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Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Women of Steinway & Sons


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:


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:

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!