This information is often used in piano appraisals. They built a full line of upright pianos, player pianos, and grand pianos.

Doll Sons Piano
This brand has changed hands and factories many times in its history. There is also a huge number of piano brand names. This listing contains hundreds of pianos in it's long history of manufacturing. Many piano company names on this list are no longer used and the makers in some cases have been out of business for years.Many names are owned by various existing piano companies that are not currently (2012) using some of them on their instruments. Most likely though at least 75% or more of these names will never be seen again on a piano. And keep in mind that while this list is quite long it still does not contain all piano brands that have been made since the history of the piano began around 1700.

We have also made an effort to avoid stencil piano names on this list. A stencil piano is one made by various piano makers for companies or individuals who place or stencil their name on the front of the piano. Sometimes these names were misspellings of famous companies with the intentions of capitalizing on the famous name.

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Some piano dealers were that devious(and maybe some still are). Most of these bogus attempts to rip off the actual makers name happened in the early part of the twentieth century. Nowadays there are enough trade name laws that make it very difficult to get away with this. And force the makers to put their name on their pianos. It seems that the companies building the stencil pianos refused to place their names anywhere on the instruments. One reason being that these pianos were usually much lower quality, and who wants their name on junk?

So it makes sense that they would order cheaply built instruments. Now of course, a few dealers were not using this practice, and were just using their name on the pianos in order to advertise their company. But high quality means a higher price tag. Most pianos then and now are sold to average income families. Thousands of piano manufacturers have come and gone since the beginnings of this magnificent instrument. Chicago and transportation of materials further west would drive up the price beyond what the economies of the area could bear. For these people, traveling salesmen satisfied - though barely - shopping needs. He decided that to reach more people than he could visit single-handedly, he would print some fliers listing some of his most popular items. The next flyer emerged as an eight-page pamphlet, and soon the enterprise blossomed into a catalog of several hundred pages, complete with woodcut illustrations. Such pianos may have had an extra-rough life because of their extra journeys. Bill to further their educations, family incomes began to rise. Parents wanted things for their children that they had never had – such as piano lessons. Venerable piano brands reappeared, but nearly always made in a much poorer quality in order to put them within reach of the average family. Thus, pianos coming from the two factories will be of different quality. Things changes all the time in the piano business, so do your due diligence before purchase to avoid buyer's remorse or a poor choice. A piano store (usually a nation-wide or at least a regional piano company) buys these from a factory and slaps their store name on it. Sometimes the factory owns the rights to the name of a venerable brand no longer being produced. Some are awful; some are pretty poor; a few make it up to ok.

List Of Piano Manufacturers

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Many (if not most) stencil brands are names bought from (mostly old) companies that are out of business and that once built good instruments. Some stencil brands can be made to sound decent (but not terribly good!) if serviced first by a tech and regulated (volume of all notes made the same, basically, though some other things are done to the piano). The price of this work may offset any savings on the piano itself, however.

You might check with a tech for a price estimate in advance of plunking down your money for a stencil piano. The manufacturer may be masking a very poor quality instrument with an implied veneer of fine craftsmanship. Nearly always stencil brand pianos are not very good and probably a pretty bad buy.

I should note, however, that the cabinetry of stencil brands is often very good: high-gloss finishes, for example. Know that when you buy a piano to play, you are buying the egg, not its shell. If you are buying a piano to show, of course the shell is important. If nothing else, what an ignoble fate for our beloved instrument!

Such pianos are sometimes called "gray market" pianos.

Doll Sons Piano

Obviously, they are very, very poor quality if they are used as nothing more than "packing material".

I would be happy to pass along any information from readers on names of gray market instruments. A few, regrettably, push one brand, no matter what the buyer wants. Despite the mis-pricing, private parties on craigslist and other such sites are not trying to "stick you" with a worthless piano at a vastly-inflated price. Nonetheless, these pianos are sold "as is," and you will have no recourse if there is a problem. Despite these sellers' probable ingenuousness and good intentions, beware of pianos offered on such sites.

You would have been better served by renting a piano until something better comes along. For a little more money, you can get a lot more piano.

Schroeder'S Estimate Form

Some entry level pianos are incredibly bad. Ask for the name of the entry level piano line of a particular brand. Remember that the first reason you go into a piano store is to be educated. Looking at and evaluating different pianos is the second step. Some antique pianos are conversions from player pianos. In many cases, the company also made player pianos. The action might be "a little strange" since it was built to be run by a player mechanism. As a general rule, an antique piano is a non-starter because at this point in time, they are 120 years old. Unless they've been completely rebuilt (a step beyond restored), they will be unplayable. Remember that you are looking primarily at the touch (a function of the action) and sound (bright treble?

