Astin-Weight Piano Makers
P.O. Box 65281
Salt Lake City, Utah 84165
Astin-Weight pianos have been made in Salt Lake City since 1959. The company continues to engage in limited production at several temporary locations due to storm damage at the factory.
Astin-Weight vertical pianos, 50" in height, are unusual from a technical standpoint because they have no backposts, instead relying on a massive full-perimeter plate; and also because the soundboard takes up the entire back of the piano, behind the pinblock, resulting in a much greater volume of sound than from a conventional piano (see The Piano Book for an illustration of this feature). Many of the cabinet finishes are simple, hand-rubbed oil finishes. The 41" console has been discontinued.
The Astin-Weight 5' 9" grand is produced in very limited quantities. It has an unusual symmetrical shape and is hinged on the treble side instead of the bass. The company says this shape allows for much longer strings and a greater soundboard area.
Warranty: 25 years, parts and labor.
including D.H. Baldwin, Hamilton, Howard, Chickering, Wurlitzer, ConcertMaster
Baldwin Piano Company
309 Plus Park Blvd.
Nashville, Tennessee 37217
800-444-2766 (24/7 consumer hotline)
Pianos made by: Baldwin Dongbei (Yingkou) Piano and Musical Instrument Co., Ltd., Yingkou, Liaoning Province, China; Baldwin (Zhongshan) Piano and Musical Instrument Co., Ltd., Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, China; both owned by Gibson Guitar Corporation, Nashville, Tennessee.
Baldwin Piano & Organ Co. was established in Cincinnati in 1862 as a retail enterprise and began manufacturing its own line of pianos in 1890. Throughout most of the 20th century, the company was considered one of the most successful and financially stable piano makers in the United States. Beginning in the 1980s, however, the quality declined, especially as a result of the relocation of action manufacturing to Mexico. A combination of foreign competition and management problems led to bankruptcy in 2000. The company was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2001 by Gibson Guitar Corporation. Baldwin manufactures in two factories it owns in China, where it also maintains a major presence in the Chinese domestic piano market. The company ceased regular piano production at its only remaining U.S. factory, in Trumann, Arkansas, at the end of 2008, but a small crew remains available there for the custom manufacturing of grand pianos as needed.
In recent years it has been difficult to obtain accurate information about Baldwin pianos, in part because of constantly changing personnel at Baldwin, and in part because the personnel to whom we are referred often don't answer our queries. Even Baldwin dealers sometimes have trouble getting information about current product and plans. As far as I can tell from available information, however, here is what's happening: Baldwin has moved virtually all its piano production to its two plants in China. Pianos sold in the U.S. will bear only the Baldwin name; all other piano names Baldwin owns and has used recently, such as Hamilton, Wurlitzer, Chickering, Howard, and D.H. Baldwin, have been or will be retired, although some pianos bearing those names may remain on showroom floors for quite some time until sold. To distinguish new Baldwin pianos made in China from older ones made in the U.S., a small "c" over the "i" in Baldwin on the fallboard indicates Chinese manufacture.
Baldwin is in the process of re-creating versions of most of its former U.S. vertical models at its facility in Zhongshan, China. These are the model numbers beginning with BZ. Some of these are already on showroom floors, and initial reports suggest they are competently made. Model BZ242 is a 42" console, in attractive furniture styles, similar to the former model Classic 660 console. Models BZ243 and BZ247 are similar to the famous Hamilton studio, the most popular school piano ever built, the 243 in institutional (school) style and the 247 in a French Provincial furniture style. Model BZ252 is like the former model 6000, a 52" upright. A lower-cost line of Baldwin verticals is made at the Dongbei factory (model numbers beginning with BH). These are similar to Dongbei's vertical models made for other distributors, though not identical.
Baldwin also makes grands at the Dongbei factory (models beginning with BH). These are technically nearly identical to Dongbei's grands made for other distributors (see Dongbei), although the cabinets may have features that mimic the appearance of Baldwin's U.S.-made Artist-series grands. It's not yet known whether Baldwin will re-create its Artist grands in China. As mentioned earlier, a small crew at the Trumann, Arkansas, plant is still available there to custom-manufacture Artist grands as needed.
Because everything is in flux, complete information is not available, but the Baldwin website contains information on currently available new and old models, as well as on some retired models. Prices are included in the Model & Pricing Guide section of this publication only for current Baldwin models for which prices were available to us at press time.
Baldwin sells an electronic player-piano system called ConcertMaster, available only on Baldwin pianos.
Warranty: U.S.-made Baldwin grands--lifetime on parts, 10 years on labor. Imported Baldwin grands and verticals--10 years on parts and labor.
FALL 2009 -- page 146
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