Poul Henningson Piano on Park Ave

When my client initially called asking whether I was familiar with Poul Henningson pianos, and whether I could tune one, I was initially dumbstruck...Paul Henningswhat?  A quick google search turned up this 1930's marvel of Danish design.  After confirming that the piano's internal structure remained traditional, I jumped at this rare opportunity to get my hands on one of these darlings. When I arrived at the auction house, the staging crew was still reassembling the piano after shipping.

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I took the opportunity to recieve a tour of the inchoate exhibit, and glean a few facts from my host.  I learned that the last P.H. Piano they sold went for approx 150k.  These pianos are still manufactured upon specific request, but the originals are very rare and sought after.  And although these tiny baby grands don't sound like much, they sure do look cool...

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Simultaneously futuristic and retro...

With the piano assembled and opened, I was ready to get down to business.  We decided to tune the piano 1/10th of a half-step flat of concert pitch  since it was quite flat already, and we wanted to minimize risk of breaking the rusty strings before the upcoming weekend brunch unveiling of the auction, with a live jazz pianist...

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The tuning proceeded without incident - at the top of the piano I realized something only piano technicians will appreciate...

Because of the piano's unique design, with no case or cheek blocks accompanying the keyboard on either side, neither a rim extending above the plate, I was able to place my tuning hammer in the normal position in the high treble without straining!

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After I finished wrestling the odd little thing into harmony, I filled the now empty Auction hall with jazz flourishes that bounced off the high white ceilings to fall back into perhaps the only Poul Henningson grand I'll ever see...much less tune.

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Baby Grand Humidifier Swap in Bushwick

cracks Several weeks ago while tuning a repeat client's Petrof baby grand I noticed numerous cracks in the soundboard.  I was almost entirely sure they weren't there at the last tuning - they were just too egregious to miss under any circumstances.  After a bit of poking around and head scratching, I began to question my client about the room's temperature and humidity stability - he reported nothing out of the norm.  I was doubly confused, because this piano had a humidifier that was supposed to be protecting it against the damage that can come from dramatic wood shrinkage/swelling in response to shifting ambient humidity.  The humidifier was definitely working properly, as all the lights on the diagnostic panel indicated proper functioning...or was it? I crawled under the piano to take a look.

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Everything looked fine for the most part.  The only apparent issue was with the humidistat, the brain of the system that switches back and forth between the humidifying and dehumidifying components as needed to maintain the humidity around the soundboard at about 42%.  It was a little too close to the front humidifier rod...the danger here is that the brain thinks the piano is drier than it actually is on average because it's taking readings too close to the dehumidifier rod.  In the picture above, the humidistat is the bottom component that appears to be within 3 inches of the rod on the right - it should be at least 12 inches away!  If this is the case, the system will engage the drying rods more than it should and over dry the piano.

Nonetheless, the system had been in this configuration for a number of years without harming the piano, so that couldn't be it...then I finally looked at the most difficult component to view without removing - the top of the humidifier tank (a reservoir of water into which hang pads which wick water up and over a rod which gently warms and causes humidity to rise from the moist pads).

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And there it was in all  its hideous glory - the pads and humidifier heater bar were hopelessly corroded and encrusted in mineral deposits.  The former owner, who had the humidifier installed, had not clearly instructed my client to change the pads every 6 months.  Although J. was watering the humidifier faithfully whenever the yellow low-water warning light came on, the humidifying component of the system had ceased to properly wick water and the heater bar on the humidifier, which was supposed to gently warm moist pads, was now just acting as a third heating rod in addition to the ones built for this purpose at the fore and aft of the piano.  This poor Petrof had been barbecued mercilessly for the last few months as the system struggled to cope with the bone dry New York winter - hence the soundboard cracks.  Does that picture above look like a functioning mechanical component, even to the untrained eye?  I had J. unplug the system immediately until I could order a new one under warranty to replace it with.

At our next appointment I gleefully ripped (with professional meticulousness...) the defunct system from the piano (I usually get paid to create/build, not destroy!) to pave the way for a proper system that would halt (although sadly not reverse) the damage.

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I like to get all my small components ordered in tiny piles before working...this would be a lot easier if Dampp-Chaser would just put different types of screws in separate bags instead of jumbling everything small into one bag...

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First step - choose as central a location as possible for the humidifier tank.  Install the suspension rods from which the tank hangs.

Then hang the humidifier.

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PICK A GOOD LOCATION FOR THE HUMIDISTAT, 12 inches away from the dehumidifier rods and 6 inches from the humidifier.  As close to the soundboard as possible - leave the vents on the top right unobstructed by soundboard ribs - all important conditions that were not previously, but were this time, satisfied.

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Install the dehumidifier rods at the fore and aft, plug in all the cords and bundle them as tidily as possible so folks walking around the room don't see entrails hanging from the belly of the beast, install the watering tube so it's easy accessed, and install the warning light panel in an easy to see location.  All described as if it was far easier than the three grueling hours of crawling around a 3 foot space as a 6 foot man screwing and measuring upside down inevitably ends up being - although I've gotten a lot more effective with practice.

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Then carefully instruct your client how to take care of the system, and ask them to do the same with the piano's next owner if there ends up being one! Next time on this piano...diagnosing mysterious problems with a sticking damper and a broken sostenuto -  both caused by the same humidifier disaster?

Shift Lever Repair - Part III of III

After fashioning a superior duplicate for the original worn out shift lever (I suppose we can call it shiftless - since it wasn't working:) the next step was to fit it precisely to the piano, install, and ensure proper functioning. I knew the overall dimensions were close - but I still had to create a circular depression that would mate with the pedal rod below and ensure it didn't slip out or make noise.  I also expected that I'd have to sand down the business end of the lever to make sure it would fit perfectly into the notch on the underside of the key frame when it rotated to the right.

Both tasks would be facilitated by the use of a Dremel tool I'd bought 6 months before, expecting to need it to pass the Technical Exam for Piano Technician Guild certification, but ended up never using.  My former disappointment at an apparently wasted $40 dissolved as I realized how indispensable the tool was for this job.

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Here's a close up of the two levers side by side, showing were I needed to fashion a circular well for the top of the pedal dowel.

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First I used a hard, round attachment to bore out a circular well.

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Next I cut a circular piece of the thinnest buckskin I procured in a past post to fit into the well and cushion the top of the brass pedal rod...

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...and glued it in with some of my trusty Tite-Bond.

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I also used the same method to affix some protective leather to the underside of the key frame where the lever was hitting the wood and wearing it away.

