Excerpt from The Piano Book: Buying & Owning a New or Used Piano
by Larry Fine
The period from about 1900 to 1930 was the heyday of piano manufacturing.
Thousands of small firms turned out millions of pianos during this time; in fact, far more pianos were made per annum then than are made today. If you are shopping for a used full-size upright or a grand, probably many of the pianos you see will be from this period. Smaller pianos were not introduced until later on.
YOU MAY WONDER whether it’s advisable to buy a piano that is seventy to one hundred years old. What you must remember is that pianos age more as people do than as present-day automobiles and appliances. With proper care and some replacement of parts, a piano well-made seventy years ago may have many years of use left in it. Of course, a good deal of junk is left over from this period too, but the average level of quality is surprisingly high, and your chances of finding an instrument in satisfactory condition or worth putting in shape are quite good.
People in the market for used pianos often ask me to recommend specific brands. This is a problem, because the present condition of the piano, the kind of use you will be giving it, and the cost of the piano and repairs are far more important factors than the brand when considering the purchase of an old piano. Even a piano of the best brand, if poorly maintained or badly repaired, can be an unwise purchase. Time and wear are great levelers, and a piano of only average quality that has not been used much may be a much better buy. Nevertheless, since this answer never satisfies anyone, I offer the following list of some of the brand names of the period which were most highly regarded. Please note that this list, which is by no means complete — or universally agreed upon — applies only to pianos made before about 1930, since in many cases the same names were later applied to completely different pianos made to entirely different (usually lower) quality standards.
Highly Regarded Piano Brand Names Made before 1930
“…your chances of finding an instrument in satisfactory condition or worth putting in shape are quite good.”
And when you call Grand American Piano to assist you, your chances are even better! Our expertise in piano restoration can help you find the piano you want. Whether you are needing an assessment of your heirloom piano, or are looking to purchase a restored classic piano, we are glad to help.
If you enjoyed the excerpt above from The Piano Book: Buying & Owning a New or Used Piano by Larry Fine and would like to learn more about pianos, we have copies of the book available for sale at a discounted price. Just call today to find out more about restored pianos and restoration services.