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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Retired Piano Technician Cartoon: Fill in the caption!


A visual metaphor. What's the message?
The Retired Piano Technician. Fill-in-the-caption.  ©1990, 2013. www.pianotechno.blogspot.com

Friday, December 27, 2013

Jack Benny plays Piano Tuner Sheldon Weeks: GE Theater The Honest Man (1956)




The Honest Man (1956)



Jack Benny plays piano tuner Sheldon Weeks.

In one of the opening scenes, Jack Benny's character, piano tuner Sheldon Weeks, services the piano of an unseen, off-screen character who sounds exactly like Liberace when he speaks.

Director: Frank Tashlin
Writers: Richard Pedicini (story), Frank Tashlin
Stars: Jack Benny, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Charles Bronson


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Respect for The Piano


By

The Original Party Pooper


Once upon a time, when a child set a beverage on the family piano, a good scolding wasn't far behind. In those days, parents taught respect.

For banging on the keys and otherwise abusing the schoolhouse piano, the rambunctious earned a swat on the behind. (The penalty for sitting atop, even more, doing The Piano Lid Bop, is too severe to print.) There was no such thing as "time out" back then. Teachers taught respect.

When The Great Piano Trouncer came to town, one dealer refused to rent a piano - any piano - not even a Smith & Barnes with a cracked plate destined for The Old Piano Graveyard. For one dealer, respect was of greater value than profit.

When The Trouncer's successor came to town - The Young String Popper - one piano tech refused to remain behind stage feeding fresh new bass strings to The Hybrid. The piano technician had respect, even for Universal Bass Strings.

Yes, there is still respect for the piano, if only for the lowliest among parts.

At least something lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Piano in an old abandoned school at Carden Bottom, Arkansas

      PHOTO BY BRAD WIDDING 2013


                                                                      PHOTO BY BRAD WIDDING 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My favorite tools: Pin Vise Voicing Tool


The December 2011 issue of the Piano Technicians Journal has a short explanation of this voicing technique in the Tools Tips and Techniques section of the magazine. It also contains a longer, feature article that provides more detail

Saturday, November 9, 2013

So, you want to be a piano technician: Can you hear the necessary things? (1)



video
Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2.
Excerpt from the first movement.
Major conductor, orchestra, pianist and record label.
Something is amiss.
Listen carefully.
Can you hear it?
What's the problem?

(Note: The problem may also be heard clearly on the CD as well as the original Stereo LP.)

So you want to be a piano technician, PART 2 is here:

So, you want to be a piano technician PART 2



Link to the discussion on part 1 and the identity of the recording is here:

Piano World Tuner-Technician Forum 

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Noble Art : Three Lectures on the Evolution and Construction of the Piano (Fanny Morris Smith 1892)



                A Noble Art                 
Three lectures on the Evolution and Construction of the Piano
by Fanny Morris Smith.
Published 1892


Read online gratis:

 
 
(For general interest only. Not a recommendation. In the public domain)

The Pianoforte, its origin, progress, and construction (Rimbault 1860).

 
 
 



 
 
The Pianoforte, its origin, progress, and construction
By Edward F. Rimbault  (ca.1860)  
 
             
Read online gratis:   
 
The Pianoforte, its origin, progress and construction (Rimbault 1860)

(For general interest only. Not a recommendation. In the public domain)
 

An Integrated-circuit Piano Tuner for the Equal-tempered Keyboard employing a tuneable fixed-coefficient digital filter (Hagee ca.1969)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
               
Published 1969 by  Michael William Hagee
         
About the Book
 
A study of the physics of the piano reveals that while the upper partials of the steel strings are the eigen-frequencies of the complex tone, they are not integer multiples of the respective fundamentals. To properly measure and tune these eigen-partials, a digital filter capable of sweeping a major portion of the audio-frequency spectrum had to be implemented. Such a filter, a tuneable fixed-coefficient digital filter, is discussed as well as a simple pole-zero design procedure for determining the required coefficients. Each module, including the frequency deviation detector and counter, the time-base generator, the digital filter, the reference frequency generator and the display and control module, of the proposed tuner is illustrated and discussed.
 