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I then inserted the new lever into the key bed from the belly of the grand, reversing the order of my former removal steps.  It definitely didn't want to slide in at first, but I remembered how tough it was to get out and lubricated the pins with some Protek Dry-Lube - with some gentle but firm tapping I fully seated the axle pin, replaced the wooden retaining strips, and affixed the plates with their screws.

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Here you can see the lever installed from further away, and see the pedal rod fitting perfectly into the long end of the lever.

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Last, but definitely not least - use the Dremel to painstakingly shave off layers from the top of the end which engaged with the key bed so it was the tallest possible height, in order to ensure maximum efficacy.

I say painstaking because- even after drawing this pencil line at the approximate height and shaving it down to about that level- I had to install the action, find that it wouldn't slide all the way back because the lever was too high, remove it, sand off a little more, then repeat about 5 times before it just barely slid into place.

This was key, because I wanted to make sure the lever engaged fully in the underside of the key frame so it wouldn't just wear away the key frame and stop working.

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When I finished, everything worked perfectly, and I was satisfied at completing a new job, as well as knowing that this piano was restored to complete functioning for many years to come - at least in terms of the shift lever : )

Shift Lever Repair - Part II of III

Next step - make a new shift lever out of hardwood with the grain oriented properly.  The current shift lever had the grain parallel to the floor, resulting in shearing at the impact point of the lever on the underside of the key frame (this piece shifts the key frame and hammers slightly to the right when the left pedal is depressed, causing the hammers to only strike 2 out of the three average strings per note and reducing volume accordingly). I had neither the facilities nor the know-how to do so.  So I reached out to restoration expert in Queens I know, and was pleased to find out that he could fashion a superior duplicate without much trouble.

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First step - select a proper piece of wood and plane it to the same thickness as the original part.

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Then cut the strip to about the same width as the widest part of the original - you can see the faulty part in dark brown wood in the foreground here.

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Trace the original outline...

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...and then cut a the same shape.  Then drill a hole in the same position for the axle upon which it rotates on.  You can see A. holding the pieces on top of each other here to use the hole in the original as a guide for the drill press.

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Refine the outline with a belt sander...

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...and I'm on my way home satisfied.  Next post - installing the new part in the piano, final modifications to fit the instrument.

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Shift Lever Repair - From the Upper East Side to Long Island City and Back - PART I of III

No, I didn't forget about NYPIANOTUNER, and I definitely didn't stop being one - I just moved apartments and put a lot on hold.  Many noteworthy events transpired in the interim - it was tough to pick a favorite, but here it is. Several weeks ago I tuned an Aeolian baby grand on the Upper East Side - everything went smoothly, but just as I was about to pack up my tools and hit the door, I played a short piece to enjoy the fruits of my labors, reached for the una corda pedal during a soft section, and ran into an unexpected malfunction...the action didn't shift.

Naturally I had to dig deeper - I unfurled my tool roll, pulled the action, and quickly discovered the issue - this piano had a shift lever made from soft pine, the business end of which had worn down to a nub and no longer engaged with bottom of the key frame to shift it to the right. In the image below, the worn off edge is right around the 8 inch mark - depressing the left pedal causes a rod to push up on the left side of this lever, rotating the point on the right into a slot on the bottom of the key frame, thereby shifting the entire keyboard and hammer assembly slightly to the right so the hammers only strike 2 out of 3 strings, reducing the overall volume.

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As you can see Ithis picture is looking up at the bottom of the key frame - those are the back ends of the keys), the slot was also worn down, although there was still plenty of edge for the shift lever to dig into if it had protruded further up.

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I'd never seen a shift lever that wasn't made of metal, and wasn't surprised that this one had worn down.  I knew I had to remove this piece to fabricate a replacement - so I climbed under the piano to investigate.  I'll be honest - this was uncharted territory.  But I knew I could figure it out...with a little help from my friends. (more on that in a moment)

The first objective was fairly straightforward - figure out how this lever was held into the key bed and remove it.

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Okay - those plates are going to have to come off.

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Now what? Tiny wood wedges? Do they pry out? Yes.

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Now I'll just slide it out...

But nothing is ever that easy. It wouldn't budge.  But there was nothing else holding it in - and from the gummed up residue on the axle (which I later learned was ancient lamb grease, a once common lubricant...) I surmised it was probably just stuck.

Repeated gentle, but firm, pounding with the the soft edge of my fist, further cushioned by a piece of spare felt, eventually loosed the stubborn component.

I wrapped the lever for safe transport and promised my client I'd return once I'd duplicated the worn out part.

Unfortunately, I had neither the know-how or equipment to do so - so I called up a contact of mine, a master Piano Restorer in Queens (specializing in high end Steinway grands...) to ask a favor.

And he delivered - the lead man there, A., agreed that it was strange to see a wooden shift lever.  He guessed that the original had been metal, and a former technician had replaced it with a wooden part, perhaps after having difficulties finding an original part.  After viewing the pictures, he also noted that in addition to the unfortunate choice of a soft wood, the grain on the replacement piece ran straight towards the impact point, leaving it prone to shearing off at the grain line.

And then some good news - A. could fashion a superior hardwood replacement part with proper grain orientation - and he'd do it as a favor just for me - what a guy.  It's all who you know - I'd had a number of conversations with A. at PTG meetings held on the premises, and had soon grown to love him as a master piano technician and a great guy with a lifetime of fascinating stories.  He didn't owe me anything, and I greatly appreciated him taking the time to do me this favor - in the next post I'll show you what it took to make the part...

Basic Human Goodness in Fort Greene and Park Slope

Basic human goodness - if I'm not mistaken, this is the Buddhist concept that human beings are fundamentally kind and wonderful creatures meant to enjoy life and each other. Of course, this innate goodness is too often obscured by confusion, conflicting desires, and selfishness born of fear...but we see enough of that, and can all benefit from daily reminders of how good people can be.One of the aspects of the nypianotuner experience I treasure most is daily reminders of basic human goodness - most people I meet are kind, intriguing, and make me delighted to be human. So many characters! Today sparked that feeling - a special sense of "we're in this together" always accompanies the approach of inclement weather... As the news warned us that the snow storm of the century was bearing down on us, my upcoming customers reached out to me to see if I'd be making our appointments. I have a tendency to scoff at dire media predictions because I know they have a vested business interest in sensationalism - I'm sure one day this attitude will backfire horribly on me, but today wasn't that day... The snow settled smoothly across the brownstones, covering the trash and grit with it's gentle embrace, and I had no problem making my three appointments for the day.

