At one time the largest piano manufacturer in the United States, Baldwin Piano Company touted themselves as “America’s Favorite Piano.” Although the company’s history is mired in financial difficulties, the Baldwin pianos are exemplary of the “American Sound” – a warm tonal signature common in the best American made pianos – and the American made pianos remain excellent choices today.
From Retail to Manufacturer
Originally founded as a piano dealership in 1857, the Baldwin Piano Company started manufacturing pianos in 1889 when founder Dwight Hamilton Baldwin swore to build “the best piano that could be built,” and founded Baldwin Piano Company, and Hamilton Organ, which built reed organs. After Baldwin’s death in 1899, his partner Wilson purchased the estate and continued the shift from retail to manufacturing, and in 1900 the company won it’s first big award, the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. It was the first time an American manufacturer won such an award. Continuing to win awards, including top awards at the Louisiana Purchase Expo, by 1913 Baldwin’s business was swelling with their piano’s popularity, being distributed throughout the US and expanding into 32 countries internationally.
Wartime Efforts and Grand Pianos
A true American company, Baldwin ceased production of pianos during World War II under a declaration from the US War Production Board, and instead made aircraft components from their factories for aircraft including the Curtiss-Wright C-76 Caravan and the Fairchild PT-19. At the end of the war Baldwin continued their success with pianos and by 1953 had doubled their prewar production count. Their success continued as they produced their 1,000,000th upright piano by 1973. They also began selling guitars at their piano outlets, branching their business to serve a broader market by the late 60’s.
Under Morley P Thompson’s new leadership, Baldwin diversified, acquiring dozens of financial firms in the 1970’s. These investments ended up bankrupting the company in the 1980’s – but the Baldwin Piano Company’s employees bought back the piano company, rebuilding the prestige and Baldwin name and taking it public in 1984.
Moving Production Overseas
Unable to compete with growing international manufacturers, especially the lower cost productions form Asia, Baldwin filed for bankruptcy 2001, was purchased by Gibson Guitar Corporation, and gradually had their production moved to China, eventually stopping all US production by 2008. Although still producing quality instruments to the Baldwin standard by Parsons Music, China, the market for US built Baldwin pianos is going strong, and for good reason. Used Baldwin Pianos for sale still produce wonderful music and the excellent craftsmanship means that even tho buying a used piano you’re all but guaranteed an exceptional instrument. If you want to read more about the benefits of purchasing a used grand piano – click here. We have a wide variety of used Baldwin pianos for sale, if you want to come to our packed-to-the-brim showroom to see for yourself, please give us a call at (770) 717 8047. Their Asia produced instruments are highly reviewed, compared favorably to the Steinway and Sons equivalent models, but bear little similarity to the great Baldwin instruments of the past. There is so much that is different between the old Baldwins and the new that some think there is little use in comparing them, however I find the American made Baldwin pianos to be unilaterally superior. Ultimately it comes down to manufacturing quality and piano lifetime, and in each category the American Baldwin’s trounce their China made counterparts.
Buy A Used Baldwin Grand Piano
The market for used Baldwin pianos for sale is a booming one. Pricing remains competitive in their market segment but the quality of the purchased piano tends to be much higher – assuming you’re getting a model that was produced in the US. Using only the best quality materials, the American manufacturing plants produced some of the best sounding and most durable pianos on the market.
Popular entertainers who have preformed on Baldwin pianos include Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Liberace and the great Dave Brubeck.