The Chickering Brothers of Chicago were a short-lived piano production company since the early 1900s. Even though they were in business for such a short time, they made up for it by creating one of the best pianos ever made, in my opinion, called -The Acoustigrande.
The patent reveals that they changed the angle of the piano’s spine to create a wider soundboard. The magic was that it didn’t seem any bigger.
Chickering Brothers, not to be confused with Boston’s Chickering & Sons Piano Company. The Chickerings of both firms were related to each other, and Clifford Chickering had even worked at the Chickering and Sons factory for seven years, before starting his own firm.
He was asked to finish a drawing that Frank Chickering (uncle and owner of Chickering & Sons) was working on before his death. Clifford incorporated a couple of drawing innovations that resulted in the Acoustigrande.
In addition to the width, it also features a new way to taper the edge to match the taper of the soundboard for improved tone.
Clifford became very skilled in piano acoustics, and decides to expand on his own, moving to Chicago with his brothers.
After the tragedy happens to Clifford, his brother Fred dies, then Wallace too, and at the same time the city of Chicago condemns the Chickering building for the widening of the streets. All while fighting with his uncles over the use of the Chickering name in connection with piano making.
He ends up selling his company to Ampico and also ends up returning to Chickering and Sons to become their vice president.
Clifford was a major force in keeping the Chickering and Sons Piano Company strong after Frank Chickering’s death. But due to the economic conditions of the arrival of the First World War, the company resigned in 1908, selling Ampico. Ampico took good advantage of the use and rights of the Chickering name, but the pianos were a less expensive version. I have also seen a Chickering Brothers piano produced by Ampico and this was also a very inexpensive version and not worthy of the original design.
If you ever come across or own an original Chickering Brothers piano, you should know that it was a very special design and worth restoring.
It is one of the few pianos of the past that I have found that was better than most pianos made today.
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