Spring 2014    Page 159

The Definitive Piano Buying Guide

Acoustic Pianos

Brand and Company Profiles


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. Most sales are made directly to consumers by the manufacturer at a steep discount.

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-model, new pianos:
North American Music, Inc.
11 Holt Drive
Stony Point, New York 10980
For parts and warranty information on older pianos:
Baldwin Piano Company
309 Plus Park Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37217
870-483-6111 (parts)
800-444-2766 (Baldwin 24/7 consumer hotline)

Pianos made by: Baldwin (Zhongshan) Piano and Musical Instrument Co., Ltd., Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, China; Parsons Music Ltd., Yichang, Hubei Province, China

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 vertical pianos for the U.S. market in a factory it owns in Zhongshan, China, where it also maintains a major presence in the Chinese domestic, and other international, piano markets. It also contracts with Parsons Music, a large, well-respected manufacturer associated with a chain of music schools and stores in Hong Kong and China, to have grand pianos made under the Baldwin name. In 2007, Baldwin purchased a formerly government-owned piano factory in Dongbei, China, and for a while made grand pianos there, but due to a dispute with the Chinese government, production at that factory has been temporarily halted.

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 recently used, 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.

Baldwin has re-created versions of most of its former U.S. vertical models at its facility in Zhongshan. In most instances, the cabinet styling of the former models, but not the scale designs, have been copied. Models B342 and B442 are 43" consoles, in attractive furniture styles similar to those of the former Acrosonic models 2096 and 2090, respectively. Model B243 is similar to the famous Baldwin Hamilton studio, the most popular school piano ever built, with toe-block construction. Model B252 is a nearly exact replica of the former 52" model 6000 upright, with Accu-just hitch pins, though with a bass sustain instead of a sostenuto pedal. In addition to re-creating versions of former U.S. vertical models, Baldwin has also created a number of new models to fill various price points and meet consumer demand.

The Baldwin grands made by Parsons Music have some similarities to the former U.S.-made Artist grands in terms of cabinet styling and material specifications, but the scale designs have been changed. Premium features include a maple rim, sand-cast plate, solid Alaskan Sitka spruce soundboard, duplex scaling, real ebony-wood sharps, German Röslau music wire, German Abel hammers, and a slow-close fallboard.

Baldwin sells an electronic player-piano system called ConcertMaster, available only on Baldwin pianos.

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

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Spring 2014    Page 159

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