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Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273473
11/08/07 01:34 AM
11/08/07 01:34 AM
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Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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I'm hoping some kind person here can help me understand the different types of Baldwins. I have a spinet that says "Baldwin" and also has a nameplate off to the side that says "Howard". It doesn't say Acrosonic anywhere and yet the serial number seems to correspond to the acrosonic serial numbers. (It has seven digits.) So does that mean it's an acrosonic or not? What exactly is the difference between Baldwin's Acrosonic and Howard brands (and any other brand they may offer -- I know Hamilton is one).

The reason I'm asking about this is that my spinet is actually rather worn out and I am shopping for a replacement piano. It has to be used since I have a small budget to work with. I've seen a couple of Baldwins advertised locally which I plan to go see. Sooooo, I want to understand the differences between different types of Baldwins I may be looking at-- as well as how they compare to the one I've owned for the past three decades. Of the Baldwin brands, which are better? And are the "better" ones only nicer in appearance or actually of better quality inside? Some of the posts I've read from old threads seem to indicate that Baldwin went through a period where their quality suffered. If so, what production years would be best to avoid?

I'll be willing to consider other brands than Baldwin, of course. It's just that so far the only pianos I've seen advertised in my price range here that weren't ancient uprights or brands that I dislike have been Baldwins. Options are limited in this small-town area and Baldwin seems to be a popular brand here -- which is fine with me since I liked my spinet when it was in good working order. I'm looking at a console tomorrow from 1981. Crossing my fingers it's in as good a condition as they claim!

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Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273474
11/08/07 06:15 AM
11/08/07 06:15 AM
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Posts: 4,983
boston north
lilylady Offline
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From what I remember.

Baldwin Acrosonics were the better quality and made in USA. A console would be better than a spinet. And one paid for different qualities of furniture (pecan veneer would cost more).

Hamiltons were the studio/professional instrument and are still thought of as nice pianos.

Howard (with the sign on the side) were made by Kawaii and were the less expensive. Try looking INSIDE your piano and see if you find Kawaii written in there somewhere (like the iron plate). They didn't hold up as well - my sister had one.

Edit - I might have jumped to this conclusion since I SAW Kawaii in raised letters in the plate on my sister's Howard. Sorry if I have confused the issue but wish someone could explain this)

Baldwin's had quite a good reputation at one time. But then the company was acquired by Gibson(as in guitars) and the quality went down. I know not what the quality is for new now.

If you like your piano, you might want to check out Kawaiis. You also might want to check out used Yamahas.

Newer is better.
Taller is better.
One that has had regular maintenance and tech work/tuning is better.

There is a search feature above. You might want to look into that.
Also check CRAIGSLIST in your area, or better than that, find a store with a good reputation and see what they offer for used pianos.

Sell your piano privately.

What is your price range?

Good luck! LL


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273475
11/08/07 06:51 AM
11/08/07 06:51 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,132
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Online content
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Rich Galassini  Online Content
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The Howard spinet and console pianos were not built by Kawai, although in the '70s the grands were.

The Acrosonic was originally a better built piano than the Howard, however, in an older piano it is as important how the piano was used and maintained as it is to get the best original manufactured quality.

I would rather have a clean and well cared for Howard than an Acro. that did not have such an easy life.

You might want to be in touch with your local piano tech. as well. He may know of a client or two that would like to sell their piano and he would already know its quality.

Good Luck,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
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Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273476
11/08/07 08:25 AM
11/08/07 08:25 AM
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Posts: 4,983
boston north
lilylady Offline
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boston north
Rich, then why did it say KAWAII on the inside of the piano? LL


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273477
11/08/07 09:33 AM
11/08/07 09:33 AM
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New Jersey
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VGrantano Offline
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New Jersey
Rich is right. Kawaii only made the howard grands,
starting in 1960.Later the grands were made by Samick.The Howard numbers starting at 40000 were made in the Conway Ark. plant,starting in 1968.
The Acrosonic spinet and console used the same action. The Howard spinet had the normal indirect blow action. The console was full blow.Lots of people hated the Acrosonic action.But the acrosonic was made better.Hammilton's were/are really good pianos.Work horses.

Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273478
11/08/07 12:12 PM
11/08/07 12:12 PM
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Posts: 246
Bainbridge, OH
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Tom Tuner Offline
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Bainbridge, OH
Acrosonic over the years used five different actions. In the end they wound up with the same action as the Howard spinet. Aside from that the Howard would probably have somewhat plainer styling than an Acrosonic, and maybe cheaper veneer. Otherwise they are substantually the same.