 
 
 
Read online gratis:
 
 
 
 
(For general interest only. Not a recommendation. In the public domain)
 
 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Construction, Tuning and Care of the Piano-forte: A Book for Tuners ca.1887

 
 
 
 
Available online and gratis.
 
 
Tuning and Care of the Piano



(For general interest only. Not a recommendation. In the public domain)

Modern Piano Tuning and Allied Arts by W.B. White ca.1917


 
Available in various formats online.
Gratis.
 
(For general interest only. Not a recommendation. In the public domain)


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Hamburg Steinway D.



 
 
Ragna Schirmer - Brahms Rhapsody op.79/2

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My favorite tools: Portable Grand Action Dolly.



 
This handy item makes in-home, in-piano regulation, voicing and repair all the more easy. 
 Action slides smoothly in and out of the keybed.
 
Available to the trade only from:
 
 
 

My favorite tools: Digital Micrometer

 
 
 
 
 
Indispensable in piano repair.
 
I prefer the non-LED readout.

Available from numerous sources,
both in and out of the trade.
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Market share: Who is trying to take it from you?

 
A memento from the unhappy days in advertising and marketing.
 
Who is trying to take market share away from us, and succeeding?
 
Piano techs in our town?
 
Nope.
 
Who, then?
 
If you have to ask,  you'll understand why they've been so successful at it.
 
 

Tuning in the showroom

 
 
 
One of the few instruments in the world that can well-receive equal temperament.

Piano Tech and the Kingdom of the Crystal Grand.

 
Coming soon to theaters everywhere!

Our Harpsichord: Gone but not forgotten.


Mission Impossible : The Piano Guys (Movie)


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Vintage ad: Piano Tuner, St. Louis, MO





Norman Rockwell: The Piano Tuner

 
 
 
 
 
These prints do not come up for sale too often.
This one is for sale today at etsy.com
 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fazioli Tunings in Equal Temperament: Concert Etude: Un Sospiro (Liszt) and Claire De Lune (Debussy).

 
 
 
video
 
 
 
 

First recording:

Fazioli F212  6.11 prepped for performance by the late
 Jerry Pace, piano technician

in
Equal Temperament.
 
 Recorded before a live audience
 at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall,
University of Arkansas at Little Rock ca. 1996.

Concert Etude:
Un Sospiro
Liszt

Julie Cheek, pianist

From the CD
Julie Cheek in Concert
Special Edition Fazioli Serial No. 500

Recording engineer:
(unattributed)

Aired on NPR
"Performance Today"
___________________


Second recording:

Fazioli F228  7.6 prepped for performance by
 Bob Widding, piano technician,

in
Equal Temperament.
 
 Recorded before a live audience at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall,
University of Arkansas at Little Rock ca. 2000.

Claire De Lune
Debussy

Julie Cheek, pianist

From the CD
Julie Cheek Classical Favorites

Recording engineer:
Grady Trimble

__________________


For more information:

www.fazioli.com

www.juliecheek.com

 

Recent find: My 8th Grade Recital Program (1964)



 
 
The Rachmaninoff  Prelude is me. As I recall, at 13 years old my hands
were so small that I had to "roll" some of the chords. It took all year to learn it.
 
 
 


Monday, October 21, 2013

My favorite tools: Universal jack escapement tool.


 
"Two thumbs up."
A great time saver!
 
 
Available to the trade only from:
 
 


My favorite tools: Pliers for those tricky Viennese actions. "Essential" is an understatement!

 A.
B.
 
 
Capsule pliers for Viennese piano actions are available in two varieties. These pliers are essential tools for working on Viennese actions. A. is used to open capsules to remove and replace hammers. B. is used to space and travel hammers by bending the capsule stems.
 
