Saturday, April 4, 2009

Piano Fire

What a horrifying noun compound that is.

Gary-the-Piano-Tech was over yesterday. It's the longest I've gone between tunings since I got the piano (15 weeks!). I showed him the sticky G and he pointed out that its hammer was rubbing against the adjacent hammer. He explained that when the hammer shank wood is still young, changes in humidity can cause the shank to warp a little making the hammer go off center. All you have to do is warm up the wood and coax it back. In the shop he has a heat gun for just this task. For location jobs he keeps a torch in his kit.

Let me repeat that and let it sink in: he keeps a torch in his kit to warm hammer shanks so he can bend them.

It's a little hard to see, but the photo shows him applying flame to wood inside my piano. I implored him not to start a piano fire (and immediately regretted coining the term).

Anyway, he did three shanks and the tuning. We talked about options for voicing and some of the subtler aspects of regulation (like leveling the hammer line). I won't be getting any of that work done soon. But the voicing has already noticeably hardened up a bit.


  1. It's a good thing you warned me about the term "piano fire" before posting this, Kenneth. As you suspected, I would have thought your piano had caught fire. I can see the flame and it makes my knees go funny.

  2. Gosh, Kenneth,
    Caring for a piano is so much more complicated than I ever imagined. Even as I began reading this latest posting, I was afraid that the fire from Gary's torch might have done some damage. Not so; apparently, it's all good - whew!