Tom Tuner

Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273479
11/08/07 01:25 PM
11/08/07 01:25 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 4,983
boston north
lilylady Offline
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boston north
I stand corrected, but I still do not understand why I saw with my own eyes that it said KAWAII inside the piano. This was just last year.

Would they have ordered just a plate from Kawaii?

LL


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273480
11/08/07 06:06 PM
11/08/07 06:06 PM
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Posts: 62
Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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Thanks for the info, everyone. My spinet, which was built in 1969, says Made in the USA on the plate, so I'm assuming the whole piano was manufactured here. However, I like Kawai's and will check out any Kawai that I see available if it's not too expensive. I've been watching Craig's list and the classifieds. My tuner posts pianos for sale on his website but currently has no uprights.

I'm still confused about the serial numbers on the Baldwins. My piano and the console I saw today both have the 7-digit serial number format that falls under the "Acrosonic" listing in the blue book of pianos. Yet both pianos say "Baldwin" on the nameplate and apparently aren't Acronsonics. So why the confusion with the way the serial numbers are listed? Seems to me they should have some note about that in the book and at the very least should cross reference the list of Acrosonic serial numbers and the list of Baldwins'. Ah well, has anyone heard of a Baldwin "Effington" piano? The console I saw today said "Effington" on a name plate at the right end of the keyboard.

Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273481
11/08/07 06:13 PM
11/08/07 06:13 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,815
West Coast
Craigen Offline
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Ellington was a third tier brand name used by Baldwin back in the 1930's-1950's.


Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.
Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273482
11/08/07 06:14 PM
11/08/07 06:14 PM
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Oakland
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Baldwin has fewer series of numbers than it has lines of pianos, so some lines share a series of numbers. The Howards use the Acrosonic numbers. The other line you are concerned with is Ellington.


Semipro Tech
Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273483
11/08/07 06:18 PM
11/08/07 06:18 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,815
West Coast
Craigen Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Craigen:
Ellington was a third tier brand name used by Baldwin back in the 1930's-1950's.
Baldwin typically ran three series of serial numbers Baldwin, Hamilton, and Acrosonic. Frequently units that didn't fit the description of the first two were thrown into the Acrosonic numbering.

Many Spinets and a few consoles over the years were branded as Baldwin on the front and Acrosonic on the side in smaller print. The reverse was also frequently done. Acrosonics were typically Baldwin's best effort in pianos under 45".


Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.
Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273484
11/08/07 08:55 PM
11/08/07 08:55 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 7,439
torrance, CA
turandot Offline
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torrance, CA
Yikes!!!

Baldwin in the center with Acrosonic on the side, Acrosonic in the centerwith Baldwin on the side, Howard by Kawai, Howard by Samick, Howard by Baldwin, Effington/Ellington, I've seen some others named Monarch as well.

Maybe this is where Samick learned the secrets of hopelessly-confusing brand names. laugh

Quote
Baldwin's had quite a good reputation at one time. But then the company was acquired by Gibson(as in guitars) and the quality went down. I know not what the quality is for new now.
Don't blame Gibson for the dirty deed. Baldwin hit rock bottom before Gibson arrived on the scene.


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Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273485
11/08/07 11:18 PM
11/08/07 11:18 PM
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Greater Miami
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Greater Miami
Vonette -- FWIW, my wife owns a Howard grand that was built by Kawai and it's a pretty good piano. The action is heavy for me, but she's a professional musician and while the piano is her second instrument, she has been very pleased with it for the past 30 or so years.

Mentioning all this in case you come across a used Howard.


2005 Steinway B
Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273486
11/09/07 04:18 AM
11/09/07 04:18 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 4,346
North Hollywood CA.
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Kawai grands were originally marketed by Baldwin (60's)with the Howard stencil. They still displayed Kawai on the soundboard decal. Later you could obtain these grands with the Kawai fallboard script.(mdl.350,500,550,600)


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Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273487
11/09/07 02:57 PM
11/09/07 02:57 PM
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West Coast
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During war eras manufacturing was regulated and rationing was imposed. Many piano companies adopted multiple lines to enable them to product more pianos than the one brand name would allow. Multiple lines also allowed for increased representation within the same market area ala Samick.
Multiple lines also allowed for a stratified product spread within a Baldwin dealership ala Steinway, Boston, Essex.


Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.
Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273488
11/09/07 02:58 PM
11/09/07 02:58 PM
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West Coast
Craigen Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Craigen:
During war eras manufacturing was regulated and rationing was imposed. Many piano companies adopted multiple lines to enable them to produce more pianos than the one brand name would allow. Multiple lines also allowed for increased representation within the same market area ala Samick.
Multiple lines also allowed for a stratified product spread within a Baldwin dealership ala Steinway, Boston, Essex.


