In 1994 the company was privatized under the Estonia name, with the managers and employees as owners. During the following years, Indrek Laul, an Estonian recording artist with a doctorate in piano performance from the Juilliard School of Music, gradually bought shares of the company from the stockholders until he became sole owner in 2001. Dr. Laul lives in the U.S. and represents the company here. In 2005, at its 100th-anniversary celebration, the Juilliard School named him one of the school's top 100 graduates. Estonia makes about 350 pianos a year, all grands, mostly for sale in the U.S.

Estonia pianos have rims of laminated birch, sand-cast plates, Renner actions and hammers, laminated red beech pinblocks, and European solid spruce soundboards. They come in 5' 6", 6' 3", and 9' sizes. All have three pedals, including sostenuto, and come with an adjustable artist bench.

When I reported on Estonia pianos for the fourth edition of The Piano Book (2001), it was a good piano with much potential, but as the company was still rebounding from problems suffered during the Communist era, some caution was advised. Since becoming sole owner in 2001, Dr. Laul has made so many improvements to the piano that it is practically a different instrument. These include: rescaling the bass, and upgrading the machinery for producing hand-wound bass strings; improving the method of drilling pinblocks; stronger plates and improved plate finishes; thicker inner and outer rims; improved fitting of soundboard to rim; concert-grand-quality soundboard spruce on all models; quartersawn maple bridge caps; adjustable front and rear duplex scales; wood for legs and keyslips heat-treated to better resist changing climatic conditions; Renner Blue hammers on all models; better-quality metal hardware that resists oxidation; suede-covered music-desk tray; improved satin finishes; establishing a quality-control department headed by Dr. Laul's father (both of his parents are professional musicians); higher-grade and artistically matched veneers; and establishing a U.S. service center for warranty repairs. All pianos are now accompanied by a quality-control certificate signed by a member of the Laul family, and each piano is played and checked by them.

The Estonia factory has recently introduced a new custom line of pianos, offering exotic veneers such as rosewood, bubinga, and pyramid mahogany, and is willing to finish instruments to fit the desires of individual customers. The custom line also features a number of different Victorian-style legs and ornamental music desks. For 2008 Estonia has introduced lighter lids for the 190 models, for easier lifting, and provided a new finish of darker ebony satin. New lid pillows add a nice touch, and pianos are available with a combination of nickel and brass parts.

In the short time Estonia pianos have been sold here, they have gathered an unusually loyal and devoted following. Groups of owners of Estonia pianos, completely independent of the company, frequently hold musical get-togethers at different locations around the country. The pianos have a rich, warm, singing tone; are very well constructed and well prepared at the factory; and there is hardly a detail that the company has not examined and impressively perfected. The price has risen over the years, but they are still an unusually good value among higher-end instruments.

Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.


Wrightwood Enterprises, Inc.
717 St. Joseph Drive
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085

Pianos made by: Dongbei Piano Company, Ltd., Yingkou, Liaoning Province, China

The Everett Piano Company originated in Boston in 1883 and moved to South Haven, Michigan, in 1926. It was acquired by Yamaha in 1973. Until mid-1986, Yamaha made a line of Everett vertical pianos in the Michigan factory alongside its U.S.-made Yamaha pianos. When Yamaha moved its U.S. piano manufacturing to Thomaston, Georgia, in 1986, it contracted with Baldwin to continue making Everett pianos. The contract terminated in 1989, and Yamaha dropped the line permanently. See the entry for Everett in The Piano Book for more information about pianos from that era.

The Everett name has been used by Wrightwood Enterprises, Inc. since 1995. The pianos are made in China by the Dongbei Piano Company (see Dongbei). The grands have duplex scaling and a bass scale that is custom made for the Everett brand, the company says.

Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.

FALCONE -- See Sejung.


FALL 2009 -- page 155

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