Philadelphia is home to the first American built piano.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia 1776

There’s a good reason Jacob’s Music plants its roots in Philadelphia, that’s where the first American piano was built. We know that the piano was originally invented in Europe around 1700. Back then they were called “Pianoforte.” America imported pianos from Europe, but soon discovered they didn’t hold up well to the American climate. So in 1775, John Behrent of Philadelphia built the first American piano.

Imports were quite expensive, meaning only the wealthy could afford pianos back then. And as the U.S. industry grew, less instruments were being imported by the early 1800s. Around 1860, over 20,000 pianos a year were being made in America. From the turn of the century thru the mid 1920’s production remained quite high.

This time period represents one of the greatest and most productive in the history of American piano making. If you recall, there were hundreds of makers in the United States during this time. All of those big, tall, heavy upright pianos came from this era. A lot of grands were made as well, but the uprights dominated. During the depression and WWII, production almost stopped entirely except for Steinway and Gulbransen.

By the late 1940’s and early 50’s production and sales were about 150,000 a year, to over 200,000 a year by the mid 1960’s. The 70’s reached around 300,000 a year to dropping off significantly during the 80’s and 90’s. Today, U.S. production is lower than it’s been in over 200 years with merely 5,000 pianos a year.

That leaves us with roughly 15 million used pianos in America. Jacobs Music has seven locations to service and repair any of the millions that are within the Pennsylvania/New Jersey region. Call us today, we’d love to get our hands on your bit of history.

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