Kimball Pianos


Kimball Company , Chicago

Kimball PianosThe W. W. Kimball Company, also known as the Kimball Piano and Organ Company and later renamed Kimball International, Inc., had its beginning in Chicago during the late 19th century. Kimball pianos were very popular, especially with the middle class, and were widely distributed throughout the United States. W. W. Kimball Company built a huge business, first, by selling New York made pianos under a variety of names, but later, for producing fairly reliable, yet relatively inexpensive pianos which helped make the Kimball piano a favorite choice for homes all across the country. And like other Chicago piano companies, production lines in close proximity to midwestern towns and communities made the Kimball piano an especially popular choice for those living west of the Mississippi River.

By offering first hand testimony from a Kimball salesman, Arthur Loesser suggests that the pianos produced by W. W. Kimball Company were cherished by Midwestern customers more for their stylized cabinets than their sound (Loesser, p. 550). Loesser also writes that the Kimball company production lines eventually produced all the parts for the pianos manufactured by Kimball and at the highest point of production was the largest piano producer on the planet.

When the W. W. Kimball Company eventually became Kimball International, Inc. it moved its company headquarters to Jasper, Indiana.

Today the Kimball name is most famous for having acquired the famous Bösendorfer Piano Company of Vienna. This acquisition took place in the mid 1960s with much reluctant anticipation by musicians and critics since the Kimball name had been associated for so long with mid to low priced piano production in the U.S. Many wondered whether Kimball would lower its production standards for the Bösendorfer. In fact, a running joke among piano tuners and technicians was to ask whether the Bösendorfer would be renamed "Kimballdorfer." But, according to Edwin M. Good, it looks as though Kimball left the Bösendorfer production standards alone.

If you have a grand or baby grand piano with the Kimball or Bösendorfer name and would like to discuss the prospects of restoration, refinishing, refurbishing or repair, please contact Michael Sweeney directly. Michael will be glad to help you assess the prospects of repair and/or complete restoration of your Kimball piano.

Sources

Sources for this information include Michael Sweeney's 30+ years experience in the piano restoration business as well as the following texts: Piano Roles: A New History of the Piano by James Parakilas;Giraffes, Black Dragons, and Other Pianos: A Technological History from Cristofori to the Modern Concert Grand, Second Edition by Edwin M. Good; Men Women and Pianos, A Social History by Arthur Loesser, and Pierce Piano Atlas by Bob Pierce.

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