King Musical Instruments

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A disassembled King 606 trombone

King Musical Instruments was a musical instrument manufacturing company located in Cleveland, Ohio.


The company was founded as the H.N. White Company in 1893 by Henderson White, an engraver and instrument repairman.[1] White designed a trombone for Thomas King, a local player.[1] It became the company's first successful model when it was adopted by Al Pinard, then a famous trombone player.[2] White later designed other brass instrument models, including cornets and baritones. In 1903, The H.N. White company hired Foster A. Reynolds, a talented brass instrument maker at the J.W. York & Sons company. He worked with White to further develop instruments.[3] The first line of saxophones were produced in 1916, many of which were made for military bands as the United States entered World War I.[2] A woodwind plant was built in 1917,[2] and the H.N. White Company began producing stringed instruments in 1935.[1]

In 1925, H.N. White acquired the Cleveland Musical Instrument Company. The "Cleveland" brand name was used for cheaper instruments than the "King" line of instruments, and was marketed to schools.[2] In 1935, Foster Reynolds left his position as General Manager of the H.N. White Company, and founded the rival F.A. Reynolds company. Reynolds would later design the extremely successful "Ambassador" line of instruments for F. E. Olds.[3]

Henderson White died in 1940. His brother, Hugh E. White, acted as president,[2] and his widow, Edna White, took over as president in 1941.[1] During World War II, the company received government contracts to assemble radar units and fuses.[4] Edna's daughter, Cathryn White Ludwig, married William F. Ludwig, Jr of the drum-percussion company W.F.L. Drum Company. Cathryn was named the Vice-President of H.N. White in 1945, making it one of the few companies in America headed by two women.[4]

Following World War II, the company entered a successful era, producing only the most successful and profitable instruments. Several famous musicians were featured playing King instruments, including Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Parker, and Harry James.[4]

In 1965, the company was sold to Nate Dolin, and the name changed to King Instruments, reflecting the popularity of its most popular models. In 1985, King was sold, and became a division of United Musical Instruments (UMI).[1] King brand instruments are currently manufactured by Conn-Selmer, Inc., a subsidiary of Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc.[5]

King Musical Instruments was once a division of the Seeburg Corporation of Eastlake, Ohio.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e White, Mrs. H. N. (17 July 1997). "King Musical Instruments". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Henderson N. White Story". The H.N. White Company, LLC. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Foster A. Reynolds". Contempora Corner. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "First Women of Brass : The Edna White Story". The H.N. White Company, LLC. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  5. ^ "About Conn-Selmer". Conn-Selmer, Inc. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 

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