1. Steinway is the best piano in the world:
There are a handful of piano companies which make pianos equal in quality to Steinway. (For example: Bösendorfer, Bechstein, Fazioli, Blüthner and Mason & Hamlin are all top notch pianos with rich histories.) In fact, if you look in the latest supplement to “The Piano Book”, by Larry Fine, New York made Steinway pianos are rated in the 3rd rank of pianos according to manufacturing quality. So why is Steinway recognized as the undisputed leader? In a word: marketing. Just as Microsoft dominates computer software because of aggressive licensing arrangements, John Steinway helped propel Steinway & Sons to its market dominance through exclusive artist contracts and favorable institutional arrangements.
2. Steinway pianos that have Teflon bushings in the action should always be avoided:
There are some pianos from the period that Steinway was owned by CBS in which Teflon was used in place of the felt bushings in the action. Some of these pianos exhibit problems. However, the issues are not nearly as severe as the problems of Steinways from decades earlier suffering from verdigris (a condition of gumming up of action parts as a result of having them dipped in paraffin oil when manufactured). One of the biggest problems with Teflon action parts is that few technicians know how to deal with them properly. Usually they can work fine unless there is a major change in climate.
3. Steinway upright pianos aren’t very good:
Here Steinway is getting a bum rap! While one could argue that Mason & Hamlin upright pianos and some of the extinct American companies from years ago produced superior upright pianos, Steinway uprights are by no means sub-par pianos. The fact that they don’t measure up to their grand pianos is the nature of uprights compared to grands.
4. Boston and Essex pianos are as close as you can get to a Steinway in a lower price range:
This is a beautiful myth created by Steinway to sell more than the 2,500 or so pianos that Steinway produces. These stencil brands are rebadged Kawais made in Japan, and Pearl Rivers made in China. No company ever OEM’s higher quality instruments to competitors! And the buyer must pay a premium since 2 companies have to make money on the sale. You are better off buying a Kawai or Pearl River directly from the manufacturer. Or better yet, search out a high quality, used American piano other than Steinway since the Steinway name has a price premium attached to it.
5. New York Steinways can’t compare to Hamburg produced Steinways:
Just as there is a mystique to the Steinway name, there is romance to the Hamburg Steinway name. Perhaps there is more consistency from era to era in the German manufactured Steinways. However, a great Steinway is a great Steinway and there are phenomenal instruments from both factories.