The world of pianos could be easily regarded as one of the fields where the human intellect, creativity, skills, and need for exploration have gathered and blended beautifully so that we can benefit from what many refer to as one of the most beautiful musical instruments out there. The Acrosonic piano is a paragon of mastery and a model that has delighted piano students and audiences worldwide.
Although the Acrosonic piano might sound unfamiliar to beginners, it comes with features that make it worthy of an in-depth study as well as one of the piano models worth playing if you’re interested in exploring this field as a performer. What is an Acrosonic piano, though? And what makes it so appreciated by players and listeners alike? Let’s find out more in today’s post.
What is an Acrosonic piano?
Built by one of the mainstream piano providers in the U.S., Baldwin, the Acrosonic piano features 88 keys and a smaller size and shorter strings than those of a typical piano. The Baldwin Acrosonic pianos are built with quality woods, such as mahogany, dark walnut, royal cherry, or pecan, and produce full sounds despite their small size.
The keys are covered with a coating to prevent stains and chipping, and the backplate and frame used for the soundboard assembly ensure tuning stability. The excellent manufacturing, superior tones, and small size all contributed to the success of Bawldin’s Acrosonic pianos that became a hit in terms of sales as well.
The Acrosonic definition mentions the ‘supreme sounds’ these pianos produce, and their sonic superiority and compact size turned them into highly appreciated models at the time they were invented, which was in 1936, and well after that since they are in great demand even today.
The Baldwin story and pianos
Before we get more into the features of the Baldwin Acrosonic Spinet pianos, it is worth taking a closer look at the manufacturer’s journey and history, given the company’s significant and beautiful contribution to the development of this instrument.
The Baldwin company has a rich history behind it as it started back in 1862, when Dwight Hamilton Baldwin, a beloved violin and reed organ teacher, opened a music store in Cincinnati, Ohio. A few years later, Baldwin hired Lucien Wulsin as a bookkeeper, who later became his partner, and together they founded the D.H. Baldwin & Company.
In the next 25 years or so, Baldwin became one of the biggest and most important piano sellers in the Midwest, thanks to Baldwin’s desire to build ‘the best piano that could be built’, the company’s efforts directed toward reaching this goal, and the excellent results. It was in 1890 when Baldwin set this goal, and it took only one year for the first Baldwin piano to be built.
Along with John Warren Macy, a piano inventor and technician, Baldwin launched the first Baldwin vertical piano in 1891, offering it at its Cincinnati-based store. That year, Baldwin also purchased a brick building on Gilbert Avenue, which became the manufacturing and corporate headquarters of the Baldwin company.
Four years later, the company extended its piano line with the first Baldwin grand piano, which was designed by the same John Macy and measured 5’4″ in length. In 1899, D. H. Baldwin died, but the company carried on, and just one later, it joined a small group of piano manufacturers that supplied concert grands for the piano players and artists of the time.
The craftsmanship and sonic capacities of the Baldwin pianos were internationally acknowledged, which led to a variety of top awards the company won at important expositions.
For example, in 1900, the Baldwin grand piano won the Grand Prix Award at the International Exhibition held in Paris. What adds to the importance of this award is that Baldwin’s piano was the first American-built model to earn this award.
This was one of the many awards the company was honored with, though. In 1904, the company also won top awards in St. Louis, and in 1914, it took top honors at the Anglo-American Exposition held in London.
In 1901, Baldwin’s partner, Lucien Wulsin, became the company’s first president, and four years later, Baldwin’s player pianos entered production. It took less than a decade from this point for the company to become a key international player in the piano market. By 1913, Baldwin was exporting the pianos it produced to 32 countries around the globe.
The business continued to expand, and by 1916, it had retail divisions not only in Cincinnati but also in Chicago, Denver, Louisville, New York, and San Francisco, to name a few. The company’s excellent manufacturing and its pianos’ superior sonic quality turned Baldwin pianos into models used by top performers of that time.
The pianos were employed not only for concerts but also for radio broadcasts. Pianists and composers alike became Baldwin artists. Wilhelm Backhaus, José Iturbi, Walter Gieseking, Bela Bartok, and Igor Stravinsky are among them.
