Makes and Models
We have brought together details and information about the piano manufacturers most frequently found in the U.K. It is as yet incomplete; we are adding further details and photographs as and when they come to light. We hope that you will find it useful.
Aeolian, London & New York
Built the Steck & Weber models. Famous for building pianolas (player pianos).
Allison, London – Established 1837
Built the better quality pianos in the 1920’s, all well-built with a good solid tone. Style of frame found in uprights very similar to that used by Grotrian Steinweg. Company taken over by Chappell.
Barnes, W.H. – Established 1828
Built the D’Almaine & Stroud uprights. Their overstrung uprights were of varied origin, and of reasonable quality. We have not yet seen any grands made by them. Believed tie-up with Bentley, as serial numbers appear to be compatible from the 1920’s.
Bechstein, C., Berlin – Established 1853
See our C. Bechstein Pianos Guide.
Bentley – Established 1906
Until very recently indeed, Bentley were one of Britain’s best-known builders of modern pianos, from the 1930’s. The styles of 1930’s Barnes uprights are strikingly similar to those made by Bentleys. Bentley pianos are now built by their new owners, Whelpdale, Maxwell & Codd Ltd, London, who build Welmar Pianos.
Blüthner, Julius, Leipzig – Established 1853
One of the `Big Four’ most famous & respected piano makers in the world. See our Blüthner Pianos guide.
Bosendorfer, L., Vienna – Established 1828
Argued by many to be the world’s finest piano-maker, Bosendorfer pianos are known throughout the world. There are relatively few such instruments in circulation; some reckon for every one Bosendorfer made, there are 5 Bechsteins or 12 Steinways. Any instrument made by them is of the highest quality and a shortage of second-hand pianos in the open market, is driving prices sky-high.
Built instruments for various companies, including Eavestaff (built the Minipiano & Miniroyal). One of the lesser-known English companies, we like the quality of their pianos, having restored many of their overstrung uprights over the years. Brasted’s overstrung uprights had a powerful, bright tone, and were well-built.
Brinsmead, John, London – Established 1837
Regarded by many as possibly the best British piano maker, though this view was attributed to Broadwood after the turn of the century. In our view, Brinsmead pianos, both grand & upright are fine pianos, with a wonderfully warm, rich tone, and beautifully crafted. Our favoured English Maker.
Broadwood, John & Sons, London – Established 1728
Regarded by many as England’s most famous and respected maker. Full report being compiled.
Challen, Chas., London – Established 1804
Makers of well-made instruments with a good well-rounded tone and light, responsive, touch. Challen built the 11ft 8in Grand, the largest in the world, in 1935. Challen also supplied the BBC with pianos in the 1930’s. The company was taken over by Barratt & Robinson in 1971.
Chappell, London – Established 1811
By 1900, Chappell had produced over 36,000 instruments, and in its heyday, produced over 1000 pianos each year. The best uprights were made after the 1st World War, and have a full rich bright tone. Also made the Elysian uprights. Their grands were also excellent pianos, and were good from the mid-1890’s. Chappell were taken over by Kemble in the 1970’s.
Collard & Collard, London – Established 1760
Was second only to Broadwood in terms of output during the 19th Century. The better instruments were made after 1900, and are well-liked. C&C were taken over by Chappell in 1929, who used the name until 1971. C&C also built pianos by Kirkman.
Cramer, J.B., London – Established 1824
Builders of above-average quality instruments. Cramer has not had the same reputation as the other top British makers, but we like the solid construction and excellent tone with a deep bass. They have produced some art-cased instruments. We have restored many such pianos over the years. The company was inevitably taken over by the Kemble piano group in 1964, who, for a limited period used the `Cramer’ name on its own pianos.
Uprights made after 1920 are generally well-made, and believed to have been built by W.H. Barnes. The 1930’s overstrung models are similar in style to Challen models, and respond well to restoration.
Danemann, W & Co., London – Established 1892
A good maker of upright pianos from the 1920’s, that survived to make grand & upright pianos of a high standard until 1984 when the company was forced to close. They made pianos for other companies, including Pohlmann uprights.
Eavestaff, W.G. & Sons, London – Established 1823
They Introduced the `Minipiano’ & `Pianette’, during the 1930’s, which at the time were the smallest acoustic pianos made, and in an art-deco style, many had unusual styles & colours. In spite of these endearing qualities, we consider these instruments are too musically poor to justify restoration. Other instruments made by Eavestaff, however are reasonable, particularly the overstrung 1920’s uprights & grands, and we quite like the Miniroyal built by Brasted.
See Chappell. Pianos made today bearing this name are made by Young Chang.
