The Definitive Piano Buying Guide
Jordan Kitt's Music Schmitt Music
12303 Twinbrook Parkway 2400 Freeway Blvd.
Rockville, Maryland 20852 Brooklyn Center, Minnesota 55430
301-770-9081 763-566-4560 x5075
(Chris Syllaba) (Wayne Reinhardt)
Pianos made by: Guangzhou Pearl River Piano Group Ltd., Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
Originally issued under the name Opus II, the Cristofori and Lyrica brands are a joint undertaking by Jordan Kitt's Music, which owns and operates four piano dealerships in the D.C. and Atlanta markets; and Schmitt Music, which has more than a dozen locations throughout the Midwest and in Denver. Nearly ten years ago, wanting to improve their entry-level product offerings, the two companies combined forces to negotiate upgrades of product features and quality control directly with the factory. Today, although the brands are identical, Cristofori is sold only in Jordan Kitt's stores, Lyrica in Schmitt Music stores. Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731) was, of course, the inventor of the piano.
The Cristofori and Lyrica lines are manufactured by China's largest piano manufacturer, Guangzhou Pearl River Piano Group. The uprights come in numerous sizes, styles, and finishes, including 42½" continental consoles and 43" decorator consoles in traditional and French cherry cabinets. The 48" professional upright, appropriate for home or institutional use, has front legs with toe blocks for strength, a large soundboard and long strings for bigger sound, and — new in 2012 — a slow-close fallboard. Grands come in lengths of 4' 10", 5' 3", 5' 7", and 6' 2". The 5' 3" and 5' 7" sizes are wide-tail designs, which gives these mid-sized grands a larger soundboard area and, thus, a bigger sound.
The Cristofori and Lyrica pianos are differentiated from Pearl River's own line of pianos by upgraded specifications such as the use of highest-quality Mapes strings from the U.S.; all-spruce veneered soundboards of premium Siberian spruce; a different selection of cabinet styles; and a full, transferable warranty. U.S. technicians inspect every Cristofori and Lyrica piano at the Pearl River factory prior to crating and shipping.
Warranty: 12 years, parts and labor, transferable to future owners within the warranty period.
Cunningham Piano Company
5427 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19144
Pianos made by: Ningbo Hailun Musical Instruments Co. Ltd., Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China; with Cunningham Piano Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cunningham Piano Company began manufacturing pianos in 1891 and, in its time, was the largest piano maker in Philadelphia. The original Cunningham factory ceased production in December 1943. The company was reopened in December 1945 as a piano rebuilder and retailer. Today, Cunningham specializes in the restoration of high-quality American and European pianos, and produces the new Matchless Cunningham.
Designed by Frank Emerson, the Matchless Cunningham is based on the original Cunningham scale designs. "Matchless" is used in reference to an offer made by Patrick Cunningham over a century ago: that he would pay $10,000 to anyone who could build a better piano. Because no one ever took him up on his offer, Cunningham labeled his piano the Matchless. Today, Matchless also refers to a unique combination of high-quality parts and a successful American scale design, assembled in China at the world-class Hailun factory, and with quality control overseen by Cunningham in Philadelphia. The line consists of grands from 5' to 9' and two verticals, 44" and 50".
Cunningham grands have maple rims (arguably necessary for best sound), custom-designed German Abel Hammers, German music wire, agraffes, duplex scaling, and slow-close mechanisms on both the fallboard and lid. Cunningham regularly sends technical staff to the Ningbo Hailun factory to oversee production, and each piano undergoes a thorough final preparation by Cunningham in Philadelphia.
The special Heritage Series incorporates art cases that reflect late Victorian styling. Handcrafted cabinet parts are made and installed in Cunningham's Philadelphia facility, making each instrument unique. Customers have the option of customizing certain aspects of the cabinetry based on their personal preferences.
Warranty: 10 years, parts and labor.
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