Pianos: Heavy petting

Meet Humphrey, quite a cute pooch. His greeting was civil, not too over-the-top, and managed sensibly by his owners. I'm a little wary of doggies and barking shreads my sensitive ears. I thought kiwi comic Cal Wilson was channeling me when she took to the stage with this (italics below). Nailed.

I'm a total cat lady. What I've worked out as a cat lady is that it's socially acceptable for people to say they don't like cats, but it's not socially acceptable to say you don't like dogs. If I said, 'I hate cats' there'd be at least 12 people who'd say, 'Oh, yeah, cats are arseholes'. But if I said, 'I hate dogs' everyone would be like, 'Urgh, well, there's an arsehole here and it's NOT the dog!' The thing is, I don't hate dogs. I'm just a bit wary of them, I find them a bit much. I like them in theory but I don't like them in person, they're just a bit too extroverted for me. I think that's because I was bitten as a kid...

Oh my Gough. Uncanny. It's like she's telling MY story. Go see Cal for her punchline twist (omitted here).

I've realized that because I'm a cat lady I don't know how to pat a dog properly. I know how to pat a cat. You just follow the grain and then stop 30 seconds too late.
But with a dog, I don't know how hard you're supposed to pat it for the pat to travel through the fur to reach the dog. I don't know if you're supposed to beat it like a carpet, or crank its tail, I just don't know!

The need to pat a newly-met dog is not on any to-do list of mine. My goal is to be left to do my job. If your dog(s) won't leave a visitor alone at all, then they need to be somewhere else. Simple.

Here's one accusation you probably can't level at me this blog instalment, 'needs more dog'. I reference a Simpsons scene. Homer tasting a boutique beer: 'Hmm, bold, refreshing, and something I can't quite put my finger on.' Cutaway to craft beer lab: 'Needs more dog'.

This client, a master woodworker, had made all the doors in his house. My guided tour of the house included being shown a glass-fronted combustion heater. If you wanted an open fire the whole glass front could be unlatched and opened. It retracted up and slid away out of sight. That must be a European design, I said. Yes, it's French.

A very chilled puppy indeed. No problems.

Some places I feel like I should arrive wearing a garland of this plant. Does it work? Probably not.

I'm interested in dot points 3 and 4. But, hey, any other snake oil, I'll take-oil.

Humphrey's master brings me coffee. I cite placing the beverage there as a strict pian-no-no but insist he hold the pose for my cautionary snap. He's assured blog fame.

One client rears rescued native animals. What little almost-hairless muzzle is that?

Charles Pocketty-Flappington (pianist of note) has two cats. This one...

...and the other one. They'll both be found pleasing themselves amid considerable domestic disarray.

They epitomise this meme, doing the rounds as 'the truth about cats'.

If the weather is bad I'm likely to catch the tram to city tunings. A working dog chillin'.

Cat(ch) us if you can. This piano house set new records for catty tchotchkes. It seemed only fair to anonymise the folk in that photo this way. Now, back to the piano.

Different house. I learned this client had a Maine Coon cat before the tuning. The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat breed. I hoped I'd get a glimpse. I was necessarily head-down-bum-up pitch-raising the piano. The piano office door was directly opposite the bathroom door. When the cat entered the bathroom it was as though a house guest had gone to perform fastidious ablutions and powder their nose. When the cat seemed likely to emerge, I grabbed my phone. This is the best chance I'll get. I bring you the beautiful Maine Coon.

Different house again. Another Maine Coon! This cat was ensconced on top of a tall laundry cupboard. I stood on a chair to get a decent look. Again, there's nothing to help you with scale, unless I knew how many cups of water that kettle held. These folk had moved into the house recently, so the cat was still getting to know the spaces and feel comfortable. The three dogs were outside. I was glad of that.

