Wurlitzer Pianos is one of the oldest names in the piano manufacturing industry in the United States. The quality of their pianos can be lined up with the best names in the realm of piano manufacturing and design.
Wurlitzer was established in 1853 by Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer. He built a piano manufacturing plant in Ohio in 1861, and four years later, he opened a retail shop, expanding his distribution across the Unites States. In 1880 Wurlitzer began to make pianos, and the company grew and became particularly well known for military and mechanical instruments.
Despite Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer’s death in 1914, the company carried on and survived the age of the gramophone by introducing the first automatic jukebox, the Wurlitzer Simplex.
During the 1920’s Wurlitzer acquired the Melville Clark line of pianos and continued to manufacture the same name of instruments.
In 1935, Wurlitzer introduced the tradition-breaking spinet piano, proving that a piano only thirty-nine inches high could replace the bulky instruments traditionally produced.
Developments and Innovations
Through science, research, and ingenuity, Wurlitzer has created exclusive features such as Tonecrafted Hammers, the Pentagonal Sound Board, the Augmented Sound Board, and many others to provide a greater volume of rich, resonant tones for their instrument. Another unique achievement of Wurlitzer is their “Wurl-on” finish which is highly resistant to heat, cold, dryness, and moisture… as well as smears, scratches, and abrasions – an attractive as well as a durable and long-lasting finish.
In 1955, Wurlitzer introduced their sensational new electronic piano that had no strings or sound board, yet provided a natural piano tone through the means of an entirely electronic mechanism. Another unique feature is that it weighed only sixty-eight pounds and could be carried like a suitcase by means of its handy porta-cover.
Since these electronic models do not have any strings, hammers or soundboard, the instrument is unaffected by changes in temperature or climatic conditions. Additional features of this piano resembles that of the modern electronic instruments of today. A console model of the electronic piano was introduced in 1957 which met with immediate popularity.
Wurlitzer piano lines are manufactured under the names Apollo, De Kalb, Julius Bauer, Melville Clark, Student Butterfly Clavichord, Farney, Kingston, Kurtzmann, Merriam, Schaff Bros. and Underwood.
In 1995 Baldwin Piano & Organ Co. purchased the Wurlitzer name. Baldwin appointed Young Chang to build Wurlitzer grands, until about 1996, when production was moved to Samick. Gibson Guitars acquired the Baldwin Piano Co. in 2001, along with the Wurlitzer name.