Piano Work as Meditation

Piano work can be a lonely occupation. Yes, one deals with (hopefully) a stream of customers, many of whom can be quite interesting and some of whom  become friends. This connecting with individuals with whom one shares (again, hopefully) a common passion is rewarding and inspiring.

But the work itself is isolated. In fact many people make a specific point of leaving the general area in which a piano technician is working, at least for the tuning part. Tuning of course is difficult to do in noisy environments and takes concentration as well as quiet, so a friendly chat while one is tuning is not really an option.

The other work including regulation, voicing, and repair requires focused concentration and can take extended periods of time during which even the most interested layman usually finds something else to do. After all, if you’ve seen a technician set drop on 2 notes, you pretty much have the idea and there is no reason to watch him or her set the remaining 86. Let’s face it: piano work can be quite tedious and to do it correctly, one must perform an appropriate sequence of steps carefully and evenly, regardless of how one is feeling, or how ones day started out. This can be a demanding profession for all its rewards. […]

Not all work is work

There was fun as well as work in Chicago. Getting together with a bunch of piano technicians from all over the country is stimulating as well as entertaining. And in Chicago, one can be entertained!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East coast as well as west coast is represented here, even some neighbors to the north. Now what was the […]

Massgefertigt in Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Feurich M Series debuted in Chicago at the Piano Technicians Guild National Convention this summer.

Massgefertigt means tailor made, and in this case, pianos.  It’s a “tweaked out” Feurich Ningbo 218, with some special parts and processes  which leads up to a special piano!

The concept had been bubbling in my head for some time as I thought about the wide variety of modern hammers and action components available these days. I’ve been around volume manufacturing so I know that even with ISO standards, something is always left on the work bench. I believed, especially in the case of the Feurich 218, that there was another level of performance hidden below the surface, waiting for the right combination of pieces to bring it out.

Turns out, I was right.

This 218 blossomed into a piano with an amazingly smooth action coupled with a warm, rich, romantic tone. “A perfect recording piano” said one knowledgeable tech from Los Angeles. To get it there wasn’t rocket science but it did take some careful thinking and even more careful work.

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Web work

I’ve done some updating of some of my other web sites recently.

Please check out www.ericjohnsonpianos.com and www.feurichusa.com

New Piano Voicing Tricks for a Piano Technician

Piano voicing is a fascinating craft.I came of age as a voicer in the 1980’s, a time when there was not the richness of hammer and felt choices  there are today. Back then the world was pretty much divided into Renner and Steinway. The Renner hammers, with which I worked extensively because of their use on Bosendorfers, were pretty dense and hot pressed. The voicing process was pretty much limited to needling the crap out of them to get them down to a reasonable tone. Steinway hammers at the time were pretty much the opposite. They were balls of soft fluff that needed the application of lacquer, usually a substantial amount, to get any tone out of them at all.

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Outside Promotion

Had fun showing the German-made Feurich 172 in NYC recently.

Moving Sucks…mostly

Moving sucks. There have been a lot of projects in my life lately, the biggest and most all-consuming has been my move to new workshop/office space.

When I moved into the old space about 2 years ago, I knew it would be temporary and the true requirements would evolve as business developed. For that reason […]

You Must Have a Good Ear…

I’ve been told that I must have a good ear, usually by someone I’ve just met who has learned that I’m a piano technician, and I’ve always wondered exactly what it meant.

Piano tuners do train themselves to hear components of piano tone, usually called partials or harmonics. These are pitches within pitches (the g that sounds 1 1/2 octaves above midde C on the piano for example) and they are an important part of what the tuner listens to when tuning. However the process of learning to tune was not easy. In fact it was quite agonizing and long and there are still times when I think the piano is going to win.

I think I now know that “having a good ear” means being able to detect very subtle differences in sound or musical tone and, secondarily, having the skill to adjust those tonal differences, either with a tuning hammer or a voicing tool.

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Prep Line – Feurich USA

I’ve been in Tampa prepping the remaining Feurich model 122 verticals that came in last month. Pianos need preparation, folks, to sound their best and these are sounding pretty good (he adds, humbly).

 

Tuned for a famous musician recently

Had the great pleasure of meeting and tuning for a very famous classical musician recently. His apartment in NYC has a Bosendorfer model 200 that really needed some attention. Casually displayed on the bookshelf were just some of his many awards and honors. Just off to the left was his Kennedy Center Honor, looking […]