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Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic #273489
11/09/07 03:47 PM
11/09/07 03:47 PM
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Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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This has been very interesting this past week as I feel I have had a crash course in pianos -- both their history and their internal workings. (And here I've been playing them for 33 years in relative ignorance of these things!) Someone on an older thread I was reading recommended Larry Fine's piano book, so I'm reading it and learning loads. The section on Baldwin in that book has helped to clarify things for me as well as what was written here (thanks everyone!). I hadn't realized there was such a variation of quality in the pianos built under the Baldwin name. Interestingly, until recently my 1969 Baldwin Howard spinet always had very nice tone for a spinet despite the fact that it isn't one of Baldwin's better brands. I've been looking it over after reading the piano book, and I'm 95percent sure it has a spruce sounding board instead of the laminate -- so that may explain it. Also, I could find only the tiniest cracks around the bridge pins. On the other hand, the Ellington I saw yesterday, (yes, it was Ellington--sorry for the brain lapse) which was a much younger piano with very little wear on the hammers, had a laminate sounding board and a noticeable crack in the treble bridge. Maybe that's why I was dissapointed in the sound. How right are those who have said that brand name is no guarantee of a good piano!

Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic [Re: Vonette] #1215252
06/10/09 11:36 AM
06/10/09 11:36 AM
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I'm new to this world, but I have a question for all you experts. I have a 1936 Howard spinet (it says "A Product of Baldwin", and the serial number is 266166 on the plate inside). It was my dad's wedding present to my mom in 1937, and he bought it new. Is this piano worth keeping in the family? It's in fairly good shape for its age but it's not fancy at all. I just don't know since no one in my generation plays—but the grandkids might. (FYI—Mom will be 91 next month, and she's still going strong:-)

Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic [Re: Pooskidoo] #1215304
06/10/09 01:11 PM
06/10/09 01:11 PM
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Your piano is a little long in the tooth for serious performance value. Sentimental value to your family is incalculable.


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Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic [Re: Marty Flinn] #1215364
06/10/09 03:06 PM
06/10/09 03:06 PM
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Carmel, Indiana
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Yikes what a confusing mess! I leave it to all the previous posters to sort out all the various brands and models Baldwin has produced. But I do know that the Acrosonic and Baldwin uprights suffered no decline in quality due to corporate financial stability. Some of the brands and models mentioned in the previous posts might not have been great pianos, but the higher end models maintained good quality standards.


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Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic [Re: Marty Flinn] #1215373
06/10/09 03:24 PM
06/10/09 03:24 PM
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Indeed, you are right. Thanks for weighing in.

Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic [Re: Pooskidoo] #1215606
06/11/09 03:06 AM
06/11/09 03:06 AM
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El Cajon, CA
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Speaking of older Baldwin pianos... what line / model would this one be?

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

It looks like an older model based on the furniture style, but the serial # would lead me to believe it's from the Acrosonic Line, but I am not aware of any Acrosonic pianos of that height from that era...


Also, too bad I'm not in New Jersey, otherwise this one looks like it would be an excellent deal, unless a bidding war ensues...
Anyone know where I can find that good of a deal in San Diego, CA, on the same (or better) model piano? Which dealer should I go to, now that Ric O is no longer a Baldwin dealer? (Side note - while it would be way out of my price range now, not to mention I have 2 1950s Hamiltons in my house right now, would a deal like that actually be worth shipping across the country?) (btw, fyi, that one (the $500 (starting bid) Hamilton, serial #480521, with dampp chaser) has just upped the minimum quality relative to the price that I'm willing to consider for my next piano... now that is the minimum benchmark.)

Last edited by 88Key_PianoPlayer; 06/11/09 03:09 AM.

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Re: Confused about Baldwin Howard vs. Acrosonic [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer] #1219421
06/18/09 11:11 PM
06/18/09 11:11 PM
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Eastern WA
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Vonette Offline OP
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How interesting that someone resurrected this old thread that I started! In answer to 88Key, the piano you show looks like a Baldwin Monarch or Baldwin Howard. Look in the blue book of pianos under both Monarch and Howard and you will find serial numbers to match that one. It looks like this one is from the late 30's. (Certainly not over a 100 years like they say in the description!) In my own piano hunting awhile back, I saw two pianos that looked just like the one in your pictures, except that they were in nice condition for their age and played pretty well. One was a Howard and the other a Monarch. I actually owned one of them for a few months while shopping for my current piano (a Kawaii studio). It was a decent piano for being so old. Nice tone. Very loud, though. The one in the auction looks like it's seen better days. I can't believe they expected to get any money for it!


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