As we’ve said above, the Baldwin piano line also included player pianos built in both upright and grand models. These pianos added to Baldwin’s success as this market segment peaked at 56 percent of the entire piano production in 1923.
However, in the next few years, the player sales went down as a result of the newer forms of entertainment, such as the movies, radio, and phonographs. Still, by 1929, Baldwin’s pianos were among the ones preferred by more than two hundred radio stations, thanks to the tone quality they ensured.
Even though the Great Depression began that year, Baldwin managed to survive as it had created significant financial resources for unforeseen events in the years before the Great Depression, which proved to be of great help during this challenging period.
By that time, the new president of the company was Lucien Wulsin’s son, Lucien Wulsin II, who successfully managed these resources and helped the company carry on. However, in a couple of years, the piano production declined, and in 1931, the entire piano industry manufactured only 51,000 instruments.
Still, by 1936, the piano consumer purchases had increased, and the industry had rebounded so well that the piano sales in the first months of this year reached the highest level in the last 15 years. In 1935, Baldwin began experimenting with electronic musical tones, the company’s first electronic organ being introduced more than a decade later, in 1946.
It was in 1936 that the company’s journey took another step that turned out to be essential for its international reputation, as the manufacturer introduced the Baldwin Acrosonic piano. It’s now that the Acrosonic piano history begins. The first model was a vertical one and paved the way to what came to be the company’s iconic piano.
In 1939, Baldwin extended its line of pianos and unveiled the Hamilton studio piano. The company’s piano manufacturing activity was interrupted in 1942 as a result of the war. Baldwin did not stop its activity but repurposed it and thus built new products that were in great demand at that time. The company then manufactured fuselage parts, wings, and other parts for planes.
However, this period helped the company improve in the piano field as the multiple-ply wings it built for aircraft were later used for its pianos to ensure strength and tuning stability. The company received a patent for the 41-ply pinblock in 1956. The post-war years witnessed an increasing interest in pianos, and thus Baldwin doubled its piano production.
In 1965, the company launched the SD10 Concert Grand, which marked a significant advancement in the development of this musical instrument. The new piano was highly appreciated and became a favorite among artists and organizations alike. Various orchestras, including the Boston and Philadelphia orchestras, and artists, such as Dave Brubeck and Bruce Hornsby, chose this model for their performances.
The company extended its piano line, and in 1971, unveiled the Baldwin home electro-piano. Two years later, Baldwin built its one-millionth vertical piano. It didn’t take long before the manufacturer launched its first electronic keyboard, and 1974 witnessed the introduction of the Baldwin FunMachine.
In 2001, the Gibson Guitar Company, known as Gibson Brands, purchased the Baldwin company. Today’s offer of Baldwin pianos includes a variety of models that range from the much-appreciated Baldwin Acrosonic Console piano to Professional Series Grand Pianos.
The beautiful sounds of the Baldwin instruments, their durability, and the attention paid to details when manufacturing them have turned them into favorites among pianists, teachers, composers, and students. The Baldwin pianos are used in a variety of organizations and institutions, from orchestras to schools and churches.
Acrosonic piano models
There are many reasons why Baldwin’s Acrosonic pianos have enjoyed such great success. The ‘supreme sounds’, as the name suggests, the quality of the materials used, compact size, and classic styling have all turned these pianos into some of the most sought-after instruments in this category. All these aspects contribute to the Acrosonic piano value.
Acrosonic pianos can be divided into two main types: the Acrosonic Spinet piano and the Acrosonic Console piano. While the models in these categories vary in terms of dimensions, both types deliver the superior sound quality that has become a synonym of the pianos in the Acrosonic line.
The Spinet models are the smaller ones and measure 36 inches in height, while the Console models are a bit taller and measure 40 – 42 inches in height but are still compact enough to make them popular for home use. Thanks to their size, Baldwin could thus add high-tension strings and also employ top-quality wood, which tailored the superior performance ensured.
As far as the weight of an Acrosonic piano is concerned, it varies depending on the model and size in question. It ranges from 300 to 400 pounds, though. While the Acrosonic Spinet models are the smallest and require less space, the Consoles are easier to play thanks to their longer keys and larger structure.
