Thursday, January 28, 2010

And Then There Was...

One! Set of keys in the shop.


Two more are due to arrive next week.

And the harmonium is here for it's repairs.

Tomorrow I'm off to a tuning in the morning.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

If You Can't Find Me

This is where I am. For the next millennium it would seem. Two sets of keys went out today. One of which was picked up by the tech, the other was shipped out. That left three sets to finish. That is until three more box-fulls were found waiting at my door. Another two are due to arrive at any time. And, of course, the customer with a harmonium needing repair is arriving on Saturday morning.

I hear that sleep is overrated.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

That Feeling That The Ax Will Fall

It's just a matter of when. But for now, I'm swamped with work...still. Yeah, there was a week or so just after the new year when things slowed a teeny bit. With the economic situation still VERY ill, I don't understand why business is good. Not complaining, just nervous.

Today was Ipswich afternoon. I went to look at a piano that the owner had seemed very nervous about over the phone. She was afraid that she had made a big mistake in accepting a free piano. Well, it's no great shakes but certainly a serviceable Story & Clark console. We've scheduled a tuning in about a week. Then I went to tune a VERY LARGE Henry F. Miller upright dating from 1902. It had been redone, sort of, mostly weirdly with wrong sized hammers, inappropriate and too thick felts. It played and that was the client's main concern. Played well? No. But every note worked. The piano had been restrung with oversized tuning pins. Before this new owner acquired the instrument, it had been stored on a porch. Most rusty tuning pins I have ever seen. Orange crud was growing like lichen on the bass pins, yet the strings looked shiny and new! Most of the bass tuning pins did not want to turn. That concerned me as with all that rust, I was sure that a pin would snap off. I certainly didn't want that mess. The client stayed in the room watching and listening through the entire tuning. I had expressed my concerns about the rusty pins and she commented that she wasn't nervous at all. "That's one person in this room that's not worried," I said. Finished in just over an hour, and - it sounds better but still plays like...

Came home to a set of keys on the porch. Big job of German tops and fronts and key bushing. Another set due to arrive on Monday, just for bushings. Monday's job may lead to doing production key work for an electric keyboard company. Next week there should be another two sets of keys beyond those I just mentioned. Monday afternoon I tune for a regular customer, Wednesday morning another regular (the Steinway monster). Then the music director at the school called and they need three pianos tuned this coming week. Sometime in there I've got to return the action (back to a customer's piano) that I had in the shop for repairs last week.

Yep, I'm getting nervous.


Oh, and before I forget to mention it. There's a new book in the sidebar. Ford County is a collection of stories written by John Grisham. A good read and according to Mr. Grisham, the stories are taken from ideas that he's had over the years that never developed in to full novels.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reason Number One

Why furniture refinishers should not try to do piano key work...

And therefore why sane piano technicians should not be willing to finish up said work.

I've never claimed to be sane, only saner than many.

So the email stated that the keys had been professionally prepped, sanded with 100 grit, to be ready to just glue on new key tops. "Could you discount the price?"

I think not! (Between you and me, I should have charged extra.)

So while they did save me the time of slicing off the old tops and fronts, I was left with this to deal with.Can't just glue those new key tops and fronts on to this jagged edge! Just imagine how messed up that supposed nice, straight, edge of piano keys would be with these two sticking out further toward the front! Yes, there were others of similar ilk. I trimmed them to match their neighbors. That was the most I could do to straighten what still will most likely be a rather irregular line of keys. Then I went on with the rest of the job. During the trimming of the top key wood using my rotary planer set-up, a large area of Bondo filler chipped off two blade tips on the planer. I wasn't happy. Thankfully I had a set of new blades on hand. Everything else went fine.

What do you think? I think that the refinisher got a piano in for a strip and new finish. I think they didn't take the keys out and managed to ruin the existing key tops. Then they decided to not tell the customer and take care of it before their customer could find out. How hard could it be to glue new plastic on? They pulled off the old, leaving several large rip-outs of wood which they then filled with Bondo. Then they sanded. Then they took a circular saw of some sort and wacked off the fronts. Most were sort of in a line. A few were way off. Then they found out that the new plastic key tops (they sent a set they had purchased) are made oversized and need to be machined to fit each key and they realized they were in trouble. I could be wrong, but...

The finished keys were sent back today with the photo enclosed and a BIG disclaimer and warning about future work.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Magic and Mystery

I can't believe it has been so long since I wrote here! I have been keeping busy and by the time free time comes around, well, I fall asleep. So, today is the first chance that I've had during daylight hours to take some time to update.

It snowed a bit New Year's Eve Day but had stopped in time to get most of the roads and walkways cleaned up for Rockport's New Year celebration. I did my usual volunteering at our church, which was listed as venue number 8 of 15. Each location was host to 3 double performances. The first two sets at the church were the Bullock Brothers, a super gospel group. I was secretly hoping that they would perform His Eye Is On The Sparrow. The first 45 minute set finished up with no Sparrow. Oh well, I supposed that I could have requested it. Then after a half hour of the second set... they sang it! Magic. As the Bullock Brothers finished up, I noticed some rather strangely dressed folks waiting near the door behind me. Oh, they must be the next act, The Jolly Rogues. Yep, as the Bullock Brothers packed up The Jolly Rogues set up. I stayed for most of the first set. Quite good, but not my thing. Three pre-teen girls sitting with their grandmother (possibly) looked thoroughly bored. I headed for another location in town to hear the Maple Sugar Jazz Band. 45 minutes of Dixieland and Big Band jazz. That's when he appeared. Taking a seat nearly in front of me was a tall, very white-haired gentleman. He wore a long dark woolen overcoat and had a knit, piano keyboard scarf around his neck. He sat quietly appreciating the music of the band, paying particular attention to solo parts of the piano player. After the set was finished, he walked up front to chat with the band members. I know this man from somewhere but I can't figure it out. Who is that mystery man? As best as I can think of, it could be a customer. I'm not sure.

I finished my evening back at our church with two wonderful sets performed by Stambandet, a Scandanavian vocal ensemble, who's twelve members sang traditional holiday music in Swedish, Finnish, and Latin.

That's how I finished off 2009. And now it's on to 2010. A dangerous year at least in number. 1809 was the last year and we won't have another like it until 2211.