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#1925538 - 07/11/12 05:28 PM My Visit to Cunningham's  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 10,880
Steve Cohen Offline
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Steve Cohen  Offline
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Maryland/DC/No. VA
I spent yesterday afternoon with Rich Galassini, who, after a very nice lunch, gave me a great tour of the Cunningham Piano operation. In a way it was an “historic” tour.

Cunningham Piano Co. was founded by P. J. Cunningham in 1891 and dominantly built new pianos, Just after WWII the company was purchased by my uncle, Lou Cohen who was a piano technician working for Mr. Cunningham. Uncle Lou soon changed the focus of the company from building new pianos to the rebuilding and restoration of old uprights and grands. Old-timers in the business will remember the cut “mirror” uprights that were a mainstay of Cunningham’s business in the mid- to late-40’s. (My father got started in the piano business working for Lou, his older brother). Cunningham’s was run by Lou until his death in 1978 and then by his daughters Rose and Doris until they sold the business to managers Rich Galassini and Tim Oliver in 2008.

[Linked Image]

A Portrait of my Uncle Lou and Me


I was born and lived in Philadelphia until I was 12 years old. Now 63, and before my visit yesterday, I had only fleeting memories of Cunningham’s facilities in Philly. Re-visiting it yesterday brought back many of these memories. My most interesting realization was that very little has changed! The rebuilding factory was just as I remembered. Old creaky wooden floors; open beam ceilings, rough hewn oak pillars, and an almost complete lack of the machinery I am used to seeing in the many new piano-manufacturing facilities I have visited worldwide. This is a “hand-built” operation. The most striking difference was, based on the completed rebuilds I saw, was the improved quality of the workmanship. The level of detailing was excellent. The showroom was also basically unchanged.

[Linked Image]

A "Hand-work" Shop


[Linked Image]

Traditional "Old-style" Workshop


One of the reasons I visited Cunningham’s is that it no longer is financially feasible for me to continue in-house rebuilding at my Baltimore-based retail operation, Jasons Music Center. We simply don’t get enough rebuilding jobs to justify the space and manpower. A month ago I sent a Steinway O that we took in trade to Cunningham’s for a complete rebuild. I was anxious to see samples of Rich and Tim’s completed rebuilding. I needed a little reassurance that, if I recommended or sub-contracted rebuilding jobs for my client-base, that they would be getting first-class work. It’s one thing to send up a piano I own, but quite another to send one of our customer’s piano out for work. I needed to be able to say that I saw the quality of the workers, the facilities, and the finished products, and that I had full confidence my client’s piano would come back in true “like new” condition.

[Linked Image]

Rich at a voicing and regulation station

[Linked Image]

Final Prep


I also need to have confidence in the integrity and business philosophy of the company’s principals. That need has been satisfied by my years of observation of what Rich and Tim have done with Cunningham’s, I followed Cunningham Piano all my life as it is one of my extended family’s companies, (along with Wilmington Piano Company founded by my uncle Jack; the Martin Piano Company founded by my uncle Marty; and the Kensington Piano Company and Jasons Piano and Organ Company founded by my father). Rich and Tim’s work ethic and service to their customers (as well as the thousands who have been given advice by Rich here on Piano World) coupled with their innovative marketing and promotions (Rich is on TV and in the news more often than Wolf Blitzer!), leave no room for doubt that using Cunningham’s for my rebuilding needs going forward is the right decision.

If any of you are in the Philadelphia area, have Rich give you the same tour he gave me….chauffeured limousine that picks you up at the train station…pheasant-under-glass- fine dining… that great souvenir Roland digital grand…….

Thanks for the hospitality Rich and Tim, it was indeed historic for me!



Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
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#1925564 - 07/11/12 06:42 PM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
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Rickster Offline
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Georgia, USA
Nice write-up and photos, Steve!

I've always been a history buff... my interest in pianos is something relatively new, but the history there is intersting too.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#1925604 - 07/11/12 09:43 PM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
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Posts: 18,182
Monica K. Offline

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Monica K.  Offline

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Joined: Aug 2005
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Lexington, Kentucky
Terrific photos and entertaining story!

I'm going to be in Philly in a few weeks for the American Numismatic Association annual convention. Can't wait for my chauffeured limo and digital grand, though I'll pass on the pheasant. wink


Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica
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#1925624 - 07/11/12 10:27 PM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,378
accordeur Online content
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accordeur  Online Content
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Qubec, Canada
Very nice facility, and history is always great.

You might want to check the spelling in the title of this thread.

All the best!


Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca
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#1925691 - 07/12/12 02:41 AM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Monica K.]  
Joined: May 2001
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Rich Galassini Offline
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Rich Galassini  Offline
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Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted by Monica K.
Terrific photos and entertaining story!