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My first appointment was in the old Pfizer chemical plant just off the Flushing Ave G stop, which now houses a variety of start ups, small culinary businesses, practice spaces etc.

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My engagement was in one of the practice spaces - it greatly pleased me to see my client pull back the heavy sliding door of "Module 10" - the repurposing of old/odd spaces with plenty of history showing through is very New York, and very much NYPT...

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My client was a genial 20 something who rents this space to produce his own music, which I quite enjoyed... A dreamlike wall of sounds... He had some useful tips on independently releasing an album, which I employed today... But that's another story. I also adored this tag on his piano...

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How curious...if only these pianos could talk, the stories they'd tell...the basic human goodness here was his kindness, and the enthusiasm to create that burns in the hearts of men and and leads them to spend thousands of hard earned, scarce cash to rent extra studio space and print vinyls.

My next appointment took me into the high end brownstones of Fort Greene to a repeat client for a tuning and some hammer spacing on a Steinway baby grand with one of the most epic backdrops, a painting by a recently overdosed artist who lived in a nearby collective - a tragedy - his spirit lives on in this painting, touching lives in new ways he never could've predicted. The beauty of art...

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This piano's owner was a delightful character who went to college for jazz saxophone, then switched to business because he "hated how they made him play classical saxophone" - he's now in asset management and clearly has done quite well for himself.  I enjoyed listening to him read books to his 4 year old son on the couch while I tuned - I also appreciated his insistence that his son "pick out a good book to read, one I'll like, not one of the boring ones." Awesome - he made his son return two before finding an acceptable option. After the tuning he invited me downstairs to check out his "wind midi controller" - a tube that one plays like a saxophone but is plugged into a box he "had to order online from some Japanese guy because you can't find them anymore" which contains a library of sounds. Now he can play electric guitar solos on his sax - good stuff.

Last appointment was an evaluation of a piano for sale in Park Slope.  I never met the client, but he employed me to check out a piano he was thinking of buying to make sure it wasn't a disaster. It was night by now later than I usually with by the time I arrived. An older couple ushered me in from the snow and helped me poke around the piano with great enthusiasm - I could tell they enjoyed seeing the inside of the instrument and learning more about it.  One unique feature of this Steinway upright from the 30's is that the pin block was exposed and had been replaced.

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You can see the fresh laminated wood below the "accelerated action" tag.

The woman asked if I wanted tea - I casually agreed, not expecting her to emerge from the kitchen momentarily with a silver platter laden with tea, cream and sugar in fancy china - basic human goodness. When I finished putting the piano back together, we sat for a spell at the kitchen table finishing tea and chatting. She's been a first grade teacher at the school nearby for decades - he was excited about my upcoming electronic music album. "I enjoy electronic music - I remember seeing an electronic concert in the 70's at Columbia - the giant tape machines - marvelous."  A different era of electronic music - I hope he likes mine!  I bowed out to head home, telling them that my girlfriend was surely wondering where I was by now - the kindly lady said "I bet she is!" and tried to give me one of their hats you wear since I didn't have one. I politely declined, and she apologized laughing for "trying you be my mother or something."

Basic human goodness.

The Most Cash Ever Found Inside a Piano (by me)

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I had to pull this baby grand action to realign several hammers that were binding on each other and causing multiple notes to sound when one key was depressed.

I always enjoy removing old piano actions because the inside of the piano is often an accidental time capsule... It's likely the action hasn't been removed in quite some time and whatever objects have fallen inside the piano over the years remain in dusty repose...

Sometimes I only find dust - sometimes a wheat penny, an old metal subway token, or just a boring old quarter.  

Today I found cash for the first time - and not just a Washington, but a Hamilton!  Next to the bill was a sticky note with a list of handwritten musical terms and their definitions, & a tiny pencil that said "big game today!"

Someone many years ago must have been really bummed when they lost that bill, but perhaps they would have been pleased to see the smile on the face of the piano's current owner when I handed them an unexpected $10 bill.

Procuring Raw Leather in South Slope

I've been on the hunt for a nice, thick piece of soft leather for some time now...specifically since running into a grand sustain pedal with far too much lost motion. I discovered that an ancient strip of thick leather meant to cushion the top of the rod attached to the pedal had worn away - releasing the adjustable nut on the top of the pedal rod, extending its length fully, still didn't take up the extra space.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any replacement leather in my pack - and I had no idea where to find some. A fellow PTG member suggested I check with cobblers - the guys who make and repair shoes - for extra leather.  He suggested a store in midtown, but I never made it out there.

Then today I passed by a hole in the wall shoe repair place two blocks from my apartment...one I've passed countless times. It's rarely open...I finally took the initiative to investigate.

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Now that's what I call a sign.

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Inside I found a small man covered in glue - he spoke only Spanish, but I did my best and after much time musing and a phone call to his boss, I got this beastly chunk for $23 and and he threw in an extra piece of thinner leather for piano applications other than pedal rod cushions - can't wait to bust this out at an appointment and solve problems.

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Now I just have to find scissors manly enough to cut through this thing.

Balance Rail Lift in Greenpoint

Today I returned to "Pinetop" Perkin's former piano, which you may recall from this post.  The mission - to solve an pervasive issue of double-striking/bobbling hammers. This condition often occurs when an upright piano's overall key height has decreased with time due to compression and settling of the balance rail. With the key height lowered, the front of the key doesn't have enough travel distance (key dip) and therefore cannot move the mechanical components of the piano action through a complete cycle of motion.  This results in the top of the jack not rotating fully out from under the hammer butt - the hammer rebounds from the string then bounces off the top of the jack back to hit the strong once or twice more than the single blow desired.

image courtesy of http://www.balaams-ass.com/piano/dblblow.htm

If all the keys have inadequate dip, a powerful fix is shimming up the balance rail with card stock - this raises the fulcrum point of the keys while the termination point of the key fronts travel on the front key rail stays the same, resulting in increased key dip.  Pianos with inadequate key dip will feel shallow and weak to the pianist (insufficient leverage) and will likely have other problems such as the double-striking hammers on this piano which made it incredibly frustrating to play.

Below you'll see that I had to remove keys to find the screws in the balance rail, which I loosened before slipping card stock (with a v-shaped cutout for the screw) under the balance rail to set a proper height.