Erard, Paris – Established 1792
Regarded as France’s Best piano maker, pianos were built in London as well as Paris. The best instruments were made from the mid-1890’s onwards, and are beautifully crafted. Erard merged with Gaveau in 1960, and they were themselves absorbed by Schimmel of Germany in 1971.
Feurich, Julius, Leipzig – Established 1851
Not a make that we see all that often, but those pianos we have restored or viewed are of a high quality with a balanced and mellow tone.
Forster, August, Lobau, Germany – Established 1859
Again, not a make we find frequently, but those we have restored are of a high quality, and are beautifully crafted. The company, which still exists, remains independent, building fine instruments to this day.
Gaveau, Paris – Established 1847
A top French make, whose instruments are found occasionally in the UK, we like the rich tone and deep bass tone. Gaveau pianos are beautifully crafted, many with Art cabinets. In 1960, the company merged with Erard.
Gors & Kallmann, R., Berlin – Established 1877
One of the German makes found quite frequently in the UK, G&K pianos all have a rich bright treble and heavy bass tone. Unfortunately, some G&K Frames were poorly made, and suffer from cracks; however, we like their pianos, and have restored many over the years. Even the overdamper models provide excellent performance.
Grotrian-Steinweg (G.S), Braunschweig – Established 1858
G.S. were founded when the two factions of the Steinweg family followed their separate ambitions, the other half emigrated to the US and founded Steinway & Sons. G.S. instruments have a different character to Steinways, but in our view are of the highest calibre. G.S. pianos tend to possess a softer, sweeter tone than their Steinway counterparts.
Hopkinson, J&J., London – Established 1840
A respected builder of excellent uprights and grands, with a warm `silky’ tone. Beautifully made, Hopkinson merged with George Rogers & Sons at the end of 1st World war.
Ibach, Rud., Barmen, Germany – Established 1794
The oldest surviving family-owned piano-manufacturers in the world, Ibach still build fine instruments to this day. Their traditional instruments are solidly-built, and have a bright, powerful sound. Their instruments are respected throughout the piano trade, and many such instruments are found in the UK One of the few over damper models that is good enough to deserve restoration.
Kaps, Ernst, Dresden – Established 1858
One of the lesser-known quality German makers, their instruments nevertheless possess a warm, rich tone, and are well-crafted. Kaps are understood to have built the first overstrung 5ft grand in 1865.
Kemble, Piano Grp., Milton Keynes – Established 1911
Traditional instruments made by Kemble were, in our opinion, of average quality. By the 1930’s, the group were actively growing and started by absorbing Moore & Moore; Squire Longson & Rogers Eungblut. At this time, Kemble designed the `Minx’ & `Cameo’ range of smaller pianos and by the 1970’s had taken over John Brinsmead, J.B. Cramer, and Chappell. The equally small `Bijou’ (later `Classic’) range of modern pianos, proved popular and attracted the interest of the Yamaha Corp’s manufacturing ambitions, and thus are now Kemble’s owners.
Upright Pianos that we have seen by this maker are generally on the large side, but tone-wise tend to be warm and mellow, with a very fine touch. Cabinets usually tend to be above-average in terms of appearance, with some very ornate models. One of the more underrated makes, we have found they restore beautifully.
Lipp, Richard, Stuttgart – Established 1831
Pianos built by this fine company, in our view, rank as some of the finest ever made. The sheer quality of manufacture, of their grands & uprights, puts a Lipp up with the very top makers. The overstrung Post 1890’s upright gets our vote as one of the best upright pianos of all time. Even the straight-strung upright is one we actively seek for restoration, so sweet is the tone. The action is beautifully designed, and we say to anyone with a Lipp, regard it as you would any famous name.
Marshall & Rose, London – Established 1875
Not a name found regularly, numbers built in the early years to the 1920’s were quite modest. The pianos, mainly uprights, however, were well-made with a good deep bass tone. Once Whelpdale, Maxwell & Codd (builders of Welmar) had established their interest, numbers increased rapidly and M&R uprights effectively became the same instruments as Welmars.
Monington & Weston, London – Established 1858
Pianos made before the 1920’s, in our view weren’t up to much and at best could be described as mediocre. M&W then decided to redesign their uprights by means of a `double’ or `extra’ iron frame at the back of its uprights, and the new & improved models were good pianos with a powerful and possibly strident tone. Grands also had this modification, and they, too, improved dramatically. The 1930’s brought one of the few traditional 6-octave uprights, again with the extra iron frame.
Moore & Moore, London – Established 1838
Makers of reasonably good overstrung uprights, we have not (yet) seen an M&M grand. Taken over by the Kemble Group in 1933.
Neumeyer, Berlin – Established 1861
Both grands and uprights made by Neumeyer have a bold and fairly strident tone, such pianos deserve restoration. More information is sought on this make.
