I recently did some work on the Yamaha Grand at Penticton Alliance Church. I removed the action (the mechanical unit inside the piano that includes the keys and hammers) and brought it to my shop. I removed all of the old hammers, installed a new set of hammers and did a full regulation (adjusting all of the moving parts so they are operating properly). Old hammers develop a flat hard surface where it strikes the string creating a harsh bright tone. New hammers are softer and have a full dynamic range. Here are a few photos from the process.
Removing old hammers from the shanks
New hammers installed (left), hammer glueing jig waiting for hammers (right).
New hammers installed, action re-assembled with action stack back on key bed.
I will be joined by BC3000 (a bass clarinet trio with Julia Hambleton, David French and Marcus Quin) and Montreal cellist Rebecca Foon (Constellation Records). This ensemble will be performing works by Toronto composer John Mark Sherlock. Tania Gill will be doing an improv Bass Piano set with John Oswald on saxophone and Victor Bateman on bass. Ryan Driver will be doing a solo set on Bass Piano and analog synth.
The Bass Piano is a piano that has been tuned down a full octave to A220. I developed the Bass Piano through my experimentations with various altered tunings. The result is reduced tension in the strings and a unique tonal quality similar to bells or steel drums. With slightly unstable tuning and long sustains, strange and wonderful anomalies occur within its harmonics. As these extreme tunings can be difficult for pianos to adjust to, I detune old pianos, more and more of which are headed to the dump, repurposing these instruments so that they can be playable again.
The Bass Piano was debuted in Berlin in January 2013 with performances by John Kameel Farah and myself. Bass Piano II was presented later that year by Wavelength in Toronto with performances by Ryan Driver and Marilyn Learner.
Bass Piano III is an old piano from the Tranzac collection that was slated for retirement. This show will see this piano reinvented and an auction will be held to save it from going to the landfill.
An exploratory workshop about the piano led by certified piano technician Andrew Wedman
Date: Saturday October 25th, 2014, 10:00 – 11:30 AM
Location: Penticton Academy of Music at Leir House 220 Manor Park Ave. Penticton
To register contact the Penticton Academy of Music at 250.493.7977 www.pentictonacademyofmusic.ca
Many pianists don’t get a chance to explore “under the hood” of their piano. This workshop is an opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of this fascinating instrument.
We will explore how the piano works through a guided tour of a disassembled instrument, look at how the piano has evolved over time, and cover the best ways to care for your piano inside and out to ensure its best sound and long-life.
The class will also cover tuning to answer questions like, “How can I tell if my piano is out of tune?” and, “Why is the piano tuned differently than the tuning of other instruments?”
Whether you are just curious about the piano, or are an advanced player who wants a more in depth understanding about their instrument, this class will be pretty interesting. Questions and discussions usually ensue.
For more information about the class contact:
I assessed this piano in Osoyoos and was surprised to find that it was structurally in good shape. The house that it was in had burned down a few years ago and since then has only been partially rebuilt. So far it has three walls and a roof. I thought the wood components in the piano would be destroyed but the bridges, sound board and pin lock are in great shape!
I recently acquired an old Rhodes keyboard and have been tinkering around with it. The action is a very rudimentary design compared to the piano and I have been wondering if anyone has attempted to customize a Rhodes with a grand piano action. I suspect it would be possible.
I did a complete tuning on it and it sounds great. Though it is fairly easy to change the pitch on each tine, it is difficult to tune since you can not listen to the note and tune it at the same time (the tuning spring is attached to the tine, so adjusting it stops the vibration).
This past winter I visited an incredible piano shop in Barcelona called Parts Piano. With an unassuming storefront Parts Piano specializes in piano parts (obviously), technician tools and rebuilding player pianos. The owner and head technician, Xavier Garcia is also the inventor of a miniature piano where the hammers strike tuning forks instead of strings. He has two prototype models that he built, one with an upright action and one with a grand action and resonating tubes for each tuning fork. They are almost like an acoustic Rhodes but with a real piano action. I have never seen or heard anything like it. Xavier’s shop is full of inventions, machines and gizmos that he has created.
Xavier is a shy fellow and speaks very little english. Luckily Xavier’s employee Marcelo Cohen was in that day and acted as a translator and tour guide.
tuning fork piano, grand action with resonating tubes, second prototype
tuning for piano, upright action, first prototype
bass string winding machine, built by Xavier
Xavier Garcia rebuilding a player piano
Xavier also built a miniature piano kit intended for technician training purposes. It is a full working model of an upright piano with just over two octaves, a flip down keyboard and transportation case. I am dreaming about importing these into Canada. Here it is complete with cast iron plate, sound board, full sized action and keys.
Recently the Shatford Centre in Penticton received a donation of a beautifully restored 1896 Bechstein grand from Bea Smith. Stu Goldberg gave it a workout for its debut concert in its new home. Here is a photo from the stage while I am prepping the piano for the performance