As your Wilmington DE Piano Tuner, I am often asked to explain the Steinway model designations.  The various letters actually do make sense, when you know the history of the designations.

The common designations began in the late 19th century, beginning about 1880.  Steinway made 4 sizes of grand piano in that era.  They were designated, A,B,C, & D.

The model A was 6’1″ in overall length, and was the smallest of the Steinway grand pianos made at that time.  It later became known as A1, when Steinway tweaked the design in the early 20th century.  The first change was a redesign of the bass string configuration.  They reduced the number of copper-wound bass strings from 57 to 42, but kept the overall length 6’1″. This is now know as an A2.  Later, the overall length of the model A was increased to 6’4″, and that model is known as an A3.  It is the A3 that is considered one of the most desirable pianos to own.  It is small enough to fit in a large home, yet it gives a large resonant tone.  The model A was discontinued in 1941.

The model B was 6’10” in overall length, but is commonly referred to as 7′.  This is a professional size piano, used in recital halls and teacher studios.  It is still made today.

The model C was 7’10”.  This model was discontinued in the early 20th century, so existing ones are highly prized.  It has a sound virtually as big as the concert grand, but it takes up less space.

The model D was 8’10”, and is known as the concert grand piano.  It is commonly referred to as a 9′ piano.  It is still made today, and essentially was the standard in the industry for over a century.

The designations A,B,C,D were pretty simple.  It was the later additions of different sizes that made things appear complicated.  The first was a model O, which was 5’10”.  It was replaced by the model L in 1923, which was also 5’10”.

That was followed by the model M, which is 5’7″, and is the standard living room size piano now.

That was followed by the model S which is smaller, at 5’3″.  If you noticed a pattern, you are correct.  Each succeeding model was smaller than the previous one.   The way to remember them is to think SML for small, medium, and large.  If you put all the models in a row from smallest to largest, it goes, SML-ABCD. The model O was just the same size as the L.  Recently Steinway has redesigned the model L and reverted to its old designation as a model O.

I hope this has been helpful to you.  If you have any questions about purchasing a new or used piano and/or any type of piano services, please call us, your piano tuner Wilmington DE experts, Kenneth Keith Piano Services. We serve Delaware as well as Philadelphia, Eastern Shore MD, and Southern New Jersey.