Petrof, Anton., Hradec Kralove, Czech Rep. – Established 1864
The only Eastern-European maker that has produced good-quality instruments – mainly grands – and has been exported to the UK We like the design, the magical tone and responsive actions of the traditional pianos we have seen. Today, in a somewhat different corporate context, Petrof still build pianos of reasonable quality, though we prefer the original pianos made between the 1890’s – 1930’s.
Pleyel, Paris – Established 1807
A respected top French maker, whose instruments are found in the UK from time to time. Pleyel designed some of their earlier grands in association with John Broadwood in the mid-1800’s. Their pianos, both uprights & grands, are well-liked, sturdily built, with a warm rich tone.
Ritmuller, W., Gottingen, Germany – Established 1795
Another quality maker, whose pianos are found in the UK regularly. One of our favoured makers, all of the pianos we have restored have proved to have become fine instruments.
Rogers, George, London – Established 1843
One of Britain’s top manufacturers. We understand that the quality of Rogers’ pianos was transformed after building London-made pianos for Bechstein in the early 1890’s, and some of Rogers’ own models were strikingly similar. Rogers merged with Hopkinson in 1918, and the group were absorbed by Zender of London in 1963.
Ronische, Carl, Dresden – Established 1845
A respected maker in both the UK & in Germany, his pianos were also built in St. Petersburg, Russia. Their pianos are beautifully crafted, with a full, sometimes strident tone, as do many good German pianos. They survived the 2nd World war, and the name changed to `Deutsche-piano-union, Leipzig’ This company still produces pianos bearing various names, including `Hupfeld’, and `Ronische’ today.
Schiedmayer, & Soehne, Stuttgart – Established 1809
This maker is frequently found in the UK, and we like the sheer quality of all their instruments from the 1890’s. The tone is mellow, but with a solid bass. Strange as it may seem there were in fact 2 separate firms, the second was founded in 1853 by his two sons, Julius & Paul, named J&P Schiedmayer. The two companies merged in 1969, and eventually were taken over by Kawai of Japan.
Seiler, Ed, Liegnitz – Established 1849
Report being compiled. Please contact us for more information.
Spaethe, Wilhelm, Gera, Germany – Established 1859
A lesser-known maker, the pianos we have restored or seen have all been sturdily built and with an excellent tone & touch.
Spencer, John, London – Established 1884
Makers of large numbers of cheaper uprights from the 1890’s that were essentially better than many made at the time. The cabinets were often walnut with inlaid marquetry. From the 1920’s Spencer made some good overstrung uprights and a few grands. Also built pianos by Murdoch & Murdoch. Spencer ceased trading in 1942.
Squire & Longson, London – Established 1829
A Smaller manufacturer, who built solid instruments (from 1918) with a powerful, rich tone. Eventually Kemble acquired S&L and produced their own pianos with the S&L name until the 1970’s.
Steinway, & Sons, New York & Hamburg – Established 1853
The world’s most famous piano manufacturer, founded by Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg. (See Grotrian Steinweg). Visit Steinway’s website or contact us for more information.
Strohmenger, John, London – Established 1835
Makers of fine uprights & grands, the company was eventually bought by Chappell in 1938.
See Aeolian – Pianos made today bearing this name, are built by Young Chang.
Welmar, London – Established 1876
Originally the company who build the Welmar and Marshall & Rose Pianos, were set up as British agents for importing Blüthners from Leipzig. They are known as Whelpdale Maxwell & Codd (W.M.C) Ltd. In 1938 a fire at the Squire Longson factory provided W.M.C. with a fully trained workforce, and thus produced the Welmar and Marshall & Rose range of pianos. They also retained the `Blüthner pianos, UK’ name, but there is no connection between them and the real Julius Blüthner of Leipzig. Welmar pianos are probably the best pianos still made in the UK and still retain some of the Blüthner characteristics. W.M.C. have subsequently taken over the Bentley Piano company, which includes some of the famous British names such as Hopkinson and Rogers. W.M.C. also own Knight.
Built by the British Piano Manufacturing Company. Our opinion is that Windover are as good as any of the top British names, and are built with a German-style frame. Tone and touch are excellent, if the cabinets are a little ordinary. We have restored many such pianos over the years, and all have been superb results. Gets our vote as one of the dark horse quality makes!
Zimmermann, Leipzig – Established 1884
A traditional maker who has survived the test of time, and are still made today. The traditional instruments are, like many good German manufacturers, solidly made, and they have produced large numbers, having built 165,000 by 1930. The modern-made pianos are not as exciting, being mass-produced, although take-over by Bechstein will inevitably result in higher quality.
COURTNEY PIANOS wishes to make it clear that all information herein has been compiled at its own discretion, and opinions expressed are those of our researchers, based on our years of experience within the piano trade.