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After some slight bit of trial and error to dial in the various sections of the keyboard (which had settled unevenly due to different levels of playing - obviously the middle gets the most use!) to a proper dip, I checked across the keyboard with a 3/8" key dip block and was happy with the results.

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While adjusting backchecks, capstans, and let-off buttons to ensure that all hammers behaved correctly, I noticed some especially prominent clicks that stood out above the general clickiness of this ancient action.  Here's a photo of a misaligned backcheck that wasn't capturing the hammer on rebound, allowing it to bounce back towards the string.

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Smiling pliers placed around the bridle wire (the wire connected to the red bridle strap above - more on that later..) to grab the backcheck wire facilitated the proper re-alignment via bending without the torque one would apply with regular pliers, which is not as specific an application of force and damages other components.

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Now enjoy this picture of the unusual stickers found on a player piano...

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At the bottom we have the capstans, which in a tall piano do not directly contact the wippens (a complicated piece that transfers the basic upward motion of the back end of the key to various other essential components) but transfer motion through the vertical wooden stickers seen here.  Normally the stickers are just a simple vertical stick of wood, but here they have extra buttons which the player piano mechanism would have contacted to play the notes - it would've had fingers which lifted directly up on each sticker (taking the place of human fingers lifting up on the sticker via downward pressure on the front end of the key).

This is all well and good, but the cushions on the bottom of some of the stickers were so worn out and hard that they produced a prominent click against the capstan when they fell back down after a key stroke.  Therefore I made replacement cushions out of some spare buckskin and thin felt balance rail punchings I had - after I glued these bad boys to the bottom of the stickers, the clicks magically disappeared.

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The last major clicks I noticed came from another common culprit - bridle wires clicking on backcheck wires - you can see the contact below.

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A simple bend to the left solved the problem - I double checked everything and was quite happy with the results.  My mentor described balance rail lifts on verticals as "magical" and I'm inclined to agree - it's amazing how much improvement in feel, power and functioning results from restoring the keys' fulcrum point to it's proper height.  The next step of noise reduction on this old piano is some fresh felt on the hammer rest rail and the back rail which supports the back ends of the keys - but we'll take that as it comes.  Another balance rail lift - another satisfying experience in piano improvement.

A Piano Blog Post without Pianos...in Bushwick and Brownsville

Today I pitch raised and tuned a miniature upright piano in Bushwick in a homegrown basement recording studio - my client had covered the walls with century-old Sycamore reclaimed by divers from the Mississippi River Bed.  The wood is prized for it's unique character - aged by the silty water and eaten away in intricate swirls by the tiny denizens of the deep, the paneling oozes character. Insert picture here - unfortunately I was distracted by my host's battle stories from the music biz and I didn't have the presence of mind to document either the unique paneling or tiny piano.  Use your imagination...

However, I did take a fancy to this battered toy car on the sidewalk with it's innards poking out the top...

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A sense of the surreal is critical to my conception of the NYPIANOTUNER experience - here I stand on a narrow elevated concrete platform, waiting for the train to come and obscure my chain-linked view of Evergreen Cemetery. It eventually did - and I took the L to the 3 to Brownsville...

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...and tuned an upright piano that had somehow slipped a half step flat in 8 months - my client suspected that the former tuner was relatively incompetent, and he definitely must have done something strange to result in this situation - at the least he may not have tuned it to the official pitch standard of A at 440hz (concert pitch).  I say this because there were no obvious problems with the piano and the pins were more than sufficiently tight in the pin block.

After the tuning I was treated to some of the strangest music I've ever heard - a delirious mix of drunken sounding strings, horns, piano, homemade percussion instruments, and tortured whining vocals my client records in that very room with his bandmates - it was a characteristic NYPIANOTUNER moment.

And now for the day's visual documentation - more NYPT moments, sans the pianos this time. 20141211_143800

Part of the NYPT experience is the irony and philosophy I see everywhere in this concrete jungle - like the above advertisement. How depressing - especially in this dilapidated neighborhood.  Pssst...you can't buy happiness, and who among us can really "afford" not to be happy?  But I'm exhausted, and a Nesquik does sound delicious...

Another major piece of what I've come to call the NYPT experience is the incidental beauty the hyper-urban landscape - the combination of constructed form and its slow erosion at the hands of nature - decay, graffiti, stain, litter.

This blog was conceived to communicate three aspects of what I see as the experience of being a traveling piano technician in New York - the pianos, the people, and the places.  All three of which are imbued with the spirit of this strange, legendary city.

Here are some examples - more to come in future posts...

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Fashioning a Key-Pounder in Park Slope

An essential step in the piano tuning process is the "test-blow" - if you've ever wondered why your piano tuner has to play the notes so viciously, here's a hint - it's not because he's hard of hearing.  This vigorous strike is necessary to equalize string tension across the speaking and non-speaking lengths of the string (1), thereby avoiding the string gradually settling out of tune or slipping with the next fortissimo note. This stabilizes the string's pitch/ensures that the string will not slip with playing. As you might imagine, this wears on one's finger and wrist joints over time.  In the classic piano tuning pamphlet "New Techniques for Superior Aural Tuning" the venerable master Virgil E. Smith recommends a nuanced blow where the finger pulls back *just* before bottoming out on the lowest point of key stroke, thereby avoiding impact - achieving this feels a little like the child's fantasy of giving a little hop in a plummeting elevator just before it hits the bottom of the shaft.

Actually, this advice did help and made my test blows less wearing, but it didn't fully do the trick - one inevitably knocks one's joints around here and there.

Enter the key-pounder.

There are many variations on this theme - a prosthetic finger that takes the beatings for you, with a soft yet firm tip that won't hurt the piano keys.  I saw something similar to this recommended in the PTG (Piano Technician's Guild) journal several months ago, but it came together in pieces...

I cracked a hammer off an old vertical action slated for the dump which I practiced on while preparing to pass the PTG Technical Exam (2) - months later, I obtained a small wooden handle with a screw tip from a tool giveaway at a PTG Chapter meeting.  One month after that, I finally got around to drilling a hole in the hammer head and inserting the handle to fashion a key pounder.  I'm amazed it didn't crack, as the hammer tail is barely bigger than the screw - but it still hasn't after a week of test blows.

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Voila!  I've been complaining about test blows for years - I finally did something about it.

1 - The part of the string that vibrates in response to a hammer strike, thereby transferring vibration through the bridges into the soundboard, which moves air molecules that in turn vibrate our ear drums - as opposed to the "non-speaking" lengths, the portions of the string at either end – the tuning pin end and the hitch pin end – that generally do not produce sound.

