ST. LOUIS PIANO NEWSletter, Sept, 2009

The St. Louis Piano Newsletter September, 2009

 Published  by James Grebe Piano Service


Note :  If you do not want to receive this monthly notice of the newsletter just send your request to and you will be removed from the list.

In addition to pictures and descriptions of the products I create, on my website there are numerous articles about histories of various piano companies, helpful discussions on purchasing new and used pianos, maintenance guidelines and bios of various theatres in St. Louis.  Feel free to browse the site and if you have any questions about any of the topics feel free to call or email me at 

News for September

The St. Louis Chapter of the Piano Technicans Guild has invited  James Grebe to give a technical presentation of a demo on using the Sanderson Accu-Tuner Model III, and Model IV to their monthly meeting in October.  On subsequent meeting dates, demos will be give on the other brands of tuning devices such as , the Reyburrn Cyber Tuner, TuneLab Pro, and the Verituner.  James Grebe has used Sanderson devices since the 1980’s with a break of a few years in the early 2000’s when he used the Reyburn Cyber-Tuner.  James once had the honor and gave a class on using the Sanderson Accu-Tuner at a Guild Seminar with Dr. Sanderson present in the class. 


Tidbits from around the news

With all the clamor around products being made in America rather than abroad, the Samick Piano Company of Korea is offering 2 lines of grand pianos (Knabe and Pramberger,) that are assembled in Gallatin, Tennessee.  Much of the material used in this assemblage is material from the U.S.A.

            According to a recent Gallup poll in nearly 3 out of 5 households there is at least 1 member who plays a musical instrument.

.  That is an increase of 52% larger than 2006.  Of the instruments being played, 30% play the piano followed by 25% who play guitar.  .

The latest digital piano by Yamaha (AvantiGrand N2) features a tactile response component which sends vibrations of the tone being played through the keys themselves in addition to the on board speaker systems.


     In the year 1958 Steinway and Sons had sold their Showroom and Hall across from Carnegie Hall.  That location housed their headquarters since 1925.  Ten years ago Steinway re-purchased the property and was one of the first steps to a more profitable piano company. 

     In our town of St. Louis, the building that housed the Steinway dealership the longest, Aeolian Co. of MO, which was at 1004 Olive has long since been dormant and is now the home of Ludwig Lofts.  Back in the 1960’s, when my career began, I roamed those 7 floors and basement and had the privilege of working with some of the highest qualified piano technicians around such as Charles Tice, Ed Summers, both concert tuners for the St. Louis Symphony.  I was the one who drove Charles Tice home from Aeolian after he retired.  Charles was well up in years and he had the south section of the 7th floor piano shop to himself.  At the end, he began making mistakes and was forcibly retired after a lifetime of service to the company.  It was a sad day in a life long career.  Ed Summers took over concert tuning and Ed was one who was my first instructor in the art of piano technology.  Ed was a sharp-witted mind who performed all his tasks well and was a humble man of great intelligence. Others on staff were Ed Stevens, who was highly skilled re-builder, who later went independent and was instrumental in training Bill Reichert, Jr. and Tom Adams, both highly skilled piano technicians.  Gene Kracke, a 2nd generation technician, was highly skilled in managing the rebuilding shop.  Gene was the type of person who did everything well and was a soft-spoken guy.  Another technician, Cy Young, was a former fireman in Arkansas.  Cy was a very strongly built man whom, though soft–spoken, commanded respect.  Later Cy would be the head technician of SIU, Edwardsville,  Bill Hennen later left the piano business and Earl Wamble left to go to work for Browning Arms finishing gun stocks.  Gary Analak who did touch up repair on new and used pianos was also a drummer who played at cocktail lounges and the burlesque houses in St. Louis.  He was a single fellow back then and would bring in some of the stars of the burlesque shows to introduce them to us.  He settled down after he left Aeolian and has now been married for over 25 years.  Gene Denny, former foreman of Ludwig Music House shop left to start his own retail store in St. Charles County and I just talked to him and he is 81 now and still tuning 2-3 pianos a week to keep him out of trouble.  And of course there were the blind tuners that worked for Aeolian and Ludwig Music House.  Charles Harrison, long time stock tuner at Aeolian also moonlighted playing the Hammond organ at various nightspots. LaVerne Boley, who did contract tuning when things were busy at Christmas times.  I bought my first tuning hammer from LaVerne.  Al Krume was a highly skilled blind tuner who had the skill of being able to tune pianos beginning with A-1 and going up 1 note at a time through the entire piano.  Al was a cranky man who, for some reason, did not like me though I never found out why.  In addition, there were some great piano salesman back then, Gene Mezlow, Louis Dunn, I always called him (Dunn) Mr. as he was an ex marine with a very gravely voice.  Back then was the heyday of hi-fi and stereo and Aeolian was the dealer for Fisher, Bose (when they first begun), McIntosh, Marantz, Klipschorn and the first Acoustic Research speakers.  The Fisher “President” was their most elaborate stereo console system and contained a Garrard record changer, and an Ampex reel-to-reel tape recorder.  I remember back then it was about the most fancy console around and sold for $1,995.The Baldwin store handled H.H. Scott products in the 900 block of Olive, next door to St. Louis Band and Instrument Co (owned by Ludwig Music House).  I look back at those glory days of the 1960’s with fondness. On a side note, many of the downtown St. Louis buildings (Aeolian) had no furnaces of their own and most were heated by steam from Union Electric, now Ameren.All for this month  

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