St. Louis Piano Newsletter, Aug,2009

Saint  Louis Piano News

Vol. 1, No.1

Published by James Grebe Piano Service



Phone (314) 608-4137

Herein lies a new publication geared towards piano and music news of interest to piano owners.  I am happy to accept questions or your ideas to incorporate what you would like to learn about in these newsletters. 


In these troubling times the sale of a new piano has competition from a happy source, used pianos.  Because the life span of the typical piano is around 75 years many pianos find themselves in 2nd or 3rd homes from which they began their service.  That is one of the attributes of a well-made piano; it’s life span.  Pianos are one of the few products we buy that truly do last a lifetime if cared for.  Piano should be treated with respect as when your family moves up to a larger instrument or one of better quality it need not be discarded to the junk heap but can be  

sold and passed on to the next piano owner to use.  Good care means regular tuning to A-440 and to take care not to abuse the finish.  The sale of new pianos are for people who would like to upgrade the quality of instrument in their home or have the money to purchase a good quality piano to begin with.  Moral: buy the best piano you can afford with the knowledge that when you are ready to pass it on you will get the highest price if you have taken good care of it.


Permanent Piano Tuning

        Through the years there have been a number of designs that were made to try to make the process of tuning not needed or at least a service that would not be needed often.  One of the earliest was the Mason & Hamlin “Screwstringer”  This was brought out around 1900 and it’s tuning system involved gears similar to the tuning gears that a guitar neck has The idea was to make the gears locked in position once it was set.  This system was very clumsy and hard to manipulate and, in the end, did not work.  A fellow named Wagman invented another system.  His idea was instead of a wooden pin block the tuning pin is split into 3 sections with a wedge in the bottom spreading the side of the tuning pin against the side of the cast iron plate forming the holes.  The idea was to try to make the pin immovable once it was set.  Another failure.  Lately the Story & Clark piano Co devised a system in which once the tuning on the piano was established there were devices at the bridge pins to change the temperature of the music wire to maintain a specific tension on each wire, thus, maintaining tune.  It was supposed to have come out several years ago, but because of the complexity of the system it has not made it to market.  The big realization of most of these failed systems is the fact that it is usually not the tuning pin which is moving but the movement of the soundboard due to humidity fluctuations which causes a piano to go out of tune.  Of course the digital electronic pianos do not, nor can they be tuned, but they have their own problems, with lack of true piano feel and the nuances of tone that a real piano has. TidbitsThe last Hammond B-3 produced in 1974 was recently sold.  It was still in its unsealed box; price was not disclosed. 

Summer Tips

Remember that the sun, if it shines on your piano, will tend to bleach out the finish over a period of time.  It will also lessen the longevity of the fine finish by drying it out.  Remember to protect your piano bench lid form perspiration from people who swear shorts.  The salt in the perspiration will eat through any wax on the bench and will cause them to stick to the finish. Remedy is to put on a bench pad.  Remember also that every time you open the window on more pleasant days the humidity goes up dramatically inside and the tuning will be affected.


Keep in mind that my full line service includes the making of the largest selection of hardwood caster cups on the planet, as well as hand crafted writing instruments and most piano accessories like piano lamps, bench cushions, piano covers and dollies.  Of course I am always available for your phone calls for questions about appraisals and estimates of rebuilding and purchase advice.


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