However, the Spinet models are a bit more expensive and perhaps a bit more difficult to maintain than their Console counterparts. Even so, both Acrosonic piano types make a good choice for beginners, given their small size and sound range; not to mention that, considering their beautiful and stylish classic look, they will also complement any home.
The Baldwin Acrosonic piano value differs depending on the model being considered. For example, a used Baldwin Acrosonic Console Upright Piano 41″ Satin Walnut is priced at $1,995 or so, while the Baldwin Acrosonic Spinet Upright Piano 36″ Satin Ebony (used version) is available for $1,495 or somewhere around that on different websites.
You might find some used models, such as the Baldwin Acrosonic Piano (mahogany) with a bench available for $700 – $800. If they are in good condition, such pianos are really a steal. We’ve even seen the Baldwin Acrosonic upright piano (3 pedals, 1966 model, used version) priced at $400. Such a model might require a bit of reconditioning, but it is still a good deal for such an instrument.
The Baldwin B342 Acrosonic Console Piano
One of Baldwin’s Acrosonic pianos that stands out thanks to its superior performance and elegant styling is the B342 Acrosonic Console piano. This model was introduced in 1936 and has been one of the most popular models built by Baldwin and considered the best in its class.
The way this instrument is designed and performs makes it a top choice for players of all levels and various applications. Plus, the elegant styling will complement any décor. Like any of Baldwin’s upright piano, the B342 is built based on the company’s acclaimed scale design and thus features quality components used in such a way to ensure optimum performance.
The Baldwin Acrosonic piano dimensions for this model include 43 ½ inches in height, 57 ¼ inches in width, and 24 ½ inches in depth. Its dimensions allow it to feature a soundboard that is larger than the one used for most compact upright pianos, which ensures its full and powerful sounds. This particular model features a spruce soundboard.
The unit comes with longer strings that, paired with the 100% virgin wool hammers, enhance the sonic quality delivered. The superior response and feel are also ensured by the company’s Full Blow Direct Action used for this model as well. Thanks to the reinforced back used and the fine materials employed for its construction, the piano delivers rich and full tones.
To make sure that the piano provides excellent tonal quality, the manufacturer used two-ply beech and hard maple for the bridges and premium spruce for the ribs. The selection of the ribs used for each unit is thorough, and these parts are carefully chosen in order to match each soundboard and thus ensure superior stability.
Everything that goes into a piano has a word to say when it comes to the results delivered, and the strings hold great importance in terms of sonic output. The B342 features Roslau or Mapes strings that ensure rich yet detailed tones, as well as harmonic overtones.
Baldwin has also become famous for the pinblock used for its pianos, and the B342 comes with a 19-ply pinblock built with hard maple, a hardwood that ensures durability. All the plies are held together by a waterproof adhesive, which increases the pinblock’s resistance to humidity.
The piano features cross-grained hardwoods for its keybeds, as well as hardwood reinforcement parts for its keys. The way the keys and keybeds are constructed and designed ensures dimensional stability for a long time and a notable feel.
Just like any Baldwin upright piano, this one too is packed with sustain, soft, and bass sustain pedals so that players can explore and express their musical personality in countless ways. What’s more, the pianos in this line also include a lever for quiet practice and a stop that will enable you to play at a very low volume when required.
Baldwin remains a key player in the piano industry, and the company’s contribution to the way this instrument and its performance evolved is worthy of praise. Today’s line of Baldwin pianos includes several grand pianos and upright models.
The Acrosonic models fall into the latter category, and the current offer includes the B342/B42 Acrosonic 43 ½” and the B442/B42 Acrosonic: 43 ½”. In 2017, the BP211 Semi-Concert Grand was introduced and made available in six different size models, known as the Baldwin Professional Grand Series.
The quality and sound performance ensured by the Baldwin pianos have turned them into favorites among top performers and composers. Pianists, such as Walter Gieseking, Jorge Bolet, and Earl Wild, and composers, including Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, and Leonard Bernstein, have employed Baldwin’s various piano models to compose, perform, or record.
The Acrosonic pianos were imagined as compact models that would ensure superior sound quality and built as such. Today’s piano world would be difficult to imagine without Baldwin’s contribution and the enchanting performances featuring the company’s pianos.