Pianos made by: various German and Asian manufacturers
Hampton Story began making pianos in 1857 and was joined by Melville Clark in 1884. The business settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1901, where it remained, under various owners, until about 1990, when a new owner moved the company to its present location in Seneca, Pennsylvania. Over the years, pianos were manufactured under a number of different names, including, in recent years, Story & Clark, Gulbransen, Hobart M. Cable, Hampton, and Classic. In 1993 Story & Clark was purchased by QRS Piano Rolls, Inc., now QRS Music Technologies, Inc. (Ironically, QRS itself was founded in 1900 by Melville Clark, of the Story & Clark Piano Co. of old.) QRS, historically the nation’s major source of music rolls for traditional player pianos, now manufactures an electronic player-piano system, called PNOmation, that can be retrofitted into any piano (see “Buying an Electronic Player-Piano System”).
Story & Clark offers two series of pianos, each series including verticals and grands made to its specifications by various Asian manufacturers. The Heritage Series is a popularly priced line of verticals and grands with a Storytone II soundboard—Story & Clark’s name for a veneer-laminated, all-spruce soundboard.
The Signature Series also comes in both vertical and grand models. These pianos feature premium Renner hammers, Röslau strings, maple and mahogany rims, solid brass hardware, Bolduc tapered soundboards of solid spruce, sand-cast plates, and advanced low-tension scales. The Signature models have cabinet designs that offer lots of detail for the money and coordinate with major furniture trends. In spite of their beauty, the company says, these pianos are also appropriate for school and commercial applications.
In keeping with the tradition, established by Hampton Story and Melville Clark, of integrating the latest technology into pianos, all Story & Clark pianos now come equipped with QRS’s latest connected systems. Grand pianos, and the 48" model H7 Academy upright, all have a PNOmation Studio reproducing-piano system, which includes the PNOmation3 playback system, the PNOscan™ record system, a keystop rail to prevent the hammers from striking the strings in Practice (Silent) mode, and a specially designed piano speaker. Most vertical pianos are standardly equipped with a connected PNOscan Studio system, which includes PNOscan, the PNOmation3 controller, a keystop rail, a specially designed piano speaker, headphones, and one year of PianoMarvel interactive piano lessons.
PNOscan is an optical sensor strip attached to the key frame directly under the keys. It senses the entire movement of each key so that it can precisely re-create every detail of an original performance, including the force, speed, and duration of each note played, without affecting the touch or response of the keyboard. The data captured by QRS’s PNOmation3 controller can then be used in multiple ways: wirelessly transmitted via Bluetooth to third-party apps, auto-recorded, auto-saved locally, or auto-archived to the customer’s free PNOcloud account. The PNOmation3 controller also features built-in sounds for practicing in silence or layering. Use of any Wi-Fi–enabled or hardwired device will give full access to all settings, setups, and content, and the systems can also be controlled by Apple Watch and Amazon Echo. A USB connection or MIDI output to a computer, general MIDI sound module, or other digital device is also available. PNOscan and PNOmation are both HD MIDI ready. The addition of these systems to every Story & Clark acoustic piano gives customers the potential to have all the features of a digital piano and more.
In all Story & Clark pianos with a factory-installed PNOmation system, the system will be fully concealed, with no solenoid-rail cover visible, no need to cut the legs to accommodate the entire 88-note system, and full use of the original pedals and trapwork. This is called the QRS ZERO installation.
In 2017 Story & Clark introduced its new Black-Tie series, made to its specifications in cooperation with the German manufacturer Blüthner. The new models are specifically designed to perform in the rigors of commercial venues. Premium features include Renner hammers, Röslau strings, beech rims, solid brass hardware, tapered spruce soundboards, sand-cast plates, and advanced low-tension scales. The new models will include PNOmation Studio or PNOscan Studio systems, as outlined above. Prices were not available at press time.
Warranty: 10 years on moving parts to original purchaser.