Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tuning Godzilla

Yep, folks, the monster piano. This piano is located at The Studio restaurant, Rocky Neck, Gloucester. As I recall the building used to be owned by the artist, Emile Gruppe. My memory could be wrong though. So here's a picture of the monster Chickering grand piano. It has been converted to a "piano bar". Thus the red, padded elbow rest surrounding the lid. An attempt has been made to paint the piano to look like an artist's palette. All the tables in the area around the piano are painted the same way. And in the same manner......poorly......with a large brush......gobs of paint.....that, on the piano, are chipping off. Now, it's never a good idea to mix a piano with drinks. Inevitably many drinks find their way through the hinge on the lid to the steel strings and wool felt dampers directly below. Just think what a year's worth of rum and cokes will do to steel piano wire under a great deal of tension. Then add to that the fact that I can not raise the lid on this monster unless I remove the entire elbow rest. Then add to that there is no lid prop stick so one must improvise with stainless ice buckets wedged in place! Why, oh why, do I continue to service this monster?

Because, it's old and so weird.

So, Friday is the tuning. They only called on Wednesday. It had just dawned on them that they were opening for the season Friday night. I got to Rocky Neck and the usual parking mess. I've often thought it might be nice of the restaurant to set aside an employee spot for me for the time I'm there. Hah! I drive along the narrow street looking for a close-by spot. No luck. Here's where I ended up (literally the end) parking. Gloucester Marine Railways. Where the big sign says: "Not responsible for vehicles damaged by paint overspray". Great. No painting seemed to be going on and I parked between two other trucks - just in case - less chance of total coverage at least. I hauled myself and my weighty tuning kit to the restaurant. It had been one year since the piano had been tuned. Remarkably and thankfully - not too bad. Up to pitch with just a few unisons out. I try very hard not to move any strings by much. Remember the rum and cokes? Heaven forbid any let loose with a loud snap. Already there were 4 broken just from use over last summer. Thankfully no place vital and within the area of 3 strings per note, all notes still made sound! While I was just getting started the manager walked by. "This key sticks down. I hope you can fix it." Oh yeah, sure, why not try to pry this beast open? Working with unidentified sticky substances adhering to my hands, I got enough of the case freed up and apart to get to the workings. The action would not budge out of the piano. Oh yuck. With liquid lube in hand, I aimed and squirted. Yay! I hit the right spot and the hammer returned to position (repeatedly) and thus the "key" unstuck. Phew!

Poor old abused Godzilla. An 1896 Chickering that deserves so much better than it's present existence.

Done for another year. I'll be called back again next May, I'm sure. Back to my truck and a quick photo as I left the marine railways. And I survived without getting an unwanted paint job! And finally, I drive out of Rocky Neck past The Studio. It's the brown building with the blue awnings.


mary said...

Oh yikes! Am running to wash off my hands! I have a sticky fetish and have a meltdown with just one miniscule drop of any sticky substance on me! Your word pictures are always so wonderfully realistic - and now I feel sticky all over. Guess I'll have to take a shower! eek - someone get the water running - I'm covered in rum, coke and other unknown sticky substances.


deb said...

Yeah, it's pretty disgusting. Such a shame. Rebuilt (and refinished) this piano would be glorious.

Now, I wonder why I don't dine there? They do have a reputation as being good. (As long as you don't look in the corners, I guess!)

dickiebo said...

I think there's nothing worse than the sight & smell of a restaurant/bar before opening time. Always think that it's 'nuff to put you off!

deb said...

Curious, saddened, intrigued, cautious, and yet again...curious. I may venture to dine there this year. Just to see.