFinders. CourseFinders connects students with language schools all over the world for life-changing immersion experiences.

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How to Restring a Ukulele in 5 Easy Steps

How to string a ukulele

If you’re looking to find out how to string a ukulele, you’ve come to the right place. This article will provide five easy steps that will help you restring a uke in no time.

Whenever your strings start to sound dull, you will want to restring your ukulele. This will vary depending on your environment and how often you play, but a good rule of thumb is if you’re performing publicly you should change your strings every one to three months.

If you play less frequently as a hobby, you should change them every three to six months. Also, if you break a string you will want to restring your whole set. You don’t want to have one new string mixed in with the old strings, because the new string will sound brighter than the others!

Here’s How to String A Ukulele in 5 Steps

Step 1 – Unwind and Remove Old Strings

The first step in how to restring a ukulele is very simple, unless your uke is old and the strings have begun to solidify due to grime and oxidation from the tuning pegs.

(If you find yourself in this situation it’s best to just clip them off with nail clippers or a pair of wire cutters. But be careful not to harm the wood of the ukulele when doing so).

how to restring a ukulele

When unwinding the strings on the side of the ukulele that faces the ceiling when you play, you will unwind in a clockwise manner. Whereas, the strings that are on the side facing the floor as you play will need to be unwound in a counter-clockwise manner.

In the photo below you’ll see two different ukuleles. One ukulele uses a knot and slot method of holding the string in place at the bridge. The other uses a traditional, classical guitar style knot to hold the string in place. We’ll go over both in this article.

how to string a ukulele

These are the two different types of bridges you may encounter on a ukulele. Check out your bridge once you have the strings off to make sure it doesn’t need to be cleaned or repaired.

Step 2 – Secure New Strings to the Bridge

For this step, you will want to have your new strings handy. A few good brands for ukulele strings are Martin, Aquila, and GHS.  

It’s easier to change strings that have a bit of texture to them, rather than strings that have a super smooth finish. Better quality strings will hold the knot that you tie in them. However, with lower quality strings the knot tends to slip apart when you begin to tighten up the string.

Depending on the type of bridge that you have, you will need to use a different method to secure the strings. As you can see in the photograph below, the first style of bridge is relatively easy to work with.

All you have to do is tie a knot in the end of the string and fit it into the slot of the bridge.

how to restring a ukulele

This style of bridge has a slot, and a knot in the string rests under the slot in the small opening at the base of the bridge.  

Here is a close-up of the simple knot you can use to secure the bridge end of the string. If you feel like your knot will come apart when you begin to tighten it up, then you might want to double knot it.

how to string a ukulele

The second style of bridge has a series of four holes drilled through it. The string inserts into the hole from the body side of the bridge, then comes over the top of the bridge and is tied in a double or triple-loop knot along the top surface of the bridge.

So when the knot rests against the saddle (the bone part of the bridge) it gets pulled tight against the saddle when the string is tightened, and the loops cinch down – locking the entire knot in place.

The loop is not very difficult to make. You simply feed the free end of the string three times into the knot that you are making. Just remember to leave a little bit of the string out to secure it by tucking it under the next string.

how to restring a ukulele

Once you have all the strings secured to the ukulele, tuck the ends of the string underneath the knots to the left and right of the string you are tying. This way, the string ends won’t poke you while you play. This also helps prevent the string from coming unknotted.

After you get all the strings situated the way you want, pull them tight and go onto the next step. Just be sure that none of your knots are actually laying on the saddle itself. You want the string to knot up just behind the saddle.

Step 3 – Feed the Strings Through Tuning Peg Holes

The next step in how to string a ukulele is to insert each string into its corresponding tuning peg hole. You’ll start this step once each string is secured at the bridge. Make sure to keep one hand on the knots at the bridge just to make sure they don’t unravel.

After the string is through its tuning peg hole, you can begin to wind up the string. Remember, if you are stringing the side that will face the ceiling as you play, you will wind it counter clockwise. Wind it clockwise for the side that will face the floor.

how to string a ukulele

Here is a close-up of the string after the first turn. Notice how the string goes over the end of the tip of the string that is sticking out of the hole. The next turn will go under the string so that it locks the string into place.

Sometimes when using this method the strings will want to slide out of the tuning peg hole. In this case you can always tie a knot in the string at the tuning peg hole, and then tighten the string from there.

Step 4 – Tighten the Strings

When you get the strings in place, you will need to tighten them up. Do not be concerned at this point about tightening them up to pitch. Just tighten them up until they feel slightly secured and then proceed to the next step.

There are string winders that help make this job a little easier. If you’d like, you can use hand winding tools, or a battery powered one. Just be careful not to over-tighten the strings to the point that they snap.

While you’re tightening up the strings, you should also keep your eye on the bridge knots and tuning pegs to make sure the ends do not slip out.

Step 5 – Stretch the Strings and Tune to Pitch

The final step for how to restring a ukulele is to stretch the strings to pull out any slack. Once all the strings are on, simply lay the ukulele flat on a table and gently pull each string up a few inches.

Many nylon strings take a long time to stretch into position when you first put them on, and this step makes the tuning process go a lot faster. Just be careful not to pull too much or you can snap the string.

how to restring a ukulele

Once you have the tension out of the string, you can re-tighten it. This time, tighten it up to the actual pitch of the string. Then you will have a freshly tuned ukulele with new strings!

Every beginning musician finds re-stringing their instrument a challenge at the start, especially ukulele players because of the material the strings are made of. But these five steps for how to string a ukulele should make the process much easier.

If you want to learn more about playing the ukulele, or are looking for a good teacher to help you get started, be sure to check out the online and local ukulele lessons offered at TakeLessons!

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches banjo, mandolin, and more in Winston Salem, NC. Willy has been teaching for over 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to adults in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

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