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What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201538
09/25/08 09:58 PM
09/25/08 09:58 PM
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Posts: 6
New York
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LittleFingers Offline OP
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New York
Hello:

I'm new to this forum, although I've searched around for info on the Acrosonic line of Baldwin spinets. (Yes, I know spinets don't get much respect, but it's what I inherited).

Specifically, I have an Acrosonic model 990, manufactured in 1965 or thereabouts. It was given to me by my aunt as part of her estate...twenty two years ago. I haven't played it much since, and it hasn't been tuned in that time. (I know...shame on me).

My questions:

What, if anything, is unique about the Acrosonic line? I was once told that there was something unusual about the action that made it superior to other spinets. I think I had also heard many years ago that the Acrosonic was capable of greater volume or dynamic range (excuse my wording -- I'm not much of a musician, obviously) than the typical spinet. Or is it really "just another spinet"?

Lately I feel like I'd like to resume playing after all these years but I'm wondering if this otherwise well-cared for, never-abused instrument can be tuned and voiced to its original beautiful sound. Some keys stick and the high end is kind of dull compared to the way it sounded when my late aunt played it.

Sorry for the length of the post, and thanks.

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Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201539
09/26/08 01:11 AM
09/26/08 01:11 AM
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torrance, CA
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Quote
What, if anything, is unique about the Acrosonic line?
Availability ( a ton of them were sold) and durability ( they are the Timex watch of pianos. They take a licking and keep on ticking).

Availability and durability work together. Old Acrosonics for sale are easy to find.


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Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201540
09/26/08 10:48 AM
09/26/08 10:48 AM
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Texas
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Acrosonic also had a "full size" action compared to the smaller actions in other spinets. Its tone and action were quite good for a spinet. I also agree with Turandot that they are plentiful and durable little pianos.


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Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201541
09/26/08 01:33 PM
09/26/08 01:33 PM
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Marty Flinn Offline
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Just when I think I have seen every cabinet style made as an Acrosonic, after 30+ years in the business, I see another. As a group, the best spinets ever made in touch, tone, and durability.


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Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201542
09/26/08 09:17 PM
09/26/08 09:17 PM
Joined: Jun 2006
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Albuquerque/Rio Rancho NM
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I love those pianos. If you've delivered them you know they are the heaviest and best-built little pianos ever. Look at the back casters. You can't see them. They are recessed into the bottom allowing the longest potential string length and soundboard area. Oddly enough, nearly every one I've had (100+) accompanied the original bench, meaning the benches were well built also.


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Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201543
09/26/08 09:40 PM
09/26/08 09:40 PM
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 6
New York
L
LittleFingers Offline OP
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New York
Thanks all...you've clarified a lot of what I had once heard.

When I inherited this piano, it replaced a nondescript spinet that we had in our family when I was growing up, a Cable-Nelson, I think. I can remember when my aunt bought this Acrosonic -- I felt like I was sitting at a concert grand. Even though I was just a kid who was still using John Thompson's
"Teaching Little Fingers To Play book" (hence my screen name here) I remember how rich and full-bodied its sound seemed, especially compared to my family's spinet or the Wurlitzer that my other aunt had.

That's also why I was surprised to read some of the the disparaging comments I had seen elsewhere about Baldwin spinets, this line in particular. Thanks for your opinions.

Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201544
09/27/08 02:52 AM
09/27/08 02:52 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,930
El Cajon, CA
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
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I haven't played very many Acrosonic spinets, but the ones I HAVE played, I have really liked them overall.

This may surprise some of you that hate Wurlitzer spinets, but I have friends in town that have a 1950s Wurlitzer spinet that still sounds and plays quite well for a spinet, holds its tune fairly well, AND still looks good. If I had to judge my opinion of Wurlitzer spinets based solely on that piano, it could easily rank a close second to Acrosonics.

(quick note: I just changed my avatar to depict 2 of my favorite pianos (a grand and a vertical) - is there any way to get it to show on my older posts? Also, would it be a good idea to put a pic of my business card in my signature? (I could PM someone a pic of it for inspection.)

Another "?".... Are there, or have there ever been, any spinets that, to summarize a partial spec list to follow, are as well designed as a typical Tier 1A piano? For example, using toe blocks like taller uprights do, music desk spanning the entire width of the piano like a Hamilton, a full perimeter plate, a true full sostenuto pedal, a Fandrich action, a GOOD scale design (using whatever it takes - high enough break to run trichords all the way down to the break? a separate return bridge in the tenor?), no hockeystick in the tenor section of the long bridge, bridges notched on both sides, "reverse curve" bass bridge, solid spruce soundboard, anything else I missed?


Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
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Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201545
09/27/08 09:40 AM
09/27/08 09:40 AM
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,163
Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
S
sotto voce Offline
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Acrosonics have far more fans than detractors, and they're not just a sentimental favorite of families and casual players: they get praise from industry professionals, too. (They're still spinets, sure, but that's otherwise pretty unheard of.)

IIRC, some Acrosonic models over the years were actually considered consoles. I admit I don't know the exact technical difference; is it a question of height, or whether it's a drop action or direct-blow action ... or both?

I've seen vintage Acrosonics from different eras, including midcentury modern, with very distinguished cabinetry.

