Johan Jacob Rippen (The Hague, 1 oktober 1909 - Ede, 5 mei 1994)started a piano factory in The Hague to produce his contrary design of the Maestro, an upright ‘ grand piano’ with straight strings. It was a great succes and soon he also built conventional pianos. Well known designs were the Mignon with its elegant design, the Carillon and the Studio meant to be a good starters piano. Later on Rippen produced also the Belcanto, Concerto, Cantabile, Romance and the solid oak Largo.
In 1957 the company moves to the ultramodern factory at the Reehorsterweg in Ede. Contrary to the traditional handicraft building, the instruments were built in series. Instead of heavy backpost beams, a light metal frame was used. Also innovating was the Permatone soundboard which was built from three layers of spruce and made tearing almost impossible. The cabinet was no longer polished, but finished with modern strong lacquer. Old promotion material mentioned prideful: you can easily extinguish a cigarette on it.
The demand for affordable Rippen pianos was extremely huge. Export increased and there were top years in which 160 craftsmen produced 5000 instruments. The factory turned on full blast and the instruments were delivered with the factory’s own lorries throughout Europe.
Rippen pianos were famous, especially abroad, for the solid construction and the transparent, clear sound. In 1962 Rippen constructed a new factory near the Irish airport Shannon. Later on they built large quantities of Lindner pianos. These pianos were mainly constructed with synthetic parts and could be regulated more precisely than the traditional ones.
In 1969 the factory was moved from the Reehorsterweg to the Frankenengweg in Ede. However, the prosperity decreased due to several causes.
During the removal to the Frankenengweg the old factory at the Reehorsterweg burnt down and many machines, patterns and stock went lost. Also in Ireland there were problems with the manufacturing of the synthetic action. The biggest problem was the import of cheap pianos imported from Japan and Korea. In 1972 the production of the elegant aluminium grand piano was stopped and the business had to downsize because of the decreasing demand. A difficult period followed and until 1975 the company was in a mortuarium.
In 1976, Johan Rippen retires and in 1978 business went upwards until the recession of 1981. The increasing stock, combined with the large volumes of imported cheap Asian pianos led to the inevitable bankruptcy.
Under the management of Johan’s son Pieter, the company goes on and celebrates its 50th anniversary in 1987. The Rippen Piano factory has built from the start in 1937 approximately 200.000 instruments. At first the company did well and the prospects seemed reasonable. However the Gulf War in 1991 was the death blow for the company.
In 1992 the factory in Ede was closed definitively which made the curtain fall for the Dutch piano manufacturing. Rippen produced 217.600 instruments during the history of the factory.
Bol Holland has ideas about reviving the brand. We keep you informed.