New Sounds, New Spaces, Old Pianos

Six Piano Project



1. W.W. Kimball (ex player piano) - 1923

The W.W. Kimball company started manufacturing pianos and pipe organs in Chicago, Illinois in 1857.  The company.  During the first few decades of the 20th century, the Kimball factory was one of the busiest in the world. The company continued to make fine quality pianos up until around 1996.  Interestingly, the Kimball company owned the famed 'Bosendorfer' name for the last part of the 20th century, and for many years was the largest piano making company in the world.  This particular instrument was bought as a wreck for $10 on eBay suffering from many years of neglect, water damage and graffiti. Parts of it's player system (known colloquially as a pianola) were salvaged to restore an identical instrument in far better condition.  It is a testament to the makers of this piano that it is still able to function at all.


2. Francis Howard player piano (1922)

This piano was built by the Carnegie piano factory in Vere St., Richmond, Victoria, Australia. It is the only Australian made instrument in the current six piano project. This piano was purchased new from the iconic 'Brashs' chain of music stores that have now sadly vanished from the streets of Melbourne. The piano is fitted with a 'Sterling' player piano mechanism, allowing the reproduction of a pianists' performance via a pneumatic system attached to the piano action. This system reads information stored on paper rolls known as 'piano rolls'. Most often instruments such as these are colloquially known as 'pianolas' though 'Pianola' is actually a brand name (like Hoover is to vacuum). The correct designation for these instruments with internal, roll reading, self playing systems is a 'player piano'.  Strangely, this piano prior to restoration by Carnegie's Piano Service, was sold and maintained at some point over the decades by ABC Pianos.


3. Klingmann (ex player piano) - (1929)

The Klingmann company started production in Berlin in 1869. It is rare to find one still playing in suburban Melbourne in the 21st century. This piano has a large and vibrant sound, a characteristic of many player pianos (pianolas) which have larger frames and soundboards to accommodate the playing mechanism. The piano plays surprisingly well given the worn state of the action.


4. Lagonda upright piano - (1920-21)

This charming American made upright comes from New Castle, USA where the Lagonda company was founded in 1894.  After a good clean, a few good tunings and some minor repairs this piano is playing and sounding very well for its age.  When it was made it was an honest, middle of the road American piano - and it has lasted extremely well.


5. Windsor upright piano - (1913-14)

Like the W.W. Kimball piano, this piano also hails from Chicago.  It is another middle of the range American upright - surprisingly powerful and reliable despite now being over a century old.


6. Foster & Co upright piano - (1917-1918)

Made during the final years of the first world war, this large American upright piano is a native of New York.  This well travelled and well loved old upright is extremely well made - and still continues to play much as it always has.  It has a large and satisfying tone, and has largely been well maintained during its lifetime