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NOTEBOOK – ONE GOOD READ: How one of America’s last piano manufacturers stays alive


When I was 10, my parents moved our family to a new, larger house, in a new neighborhood. The move meant changing schools in mid-year and making new friends. In my 10-year-old mind, the best thing about the move was that I finally was going to get to learn how to play the piano. A new piano, golden in color with shiny ivory white and black keys. And that new upright piano was going to be in my bedroom, safe out of the reach of my younger siblings. The piano, which I still have, was made by the Conn Co., a piano manufacturer that over the years was swallowed up by company after company including one in China who bought the Conn production equipment. With that history in mind, it’s not surprising to learn that there are only two piano manufacturers that remain in the United States —  Steinway & Sons in New York, and Mason & Hamlin in Haverhill, Mass. It wasn’t that long ago that piano factories were one of America’s largest and most formidable industries, employing tens of thousands of workers, writes Zachary Crockett for the Hustle. “Over the past century, nearly all American piano manufacturers have been eradicated by foreign competition, declining domestic craftsmanship, and the rise of competing technologies,” writes Crockett, who explains in his article how Mason & Hamlin almost didn’t survive. The company now makes 2.5 pianos a week. Each new piano takes  between 150 and 400 hours to complete. “People thank us for keeping the company alive and bringing back these pianos,” Kirk Burgett, the company’s owner, told Crockett. “The legacy of these instruments is just too strong to die.”

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