88Key, I've always been reluctant to think my experience with a Wurlitzer spinet was representative, but it's interesting that positive impressions aren't uncommon. My mother had a mid-60s Kimball console and my aunt a Wurlitzer spinet from the same period. I spent many hours playing both, and preferred the Wurlitzer's tone and touch. (It's a comparison between two mediocre instruments, but a spinet wasn't supposed to be even that good!)

Steven

Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201546
09/27/08 10:32 AM
09/27/08 10:32 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 179
Northeast, USA
Mr. Kia Offline
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Northeast, USA
LF, Find a tuner/technician experienced in re-conditioning used pianos. With some hammer shaping, regulation, pitch raising and fine tuning, you will have a very nice small piano.


Piano Technician
Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201547
09/27/08 11:22 AM
09/27/08 11:22 AM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,432
Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline
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The ones I've seen were all low end pianos.

Especially in comparison to what's on the market today.

Hope not to offend anyone...

Norbert


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Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201548
09/27/08 11:38 AM
09/27/08 11:38 AM
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,163
Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
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sotto voce Offline
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I'm not offended, but spinets are inherently low-end pianos ... and aren't made today. smile

Wouldn't you concede that Acrosonics were high-end spinets?

Steven

p.s. to 88Key: A new avatar will automatically appear on all old posts, but it won't take effect immediately. The same is true for any update to your sig line.

Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201549
09/27/08 01:01 PM
09/27/08 01:01 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 24,754
New York City
pianoloverus Online content
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I had an Acrosonic for over 40 years before I got a Mason BB. Now I want to switch back!

Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201550
09/27/08 01:57 PM
09/27/08 01:57 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 40
Lake Saint Louis, MO
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I think what someone was referring to w/regards to the action was that most, and maybe all Acrosonics (can't remember) had "drop actions". I'm sure you can do an internet search for Baldwin Acrosonic Drop Action and get a description as well as pictures. Briefly, the action sits below the level of the keyboard as you will see. I know of acrosonics that my friend's folks had when I was in High School in the early 60's that are still being played! Enjoy your piano!
DL

Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201551
09/27/08 02:59 PM
09/27/08 02:59 PM
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Posts: 771
New Jersey
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VGrantano Offline
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New Jersey
They IMHO are the top of the Spinets. The Acrosonic Spinet and Console both used the same action The person above this post with the name thats too long to type is right. It was below the keyboard.The Hamilton had the other action.

Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201552
09/27/08 03:37 PM
09/27/08 03:37 PM
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Maryland/DC/No. VA
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Most of the Acrosonic spinets are getting very old as most were made just before or after WWII. While they were well built, most need new strings and hammers...more of an investment than the piano is worth.


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Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201553
09/27/08 09:03 PM
09/27/08 09:03 PM
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New York
L
LittleFingers Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by Kawai RX-5 and Technics SXPR 305:
I think what someone was referring to w/regards to the action was that most, and maybe all Acrosonics (can't remember) had "drop actions". I'm sure you can do an internet search for Baldwin Acrosonic Drop Action and get a description as well as pictures. Briefly, the action sits below the level of the keyboard as you will see. I know of acrosonics that my friend's folks had when I was in High School in the early 60's that are still being played! Enjoy your piano!
DL
Ah ha! That reminds me of what one of my home remodelers commented on as he walked through my living room one day. He took one look at my piano and commented on the unusual dimensions of the upper cabinetry and wanted to know what kind of action it had...he said he had never seen a spinet with those proportions. Mine is a sort of modernistic-looking style, with a very sleek, minimal top over the sound board and hammer area. All I knew at that point was that Acrosonic meant something different from other spinets; he wasn't familiar with it.

Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201554
09/28/08 09:44 AM
09/28/08 09:44 AM
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Arvada, Colorado, USA, Earth
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I have seen all variations of Acrosonics. There are many that are simply very well built, nice looking pianos that play well and sound good.

There are also Acrosonics that were built on the cheap, have horrible action and tone and very dull looking cabinets.

They are not all equal by any stretch. A mid 60s Acrosonic? Hmmm .... maybe a good one. I'd have to see it.

The mid 70s to mid 80s were probably the worst ones.


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Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201555
09/28/08 09:54 AM
09/28/08 09:54 AM
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Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
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sotto voce Offline
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I'm more confused than before.

Isn't a drop action a defining characteristic of a spinet piano? Was the "Acrosonic Drop Action" different in design from other makers' drop actions? Was it used in all Acrosonics, even the ones that were referred to as consoles?

RK, do you think the variability in quality you've seen correlates to the period when the pianos were built, or have you seen good ones as well as dogs of the same vintage?

Steven

Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201556
09/28/08 11:53 AM
09/28/08 11:53 AM
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VGrantano Offline
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To repeat myself, The console and the spinet had the same action. It was not a direct blow action.
The design of it was slightly different then other spinets. I'm not technical enough to tell you the differences, but it was an indirect action in both.I agree the one's from the 60's were made better. 70's they started down.IMHO

Re: What exactly is unique about an Acrosonic? #201557
09/28/08 11:59 AM
09/28/08 11:59 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by VGrantano:
To repeat myself, The console and the spinet had the same action. It was not a direct blow action.
I had thought drop action and spinet were synonymous.

I guess all spinets have drop actions, but not all drop actions are in spinets—and a console can thus be defined by the height of the cabinet alone?

Still, I don't think that's most people's understanding. I wonder if it caused any marketing issues for Baldwin. Did other makers make console pianos with drop actions?

Steven

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