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MMD > Archives > February 2000 > 2000.02.11 > 09Prev  Next


Lindner Piano of Shannon, Ireland
By Jan Kijlstra

The company was founded by Rippen, actually, not Rippon.  There is
a story behind this piano.

The Rippen factory originated in The Hague, a city in the west of
Holland, where they built pianos the classical way.  After World War II
the company moved to Ede, the city where I was born and still live in.
They bought an old factory hall and extended it and started building
pianos in a quite new way.

In those post-war years there was a huge demand for pianos, but most
people did not have too much to spend.  Rippen decided to develop a
"low cost" instrument, and they were successful.  They also were
assembling and selling the Thomas organ, which originated from the USA.

In the 1960s Ireland had lots of unemployed, and the Irish government
was looking for investments in order to create more jobs.  Therefore
they published a bill in which they declared that in Shannon, a small
city nearby the local airport, foreign companies could achieve quite
substantial tax reductions, if only this would led to a certain amount
of jobs.

Rippen already was selling pianos in the USA, using the Thomas organ
connection.  But pianos are heavy, so shipment had to be done by boat,
which made it necessary to take care of sea-packaging, and so on.

They had a brain-storm: if they could make a lightweight piano they
could ship it by air.  And if they produced it at Shannon the investment
would be low and for a nice number of years the tax reductions would be
profitable.

So they started the development of the "plastic piano".  They used a
frame of aluminium tubes welded together, and they replaced as much as
possible of the wooden parts by plastic, and ended up with an instru-
ment of only 75 kilos [165 pounds].  Since the keyboard could be turned
downwards inside the chest, as in all Rippen pianos, they were able to
ship two pianos almost in the space normally used by one.  And they
could send them everywhere, as long as an airplane could land.

The production of the Lindner piano began with founding a factory at
Shannon, Ireland.  Only the plastic parts were produced at Shannon; the
normal parts were purchased from external suppliers, and Renner even
developed a special mechanism.  The main factory at Ede in the
Netherlands supplied some parts as well.

The fact that so many clips of the keys are broken is not such a
mystery.  Normally keyboard keys can be lifted out without any problem.
The plastic keys of the Lindner, however, snap in, and thus the keys
cannot be removed by pulling them away: they need to be unlocked.
However, many times these keys will come out just by pulling, but the
clips will easily break.  It indeed looks as if somebody did remove the
keys by brute force, to end up with a throw-away keyboard.

No replacement is available, I'm afraid, and the piano is definitely
not worth the trouble: these Lindner models had quite limited tonal
qualities.  I do not know how many instruments were produced at
Shannon.  In Ede the maximum output was 18 instruments per day, 5 days
a week.

You might be interested to know that Rippen, in their post-war models,
never did use a "rast" (those posts of 4 x 4 inches).  They glued and
screwed the pinblock onto the plate, so all the strength had to come
from the cast iron frame.

One last interesting fact: the sound boards of all Rippen/Lindner
pianos were made out of three layers, cross-glued: a triplex.  One true
advantage: it could not crack.

Rippen went broke in the year 1987; there was no longer a market for
the cheaper piano: the electronic models became even cheaper, and did
not ask for tuning, and so on.  And in the upper regions of the market,
where quality comes first, the competitors were either very well
established old names or were very competitive (Far East) newcomers,
all with one thing in common: high quality -- from Boesendorfer to
Yamaha.

Jan Kijlstra


(Message sent Fri 11 Feb 2000, 13:16:13 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  Ireland, Lindner, Piano, Shannon

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