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The Baldwin story goes back a bit further, to Cincinnati in 1862, when a reed organ and violin teacher named Dwight Hamilton Baldwin opened a music store and eventually became one of the largest piano retailers in the Midwest. In 1890, Baldwin decided to go into piano manufacturing and began building upright pianos.Joining him as a bookkeeper in 1866 was Lucien Wulsin, of Alexandria, Kentucky. He passed away in 1899 and Wulsin took over the operation.As early as 1935, Baldwin pioneered electronic organs and developed the electronic church organ.
Even new guitar importing companies were fueled by money from elsewhere: Strum & Drum (Norma) came from nuts and bolts; W. James Ormston Burns was born in England in 1925 and following World War II became involved in making guitars.Spurned by Fender, Baldwin dispatched treasurer Richard Harrison to England to negotiate with Jim Burns about purchasing his floundering company.Harrison recalls that Burns was pleasant enough, but that he spent most of the next several weeks in talks with Burns’ attorney trying to sort out the terrible state of affairs at the guitarmaker.Jim Burns was an affable (if eccentric) personality whose forté was guitar design and technology.Alas, his strengths did not extend to business and financial management, and by ’65 his company was deeply in debt to suppliers and creditors.