2 - One of three exams required for certification as a Registered Piano Technician (RPT) – it requires the applicant to assemble and regulate a three note vertical action model, a single note grand action model, repair a broken hammer shank and install the hammer on an action model, file a hammer, create a hitch pin loop on a single string and install it, install a double string, splice a broken string, re-bush a grand hammer flange, bush the front and balance rail mortises on a piano key – all under strict time limits.

1870's Steinway Upright in Clinton Hill

20141126_17512120141126_151744 A recent transplant from Long Island, this 1870's Steinway Upright is such a beautiful piece - with some features I've never seen before...

1. Ornate floral grill in front panel permitting one to dimly perceive the action inside (see above)...

2.  No plate covering pinblock!

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3. Homemade damper replacement cobbled together of temperament strip felt and string...

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4. Overstrung dampers on the first several wound bass strings above the first break...usually there's just one at the break to compensate for a slice made in the lowest damper above the break to make room for the adjacent bass damper.  You'll notice below that this means the hammers have to always travel precisely matched to the strings otherwise they'll hit the damper wires!

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I inspected the entire piano (soundboard cracks, strings replaced, half a humidifier system in the bottom cavity, suddenly 20cents flat at D5, broken jack toes on the highest notes - this piano only went up to G7, instead of C8, etc...), fixed the sustain pedal which had way too much lost motion, re-glued a wedge damper that had fallen into the body cavity, pitch raised the piano, tuned it, and discussed our plans for replacing the one string that broke with pitch raising and calling Steinway to see if we can get replacement Jacks from the late 19th century...

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100's of years of wear on piano hammers...

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Sticky Keys and Slippery Pins on a Gulbransen ex-Player Piano in Greenpoint

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A proud old beauty - according to my client L., this converted player piano used to belong to blues pianist Pinetop Perkins...the oldest grammy winner ever (97) - he shipped it from Austin, TX to Greenpoint for his recording studio, and is determined to get it back into playing condition.

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Today the objective was to tune the piano and troubleshoot a number of sticking keys.  I popped the lid to get busy, and took a moment to appreciate the "Ten-Year Warranty"....take a moment now to click on that image and read these promises closely...

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My favorite parts...

1. If you can't find anyone local to do satisfactory work on your piano we'll do it free of charge!  All you have to do - is ship the piano to and from our factory in Chicago - and you pay the transportation costs.  I would love to know how many people took them up on that offer...

2. I also enjoy the fact that the National Piano Manufacturer's Association decided not to guarantee any finishes against "checking" - just couldn't be done.  Every single one of these old pianos I've seen is "checked" so that was a good call.

3. And last but not least - if you didn't buy this piano for the exact price we say you should have, this warranty is void.

Hilarious warranty enjoyed, I dug into the task at hand.  I could tell immediately that the key slip was chaffing against the keys, causing them to stick when depressed.  I popped open the "false" key slip covering the player controls to see the true key slip - in the picture below, it is between the toggle switches and the keys.  But to remove the cheek blocks I had to do a bit more than normal...

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Among other case parts I had to remove, these front columns had to come off to get down to the bare keys - that's a new one.

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The hard part was getting everything out of the way, then reinstalling it after this simple but absolutely necessary fix...card stock shims affixed to the front of the key frame to keep the key slip from shifting closer to the keys with fluctuations in humidity and binding on them.

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I reinstalled everything after confirming free key movement, pitch raised the piano, did a full CyanoAcrylic treatment on the borderline-loose pins, then fine tuned - to find that the CA glue had in fact helped the pins.

I then enjoyed these vintage labels while contemplating part II of Pinetop's Piano Restoration - lifting the balance rail to provide adequate key dip and get rid of these awful double-striking hammers - more on that in the next two weeks...

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Bread and Butter Tuning in Mill Basin, Resuscitation in Windsor Terrace

The first tuning of the day was a breeze - a loyal customer I've tuned for several times now.  It's a long trip down to Mill Basin in southern Brooklyn, but I enjoy seeing a different world full of oddities like this abandoned Chinese restaurant - 20141124_121718

....and helping out a very dear family - lifelong Brooklynites, with wonderfully thick accents.  This piano will always go down in my personal history as the piano that taught me to double check practice felts upon reinstallation, before leaving the house!  The first time I tuned here I got a call back the next day that some keys were sluggish - I was flummoxed, but after some brain racking surmised that perhaps the practice felt was brushing the tops of the hammers and slowing their return?  I was doubly glad to be able to walk M. through a solution on the phone - both for their sake and mine - I didn't want to have to take that hour long bus ride for free!  And there have been a few times I've had to bite the bullet and donate an evening or an afternoon to customer satisfaction - it's the right thing to do.

In this case, all that was required was opening the piano lid and pressing the felt forwards towards the strings - I cautioned them not to engage the felt in the midst of playing, as it can get caught on moving hammers (this may in fact have been what happened initially...), and at each subsequent appointment (both for this client and others) I double check the felt, and if possible have the player sit down and try turning the mute on and off to make sure no problems arise.

For those looking to remove practice felts to access the pins for tuning - perhaps this will be obvious to you, but I wasted time and effort the first few times I removed these by taking the entire spring apparatus off to remove the felt - many can be removed simply by loosening this screw on the left and slipping out the main bar and felt.

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While waiting for the bus back, I had a chuckle at this store sign - another strange apparition from the wastelands of southern Brooklyn...

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You should be able to click on the image to zoom in, but in case you can't see it, this video store "Captain Video" makes a big deal on its sign in at least three places about being "Fully Computerized" - not sure how well this "computerized" video store is doing today - I'm guessing  "The Beer Store" right behind it has and will continue to have a more devoted clientele.

My afternoon appointment was in Windsor Terrace - an old Baldwin upright with extremely sluggish keys - actually, although this is how my customer described the issue, the real culprit was sluggish action centers (pins sheathed in felt in holes in wooden flanges serving as "axles"), especially in the hammer flanges.

In this picture you can see the results a second after I push all the hammers forward at once via the hammer rest rail - many are still slowly falling back to their rest positions.

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The full and proper solution to this issue is to re-bush the hammer flanges - install new bushing cloth and insert new center pins.  But this customer wanted to do the minimum to get the piano working, so we opted for removing and lubricating each hammer flange center pin with ProTek oil, meant for use on pianos.

These were standard wooden hammer flanges - there are other options out there, but this is how to remove most hammer flanges...

