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Vintage Piano Types


As you research antique pianos you will find the most prevalent and most commonly produced acoustic pianos built in the United State were the square piano, upright (vertical) piano the baby grand piano. Pianos were massed produced by hundreds of small factories and workshops starting before the War Between the States and continuing in large numbers up till the Second World War. The square pianos models were discontinued in the late 1800's in favor of the upright piano models which continued to be produced targeted primarily in the market for home users.

The square piano was most popular during the mid 19th century; the most prominent makers were Steinway, Chickering, Steiff and Knabe. Having a hand-carved Victorian embellished rosewood case and legs, they are a prime example of the artisan craftsmen's work from this era. They have a direct blow action and lack the repetition lever system that was later developed for the grand piano. While they have less potential for outstanding sound quality they are still routinely rebuilt and are worthy of fine piano restoration work

Upright antique pianos were built in a variety of styles; most of the early examples have a height from 44'' to 52'' inches and have a lightly ornamented case, usually made from walnut or mahogany veneers. Most have a superior potential for good tone and sound because of the rigidly built iron frame and long string length. While having these qualities, the smaller upright and spinet versions became favored in the mid 20th century because of their lesser height and contemporary style cases.

The most common vintage baby grand piano models were in the size range from 5' to 6' with a case made from oak, walnut or mahogany veneer. In the 1920's a popular model was the pneumatic player piano powered by an electric motor attached to the bellow pump. Mass production lasted till such innovations as the transistor radio and other home entertainment led to their manufacturing demise.

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If your considering having your vintage Steinway or other quality American piano restored regardless of brand, the most important starting point is finding a qualified piano restorer. While there are several firm offering this service, finding the right piano restoration company that does high quality work at reasonable prices is paramount. While restoring your piano involves patience and diligence on the owner's part, the finished product will be a priceless showpiece, a finely manufactured piano restored to its former glory.