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Piano repair? Why not.

August 17, 2016

Before moving to California, I had an amazing job at Shar Music repairing string instruments. I inspected violins, violas and cellos as they arrived and repaired them in whatever way was needed. Fingerboards were glued back on, necks were un-warped, bridges were replaced and seams were re-glued. I loved it. But I loved my (now) husband more, so when he needed to leave Michigan for California for his job I went with him, leaving behind my job. 


Since we moved, my husband has frequently mentioned how much he wanted a piano. So three years into living in California, I decided to find him a piano to enjoy for our last two years here and give it to him as a Nowruz gift. Turns out it's really easy to find old pianos on Craigslist. I snagged this one.


It's a 100 (+/-) year old player piano that had been gutted of it's player parts at some point in time. It was out of tune, and had some sticking keys, but I thought it was beautiful. So a week or so later two burly men delivered it to our home. 


A local music store was able to recommend a piano tuner, who was pretty cool. He's been tuning pianos since the 70's, and had a lot to tell me about "chem trails". Prior to tuning the piano though, there were some repairs that needed to be made. Since I had prior experience with (much much smaller) instruments, he gave me a quick run down of how to un-warp the stuck keys, install tiny straps on the hammers and tweek the action on the keys. 




Some of the keys were water damaged, which had warped the wood. They were straightened in much the same way as a wraped violin neck: the wood was softened by steaming before the key was clamped against a work bench to straighten it back out.  





I also added these tiny straps to each hammer to lessen the time it takes for the hammer to retract after being struck. It helped get the sound to be a little cleaner and less muddy. 


I touched up some scratches with the finest art tool: a crayola marker. It actually was a great match color-wise and very easy to blend with the old finish on the piano. After about 6 hours of work all told, every key was playing flawlessly. The tuner came back later that week to finish getting the strings to the right pitch, and it's been playing great since. 

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