Archive for December, 2012

Piano Dust… the Sequel

I retract! I repent in dust and ashes. Ok wait a minute… forget the dust part. I’ve seen too much of it lately.  Awhile ago i wrote about the fact that dust is not the enemy to pianos.  Rather, it is humidity fluctuation.  Well… i’m going to modify my statement.  I’ll retract a portion of that.  GENERALLY… dust is not an issue.  EXCEPT when it blocks the keys.  “Dust blocks the keys?” you ask. Yep… seen it… photographed it.  I was asked to work on an older grand piano.  And well… these were not only dust BUNNIES… they were dust… mmmm LLAMAS! Big whopping pieces of dust laminated by years of uncleanliness. (Ewwww right?)  Anywhooo… the problem comes under the keys where there are felt punchings.  Y’see it’s the felt underneath that stops the key from travelling.  Each key is set to a certain depth.  Now what happens when you place a dust…mmmm Llama on top of that felt piece? Exackly… you have a shallow key dip.  Such was the case with the piano photographed.  A couple of swipes with the vacuum and VOILA! At least that portion of piano irregularities was taken care of.  Good as new? Not quite… it was still 100 year old piano… more like… on to the next challenge.

Piano Signatures

The other day i was pulling apart an old Heintzman grand piano – arguably the best make of piano ever built in Canada.  Rarely do the strings come off on an old piano.  In fact, there was evidence that this one had never had new strings since new.  I’m the first person to touch the strings in almost 90 years.  I find that fascinating – not that the strings haven’t been changed but that this piano has not been touched since new.  On the back of one of the understringing slats however i didn’t expect to find the signatures that you see in the pics.  There were initials were MCR and he dated one of them August 27, 1923.  As well, it reads “R. Sill” or “R.Gill” and the production number 394.  I find it not only interesting but also humbling to be part of the life of a piano.  I remember lifting the cast iron plate with a large engine hoist out of a piano and underneath it had a signature.  What fascinates me is that we touch history, it comes to life.  We get transported back in time to when piano makers were building these one at a time and some technician in the factory signed his name on a piece of a piano that will never see the light of day.  It’s just interesting to me… it’s a piece of history that we get to see for a brief moment.  But not only that, to make this piano function again, I need to re-install these same wooden slats back into the piano.  That means then, that this signature was buried for 90 years, i’m potentially the only one to view it and then it gets concealed possibly for either another 100 years… or possibly never if the piano doesn’t get rebuilt again.  Just thot i’d share someone’s work from nearly a century ago and bring to light that which was in the darkness. Below is a picture of piano keys, each one signed by the technician who tuned it… check out the dates.

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