Danemann Pianos

Updated: Sep 27, 2021


W. Danemann & Company was established in 1893 by William Danemann.


The company was based in Islington, London, and despite producing pianos in relatively small quantities, Danemann was one of Britain's best-known piano brands with a strong reputation for superb build quality and a fine touch and tone.


Instead of supplying the mass market, Danemann concentrated its efforts on constructing pianos of high quality and undoubtedly produced some of the country's finest instruments at their London-based factory.

The company's reputation earned Danemann several lucrative contracts with retailers such as Harrods of Knightsbridge, numerous companies within the leisure industry, such as P&O Cruises, and concerts such as the Royal Festival Hall. Danemann also supplied instruments to British embassies across the globe, with enhancements made so that the instruments could cope with the harsh climates.


Behind the distinctive tone and sustaining power that Danemann is revered for is a scale design that evolved within Danemann and was incorporated into their full range of pianos. During the 1930s, Danemann introduced an interesting feature, known as the 'back bridge', into their pianos. The back bridge, not found in any other British-made piano, is a counter bridge on the back of the soundboard that mirrors the pinned bridge (over which the strings pass over) on the front of the soundboard. The back bridge not only enhances the tonal colour and consistency across all registers of the instrument but adds strength to the soundboard against the down-bearing pressure of the strings.


 

Danemann School Pianos

​Owing to the company's willingness to build pianos to rigid and meticulous specifications, Danemann became one of the brands of choice for many of the UK's educational authorities, along with other manufacturers such as Knight.


For a time, the school pianos accounted for approximately 80% of Danemann's overall production.


Danemann supplied schools and institutions across the country (including the Royal College of Music in Kensington and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester) with their school models; hundreds of which are still in use today.

Those seemingly indestructible, solid oak school pianos are probably what Danemann is best known for... but they don't represent the best of Danemann.


School models were required to be based on a substantial post-braced back (which Danemann did as standard in their pianos anyway), with solid oak case components and zinc-plated music wire.


Zinc plated music wire was chosen for school pianos because of its corrosion inhibitive properties, but this wire was tonally inferior to the polished music wire that was used in Danemann's domestic pianos. This wire can also be very brittle, so much so that it is commonly referred to in the trade as "chicken wire".


Solid oak case components are also not conducive to tonal quality because of the acoustically deadening properties of the material, so manufacturers of school pianos were forced to try and circumvent this by using very hard felt for their hammers. The result was instruments which had lots of volume but with a strident tone that is commonly described as "harsh" or "overbearing".

Although it is testament to Danemann that they were able to construct pianos to those specifications, when so many other piano manufacturers could not, the school models certainly do not represent the best of the company's production. If Danemann were to continue supplying schools and colleges around the country then they had no choice but to produce pianos to the requirements which were stipulated by the education authority, but if Danemann were the decision makers then they certainly would have done things differently.

Thankfully, they had complete autonomy over their domestic models and the differences show. Their domestic pianos are favored for their sweet, warm, and full-bodied tone, more appropriate for the intimate audience of the family home, rather than a school hall.

 

Factory closure


Unable to compete with the retail prices of pianos made in the Far East and with diminishing school budgets, Danemann was forced to close their factory in 1984.


The company was sold to a firm that continued to produce Danemann pianos in Wales up until 1994.

 

Present Day


In 2015, the rights to the Danemann name were sold and Danemann pianos have been manufactured overseas (China) since 2017.


Those pianos, despite sharing the same logo as the pianos manufactured in Britain, contain no designs or influence from the original Danemann company.


Sykes & Sons released several photographs of British-made Danemann pianos, taken in our workshop, into the public domain for educational purposes. Some of those photographs are now being used to promote the sale of the Danemann pianos which are being made overseas. We need to point out that no consortium/relationship and/or endorsement between those pianos and Sykes & Sons exists.

 

Danemann pianos at Sykes & Sons


We would like to stress that Sykes & Sons only stock British-made Danemann pianos, all of which have been carefully reconditioned in our workshop, in a process sympathetic to the original makers.


Sykes & Sons really trust the excellent build quality of British-made Danemann pianos and that is why we always aim to have them in stock.


As Danemann is one of our specialties, knowing the brand extremely well and through being so experienced with them, we know exactly what to look out for to ensure that we are only offering the best possible quality of Danemann.