1. Slide a regulating screwdriver in from the side to loosen the hammer flange screw behind the jack - be careful not to bend the jack excessively as you may damage it.

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2. Before fully removing the hammer, you'll have to undo the bridle straps from the bridle wires - most pianos have a curly bend in the top of the bridle wires upon which the bridle strap must be threaded, but this is the first time I've seen a simpler design with just a small kink in the wire to hold the strap - easier to remove and install without breaking, and seemed to work just fine...

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3. Removing the hammer and butt can be tricky - push adjacent hammers forward, and twist hammer to side to pull up without snagging catcher on hammer rail, etc.

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4. You'll see here the shoddy workmanship that led to this problem - the hammer flanges are sloppily bushed, with extra felt and glue gumming things up - they probably started with excessive resistance, and age and disuse exacerbated this condition to the point of unplayability. Applying ProTek to the center pins and working it in by vigorously whipping the shank back and forth totally solved the problem - for now.  This is not as permanent a fix as re-bushing the flanges.  I made sure my customer understood this, and instructed him to call me if the problem returns.

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We were a bit mystified as to why the problem got worse as one moved towards the treble - one factor is definitely the weight of the hammer heads - the large bass hammers were better able to overcome the inertia of these sloppy bushings - but this doesn't totally account for the situation, and I wonder if a factory worker on a bad day just got more tired as they worked from left to right installing these pins, and cared less and less about doing it right...nonetheless, I'm shocked that Baldwin didn't have better quality control!

5.  Don't forget to reinsert the hammer butt return springs in their slots after reinstalling the hammers - here is a very simple but handy tool I picked up for this exact purpose - a thin metal rod with a slot in the end that allows one to reach into tight spaces and manipulate the tiny hammer springs.  I used to do this with a long flathead screwdriver, and the springs would always pop from my grasp - the tiny slot makes all the difference.

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One other curious issue with this piano - the bridge under two of the strings for the first unison above the treble break was chewed away - I've never seen this before and am not sure how it occurred, but it resulted in the strings having an atrocious dead, tubby, out of tune "thunking" tone that jumped out every time one played this note.  As bridge cap replacement wasn't in the plans for this customer, we simply removed these strings.  A former technician had left a note in chalk on the plate above these pins, and placed felt in between these strings to mute them out - however, this still left a dull thud in the sound.

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I warned my client that only having one string would add stress to the hammer over time and potentially cause it to break or become loose due to the torquing effect of hitting an uneven surface - instead of hitting an even plane of three strings, only the right edge of this hammer will hit the single remaining string, causing it to twist to the right upon each impact.  He was willing to take this risk to get rid of the sound of the dead strings, so I clipped them and pulled them out.

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The appointment took an extra two hours than planned, as treating "Just the worst hammers" turned to "you might as well do every one that's sluggish while you're here" but it was satisfying to do something out of the norm, and get good results!

Cookies and Coffee in Sheepshead Bay to a Crooked Jack in Bay Ridge

First tuning of the day is in deep Brooklyn - an old "Brahms" piano - there's a saying in my world that pianos named after composers are usually inferior - although generally true, this one wasn't so bad, just very old and neglected - 3 half steps flat.  Miraculously no strings broke during the double pitch raise (1) I gave the piano.  I couldn't find any information on this brand online - apparently some of these obscure brands are stickers slapped onto pianos by piano stores to sell pianos under their "own" brand. I deeply appreciated the hospitality shown to me by the elderly Italian couple who hosted most of my stay - the actual client had to work as a crossing guard all day and only stopped by briefly for a cup of noodles lunch to check in with me and drop a check...her parents-in-law provided me with a tray of cookies, creamer, sugar, and a plug-in coffee pot - that's a first!  As he set the tray on the table the gentleman said "Now you not complain about nothing."

No I can't - I love this life.  The piano turned out delightfully playable, despite the grim prognosis at the tuning's start - high quality steel.

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I stopped by McDonald's for lunch and was blessed again - ordered a 5 dollar wrap to stay "healthy" - the lady handed me a bag saying "you ordered the wrap and mozarella sticks right?" - when I told her I hadn't ordered the sticks but I'd take them anyway, instead of removing them she stepped back, added a large fries, and handed the massive bundle to me with a "You enjoy this sweetie."

Good times - but I felt pretty grimy eating that on the bus as I rolled towards my next appointment...

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This one got involved.  A shiny baby grand in Bay Ridge - what kept  me there until 6.30pm wasn't the tuning, which was a breeze despite pervasive false beats(2) in the high end...it was two notes with repetition problems.  Sometimes they'd play, sometimes not...I had to "pull" (remove) the action.

To pull a grand action - remove cheek block (3) screws - this piano had a nice design which allows you to avoid screwdrivers and finger tighten the cheek block screws - another component of this style is a key slip (4) held in place by a notch in the front of the cheek blocks that slips over the key slip.  Therefore one removes the fall board (5), then cheek blocks, then key slip to pull the action.

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After removing the aforementioned components, I discovered that a former technician had wedged felt between the front of the key frame (6) and the key slip to keep key fronts from binding on key slip when depressed.  However, this installation isn't optimal - when the key frame shifts right and left with the una corda pedal the felt could move, and it wasn't affixed with adhesive.  When I put the piano back together, I affixed the felt to the front of the cheek blocks with a dab of wood glue - held firmly in place to a non-moving part, it still accomplishes the goal of increasing distance between the key slip and key fronts permitting free key movement.

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I pulled the action and took a closer look - both stuck notes were D#'s, one in the high treble and one in the low mid-range - the higher note was no big deal - the felt in the front key bushing (a hole in the front of the key that fits over a front rail guide pin to keep it moving straight up and down) was binding on the pin - I used my key easing pliers to loose the fit and provide free motion.

To remove the key and access the key bushings, I had to remove the action stack, everything in the action except the keys on their frame, which comes off separately (hammers and other action components).

Action and stack assembled...

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and disassembled...

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The next note was a more fickle fiend - the jack (piece that transfers key motion to hammer and gets out the way at the last motion so hammer can hit string and rebound freely on its own momentum) was crooked and rubbing on the edges of the slot in the repetition lever as you can see below on the fourth note over with the camera glare...What tipped me off to the location of the friction was the jack tender (the toe that points forward and contacts the let-off button to force it to rotate out from under the hammer butt) was pointed further down than its neighbors - this implies that the top of the L shaped jack was getting hung up on something.

