I’m glad it’s September – I’ve had more and more piano tuning work booked in, which, after how slow July and August were (they always are, as it’s a time when people are away on their holidays). I’ve had at least one new enquiry a day this week, a huge increase from the Summer.
Of the many jobs I had booked this week, I will tell you about some of the more interesting ones:
On Tuesday I had a slightly more high profile piano tuning than usual; a tuning for wedding in Wortley, at the eponymous Wortley Hall, located just south of Barnsley. A large stately home which is now used for weddings, which contained a grand piano which had henceforth been displayed for show rather than for playing. A customer had wanted the piano tuning for her wedding, and since the venue hadn’t been receiving regular visists from a piano tuner, she called me. Since I had a piano tuning job in Barnsley later that day, fitting another piano tuning job in Wortley that morning was perfect. The worst thing about the piano I noticed upon immediate inspection was that the keys were filthy with brown muck and horribly sticky as if a child had spilt juice over them during a wedding ceremony (which wouldn’t surpise me). A had some cleaning equipment with me so I cleaned the keys with a lightly damp cloth and a special cleaning solution I carry with me. While tuning I had three customers take down my details (one assumes piano tuners are hard to come by in that area), which was a pleasant surprise! Presumably they liked what they heard!
On Wednesday morning I had a piano tuning at a school on the other side of Sheffield, near Attercliffe. Unfortunately I was booked in during both assembly and a PE lesson ( these mistakes sometimes happen from time to time), so trying to tune a piano in a hall full of screaming kids proved quite difficult. Luckily I had some repair jobs I had to do first (glueing a plastic hammer flange back in place, replacing three or four center pins and replacing some worn out bridle tapes), so I could get on with that those tasks while the kids took assembly, and then got most of the tuning done while the kids were out of the hall.
I got the job done in time to get to my next job, which was in a suburb in Sheffield near to Silverdale school (Millhouses I think), to assess a piano given to the customer for free by a friend. This customer had kept the piano in the garage which she wasn’t sure was worth keeping, as it had been given to her for free by a friend, and she wanted to start playing again as she hadn’t played much since childhood. It was true that the piano was very old (another overdamper) and not in the best condition, but I agreed to see what I could do in terms of fixing three of the notes which weren’t working, which I managed to do within twenty minutes or so. I then did an extremely rough tuning on the piano, doing the whole thing as fast as I could, finishing it in half an hour. This was just to give her an idea of what it would sound like if it was in tune and to prepare it for a proper piano tuning later on once it had been moved into the house. Obviously it stil sounded rough after tuning in that amount of time – I don’t believe any piano tuner can tune a piano in under an hour and have it sounding as excellent as it should do (on average it takes me around 90 minutes to perform a proper piano tuning).
Friday morning I tuned an old piano on the other side of Sheffield, past Woodseats and near Grave’s Park and Bishop’s House. The customer had kept his piano in the conservatory for a few years (always a bad idea, but thankfully he had moved it into the corner of his Kitchen, away from radiators and the hot stoves). Before the piano tuning I had to perform some customary repair jobs (applying teflon powder to the key bushings; lubricating the jack and hammer flange center pins with Protek CLP; gluing sticker cloth and damper felts back on to the action), which took about half an hour in total but which were necessary in order to fix keys which weren’t working and to restore the piano into its proper condition. Then came the tuning which took a good 90 minutes but completely transformed the sound of piano from something you’d hear in an old western film to something resembling a musical instrument (a very nice sounding one at that, in all seriousness). It is always satisfying to restore a piano which is in such an awful state as the customer usually seems ecstatic at how much better the piano sounds/plays afterwards and is more appreciative of the hard work put in to improve it.
On Friday afternoon I had a lovely drive to Bradwell, a village in Derbyshire that I’d driven through in the past but had never been there for work. Hopefully more people in that area will call me when they need a piano tuner, I certainly enjoyed the drive from Sheffield into Derbyshire, through Bamford, past Castleton… a much more pleasant drive than the usual ones across the city. During my life as a piano tuner I’d driven that way for work in Castleton, Hathersage and Glossop, but never in such nice weather. The piano tuning job was an enjoyable one. The piano was a straight-strung overdamper which the customer had an inherited from an elderly relative, and judging by the design I’d have put the piano as at least 80 years old, although it had clearly been kept in reasonable condition by its previous owner and had had some restoration done on it in the not so distant past. In terms of repair work, there wasn’t a lot for me to do. The piano tuning took about 90 minutes to tune and, again, the improvement in its overall sound was noticable after the tuning. Unfortunately I couldn’t bring the piano up to concern pitch due it’s age and how flat it was (70 cents flat of A440), but I got a good tuning out of it by tuning the piano to middle C.
I had other jobs that week but they were usual run of the mill tuning in customers homes and not very interesting to write about. If you’d like to book a piano tuning please get a touch, there are still plenty of available times in my diary for this next upcoming week.
– Richard, Piano Tuner Sheffield.