In the 19th and 20th centuries, Kimball was one of the largest manufacturers of pianos in the world. Many Kimball pianos are still in existence, even though the company is no longer producing pianos. Are Kimball Pianos good? What did happen to the company?
Here, let’s look at why Kimball Pianos were popular for over a century.
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Kimball Piano History
The Kimball Piano Company was founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1857 by William Wallace Kimball, a cabinet maker, and woodworker who had a passion for music. Initially, the company produced pump organs and reed organs, which were popular at the time. However, as demand for pianos grew, the company began producing pianos in the late 1800s.
Kimball Pianos quickly gained a reputation for high quality and craftsmanship, and the company became one of the largest piano manufacturers in the world. The company’s success allowed William Kimball to expand into other areas, such as real estate and insurance, and he became a prominent figure in Chicago’s business community.
Throughout the 20th century, the Kimball Piano Company continued to produce pianos, and the instruments became popular with musicians, music schools, and churches. In the 1950s and 1960s, the company introduced new technology and innovations to its pianos, such as a “whisper-quiet” system that reduced the noise of the keys and hammers.
However, like many other American piano manufacturers, the Kimball Piano Company faced challenges in the latter part of the 20th century. Competition from foreign manufacturers, changes in musical tastes, and the rise of the electric pianos led to declining sales, and the company declared bankruptcy in 1996.
After the bankruptcy, the company’s assets were sold to different companies, and attempts were made to revive the Kimball Piano brand. Unfortunately, these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and the company ceased production.
Despite the company’s challenges, Kimball pianos continue to be admired by many musicians and collectors for their quality and craftsmanship. Some of the company’s most famous customers included Liberace and George Gershwin, who used a Kimball grand piano to compose his iconic “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Why You Buy a Kimball Piano?
People may choose to buy a Kimball piano for a variety of reasons. They range from their reputation for quality and craftsmanship to nostalgia or budget considerations.
The price range for a Kimball piano can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the age, condition, and size of the instrument.
- Older Kimball pianos may be less expensive than newer models
- Smaller upright pianos may cost less than larger grand pianos
In the used market, Kimball upright pianos are at prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on their age and condition. For instance, a used Kimball spinet piano from the mid-20th century may be priced at around $500 to $2,000, while a studio or professional upright may be priced at $2,500 or more.
Grand pianos may be more expensive, typically ranging from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. For example, a used Kimball baby grand piano from the early to mid-20th century may be priced at around $5,000 to $10,000, while a larger and more recent model may be at $15,000 or more.
It’s important to note that when purchasing a used piano, it’s essential to have it inspected by a qualified technician to ensure that it’s in good condition and does not require significant repairs, restring, or other maintenance.
Additionally, transportation and setup costs should be included when considering the total cost of purchasing.
The Design and Build Material
Kimball pianos were known for their attention to detail and the use of high-quality materials. The company used a variety of materials in the construction of their pianos, including wood, metal, and felt.
- The soundboard, the large wooden component that amplifies the sound of the strings, was typically made of spruce wood.
- The bridges, which transmit the strings’ vibration to the soundboard, were typically made of maple or beech wood.
- The frame of a Kimball piano was typically made of cast iron. It provides strength and stability to the instrument.
- The strings were made of high-tensile steel wire.
- The hammers, which strike the strings to produce sound, were made of felt.
- The keys were mostly made of wood, with a plastic or ivory-like substance covering the tops.
In general, Kimball pianos were famous for having a warm and mellow tone.
The use of high-quality materials in the construction of Kimball pianos, such as a spruce wood soundboard and high-tensile steel strings, contributed to the instrument’s overall sound quality.
Kimball pianos were also designed to produce a clear and balanced sound across all registers of the keyboard, from the low bass notes to the high treble section. This made them well-suited for a variety of musical styles, from classical to jazz and popular music.
Kimball pianos were often sold with many accessories to enhance the playing experience and protect the instrument. Some of the most common accessories are:
- Piano bench: A bench or stool for the pianist to sit on while playing.
- Piano cover: A cover made of cloth or other material to protect the piano from dust and other environmental elements.
- Casters: Wheels that can be attached to the bottom of the piano to make it easier to move.
- Metronome: A device that produces a steady beat to help the pianist maintain a consistent tempo while playing.
Where to find Kimball Pianos
Since the Kimball Piano Company is no longer operating, you cannot purchase new Kimball pianos. Still, you may find used Kimball pianos through many channels, including:
- Piano dealers: Many piano dealers specialize in selling used and refurbished pianos, including Kimball pianos.
- Online marketplaces: Websites such as eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace often have listings for used Kimball pianos for sale.
- Auctions: Auction houses sometimes sell used Kimball pianos through online or in-person auctions.
Conclusion – Are Kimball Piano Good?
Kimball pianos are good pianos. They were designed and built with high-quality materials and attention to detail. They contributed to their reputation for durability, longevity, and top-notch sound quality.
Moreover, the accessories help to protect and enhance the playing experience of a Kimball piano, making it a more enjoyable and durable instrument to own.
Like purchasing any used instrument, it is essential to have a qualified technician to ensure the condition of the piano. Piano repair can be costly, hence professional opinion can help you to determine a fair value. Also, transportation and setup costs should be taken into consideration when budgeting your Kimball piano purchase.