Aluminum Piano Plate

A piano with an aluminum piano plate, called the Alumatone plate, was created in the late 1940s by Winter and Company, piano manufacturers, and Alcoa, a manufacturer of aluminum and aluminum products. The metal frame of a piano, often called the plate or harp, anchors both ends of the strings, withstanding a tension of 20 tons or more. The first completely metal frames were patented in the mid-1820s, and they are now generally cast in iron.

The similar strength of aluminum and cast iron permitted the weight of the cast metal frame to be reduced more than 60 percent, to as little as 45 pounds for a spinet. In 1945 Alcoa signed an agreement with Winter and Company to manufacture aluminum piano plates and began to market their new creation. Many of Alcoa’s ads can be seen in Etude, a magazine for the musician and pianist, in 1949 and 1950. The typical ad campaign boasted the slogan “stop…lift…listen,” which was asking consumers to stop, feel the light weight of the new piano, and listen to the quality of sound. A brochure, circulated by Alcoa, claimed that some 50,000 pianos had been created containing this aluminum plate by 1949. After 1950, however, the aluminum piano plate was no longer used by piano manufacturers.

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