The action is the most important aspect of a piano, however, because that (and the case/soundboard) is what influences sound.It will cost you more than a tuning, to be sure. Presumably, you are reading this file because you want a piano to use!

Gorgeous pieces of furniture with bargain price tags are going to be inferior pianos because the investment was in the outside, not the inside. Their violins are the same, no matter whether they are standing in a ditch or standing in a concert hall.

I do not have an ax to grind for one brand over another. My intent is to offer my opinions to help readers clear away some of the thicket surrounding purchasing a piano.

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I receive no pat on the back or anything else for remarks of a positive nature. Similarly, one piano company is not compensating me to write something negative about another company. Several updates on certain brands appear, already. Thus, there are good specimens, less good ones, and poor ones. In the end, a piano is an individual purchase.

You buy what sounds and feels best to you - - at the size and price point you want. It is now turning into a history of piano brands and factories!

I also have made an effort to identify which brands are made by which companies. Sometimes, various labels are the result of consolidations of several companies. Sometimes, some of these brands are phased out, perhaps because they did not sell as well as other lines or because the buying company had a product that was too close a competitor (price, market) to warrant keeping both lines. And, sometimes, a company would sell or even "lease" its name to another company, under which the second company made its own pianos but used the first company's name because it was prestigious (or more prestigious than their own!). These "leases" could last for a long time or for several years (even one!) only. Just because the name is on the piano doesn't mean it's really that piano!Also, the same name could have been leased to several companies. Aeolian was a big culprit: buying/leasing names and putting them on pianos they made. It also could be the case that the name was leased to more than one company - - and then perhaps bought by another company yet!

The way to find out who made a certain piano and whether it is what name is by the serial number, as noted above. Armed with the year, you can find out where it was made (factory, city), and therefore who owned the company at that time. Was it built in a factory that made oodles of pianos and slapped "leased" or "purchased" names on them, or was the instrument built in the original factory by the original company?

Another consideration is brand names within the same company. A company might have a number of lines, each at a different price point and each to appeal to a different group of buyers. The year 1930 is often used as a watershed, especially for pianos that are unusual to find these days. Other of it includes opinions on quality ranking, historical details, price, and so on.

I take no responsibility for the accuracy of this latter type of reader-written material.

I have not doubled-checked these people's facts. The pianos made early on (1930s, '40s, and perhaps early '50s) were decent instruments. At this point (2012), these pianos probably would cost more to bring up to playing standard than they are worth. The company began by manufacturing reed organs, then "automating" them. This was the time of manufacturing magnates, and they desired plenty of razzle-dazzle to parade their wealth. Since the homes size-wise and acoustically were huge, they could easily accommodate a pipe organ. Some of these were encased instruments (pipes housed completely within a box), on which was mounted the keyboard) and some were un-encased (pipes mounted on the wall with the keyboard as a separate console). Tremaine subsumed a number of competitors.


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Buyers assumed these instruments conformed to the original specifications. If there was any connection, it had to have been fairly faint. Of the rest of the brands, it's likely they were all basically the same piano, differing only in casework and name. In fact, all these pianos, regardless of reputation of the brand, may have been "very closely related" (ahem)!

Any of these brands built after approximately 1930 should be avoided. Please see separate entries for brands listed above. The player mechanism is not reputed to be very good. Later they added other piano brands to their retail stock. As noted, production of their own instruments stopped in 1875. Any instrument of this name would be too old to consider. Originally, the co-op sold farm products. In the early 1900s, pianos were part of the mix. Britannia and everyone else should rule out this piano. Supposedly not a "bad" piano, but the sound is idiosyncratic and not an instant-like sort of thing. If you find one, consider moving on unless something rather eccentric is to your taste. Terrible action, which means it will be the very devil to play. Quality problems on some actions beginning after about 1970. Baldwin has a checkered and convoluted musical past. Baldwin overextended itself - 200 insurance companies, banks, and other financial institutions - and filed for bankruptcy in 1983. The company was sold in 1993 and taken private.

I haven't figured out whether they are related. Haven't gotten the history untangled yet. It is safe to say any piano with any of these names on the fallboard would not be a peach of a buy. Of course, today they would be in a state of disrepair. Beckwith also made player pianos and reed organs. Rural areas were especially-favored areas, as these folks weren't likely to travel to a big-enough city to visit a piano showroom.It's the worst piano on the market, according to my tech (2006). Later ones not good quality; earlier ones are warhorses. This one, if it's a different company, probably isn't very good.

