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Friday, 26 September 2014

Kemble Pianos

Kemble Pianos was established in 1911 by Michael Kemble in Stoke Newington. Details about the history of Kemble pianos are hard to find - even on the Kemble website, the ‘history’ page is confined to 9 bullet points. 

And yet, Kemble Pianos, having survived both the war periods and the consequent economic hardships, went on to build good, quality pianos and attract the attention of the giant Japanese piano maker - Yamaha. 

Examples of early Kemble pianos must survive but as a tuner in the SW of England, rarely does one see a pre-1920 Kemble. During the post, First World War years, reestablishing the momentum of sales must have been particularly difficult. 

A 1960s Minx
When the ‘minipiano’ became so popular, Kembles Launched the ‘Minx’. The Minx was a neat, small piano with a full keyboard - probably the best of the minipianos on offer. As an overstrung piano and yet being so short, the design of the Minx was all about getting a small piano to perform as well as, or as close to what is expected from a standard upright piano. The distinctive Minx remained in production for 30 years!     

Under Robert Kemble, in the 1950s Kemble Pianos moved to a factory in Bletchley, near Milton Keynes. It must have been around this time that the The Kemble ‘Classic’ was designed, built and launched - another small but full 7 octave piano - taller than the Minx, but a very slim, 47 cm from front to back.

In 1968, Kembles began a joint venture with The Yamaha Corporation of Japan and, a few years later, Yamaha-Kemble Music (UK) Ltd. was formed. In 1985 Kemble and Co. started making some of the Yamaha range of pianos to be sold in the UK market. The Kemble pianos now reflected the Yamaha influence and used the high quality Yamaha actions in their pianos.

Kemble pianos, since 2009, are now made in Yamaha's factories in the Far East but the Kemble name - quite deservedly, lives on!

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