Available to the trade only from:
 
 
 
 

My favorite tools: "The Stringer" replaces curtain rod!

 

A handy tool from Piano Tek looks very much like this thin brass curtain rod. Called "The Stringer," the tech simply inserts piano string. Loop-ready! Great time saver for replacing broken string in the usually difficult places.
 
(Years ago, many techs actually used curtain rods for this.)


Available to the trade only from:

www.pianoteksupply.com/

My favorite tools: Hart replaces a chopstick!

 
The Hart "through the string" 9" grand voicing tool for fine voicing of individual hammers.  Easy
 access to hammers without pulling out the action. Replaceable needle is held by a set screw.
 
(Before the advent of this amazing tool, we'd make one from a chopstick, needle, thread and glue.)

Available to the trade only from:

www.pianoteksupply.com/

Paolo Fazioli playing his pianoforti

 
Paolo Fazioli playing his pianoforti

With Paolo Fazioli measuring the crown on a used Steinway D.




Paolo Fazioli and piano technician measure the crown on a  used Steinway D.
 
(As suspected, it was flat.)
 
 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fazioli Tunings in Equal Temperament: Prelude in Bb Major (S. Rachmaninoff) and Air with Variations (G. Handel).





video





First recording:

Fazioli F212  6.11 prepped for performance by the late
 Jerry Pace, piano technician

in
Equal Temperament.
 
 Recorded before a live audience
 at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall,
University of Arkansas at Little Rock ca. 1996.

Prelude in Bb Major
Opus 23, No. 2
S. Rachmaninoff

Julie Cheek, pianist

From the CD
Julie Cheek in Concert
Special Edition Fazioli Serial No. 500

Recording engineer:
(unattributed)

Aired on NPR
"Performance Today"
___________________


Second recording:

Fazioli F228  7.6 prepped for performance by
 Bob Widding, piano technician,

in
Equal Temperament.
 
 Recorded before a live audience at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall,
University of Arkansas at Little Rock ca. 2000.

Air with Variations (Harmonious Blacksmith)
from Suite in E Major,
HG II/i/5
G. F. Handel

Julie Cheek, pianist

From the CD
Julie Cheek Classical Favorites

Recording engineer:
Grady Trimble

__________________


For more information:

www.fazioli.com

www.juliecheek.com

 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fazioli F212 6.11 Tuning in Equal Temperament: Sonata in C Major (Scarlatti).

 
video
 
Fazioli F212  6.11 prepped for performance by the late
 Jerry Pace, piano technician in Equal Temperament.
 
 Recorded at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall,
University of Arkansas at Little Rock ca. 1996.

Sonata in C Major
Longo 104
Scarlatti

Julie Cheek, pianist

2.27

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Our 1936 Baldwin Hamilton

Our 1936 Baldwin Hamilton grand piano is ALL original. Still in good shape. Proving that even a second tier piano will last a lifetime and more when properly constructed and cared for.

Advice to New Piano Technicians: How to build your business.





CD ROM is no longer available but pdf can be viewed here:
LINK 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Floor tuning trials and tribulations.



"Yes, there's the salesman and prospect doing the Piano Hop Boogie, followed by the couple with five hyper kids playing "musical benches" with a cacophony of "Heart and Soul." At the other end of the store, an unannounced visit from a music minister has the Allen blasting Widor so loud that the walls feel like Jericho about to tumble." - BW

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Identifying a counterfeit grand piano


Just because a "rebuild" is tagged as either this brand or that doesn't make it so.
At least two red flags are indicated on this one. Can spot them?
What else should you look for?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Women of Steinway & Sons

Link:
 

Making of a Steinway ca.1929 movie

 
This is an unused marketing video produced by the Steinway Company in 1929 displaying how they manufacture their Style B Grand Piano. Most of the techniques have stayed the same in the 80 year interim. (Edited By Samuel Lieberman) For more on Steinway, visit the La Guardia and Wagner Archives' website:

http://www.laguardiawagnerarchive.lag...