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This meant that after playing the note the jack would scrape along the inside edge of the rep lever and return slowly - you could only play the note again after about 7 seconds, rather than immediately as intended.

To fix this I had to remove the wippen, a piece with a number of components, all with specific functions governing the process of transferring key motion to hammer throw towards string, contact, and rebound.

In order to remove the wippen, I had to remove the hammer rest rail...and this is why I was there well into the dinner hour. One thing led to another - thanks for the coffee V. !

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It was visually obvious that the wood of the jack itself was warped.  The best solution would be to replace the jack, but this would have taken more money and time and I wanted to leave with the problem solved for my client.  This is the only place in a piano action that it's okay to slightly bend a center pin - by setting the edge of the wippen on a firm surface and tapping the top of the jack, you can create a slight bend in the pin upon which the jack rotates and realign the top of the jack.  I wasn't happy with the results so I removed the pin to check out much of the problem resided there, I wanted to see if a new pin would help - you can see the slight bend below.

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The new pin didn't help, confirming that the problem was entirely the warped jack.  So I bent the new pin slightly as before, and was able to get just enough clearance between the top of the jack and rep lever for it to move freely.  A little dry lube sprayed on the surfaces that may come back into contact if things warp back to their former position, and the note was working perfectly.  I warned her that with time and humidity fluctuation the sluggishness had a chance of reappearing, although I was reasonably confident that the realignment via pin bend would solve the problem.  If this happens we'll replace the warped jack - if not, we saved time and money - the piano is tuned and plays beautifully, and it's time for V. to resume piano lessons in retirement!

(1) pitch raise - A rough tuning overshooting concert pitch in the opposite direction from the piano's deviation – sharp if flat and vice versa – to compensate for the piano's tendency to fall back towards its original pitch level due to the addition or release of string pressure on the bridges which affects adjacent string tension. In other words, if you tune a piano that is 1/10th of a half step or more flat directly to concert pitch, it will be universally flat by the time you're done because the additional pressure of 200+ strings you've tightened presses down on the soundboard via the bridges and ends up decreasing tension on the rest of the strings.a rough tuning overshooting concert pitch in the opposite direction from the piano's deviation – sharp if flat and vice versa – to compensate for the piano's tendency to fall back towards its original pitch level due to the addition or release of string pressure on the bridges which affects adjacent string tension. In other words, if you tune a piano that is 1/10th of a half step or more flat directly to concert pitch, it will be universally flat by the time you're done because the additional pressure of 200+ strings you've tightened presses down on the soundboard via the bridges and ends up decreasing tension on the rest of the strings.

(2) false beats – A pulsating oscillation in the tone produced by a single string, much like the “beats” heard between two strings of different frequencies. Results from irregularities in the vibrating portion of the string that occur in various ways – including; from kinks produced by large pitch raises bringing a portion of the string that has developed a bend from contact with a bearing point (bridge pins, pressure bar, etc. - any contact point on string) being brought into the speaking length of the string (the portion that vibrates to produce sound); from uneven contact of string in the right angle produced by bridge pin and bridge wood – a simplified explanation is to imagine the string vibrating in just an x and y axis – if the contact point of the string against the pin creates a shorter speaking length than where the string contacts the bridge, you have two different string lengths and therefore pitches sounding essentially simultaneously, producing a sound like two out of tune strings.

(3) cheek block – on grand pianos, the blocks at the far left (bass) and right (treble) ends of the action that hold it in position, especially when shifted by the una corda pedal.

(4) key slip – the strip of wood that runs the front length of a piano and covers the bottom of the key fronts.

(5) fall board - board that folds down to cover keys when piano is not in use – protects from spills and dust.

(6) key frame – supports the action in a grand piano – rests on key bed.

Fragile Parts on Upper West Side Petrof Upright

I've always enjoyed this shout-out to NY piano techs in the 14th St transfer from the F to 2 train - the first time I saw it I did a double take - "Really!? Is that a golden backcheck regulating tool on the subway wall?" - yes indeed.  Also a regulating screwdriver, recognizable by the narrow neck and wide head, a stringing hook, and other specialty piano tools. I can only assume this piece of art is a tribute to once massive but still great NYC piano industry - one customer, a descendent of the founder of Janssen pianos, told me that at one point 1 in 5 New Yorkers was employed by the piano industry in some capacity.  Even taken loosely this seems unlikely, but the point is well taken - before smart phones, before computers, before radios, before records - the piano was the dominant form of in-home musical entertainment, and a major focal point of American culture.

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I make my way to a "luxury residence" on the Upper West Side...

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...and find a Petrof upright that hasn't been tuned in 7 years.  Everything tunes up fairly nicely - although I run into the awful false beats in the upper register I expected, the rest of the register has a nice warm full tone and the action feels solid.

However - some of the parts on this piano have a strange fragility.  Two bass strings snapped at the slightest touch, and I noticed two other forms of structural weakness I haven't seen before - when coiling one of the bass strings to take home for precise measuring and ordering of a duplicate, the tail end of the string that loops around a hitch pin in the cast iron plate snapped with a light bend at the beginning of the copper coils...this is steel wire, meant to take an average of 165 lbs of tension - I barely bent it and it cracked.

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That never happens - usually bass strings break at the top end near the upper bearing pin (in this case the piano had agraffes, brass fittings screwed into the plate through which the string passes) or by the tuning pin.  My best guess is that the sharp angles in the string at its bearing points combined with the fact that the piano was untuned for 7 years meant that a solid bend set into the wire and weakened it.  When I started to move the steel it got grumpy and couldn't take the change.

The other strange damage was these cuts in the practice felt...

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That also never happens - practice felt is usually pretty thick and durable, and for the hammers to wear on it enough to cut holes over the strings is unusual.  Best guess - the felt lowering mechanism was dis-attached when I arrived, meaning that the hammers were always hitting it.  Perhaps this had been the case for many years exposing it to an unusual amount of wear, although the felt still must have been weak in the first place....I plan to replace the felt as well as the two strings as soon as possible.

In addition to the pitch raise and tuning, I removed this excessive "lost motion" (wasted space in a sequence of mechanical events) in the quiet pedal.  When the player depressed the left pedal this dowel had to move through a centimeter of empty space before taking lifting the hammer rail and moving the hammers closer to the strings to lessen their blow distance and thereby reduce volume.

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A simple fix - I removed the bottom panel by releasing the catch, then tightened the pedal nut.  You can do this yourself at home to increase pedal tension, i.e. if a pedal isn't responsive enough.

