Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Saturday's Tuning

I tried to take a vacation last week. Mostly I was unsuccessful. A week earlier, on a Saturday morning, I received a call from a potential tuning customer. Mrs. Smith was sounding rather concerned. It seems that a party, evidently planned for some other location, had been moved to her home. There was to be someone playing her piano and it hadn't been tuned in two years. She needed the piano tuned during my vacation week. I really didn't want to interrupt my week so I suggested that I tune the piano on the Saturday morning before her Sunday party. She agreed to the time and I asked her a few more questions. She was positive it had only been a couple years since Mr. Nolongerinbusiness had tuned it.

At 9:45 on Saturday, I headed out to find Mrs. Smith's house. It's located on a rather busy road and I thought it would be challenging to find the house number while driving. I managed to find it without any problems and arrived promptly at 10 a.m. I had to park on the opposite side of the street on a blind curve and make a dash across, carrying my heavy tuning kit and a small 'slick and stick' kit. Safely at her doorstep I rang the bell. Mrs. Smith appeared from around the outside corner of the house and said she hoped that I didn't mind dogs. I don't. Hers were friendly. Three BIG ones that greeted me and then left the room. She escorted me to the small parlor and a gorgeous, but teeny, Victorian grand that had belonged to her great grandmother. It was keyboard to the corner of the room and a tight squeeze for my kit and me.

I played through a few octaves and cringed. This piano sounded horrendous. I looked at Mrs. Smith as she remarked, "Bad isn't it."

"Very. I have a question. Will any other instruments be played with the piano at the party?"

"No."

"Assuming that all the keys and such work, I'll only concentrate on tuning the piano to itself for tomorrow's party. Will that be all right with you?"

"Yes, exactly. Just so it sounds good to a bunch of drunk people."

Giggle. I can do that. Mrs. Smith wrote a check for payment (with a tip!) in advance of me even starting. She had errands to run and would be leaving me (and the cleaning ladies) at the house.
I'm glad those party-ers would be doing some drinking! The piano had many rusty strings, moderately loose tuning pins, and a pedal lyre that was begging for support (the support rods were missing). The cleaning ladies were busying themselves in and around the room, talking on their cell phones and moving furniture around on the hardwood floors. All the windows were open and, did I mention, the road just past the house was being repaved? Large macadam trucks ground gears hauling their loads up the slight incline in the road not more than 15 feet from my tuning position. Not to mention ordinary Saturday traffic!

An hour and fifteen later, I declared to myself that I had done all I could for the piano. It sounded better and with an inebriated crowd celebrating in song while traffic motored by, the tuning should be fine!

3 comments:

Kippers Dickie said...

So how many semi-tones down did you tune it?
With all those loose pins it will probably go down again in a week.
On the bright side....you'll have to go back and......more work for Deb.
Can't be bad.
Cheers......Bernard

dickiebo said...

With my ears, any tuning would be fine, Deb.

deb said...

Bernard, I didn't even check. The unisons were so bad that, well, almost unrecognizable as to what note was what. I picked a 'seems to be a sharpish sounding string' midrange that sort of matched up with it's octave in the bass and went from there!

She's a guitarist, won't be tuning this piano until the next event.

Dickiebo, the alcoholic beverages go in your mouth, not your ears.