The piano is an instrument almost unanimously considered to be beautiful. It takes great talent to use one, and it often requires tuning to ensure that the sound it makes stays perfect. What most casual piano listeners don’t realize is that the capabilities and sound available to a piano depend in large part on its form factor. For example, what tends to separates a keyboard from a piano is the number of keys and a marked difference in sound quality. Even among pianos, however, manufacturers often build in subtle, but unique differences in the form of the piano, thereby affecting the sound. The Acrosonic piano is one of the most popular and unique-sounding piano builds still in production today.
What Is an Acrosonic Piano?
Put simply, the Acrosonic brand of pianos is a line of upright pianos created by the piano manufacturing company Baldwin. First built in 1936, it boasted a ‘supreme sound’ compared to other pianos and sold remarkably well over the next fifty years. Unfortunately, most models of this specific piano brand are no longer made after Baldwin filed bankruptcy in 1984. After their acquisition by the Gibson Guitar Company, two models carrying the Acrosonic brand are still manufactured and sold today.
Its features include a compact size, no more than forty-four inches high for the tallest model. This makes it fairly easy to fit in compact living spaces, such as apartments and one-room homes. Each model has eighty-eight keys, which is the current standard for most pianos today. All models of the Baldwin Acrosonic piano contain smaller, thinner strings than most branded pianos. This gives the piano a sound that is best compared to the ringing of a bell.
Baldwin’s Acrosonic pianos come in two flavors: a ‘spinet’ version and later, a ‘console’ version.
First popular in the 18th century, the spinet is a compact piano that saw use until the 1970s. The spinet is one of the smallest types of pianos, standing at around thirty-six inches tall and weighing around three hundred pounds. The Baldwin Acrosonic piano in particular made the spinet popular again in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, where they saw use by pop artists looking for a unique sound. While older spinets were closer to the harpsichord in design, the Baldwin Acrosonic Spinet is more modern in its build quality and inner workings.
The Console Piano
Console pianos are the most typical and modern model of Acrosonic pianos used today. While the number of keys is the same as the spinet model, the keys have been made longer and larger. This makes the console piano more accessible for aspiring pianists with large hands. Other improvements over the spinet include a lower price and cost-efficient design. This allows for ease of tuning and repair for experienced professionals and aspiring amateurs alike. Much effort on Baldwin’s part was given to the presentation, as well. In addition to the added decorative quality of this new model, the wood of the cabinet can be one of three kinds: Mahogany, Pecan, or Dark Walnut.
Where and How Can I Get One?
Baldwin-branded pianos can generally be found online or at a dedicated piano store. Some convenience may be forgone visiting the latter, but it helps to get an idea of which kind of piano is best suited for oneself. That being said, Baldwin’s Acrosonic pianos can often reach expensive heights, upwards of two thousand dollars for one in excellent condition (particularly when bundled with a bench). If you are a bargain hunter, it may be possible to find one with some weathering (and without the bench) for as low as four hundred dollars. While the spinet can show up cheaper in used condition than the console piano, it might be worth the greater investment for an easier-to-repair model.
Sometimes it is impossible to get an older, more authentic Acrosonic piano for the right price. Fortunately, Baldwin still produces the ‘console’ style of these pianos to a degree. These models – the B342 and the B442 – approximate the design of the original pianos while adding a few modern touch-ups and cost-saving measures. Even with these changes, it may prove even more of an investment. While Baldwin does not sell these pianos directly, online piano storefronts do carry and sell them for upwards of seven thousand dollars brand new.
Few pianos possess a legacy as long-lasting as Baldwin’s Acrosonic line of upright pianos. While these pianos have become hard-to-find and deeply coveted in recent years, the owner of such a piano can find joy in its unique sound. Many known and popular pianists have found great use from it, and piano aficionados can appreciate its feel, design, and user-friendliness.