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Diagnosing a Mysterious Buzz on D#5 in Bed-Stuy

h at piano An evening appointment with a friend in Bed-Stuy - a mysterious buzzing sound caused by firm blows on D# and E5 above middle C appeared in the last few weeks.  I knew that some part of the piano was vibrating sympathetically with this general part of the sonic spectrum...I guessed that the culprit was a crack in the Sound board based on the sound, as well as the suddenness of the symptom's appearance - the Sound board is highly susceptible to swelling and shrinking in response to the environment's relative humidity, and this piano had two factors working against it - close proximity to a baseboard heater and an outside window.  When the Sound board wood changes volume by sucking up or releasing moisture, it can bring the inside faces of a crack into just the right distance from each other for them to vibrate against each other in response to certain frequencies, causing an annoying buzz.

The D# unison had slipped out of tune more than the adjacent notes - equalizing the three strings to the proper tension prevented this note from exciting the buzz - I concluded that the note had moved out of tune towards the frequencies that vibrated this as yet undiscovered crack, and returning it to it's proper place ameliorated the condition.  The E was still in tune, and caused intense buzzing.  I didn't see any obvious cracks looking down through the strings from the top, so I had H. play the note repeatedly while I explored the underside of this Steinway baby grand - I soon found that pressing up on the second to last sound board rib stopped the buzz completely, and noticed an obvious crack.

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The proper repair for this condition was beyond my capabilities and the customers' budget - we worked a small amount of Cyanoacrylic super glue into the crack, known for its ability to "creep" or seep deeply into small spaces, even without the aid of gravity, hoping this would stop the crack from vibrating against itself in the same way.  This helped the situation somewhat, although it was very difficult to accomplish this upside down and we were getting more glue on our fingers than desirable.  We stopped for the night, satisfied that we'd diagnosed the buzz, and H. plans to find a better way to work glue into the crack to perhaps completely solve the condition.  Of course, it may go away again on its own as the humidity continues to change.

Since H. is a friend and it was an unusual late night appointment, we celebrated with a Heineken on the fire escape while listening to a record he prizes - a recording of Fritz Reiner (Who H. praised for his "militaristic precision - he was a complete asshole, but he got results.") conducting the Chicago Symphony in Ravel's "Spanish Rhapsody", "Pavane for a Dead Princess" as well as Rachmaninoff's "Isle of the Dead."

Thanks for an enjoyable evening's work H. and your tips on my playing on the Beethoven Sonata  - I look forward to your report that the buzz is gone.

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Resurrecting a Neglected Baby Grand in Bed-Stuy

20141110_09443120141110_095311 First tuning was on a shiny Petrof baby grand in Bushwick - went smoothly, although intermittent "knocking" noises in the low bass are likely due to improper contact between the bottom of the key frame (holds the keys and actions) and the key bed upon which it rests - will have to return to properly "bed" the key frame by sanding the high spots on its underside to create a new flat surface that properly mates with the supporting wood below.

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Sometimes string sizes are printed on the treble bridge, saving one the trouble of measuring a string with a string gauge or micrometer - see below for the tiny 14.5 (string size) printed in the left 1/4 of the frame on the bridge beneath the bridge pins.

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In the evening I resurrected a Baby Grand in a house full of artists - actors, musicians, graphic designers, film directors - in Bed-Stuy.  Resurrected may be too strong a word - but the piano had sustained some damage, two notes weren't working, and it was badly out of tune, so I brought it back into an enjoyable state.

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In the following pictures you can see the ghosts of PBR's past...

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I had to pull the action to diagnose the dead notes...

Step 1 - remove the key slip by loosening screws under the front rim of the key bed

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Step 2 - Remove the cheek blocks at either end of the keyboard by loosening large screws in front of legs.

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Step 3 - remove retaining screws holding fallboard on pivot pins, then remove fallboard.

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Step 4 - Find a suitable surface for a makeshift work bench, remove and place the action there for diagnosis.

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After pulling the action I found a hammer head broken off - this head had somehow worked it's way two octaves into the bass and was the cause of the second dead note.  A two for one repair - my client opted for the cheaper route of wood glue (Aliphatic resin glue - Titebond) and string repair rather than a full shank repair.  You can see the repaired hammer shank with a white "cast" around the former break, 4 hammers to the left of the break here.

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Fine tuned the piano, applied Pin-Tite to the numerous loose pins with excellent results (there's some controversy over this product and its effect on pin blocks, but it gets results when all else fails on old beat up grand pianos - that's the only place I use it.) and everybody was happy - a tuned piano with all notes functioning!  And to think this piano hadn't been played for the last several years - it was merely a hip piece of furniture - until today.

Institutional Maintenance at Brooklyn Music School

20141107_100748 Founded in 1912, Brooklyn Music School is one of the oldest and most cherished Community Performing Arts Schools in NYC.  A number of my clients reminisce fondly about their childhood music lessons at BMS.  I help maintain the schools 14 pianos each Friday morning - today I worked on the "Otto Altenburg" baby grand in the MacDowell Room.  Made by Samick, it's a type of piano I've come to know and fear - not necessarily lower end, but not fun to tune or play.  It's one of a class of mid-range Asian pianos that feels rubbery and unstable when tuning and playing, and the higher end is always riddled with false beats (essentially a single string that sounds "out of tune," like two strings of different pitches played simultaneously.) They're always shiny and fancy, but don't hold up to closer inspection - whited sepulchers.  20141107_101058 20141107_110427

Next I moved to tune an old friend of mine, a pre-War Baldwin.  Baldwin made far superior pianos before WWII - the US War Production Board forced all US piano manufacturers to halt production during the war, and during this time Baldwin constructed various plywood airplane components - after the war they doubled production levels, focused more on vertical pianos, and their quality drastically decreased - every piano tuner with any experience has wrestled with crummy, false-beat ridden Baldwin consoles and spinets to his great frustration.

I assessed this piano before it was donated to the school to make sure it was worth their time - I intend to replace the badly chipped key ivories, but everything else is pretty sweet. Cleaned up the piano and headed home to prepare to host a Dia de los Muertos party - some of us can't let go of Halloween right away...

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Vintage Humidifier two days after Install

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modern humidifiers are supposed to keep pianos at an even 42% - my guy is clocking in at 41% now so I'm happy - beautiful.

The next step is to tune the piano next week after it's acclimated, then assess it again in the ensuing months. Hopefully it will require less maintenance - Lord knows it's hard enough to tune my own piano when I'm so busy with everybody else's!