As a rebuilder of many Steinway Duo-Art pianos and straight pianos of
the 1920's period, I feel these instruments were the best produced in
U.S. manufacturing firms. The craftsmen of that period were well
trained and had an Old World attitude about their craft. It would be
well to consider the cost of these instruments of that day.
I have researched the production of the Steinway Duo-Art. The
instruments were sent to the Aeolian factory for the Duo-Art player to
be installed as [to become] complete instruments. The Aeolian facility
had separate a building and workers for Ampico and Duo-Art as well as
There was a building for Knabe, Chickering and Mason & Hamlin. Brands
like J.C. Fisher were made in the Knabe building, Marshall & Wendell in
the Chickering building. The purpose of this structure was to keep the
design of the pianos and players unique.
The training of workers was under a structure still used in European
factories today. I had a occasion to teach in these schools. The
worker spends three years in a trade school and three years as a
apprentice in the factory. This type of training was used in the U.S.
piano factories of the 1920's.
I feel the technicians of today should have a knowledge of the history
of manufacturing of pianos of the past, so an instrument is restored to
its original condition. The empirical methods of piano design were
passed on from master to apprentice. This structure has faded from the
manufacturing of today and I fear important knowledge has also.