Insight into Howard Piano Company
Are Used Baldwin Howard Pianos Any Good? What's the Value?

The label Howard Piano Company of Cincinnati, Ohio was part of the largest American-based vertical and upright pianos manufacturer named Baldwin Piano and Organ Company.


Howard Pianos History - How it Started

Dwight Hamilton Baldwin started out as a piano dealer in 1862. He had acquired franchise to some notable brands that made him a successful distributor. In 1890, Baldwin founded the Hamilton brand for reed organ and the Baldwin brand for uprights and verticals. He vowed to produce pianos of superior quality and that he did.

In 1895, the Howard Company piano of Cincinnati was established. Piano by Howard was sold in Baldwin stores and ultimately became a popular name brand alternative to the costlier Baldwin. Though a lot less expensive than a Baldwin, Howard's instruments nonetheless have more than average tonal quality and generally durable, as all pianos made more than a century ago. The company was eventually acquired and marketed as Baldwin Howard pianos.

The Howard label manufactured pianos until the 1960s. Baldwin eventually folded up sometime in 2008 but the legacy of the two brands lives on. Currently, the Howard and Baldwin name brands are owned by Gibson Guitar Company in Tennessee. The Baldwin brand still manufactures piano. Sadly, the only “new” Howards available are reconditioned models.

Howard Baby Grand Piano Value & Quality

There are probably no current reviews of a “Howard” for after all the brand produced its “newest” models in 1968. A general consensus about the used piano from past and present owners is its durability and reliability. A Howard may well have graced thousands of schools, churches, function halls, music conservatories and homes at its height.

Early Howard grand pianos used mahogany, oak, walnut for its casing. The wood is double-veneered to prevent “splitting” of veneers or its layers of coating. All Howard models then have full-iron plates than assured durability and retention of its pitch and tune once connected to the solid hardwood frame.

It must be noted that the construction in the last century is a far cry from baby grand pianos made today. Back then, everything had to be manually done as there was no computer software to design, cut, and mold and tune each acoustic piano.

A Howard piano's “touch” is light that even a child beginner will not have difficulty playing it. However its well-balanced scale is even and smooth, with a more than acceptable tone and timbre.

Howard Models Circa 1929

Howard Upright Piano

  • Style 409
    This vertical piano has a height of 4 feet and 6 inches. It came in walnut and brown and red mahogany. This model was noted for its durability and reliability.
  • Style 412
    This upright piano is 4 feet and 3 inches tall and boasts of fine tone-quality at a very affordable price.
  • Style 413
    Is a console with a height of 3 feet and 7 inches. Its casing and frame is made of mahogany and oak. This model was the preferred choice of music schools and conservatories because of its accurate tone and action response as well as the durability of its frame and soundboard made it a popular choice then.

Howard Grand Piano

  • Style 419
    Five feet in length this Howard baby grand had a deep and resonant tone and action that was light, responsive and easy. The model was specially intended for use in music studios and smaller homes.
  • Style 496
    This grand piano is a reproducing piano, a musical instrument that has a mechanism to enable it to play automatically. It can be adjusted accordingly to “reproduce” the original artist.

Manualo & Coin-operated Models

The Manualo is a mechanical upright player piano that can be “played” by anyone. The coin-operated model was the ancestor of the 1940s jukebox.

Howard Piano Prices

Today, used Howard pianos for sale are considered antiques and a vintage collector's item. There are some younger models that are being sold but more often than not, an extensive restoration on old models is needed. A second hand 1911 Howard Victorian upright piano could cost at least $10,000 to be fully restored. A fully restored 1931 Howard Sheraton style baby grand appraisal is pegged at $15,000.

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Updated October 4, 2010
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