The Caped Regulators: In The Piano Lair

Between corporate event hire inner-city spruce chases and tending domestic(ated) and mostly toilet-trained house pianos, piano workshop tasks provide the chance to share myriad adventures. The intrepid Caped Regulators piano pamperers to the stars (and you...) operate out of two secret lairs buried deep within the heart of outer suburgatory, bordering ruefully rural. 

It's hard to believe that this (above) used to look like this (below).

The finest one-piece ivory, its subtle textural splendour is impossible to capture, but I try. Behold... C-hold... 

A pensioned-off Bechstein frame auditions for the position of garden ornament. The rusty hitch pins span the part of the piano where there is one string per note (the very low bass) then two strings per note (the not-so-very-low bass). 

It is amazing what is achievable with the right gear and the right gearing. A cast iron piano frame (or plate) is lifted out of the piano ready to be prepared for spray painting. 

Piano frames are traditionally gilded in moon dust, and a trip (via Bunnings) to the moon is the only way the Caped Regulators can acquire the necessary substances. Bunnings doesn't stock moon dust, but we like to visit enroute anyway. In zero gravity Bunnings snags have no calories. Meanwhile...

...masking of a different kind. The tuning pin and agraffe holes are protected. The hitch pins are surgically swaddled in tape. Plastic curtains protect the naked frame's modesty as it prepares to shower. 

The spraying of many coats (but fewer scarves) commences. Leftover moon dust is carefully drained from the spray gun, its cheesy goodness perfect on any pizza.

Piano shuffling is an occupational necessity. A mere slip of a middle-aged woman, I don't think I'm destined to develop this strand of my activity, other than to survive with all my limbs intact and ensure nobody has cause to chalk a Cazzbo-shaped outline on any horizontal (or vertical) surface. But I'm happy to put the piss into pissweak (me) when we finally get to celebrate successful execution of these complex manoeuvres - with beer.

Now, this is 'woman's work', surely. But there are no gender lines in the workshop, my choices as to what I'll tackle are determined by far more random measures! Surely a white piano's nether regions deserve to be preened, primped, bleached, plucked. Putting the fun into fungal removal, for safety and comfort, before we transfer this piano from vertical to grand, I mean horizontal.

My fascination with 'White Piano Music' sees me reinterpret the genre, on a temporarily two-legged piano. The blue metal strut at my feet is an ergonomically immaculate lever jigger that makes it possible for Madame Pissweak (trusty workshop sidekick) to single-handedly lift any corner of this piano. However, it fails to lift the level of my motley musical meanderings. 

If your tuning pins look like this, madam, I fear for your mooted music-making. Restringing a piano involves repinning it with tuning pins of a slightly larger diameter. The multi-layered cross-laminated hardwood pin block into which the pins are driven must be in sufficiently good condition to handle this procedure. These tuning pins have rusted since removal... so I corner the workshop chief and curiously challenge such retention. I finally pin him down to suggest decluttering and appropriate disposal...... 'pin him down'... heh... ahem... moving on...

Sunlight plays in an untroubling way on this keyboard.

Another troubled keyboard (with action stack) suns itself in ways a piano generally ought to not. 'Sunlight plays'... better than I do, depending on your definition of musician versus pianist. I am not a pianist.

This Steinway grand keyboard has a violent backstory which I learned by overhearing the other workshop pianos' gossip. A spiteful domestic attack surely saw the piano police sounding their sirens. The keyboard, and associated parts of the action (along with specific measurements), will be posted to a specialist keyboard maker to be copied. Very little is 'standard' in the world of pianos. The ivories have to be removed due to increasingly stringent legislative demands at the hoof of the Elephants' Union*. Even non-ivory should be removed, lest one risk immigration officers failing to be completely schooled in the complex nuances and specific peculiarities of the finest concert pianos. 

The keyboard and action stack, with representative sample hammers and wippens at the end of each section, is effectively immobilised in a sturdy box ready for ship- or plane- ment. 

The Garden Ornament Auditions enter the swimsuit section (or is it wet t-shirt?) as the Bechstein frame continues to vie for my attention. Large droplets of rain compel me to endanger my electronics to snatch a snap.

Miss Bechstein, would you please contain your tears of joy and share with us your thoughts on whirled peas?

* Yes, yes, we all know elephants have feet, not hooves!

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