Just got back home from a trip to quite literally the other side of the earth, and wanted to post this fantastic experience.
Had to make a trip to Philadelphia for work recently, and being a bit (okâ€¦ a lot) of a piano nerd, of course, the first thing I looked up was the Cunningham Piano Company. Amazingly, their Flagship store was 5 minute walk from my hotel, so of course I had to make a visit.
Still jet lagged having arrived the night before, I was greeted by Rich, who must have noticed my bloodshot eyes and immediately offered me coffee. Although, with or without bloodshot eyes, I think that was just an introductory glimpse of Richâ€™s hospitality. We talked a little, and he started showing me around the showroom floorâ€¦ and floored I was!
Boesendorfers, Estonias, Yamahas, Kawais, Baldwin, Mason & Hamlins and the of course the Cunninghams... some incredible instruments, talk about a candy store! Having been to a number of piano stores in the past, Richâ€™s approach was unique, open and generously inviting me to play on their collection of some of the finest instruments made today.
When presented with such a collection of instruments, itâ€™s almost impossible to decide on a favourite, but the 7â€ Boesendorfer 225 and the Estonia 190 (?) really stood out. The Estonia had this smooth dark bass set alongside a very clear and clean treble, the word that comes to my mind is â€œcalmingâ€. The Boesendorfer, well, I just got lost in the sound. The Matchless Cunningham 5'10" was a joy to play, beautifully resonant piano, and an instrument worthy of taking on the name of this great establishment.
Richâ€™s hospitality extended further by suggesting a tour of their factory. Fascinated by the internal workings of a piano having fiddled a bit on my own piano, and the reputation of their quality of rebuilds, who could say no?
Turned out to be a bit of a journey to get there the following day, with the weather in Philadelphia on that day, it ended up taking more than 1 hour to get there by Uber. But in hindsight, worth every second. Some pictures.
On approaching the factory... cloudy day, but great day to be doing a tour of the factory!
Entering the factory, I was greeted by a Matchless Cunningham.
And ofcourse by the gracious host, along with one of his many employees who all seemed to be passionate and enjoying what they do.
The factory not only has acoustics (mostly), it also has some hybrids laying around. An NU1 I believe.
And its action
A Bosie being restrung
And its action
Pianos come from all over the country for rebuilds, quite a number happening at the same time
An "abridged" grand... bad joke...
Gluing the soundboard onto the inner rim...
A fascinating contraption to hold the crown on a soundboard. The factory builds its own soundboard, how cool!
A soundboard being finished off
A frame being completely stripped down
Some buffing to make it all shiney
I guess re-staining the wood?
Dampers anyone? Wonder if anyone sprays their dampers to some outrageous colours... like green.
A (nearly?) complete Steinway
Thanks again Rich, Tim and the puppies for your welcome to the shop and also the factory. Truly a highlight of my very long journey to the other side of the globe!