I'm going to be in Philly in a few weeks for the American Numismatic Association annual convention. Can't wait for my chauffeured limo and digital grand, though I'll pass on the pheasant. wink


Monica!

I can't wait either!


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
http://www.cunninghampiano.com/how-its-made/
#1925694 - 07/12/12 02:50 AM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
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Rich Galassini Offline
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Philadelphia/South Jersey
Steve,

Thanks for that post. Obviously, your cousins Rose and Doris are still like mothers to me. They ran the company like they guided their children. They truly care for it which is why they turned over the operation to Tim and I.

They could have made more money by doing something else but it was most important to them that someone that they trusted and who shared their passion and vision continue.

I am honored that they feel that way about Tim and I and they are still available to us when we want their thoughts.

I kind of wish PJ and Lou were still available.


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Check out the Science Channel's "How Its Made" featuring our piano restoration:
http://www.cunninghampiano.com/how-its-made/
#1925747 - 07/12/12 08:14 AM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,856
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
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Rank Piano Amateur  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,856
Steve: Great post, and I love the pictures. I think you look a lot like your uncle.

Rich: Why do you persist in keeping the location of your fountain of youth a secret? There are a lot of us out here who could use a chance at access to it!

It's terrific that Cunningham is continuing and building on such a fascinating history.


#1925832 - 07/12/12 11:47 AM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Rank Piano Amateur]  
Joined: Jun 2010
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PaintedPostDave Offline
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PaintedPostDave  Offline
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Upstate New York
The fountain of youth secret? It's the pheasant-under-glass. If you are financially constrained just use the glass. smile

Those pictures remind me of my visit. Great place.


Dave Koenig
Yamaha M1A console
1927 Knabe 7' 8" grand
https://sites.google.com/site/analysisofsoundsandvibrations/
#1925855 - 07/12/12 12:35 PM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
Joined: Mar 2008
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ClsscLib Offline

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ClsscLib  Offline

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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,670
Northern VA, U.S.
Steve, this is a great report -- thanks so much for posting it.

Your Uncle Lou was a fine-looking gentleman!


[Linked Image] [Linked Image][Linked Image]

"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins
#1925863 - 07/12/12 01:11 PM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: ClsscLib]  
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Steve Cohen Offline
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Steve Cohen  Offline
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Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Steve, this is a great report -- thanks so much for posting it.

Your Uncle Lou was a fine-looking gentleman!


Good looks runs in the family. smile


Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
#1925870 - 07/12/12 01:35 PM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,670
ClsscLib Offline

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ClsscLib  Offline

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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,670
Northern VA, U.S.
Speaking of which, how is your puppy doing? We need another photo!


[Linked Image] [Linked Image][Linked Image]

"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins
#1925888 - 07/12/12 02:29 PM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
Joined: Sep 2006
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Bob Newbie Offline
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Bob Newbie  Offline
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In reading that historical synopsis of Cunningham pianos I'm wondering if they started
restorations just after WWII just how old/age were those pianos in need of refurbishing?
were there really that many it could support a thriving business?



#1925895 - 07/12/12 02:53 PM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Bob Newbie]  
Joined: May 2001
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Steve Cohen Offline
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Steve Cohen  Offline
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Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted by Bob Newbie
In reading that historical synopsis of Cunningham pianos I'm wondering if they started
restorations just after WWII just how old/age were those pianos in need of refurbishing?
were there really that many it could support a thriving business?


As i understand it most of the pianos they restored in those days were 1870-1900s uprights and square grands. It was a thriving business as pianos were very popular.


Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
#1926164 - 07/13/12 05:09 AM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
Joined: Mar 2006
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BoseEric Offline
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Fairfield County, CT
Nice write up, Steve.

I can attest that the showroom has changed a great deal, at least since I have been calling on them. After Rich and Tim took over, there were subtle but noticeable changes in the appearance and refinement of the showroom every time I visited. In fact I think that brilliant red wall you're standing against is new.

I haven't been there in a little while (I know, Rich, I know), so I expect I'll be quite impressed by the changes they've made in the meantime (probably the red carpet leading to Rich's desk will have been updated).

Nice historical connection between you guys!



#1926839 - 07/14/12 08:47 PM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
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CoolPianoStuff Offline
Full Member
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Posts: 92
What a tremendous story. Thanks for sharing.

#1926934 - 07/15/12 01:00 AM Re: My Visit to Cunningham's [Re: Steve Cohen]  
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OperaTenor Offline
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OperaTenor  Offline
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Sandy Eggo, California
Wow, Steve, thank you for sharing.

I was supposed to head east to Philly a couple of years ago for a meetup at Cunningham, and had to cancel at the last minute. Now I wish more than ever I had been able to make that trip.



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