Piano regulation

[Announcement] Celebrating (almost) Six Years of Business

I realized recently that it has been almost six years since I founded Andante Piano Works. 

While six years isn’t generally considered a milestone anniversary, it’s significant to me because it means that I’ve successfully been running my own business for as long as I was employed at my previous job as a service department supervisor/technician at a local piano store.

Running my own business was always my long-term goal from the start of my career as a piano technician, but it was definitely hard to consider leaving my colleagues and the familiarity and stability of a full-time position that included really good health insurance without a guarantee of success. But I was at a point where I needed to re-prioritize doing what I really love, which is working on pianos.

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The Regulation Process

Over the weekend, I spent a full day at a client’s house regulating his beautiful Bösendorfer grand piano.

What the heck IS regulation, do you ask? To be honest, when writing the copy for this very website, I struggled coming up with a definition for regulation more than any of my other services.

Part of that is because although it is a critical part of what allows a piano to feel and sound its best, regulation is just not something most people have heard of, kind of like my sister’s former job title of “actuarial analyst”. But it’s also because there’s way more to it than what my distilled one sentence definition of “adjusting the many parts of the playing mechanism, called the action, in order to make the touch consistent and optimally responsive” implies.

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Andante Piano Works is Now Serving Cowlitz and Columbia Counties

We are thrilled to announce that Andante Piano Works now serves Cowlitz and Columbia counties as part of our standard service range. 

We have noticed an increasing demand for tuners and technicians in the beautiful Lewis River and upper Columbia River regions, including the cities of St. Helens, Rainier, Longview, Woodland, and their surrounding communities.

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Piano Adventures: The X Ambassadors Benefit Event Photo Essay

Back in June of 2004, I moved 2,782 miles from Ithaca, NY to the Portland, OR area to attend School of Piano Technology for the Blind (formerly the Emil Fries School of Piano Tuning and Technology), colloquially known as the Piano Hospital, in Vancouver, WA.

A year later in 2005, in what is to this day one of the wackiest coincidences of my life, Casey Harris made the same journey from Ithaca, NY and joined me as a fellow piano tech student.

Now a bona fide rock star as the keyboard player for the hit band the X Ambassadors, Casey no longer tunes pianos for a living, but is on the road for what seems to be 362 out of 365 days of the year, touring and performing with his band. This past weekend, in Portland for a show headlining the Widmer Brothers Oktoberfest in downtown Portland, Casey and his brother Sam, the lead singer of the band, generously detoured (ha! puns) to the ‘Couve for a few hours to perform as part of a benefit show for the Piano Hospital.

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Check us out on Instagram!

Andante Piano Works is now on Instagram! Check us out and follow @andantepianoworks to stay up to date on my never boring, sometimes downright zany adventures as a piano technician throughout the Portland, OR area.  A …

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Piano regulation

Piano Adventures: The Regional History Edition

I was out and about today and walked by the Covington House, a historic log cabin situated a bit north of downtown Vancouver, WA. Lo and behold, what did I discover when I read the …

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Piano Profile: Wurlitzer Butterfly

So named for its unorthodox winged-top lid that resembles a set of butterfly wings, this vintage Wurlitzer grand piano was built in c. 1937. Of the three butterfly models produced, this particular instrument is a …

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Piano Profile: Vintage Yamaha Upright

Built in 1921, this Yamaha upright somehow made the journey from Japan to the United States, despite having been manufactured 40 years before Yamaha began exporting pianos across the Pacific Ocean.

The influence on today’s U-series, perennial favorites of Yamaha keyboard line, is clear in the basic design, from the height to the empire lid that folds back. Today’s upright models are more streamlined, with straight legs and a flat front panel, both free of embellishments. Additionally, while much of the playing mechanism inside resembles today’s pianos, the action is secured with hooks on each end rather than today’s modern system of bolts. 

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Piano Adventures: The Ten Grands Benefit Photo Essay

Over the past week, I have spent the majority of my time immersed in preparations for the annual Ten Grands concert, a benefit for noted musician and composer Michael Allen Harrison’s Snowman Foundation.

In a time when arts education is being affected by budget cuts in schools nationwide, the Snowman Foundation is dedicated to bringing access to music education to the Portland, OR community and beyond. As someone greatly shaped by having had ample access to music education, via private lessons in piano, voice, clarinet, as well as summer music camp attendance and participation in school choirs, I am a firm believer in the value of learning music and the Snowman Foundation’s mission.

Therefore, I could not have been more excited and enthusiastic about being the designated piano tuner for the foundation’s annual preeminent event, in which ten gorgeous Steinway grand pianos are situated on one stage for a concert featuring a variety of local artists, ranging from ridiculously talented middle-school guitarists to renowned recording artists such as Tom Grant.

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Piano Adventures: The “Caseworkers” Edition

As a piano technician, my concerns and expertise regarding the instrument are primarily focused on how they feel and how they sound. However, as an instrument that is also considered furniture and tends to draw the eye wherever it is placed, the condition of the case also tends to be a priority.

To address such concerns, similar to how a mechanic would refer auto body work to a separate technician, the expertise of a master finish and/or touch-up specialist is required. 

In Portland, OR, the go-to person for any of the cosmetic needs of a piano, whether they be small repairs to fix chips and scratches or complete refinishing jobs, is Arno Arrak

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Piano Dumping, Part 3: The Salvage Edition

Because I am the ultimate piano nerd, one of my goals in life is to have a home full of decor made from pianos.

For a variety of reasons, there eventually comes an unfortunate time (hopefully after a century or so of love, care, and musical joy) when a piano is no longer able to serve its original purpose as a musical instrument. Perhaps it barely plays, or no longer holds a tune, or both. Regardless, while the choice to rebuild or restore the instrument is occasionally made, the more common choice exercised these days is to have the piano unceremoniously hauled off the the dump. But a third option, to salvage and repurpose as much of a piano’s parts for furniture, functional decor, and art, has emerged as an increasingly popular choice. Because although some pianos can no longer help us make music, that’s not to say that everything about them has lost their value or splendor.

Take the square grand, for instance. By and large, due to improvements in piano technology, these rectangular (hey, no one ever said piano designers had to describe piano shapes with geometric accuracy) models are by an largely obsolete. But their frames are ideal for repurposing into desks or dining tables, while their innards make for cool, unique decor.

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Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012

My favorite jazz pianist of all time, the legendary Dave Brubeck, passed away yesterday at the age of 91, one day shy of his birthday. (I must thank my sister here for introducing me to …

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