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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Piano Makes

Jane Austen mentions a Broadwood piano in at least one of her novels. In her day, pianos were objects of status and the ability to play was proof of a refined education. These things no longer carry the same significance though of course, the dynamics of status are still with us. The objects desired today are smart phones, expensive cars and the latest that technology can offer! 

The Broadwood name is known only to pianists who probably were told long ago that Broadwoods were the best English-made piano. This would be found, written a few chapters back in the great, unfolding history of the British Piano Industry. However, such a high opinion of Broadwood Pianos was not universally held - years ago, I remember an elderly tuner say, somewhat unflatteringly: "Ah yes, Broadwood Pianos! The bass is very broad, and the treble very wooden!"    

It is not often a piano maker's name is mentioned in a modern novel. If a best-selling author wanted to mention a piano maker, questions might be asked about some advertising deal, but surely, this need not get in the way of a good story! Why not mention - in some dialogue - a piano made by a little-known maker? How about: Thompson & Shackle; Jarrett & Gouge; Skerrett; or Dunmo, Ellis & Hill? 

Or even a Macintosh!
This piano has absolutely nothing to do with Apple Computers and I do not imagine that Apple Mac will ever dabble in making acoustic pianos. This is an inexpensive piano made in Edingburgh. Straight strung, over damped, rather tired now, but with a decent enough tone and quite tuneable.

Even when new, this sort of piano was never brilliant, but clearly, they were built well enough to last a very long time. 

Uncomplicated and honest, pianos like these, never pretend to be more than what they are, they just continue doing what they were built for - making music! Thousands of makers put together pianos like this and proudly put their names on the fall-board. Sadly, most are now entirely forgotten. 

There was an old German maker called 'Lubitz' but you don't often see a Lubitz piano here in the UK. One might think a firm called 'Lubitz' made toilet spares!

© Steve Burden