Aluminum-wound strings

Aluminum-wound strings

Those extra shiny strings are aluminum-wound, somewhat of a novelty in the late 1960’s when this piano was built. Though these have held up well, aluminum-wound strings as a rule have never caught on and are all but extinct now. In this case, the aluminum winding was seen as a “transition” from the copper-wound bass strings to the plain wire treble strings. Manufacturers have tried dozens of different ways of bridging this transition point over the years, with varying results. Gordon Laughead was a small, family-run, Michigan-based piano manufacturer that operated from the 1940’s until the 1970’s. They made good quality pianos, and this particular one was a testament to that fact. Unfortunately, like hundreds of other piano manufacturers, they eventually succumbed to an over-crowded market.

Mezzo-thermoneal stabilizers (Or: Marketing Gimmicks)

Mezzo-thermoneal stabilizers (Or: Marketing Gimmicks)

What’s a “mezzo-thermoneal stabilizer” you ask? That’s a great question. In the post-WW2 era, when the piano market was really taking off in America, manufacturers started coming up with all kinds of new patented techniques to make their pianos stand out from the competition. Or, at the very least, to make them sound special. “Mezzo-thermoneal stabilizers” are a great example. No one really knows what it means, but it sure sounds cool. Almost like your piano was designed by NASA! Most of these kinds of labels, unfortunately, are little more than marketing gimmicks. This particular piano is a 1979 Kimball Console. It’s actually a good little piano, but the mezzo-thermoneal stabilization probably has nothing to do with it!

Hyundai makes pianos too?

Hyundai makes pianos too?

They’re probably better known for cars than pianos (and rightly so), but my car and this piano have the same roots! Hyundai was a huge conglomerate in South Korea that broke apart in 2003. Hyundai Motor continues to make and ship cars all over the world, but Hyundai Music, a division of Hyundai Development Company, continues to manufacturer and distribute pianos all over the world! Like many large companies, Hyundai’s pianos are manufactured under a variety of brand names. On this particular piano, the “Aeolian” name was used and this Hyundai logo was visible only on the plate. On some other models, the Hyundai name may not appear at all.

What’s the most out-of-tune piano I’ve seen?

Pianos do not naturally go out of tune this badly! For a single note on a piano to be this wild, it is highly likely that a previous owner tampered with the tuning pins in some way, perhaps in a less-than-successful tuning attempt. It would not be the first time I’ve run across that… I don’t ever discourage people from working on their own piano – in fact, I think it’s a good thing. Just make sure you do your research first and know what you’re getting in to! Suffice it to say it’s more complicated than it appears. A very out-of-tune piano

Stencil pianos – what are you actually getting?

Stencil pianos – what are you actually getting?

This is a great example of what is known as a “stencil” piano. The name “Brahms” appears on the front of the piano, but in fact the plate (visible in the background) is stamped with Winter & Company, the actual manufacturer of the piano. I couldn’t find any background information on this particular customer’s piano, but it was very common in the mid-1900’s for piano stores, dealers, and others to have a run of pianos manufactured by an established company with the dealer’s name stamped on the front. Winter & Co. was one of the larger piano manufacturers in the 1940’s, when this piano was built, and had arrangements like this with dozens of companies over the years. If you own a piano with a name on the front that is unfamiliar and hard to find any information on, one possible explanation is that it’s a stencil. They are not… Read More