I don't know if these two brands are connected.

I guess you'll have to find one and play it.

You need a biiiig room for this colossus!

He wanted the "subterranean" pitches created by a 16'-rank of organ pipes. For almost all players, this brings about a case of 'what was that?

' when the black-topped naturals are spotted in the peripheral vision. Some harpsichords have black-topped naturals, but they also have white-topped sharps.

I don't know anything about the quality of these pianos (the company no longer makes harpsichords), but they're likely to be good/very good since the company has been in continuous business for so long. White took the appropriation a step further. Serve them afternoon tea in a drawing room that has dust mites dancing in shafts of golden late-afternoon sun.

Piano Brands

I was very impressed with the instrument, as was my lady friend, who is a serious, advanced pianist. Cable pianos, and they're probably not even as good as those!

Carhart's spirit of innovation continued when, in 1853, they made improvements to the melodeon (also called a pump organ or reed organ). A melodeon is a keyboard instrument whose sounds are created by air vibrating a metal reed, like the childhood trick blowing across the edge of a piece of grass. Inventories and records show the trio worked with excellent materials and paid their employees handsomely. These gentlemen decided to start producing reed organs, as well as pianos. After all, they now owned some important patents. The company's product is said to have a particularly even tone and a keyboard that was even in down weight. The company was nationalized (1945) and turned again to its modern core business: furniture. Around 1950, piano production was begun again. By the 1990s, the company was mired in debt, however. Several attempts were made to revive it through infusions of cash from private holding companies.

You are unlikely to find this piano, which may be a blessing since it's probably not a good buy, especially after 1990s. The market wasn't brisk, so in 1989, he turned his attention to pianos. These instruments would be iffy, at best. Chickering's pianos were quick to gain prizes and endorsements for quality. Anything earlier than 1900, say, would be a warhorse. If you are interested, you might inquire of a tech what would be needed to bring it to playing condition. And if this particular instrument is a good candidate. Introduced in late 1980s to be an entry-level piano; you know what that portends.Baldwin did a house-cleaning of its less-successful brands. Not a good piano, no matter the provenance. There are several examples of just this sort of transformation noted elsewhere in this file. The two do not appear to be associated as business partners, but they may have shared manufacturing space for their separate brands. Have the instrument examined thoroughly before purchase; will need restoration, probably rebuilding. Any piano by this firm is likely no more than a pile of dust.

I am not sure whether he was a cabinetmaker for pianos or whether he manufactured pianos.Cook seems to have gone out of business around 1920. That tells you something about later-20th century production!

The brothers were awarded several patents, including how the tuning pin sits in the pin block. These pianos would be dinosaurs in need of a lot of work. Pianos by this firm are consistently of very good quality and are among some of the finest instruments we see come through our shop. Established 1871, taken over by his sons upon his death.

Piano Manufacturers List

These would be old pianos and probably not in good enough condition to warrant the sizeable restoration needed. These later split and reorganized with other partners, not unlike a square dance jamboree. It could be that he apprenticed in a piano factory there since there were several. He passed away in 1894, but the business seems to have preceded him in death. The company was in business in 1890; it is not known what happened after that. Likely a stencil piano, and these are nearly always bad buys. They aren't bad pianos for the entry level, having regulated a fair few. His initial instruments were priced to sell, and business was brisk. Production seems to have stopped entirely in 1983. These improvements are industry standards today. Pierre was never one to shy away from a marketing opportunity. The Érard tone color could not hold its own against the powerful sounds of pianos of the early 1900s and so fell from popularity. Schimmel went into bankruptcy in 2009, so you might reasonably expect quality issues, starting about 2006.

You can certainly get a better piano for the same price.

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The company originated as an organ company. These days, it's probably an ok-to-poor piano.

I don't know much about the quality of the other grands from 1945 to 1985.

I heard that some of them were excellent but that - as was in the case with verticals - the quality became uneven around the early '60s. Early instruments were considered good quality; any instruments around today would likely be in shambles. Gramer was granted two patents on piano action. Nobody knows what happened to the company. Guess those boots were made for walkin' - and the whole company just walked on out the door. While doubtless excellent in its day, an instrument today would be beyond repair. At some point (1930s?), pianos without the player mechanism were introduced. It is unknown whether the action used in this piano was simply the player action or an [improved] real action. The player violin may be paired with the player piano (how's that for automated fun?).<