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Canadian Piano History -


rebuilt Sherlock Manning piano This piano maker has the distinction of being the last Canadian piano company to go out of business (around 1991). When Sherlock-Manning closed its doors it marked the end of over 100 years of piano making in Canada.

Sherlock-Manning pianos were always mid quality instruments. They were never a top of the line piano but they were solidly made.

The original company was called Doherty Piano & Organ. They were made in Goderich, Ontario. Later on the company was bought by two employees, Sherlock & Manning who moved the it to London Ontario. The early company made pump organs as well as pianos. Although Sherlock-Manning made a lot of pianos we donít see many of the older pianos here in Ontario because the company exported a large portion of their pianos to other British Commonwealth countries.

Sherlock-Manning was moved to Clinton Ontario in the era of the modern apartment size and studio pianos. During this period the company was operated by Draper Brothers & Reid. The pianos produced in this era were solid, though not exciting. They were well made but had scaling problems that made them less musical than some of their contemporaries. Despite that, I find the Sherlock Manning pianos that I service in the field rarely have many problems.

Sherlock Manning was still a profitable enterprise in the eighties. The family that owned the company at that time sold out to an investor who made some major changes in an attempt to take the company to the next level. In an effort to increase market share they had pianos made in Japan and imported them under the Sherlock-Manning name. A flagship company store was set up in Oakville Ontario to showcase their products. (The new store was just blocks away from one of their more successful dealers.) Unfortunately they expanded just as the Korean pianos were making major inroads into the market. In hindsight, they might have survived for a number of years if they had continued to turn out a small number of pianos each year like the previous owners had. Within a few years of the change in ownership Sherlock-Manning was driven into the ground thus ending the long tradition of piano manufacturing in Canada.

A used Sherlock-Manning from the 1960-1990 period might be a good choice as a starter piano since they rarely have major problems like loose tuning pins. However, an accomplished musician would more than likely find it lacking in tone and action responsiveness.

If you are in the market for a used piano, watch out for some of the Sherlock-Manning pianos of the 1960ís and 70ís. A small number of them were made with sponge rubber instead of felt for the hammer rest rail and bolster cloth under the back of the keys. Youíll know right away that something is wrong from the extremely loud clicking sounds coming from the action. This problem is not hard to fix, but you will want to offer a few hundred dollars less to allow for the repair.

For more information on the history of Sherlock-Manning visit The Canadian Encyclopedia

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