The Short History of the Chickering Brothers Piano Company
The Chickering brothers, out of Chicago, was a short lived piano making company from the early 1900’s. 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 spine of the piano to create a larger soundboard in width. The magic was that it didn’t look bigger.
Chickering Brothers, which should not be confused with the Chickering & Sons Piano Company from Boston. The Chickerings from both firms were related to one another, and Clifford Chickering had even worked at the Chickering and Sons factory for seven years, before starting his own firm.
He was called upon to finish a drawing that Frank Chickering (Uncle and owner of Chickering & Sons) was working on before his death. Clifford incorporated a couple of innovations into the drawing that resulted in the Acoustigrande.
Besides width, it also features a new way of tapering the rim to match the tapering of the soundboard to improve the tone.
Clifford became very skilled in piano acoustics, and he decides to branch out onto his own and he move to Chicago with his brothers.
Tragedy after next befalls Clifford, his brother Fred dies, then Wallace too, and at the same time the city of Chicago condemns the Chickering building for street widening. All while fighting with his uncles firm over use of the Chickering Name in relation to 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 going strong after Frank Chickering died. But due to economic conditions of the oncoming of World War 1 the firm calls it quits in 1908 selling to 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 too was a very inexpensive version, and not worthy of the original design
If you ever come across, or own an Original Chickering Brothers piano, please know that it was a very special design and is very much worth restoring.
It is one of the few pianos from the past that I have come across that was better than most pianos made today.