William Wallace Kimball was a pioneer in the American Piano industry in that he helped put more pianos into the homes of average people who could not afford the high cost of the higher cost pianos of the day. Kimball was, by profession, a poor country real estate salesman when he began in 1857. He entered the reed organ as well as selling pianos from a 2nd floor space in Chicago. Within a few short years he gave up the real estate part of his profession. His business grew fast. In 1891, the first Kimball Grand piano appeared. Around 1900 Kimball began the manufacturing of pipe organs starting with compact designs and towards 1930 built huge pipe organs installed in many municipal auditoriums like those in Memphis and Minneapolis. Kimball pipe organs installed in St. Louis included Covenant Theological Seminary, Westminster Presbyterian Church, the Orpheum and St. Louis Theatres now the Roberts Orpheum and Powell Symphony Hall. With the onset of WWII, piano and organ construction ceased. When the war was over pipe organ production never resumed and the design of their pianos took several steps backward. The post war Kimball pianos wre terrible instruments. In 1959 the Jasper Corporation bought Kimball and sales were accelerated. Laminated soundboards were used and more modern case designs came into play. Production increased and the modern day Kimball piano became the norm: mediocre piano- nice case design. Kimballs from this era used very high tension scales and in their later years have become known as string breakers as their propensity of breakage increases with age. In the late 1990’s piano production ceased as the Jasper Corp wanted to concentrate on their furniture business. To their credit even though piano product ceased they still honored their guarenty
This year, 2008, a new company began selling pianos under the Kimball name.
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