Did you know that declawing cats (onychectomy) is actually the removal of all or part of the distal phalanges (end bones) of the animal? Eeeeuw! It should be known as phalangectomy. We don't do it. No one should do it. Apparently 25% of domestic cats in North America undergo phalangectomies. New York is set to become the first US state to make declawing a cat illegal.

Different house. I decided Black Bob might just be the gayest dog I'd ever read about. Now, back to the piano. The action is out, lots of work to do.

This school is so inclusive that gay dogs are welcome to toilet here.

"Don't worry. I have it on good authority that owners are as happy to gaze into your warm brown eyes as to pick up your warm brown turds. It's a wonderful world."

But what have we learned about pianos?

Spied on another colleague's workbench, it's not the Caped Regulators' fare. This is the action mechanism from what we call a drop action piano. In the US they are often called spinet pianos, not to be confused with spinet keyboards from the pre-piano (harpsichord) era. This bloke in Georgia cautions against these instruments. So do I. They're ubiquitous in the US. We don't have so many of them here, but they are out there. Any is too many. The blue arrow shows some of several exploded hammers.

When the action is in the piano the ligature rods (red arrow above) will all be vertical. They extend upward from fixtures on the fronts of the wippens, to fixtures at the rear of the keys. The rods (or stickers) enable the action to be slung below and behind the key levers. This devolution was in the interest of making very shortarsed (and cheap) pianos.

The arrow shows where the action's sticker rods connect with the keys. To remove the action 88 of these must be disconnected, then the rods must be managed and contained (in a nobody-can-successfully-heard-cats-and-that's-a-fact kind of way). Drop-action pianos are very short. String lengths are severely compromised. The actions are compact and inaccessible (compared with conventional instruments).

Removing individual keys is not too bad, it's removing the action that is the nightmare. Therefore these heinous little low-end shitboxes are unlikely to receive much in the way of mechanical adjustment nor repairs.

The sticker rods are visible here. Each rod can be unclipped by coaxing the top grommety lug out of the yoke in the rear of the key. A key can then be removed. Visible, too (if you look just beyond my red arrow) are the piano's two pedals and the carpeted floor. I can't quite remember how I achieved this shot, and frankly, I don't want to remember. In short, if you could hurdle over the piano, it's a no.

Another sorry saga. Roof damage meant water leaked onto this piano. You can see the tarpaulin still in position. The keys (receiving the brunt) seized up rendering the piano completely unplayable. The tuning and the action were also affected.

Another insurance assessment and resolution. A pooey situation with this cushion to add emphasis. Disturbing on many levels.

At this snooty school I was impressed that the power of the 'old school tie' extended to the pictograms. I've slapped the 'real' poo emoji on the image so you can compare it with the heart-eyed drooling mess of a cushion at the roof leak house.

Emoji magnets at the local cheap shop. I kept my $2.50 in my pocket.

Another client's kitchen bench.

The same client's kitchen floor. Shit, it's a real-life emoji! The new puppy was at doggy daycare. Yes, that's a 'thing'. I'm glad, because it was my duty to let myself into the house on this occasion. I'll meet the new puppy soon enough. I've met the previous old doggy (RIP) several times and she has featured elsewhere in this blog.

Although I regularly tune in the kitty-and-titty room at the Art Gallery, I'm mystified by these alleged book covers (below) that crop up in benign image searches. It's a gross misrepresentation of piano tuning methods and the level of service a client might expect. Bloody weird.

That's 'noe' how you make porridge. 


Please excuse that last indiscreet image and cleanse your palate with a leisurely stroll around my bloggy garden...

Pianos: Behind the Candelabra

Dangar island - The Island Tuner

Pianos: Slickers and stickers

The Caped Regulators: In The Field

Your Feet's Too Small: Piano Pedicures

Park puddles and peregrinations

Smog the Mog (cats, pianos)

City snaps (bicycle + errands = win)

Pianos: Blooming marvellous

YouTube: Crazy Old Cat in Crazy Old Garden

YouTube: Nipod the Three-Legged Cat