Pearl River Piano Group
The Pearl River Piano Group (广州珠江钢琴集团有限公司) is China's largest piano manufacturer and has the largest piano factory in the world producing more pianos than any other factory. The company was established in 1956 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. Pearl River is capable of producing over 100,000 pianos a year, and exports them to more than 80 countries. Today Pearl River pianos are manufactured under a wide range of brands and levels. Each of these series have similar sizes with different scale designs, materials and different sound. The Hallet & Davis line produced by Pearl River is the oldest United States piano name still in production.
Also in January 2016, the company took over 90% of the shares of Wilhelm Schimmel, a German piano manufacturer in Braunschweig. After getting control of the Schimmel's factory in Braunschweig, Pearl River Piano Group Europe GMBH also removed Ritmuller production to this factory.
Operations in Germany remain unchanged and the Schimmel factory is still managed by the Schimmel family.
In 1998, Pearl River became the first piano company in China to receive International Standards Association ISO 9001 Certification (ISO 9001) for its complete line of grand and vertical pianos, including all parts and components. ISO 9001 Certification is awarded by an independent auditing organization, following a lengthy audit of quality systems, ranging from the procurement of raw materials to manufacturing systems, assembly procedures, and customer service. Pearl River also recently was awarded ISO 14001, which is similar, but relates to environmental standards. Pearl River is the first manufacturer in China to receive this award.
The Pearl River nameEdit
Pearl River ran a company-owned US distribution until 2000, when they turned the distribution over to North American Music. Pearl River was one of the first Chinese piano companies to market pianos in the United States under its own company name and have been well accepted by piano teachers and tuners.
Pearl River is also one of the world's largest guitar and violin manufacturers, and is a primary supplier for the popular "First Act" brand of guitars commonly found at Target stores among others. The company also sells drums, brass, and woodwind instruments internationally. In the People's Republic of China, they produce guitars with the own brand name, "Kapok Guitar" (红棉).
Pearl River hired a piano designer Lothar Thomma to create the new Ritmuller lines. Eventually Thomma had designed or helped design both of the Ritmuller series of pianos, Performance and Premium. The company says that the Lothar Thomma-designed Ritmuller pianos feature European scale designs and use high end European components, and smaller, slower production to allow more hand-finishing work. Some of the differences between Pearl River and Ritmuller include the Thomna designed lower tension German scales, piano felt from Filzfabrik Wurzen GmbH in Germany, Roslau higher level (than Pearl River brand) German strings, real Ebony wood sharps in place of plastic sharps and Abel German hammers in the Performance Series and Renner German Hammers in the Premium series. The Performance series also has a different action design, different rim design material spec and a great deal more hand work reflecting its position as the finest piano the company builds.
Three large retail piano companies in the US use Pearl River as their OEM entry level house brand supplier: Jordan Kitts Music, Sherman Clay(now closed), and Schmitt Music. These three retail chains use their own brand name (Henry F Miller, Christofori) on the front of the pianos and in a couple of isolated cases feature slightly different specifications than the Pearl River brand models distributed by North American Music.
Connections with Yamaha, Steinway, and Hallet DavisEdit
Yamaha formed a joint venture with Pearl River in 1995 to establish a factory to build pianos for the Chinese market. This factory is east of Guangzhou in an "economic development zone", approximately 35 miles from the Pearl River factory. This factory produced two models for the Pearl River Piano Group: the UP125M1 and the Ritmüller UP126R. Ritmüller brand pianos sport upgraded cabinetry, a different plate, upgraded felt and several different scale designs. Both product lines were marketed in the United States by retail piano stores and had additional branding to the side of the keys reading made by "Yamaha Pearl River."
Pearl River also manufactures all models for Steinway & Sons' "Essex" brand piano line, including grand pianos and uprights, in their factory in Guangzhou. On May 1, 2005, Steinway & Sons and Pearl River Piano Group jointly announced an agreement. The companies began developing several new Essex models, which Steinway & Sons designed for affiliate company Boston Piano Co., Inc. The piano line reached the marketplace early in 2006. It was Steinway's first venture in China, and Pearl River's first OEM relationship with a Western piano maker.
Hallet, Davis & Co.Edit
Hallet, Davis & Co. Boston (H&D), is a piano line commonly referred to as Hallet & Davis or H&D. The original Hallet, Davis & Company was formed in Boston in 1843 by Russell Hallet, George H. Davis, and other partners, but dates back to 1835 due to the Brown and Hallet production line. The H&D line is the oldest United States piano name still in production, pre-dating Weber (1852), and Steinway and Sons (1853).
The piano line was reconstituted by another Hallet (Benjamin Franklin Hallet) and Davis in Boston in the 1850s. The W. W. Kimball Company acquired Hallet & Davis in the early 20th century.
In the mid-twentieth century, the Hallet & Davis name, as well as many other U.S. piano brands, were consolidated under the Aeolian-American Corp., which declared bankruptcy in 1985. Prior to 2014 the piano name was made by the Dongbei Piano Co. and for a while in 2014-2015, the line consisted of pianos made by both Dongbei and the Pearl River Piano Group.
Pearl River has produced the H&D Signature Series, exclusively since 2015. The "Heritage" H&D Series is an entry level piano group, made by Beiijing HsingHai Musical Instruments Corporation, and the more ornate "Imperial" H&D Series is made by Parsons Music.
The Signature Series grand pianos are usually chosen by professionals and advanced amateurs for their leading value in materials, and uses the same materials as the Steinway and Sons Boston line (made in Japan), but makes the series at the same location as the Steinway and Sons Essex line (lower cost than Boston) at the Pearl River site. The largest Signature Series grand piano in regular production is 6 ft 2 in, with only 20 made per year for the U.S. (a 7-foot Signature Series Grand Piano is available upon special order). The Signature Series is known for its "warm" tone, especially in the 6 ft 2 in (188cm) version.
- Pearl River Archived 2009-08-27 at the Wayback Machine Pearl River Pianos's USA site. Retrieved on September 29, 2007.
- Hompeage of Noerr company, retrieved on 2016-02-27
- Clinkscale, Martha Novak (1999). Makers of the Piano, Volume 2: 1820-1860. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 169. ISBN 0198166257.