Piano work

Melody and I play the piano a bit almost every night, and while that's not really a lot of use, it's enough to warrant having it tuned a couple times a year. Sometimes, however, a bit more work needs to be done.

I've had an interesting history with piano tuners. Before we got the Yamaha I currently use, we had a tuner who was amazing. He would do it all by ear, and be done in a half hour. One time, after he finished, my mom offered some coffee to him, but he politely declined, saying his wife was in the car. Indeed, parked at the curb was a convertible with a woman in the passenger seat. That tuner eventually moved to Hawaii, saying he was hoping to get more business with the weather there.

I recall trying a couple different tuners after that, but none really stuck. When we got the Yamaha, we asked around and eventually received a recommendation for a tuner, so we called her up. She was great, and it was interesting to watch her hook up electronics which helped her tune. Ends up she was the daughter of the person who was, for lack of a better term, a piano tuning rock star for Yamaha. One time, when my tuner wasn't available to tune the piano before a recital, she sent her dad to do the tuning, and it was nice to meet him.

Even though it's not the ideal location, the piano now sits agains a window. Fortunately there's a porch on the other side of the wall, so the temperature doesn't swing as widely as it could. Also, one of the tuners I had installed a couple heaters on the underneath the piano to help keep the temperature and humidity constant, which seems to have helped keep it in tune throughout the year.

My current technician also tunes by ear, which seems to be getting rarer. It seems that each time he comes, there's also a thing or two I ask him to take a look at, such as keys which don't come back up or dampers which don't go back down. The keys were easy to fix, but last time with the dampers, it took him quite a while to dig way into the piano to get to the damper levers, replace the bushings, then put everything back together. Last time he said that if more dampers started sticking, he could just work on the whole thing at once, which would save time over doing them one or two at a time.

Since I'm telling that story, you can probably guess that indeed, we had a couple dampers which started to stick again. He said it would be easiest if he came one day to pull the lever mechanism out, work on it in his shop for a couple days, then return to install it and then tune the piano. So that's what we did.

It was strange to see the piano with no dampers, and naturally playing it was like holding down the damper pedal. Melody did try a couple arpeggios (which, since they're broken chords, would still sound OK, versus a scale) and it was if we were in an old church, where sounds echo for a long time.

The piano got reassembled today, after which it was tuned, and we're back from a couple days' hiatus of piano playing. It does sound better, and with the damper mechanism joints all evened out, the touch is much more consistent. I wonder what we'll need to have the technician work on in the late summer.

 With the dampers removed, you can see the holes for the shafts they move through

With the dampers removed, you can see the holes for the shafts they move through

 The dampers were set aside while the lever mechanism was being worked on

The dampers were set aside while the lever mechanism was being worked on

 The lever mechanism with dampers attached

The lever mechanism with dampers attached

 The levers which actuate the dampers are just out of frame at the lower right of this picture of the action

The levers which actuate the dampers are just out of frame at the lower right of this picture of the action