Yesterday I went to visit a new customer. She had a piano that had not been tuned "for quite some time" and she had just bought her daughter a used piano. I was not sure what to expect, but after arriving at the first stop I saw a small spinet that didn't look that bad. Looks can be deceiving of course and I started digging in to see what challenges I had before me.

The first thing I did was take out my A440 fork and struck it on my knee. I played the A on the piano and had to look to make sure I didn't hit the wrong note. It was over a half step flat! I played a few other notes, and even attempted a chord or two. The sound that came out reminded me of those western movies with a saloon piano. I couldn't recall ever doing a piano this bad, even though I had done much older ones. I went to talk to the owner of the piano to tell her some options. She had said in her email that she couldn't afford to do a lot other than tune it right now. After a little discussion it was decided that I would tune it a half step flat. She was just learning and no one else played.

Before I started I pulled off some keys that were sticking. My suspicions were correct and soon I had 78 cents and two guitar picks to give her and the keys were all in working order again. I took my small shop vac and cleaned up the dead flower petals and other garbage that had accumulated over the years. Soon I was deep into the tuning and amid the frustrations that always go along with an instrument like this I managed to get it sounding much better. I was not happy with it but there was not much more I could do at this point since gasoline and a match were not an option.

She came in to hear it and while I played a bit she had a huge smile. Her friend that was teaching her piano sat down at it while I was putting away my tools and raved about how wonderful it sounded. I guess it's all in the eyes of the beholder. While I knew it would never sound like a nice concert grand, I still push myself to get the best out of a piano. I could tell the customer was very happy and even though I new it would still need another tuning soon, I suspected that she wouldn't be able to tell and would probably not hear from her until next Spring. I have to remind myself sometimes that most people just want a piano to play occasionally and don't notice all the things that annoy a professional musician. I grew up with a Steinway B in the house since my father is a keyboard professor so I knew what a seasoned professional expects from a piano. However to this customer I think she was very pleased and I hope it allows her to learn and enjoy playing music.

The second piano (her daughters) was not nearly as bad and only had 41 cents in the keys. She didn't know the history of the piano but I suspect it was neglected for some time too. All in all it was a successful visit and I hope mother and daughter are soon playing songs for each other showing what they have learned.


06/17/2016 12:57am

Good to read this beautiful tale. I am very impressed. Thanks for this post. learn guitar music and make beautiful music instruments.

10/08/2016 6:07am

So... have they learned how to play the piano? Or they stopped that and forgot about the piano?


Amazing tale man. I should read it to my class!


Neglecting can kill like a knife in a soul! You've been warned!

10/25/2016 4:46am

It was a real challenge for you, wasn't it? But you are a real professional.


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