The Fabulous Falcone
The Falcone Grand Piano, a custom piano originally designed by Santi Falcone who was born in Sicily and originally had his inspiration during his time as a student at Saint Cecilia Conservatory in Rome where he learned to tune pianos. Falcone began his creation after many years of research and development. Along with his work with the Boston Conservatory of Music and the New England Piano & Organ Company his masterpiece became a reality. In 1982 the Falcone grand piano was introduced and would become the premiere piano of that decade. These wonderful custom manufactured pianos made in Massachusetts took the world by storm turning out some of the most acclaimed pianos during this time.
Three sizes of grand pianos were made. Model 61 (6’1”), Model 74 (7’4”), Model 90 (9’) were manufactured in an old shoe factory renovated for the piano craftsman in Haverhill, MA. According to Larry Fine, the 3 Falcone models were loosely based on the Steinway & Sons models A, C, & D respectively with many additional refinements. Additionally, the Falcone pianos had a “soundboard calibrator” that controlled the tension of the soundboard in the treble area. This mechanism was like a tone control that altered sustain characteristics. Mostly handmade and tailored to a buyer’s specifications the Falcone pianos were priced about 25% less than equivalent-sized Steinway, Baldwin or even Bösendorfer pianos of the time.
By 1989 a few hundred pianos were made and the Allstar Capital Operation, financed by Bernard Greer, purchased the majority share of Falcone. They in turn brought in Lloyd Meyer, a former president of Steinway & Sons, as chief operating officer. Later Greer and executive Jerry Keppler changed the name to Mason & Hamlin Corp. who then controlled the names of Mason & Hamlin, Knabe, Sohmer and George Steck along with Falcone. They closed around 1994 according to the Pierce Piano Atlas 12th Edition.
More on the Falcone name:
In about 2001 the Falcone name was licensed to the Sejung Corp. of Quingdao, China, who marketed the Falcone name for pianos sold in the USA from PianoDisc/Mason & Hamlin. By 2012, the Sejung factory was acquired by Chinese firm, Parsons Music, and by 2013, Falcone pianos were being manufactured for North America by the Nanjing Moutrie Piano Co. in Nanjing, China and distributed by Welkin Sound Inc., of Ontario, California.
By 2016, the Falcone name was no longer used. This additional information is according to ConcertPitchPiano.com
Characteristics of original Falcone pianos are:
- 2 ¾” Hard Rock Maple Rim
- 11/32” Quarter-sawn White Spruce Soundboard
- Custom Action parts by Renner
- Herman Klüge custom made spruce keys and keyframe
- 1 ¾” Quarter-sawn White spruce tongue and grooved keybed
- Renner hammers
- Delignit European Beech laminated pinblock
- Roslaü West German piano wire with Swedish steel pure copper winding bass strings
- Renner underlever and damper assemblies
- Vertically laminated maple bridge with quarter-sawn maple bridge caps
- Meehanite cast iron plate
- Solid Brass hardware & casters
- Satin & Polished polymer finishes
Interesting Falcone notes:
- Jazz Pianist Dave McKenna used the Falcone to record his “My Friend the Piano” Album.
- Longy School of Music of Bard College was the first college to install a Falcone 9’ concert grand in the Spring of 1987.
- Falcone made its debut at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center both in October of 1987.
- Santi Falcone tuned pianos for United States Generals in Vietnam during his tour of duty in 1970 and after leaving the Falcone piano company became a professional chocolatier and is the proprietor of Dante Confections in Billerica, MA.
Our Falcone story:
We were lucky enough to acquire one of these pianos recently. It needed a little restorative work but was in good condition. It is a model 61 and was built circa 1988-1989. The original owner who purchased the piano in West Vancouver, B.C. Canada brought it to their home in Spokane, WA later moving to North Carolina. Early in its life the piano experienced some cold cracking on much of the finish so we had our colleagues at Cavalieri Finishing Company in NY finish the piano with a new polyester polished ebony finish. We then gave it a new set of Roslaü piano wire and GC Piano Co. premium bass strings as the originals had become a little rusty and lost some of their original brilliance. After a complete action regulation and some new damper felts the piano is once again “The Stradivarius of Keyboards” as acclaimed by the Associated Press in 1987.
Photos of our Falcone after renewal and refinishing: