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.
For current, Chinese-made pianos:
North American Music, Inc.
11 Holt Drive
Stony Point, New York 10980
For older and U.S.-made pianos:
Baldwin Piano Company
309 Plus Park Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37217
800-444-2766 (Baldwin 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. In 2001, a combination of foreign competition and management problems resulted in bankruptcy, and purchase by Gibson Guitar Corporation.
Baldwin currently manufactures pianos for the U.S. market in two factories it owns in China, where it also maintains a major presence in the Chinese domestic, and other international, piano markets. The company ceased regular piano production at its only remaining U.S. factory, in Trumann, Arkansas, at the end of 2008, though the facility remains open as a U.S. distribution and service center. Pianos sold in the U.S. now 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 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 ones made in the U.S., a small c over the i in Baldwin on the fallboard indicates Chinese manufacture.
Baldwin has re-created versions of most of its former U.S. vertical models at its facility in Zhongshan, China. These are the model numbers beginning with B (formerly BZ). Initial reports suggest they are competently made. Model B242 is a 42" console, in attractive furniture styles (and model B242E in continental style), similar to the former model Classic 660 console. Models B342 and B442 are the same piano, but with fancier cabinets. Models B243 and B247 are similar to the famous Baldwin Hamilton studio, the most popular school piano ever built, with toe-block construction, the 243 in school style and the 247 with slightly curved legs. Model B252 is a replica of the former 52" model 6000 upright, complete with original features such as sostenuto and Accu-just hitch pins. In addition to re-creating versions of former U.S. vertical models, Baldwin is also in the process of creating a number of new models to fill various price points and meet consumer demand. At the moment, the model lineup is in flux. See Baldwin's website and the Model & Pricing Guide in the latest issue for more information.
Baldwin grands are made at the Dongbei piano factory in Yingkou, China, which Gibson purchased in 2007 (models beginning with BD, formerly 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. The Artist grands are still available from existing U.S. inventory. In addition to standard cabinet finishes, they are also available in striking — sometimes wild — art-case cabinets.
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.