There you will find a rich collection of photographs and documents about Steinway and New York City's history.

Chopin's chair.

 
 Upon the death of Chopin, all of his furniture was burned,
except this piece on display at the Musée Adam Mickiewicz in Paris.
(Personal tours are available in French and English.)
At this point, my camera ran out of film.

Chopin's death mask.

 


Another shot from Musée Adam Mickiewicz in Paris. 
Aside from capturing a copy of the mask instead of the original -  partially seen in the background -
 and being out of focus, I didn't do too bad with this one either.

Chopin's hand.

 
 While in Paris don't miss the Musée Adam Mickiewicz
I'm no photographer, but didn't do too bad
capturing this plaster cast of Chopin's hand.

My favorite tools: (1) Measure tuning pins in-block; (2) Alligator forceps helps regulate grand action in piano.

 
(1) Handy device for measuring tuning pins in the piano.
 
 
 
(1) Alligator Forceps

Indispensable if you prefer grand action regulation
 in the piano as opposed to the workbench.



Available to the trade only from:

www.pianoteksupply.com/
 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Piano R.I.P

First they attacked my acoustical basis
and techs did nothing
because history was on my side.

Then they attacked my upright
and techs did nothing
because I still had my grand.

Then they attacked my grand
and techs did nothing
because I still had my concert grand.
 
Finally they attacked my concert grand
and techs could do little
because so little remained.

And now I am no more
and techs can do nothing
because nothing is left to save.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Itinerant or Gypsy Piano Tuner-Tech



During my early years working for the Baldwin/Seiler (later Steinway) dealer in Little Rock, I had opportunity to "share the workbench" there with one of these guys. Rarely in one place for more than a day or two, he roamed all over the State tuning here and there.

Once or twice a month, he'd stop by the store, pick up a handful of free dealer tunings and warranty service orders, and off he'd go again. That's if he had transportation at the moment. If not, somehow he'd find it. Even with a dealer-made appointment, seeing his disheveled appearance through the front door peephole some customers wouldn't open it.

He was also a graduate of the Detroit PT School (Grinnell Bros). Not the home study programs that many of us took, mind you. This was the real deal. (No. I am not denigrating the home study schools.)

Every great once in awhile he'd land a retail action rebuild or some other major work. The dealer was kind enough to offer both of us the backshop for our work.  If there was time, I'd observe his work. When using the shop for my work, he'd observe my modus operandi as well.

I was then an ardent follower of the "Reblitz School" on just about everything. As I worked, Itinerant Tuner would say: "You know, Bob, you can do it that way - and there's nothing wrong with it. However, if you do it this way, you'll achieve the same result and cut the time by half or more."

Cutting the time by 75% or more was usually the case. More often than not, he was right.

He became an unexpected mentor - my second and last.

Among the last of the true gypsy tuners, he is long gone now. But not forgotten.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Advice to new piano technicians


Master of temperament.

In your zeal to offer all temperaments to all pianists,
take care that you become not jack of all temperaments,
master of none.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Change the subject


 
 
The problem is not so much that
we won't change our mind;
we won't change the subject!
 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Piano Tuning by JC Fischer ca.1907





 
Available online in various formats.
 
Gratis.
 
 
Piano Tuning by JC Fischer



(For general interest only. Not a recommendation. In the public domain)

 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oldest piano tuner movie

video

This is the oldest film featuring a "piano tuner."

"Bud, the piano tuner. "

Producer: Shiller Productions, Inc.
Production Company: Reelcraft.

An Aladdin Comendy. Written and Directed by Hamilton Smith. Photographed by Tom Griffith.

Originally from the silent era 1921. Re-released in 1944.  This possibly isn't 1910s. According to IMDb, this was released in 1921.

 ______________________________________________________________________
(Below are just misc photos)