Pianos: Chasing Rainbows

Modern two-part sliding windows with naked glass edges meant that rainbows were sprinkling over the piano. 

The rainbow piano is a happy story. It's a sensibly-procured Gumtree purchase made in liaison with a tuner (me). I'm not in the business of sourcing nor selling pianos, but folk should have a technician inspect any second hand piano to ensure it is sound.

The rainbows travelled across the room while I tuned. The piano was near louvered windows and french doors (a wall of mostly glass). I suggested it be repositioned and my advice was heeded. It is now on the opposite wall and less exposed to weather changes.

I've always said there are two types of rainbows, Sydney rainbows and Woodford rainbows, the latter suggests 'peak hippy'. Of course any type of rainbow can be anywhere. This splendid road is in St Kilda, Melbourne. I can't believe I couldn't get purple (my favourite) into my selfie.

Sydney had a similar pedestrian crossing but it was removed. State-sanctioned wowserism has seen this city sucked of its spirit.

In this church hall hand-painted animals frolic around every architrave.

Just one of countless examples.

This vanity and mirror combo intrigued. Which came first? And why wouldn't you make the second thing align logically with what preceded? Perhaps someone fitted their own vanity and had to work with where the pipes sat. So, redo or replace the mirror. Perhaps the whole lot will be excised in another makeover. It's possible that I am over-thinking a brief pitstop during a domestic tuning.

As iThings increasingly grace music stands, dishwashers have become concealed in cabinetry. By the time I notice such trends they're usually on the wane. But this seems current. I like the aesthetic. My dishwasher is not hidden. I got one because a modern kitchen is supposed to have one. But I 100% never use it. Never.

We know that pianos love the magic 42% relative humidity. It cannot at all be assured. Your goal should be to locate your piano in an area which cycles through as small as possible range of humidity and temperature fluctuations. Please don't place your piano hard up against windows, near entrance doors or indoor-outdoor areas. Am I the only one on the internet banging on about the effects of humidity variation on the woods in pianos? No, no I am not.

A celebration of Paul the next-door cat. He got snug and smug almost anywhere he fancied. My housemate and I constantly exchanged photos of him in repose. Then the neighbours moved and so did Paul.

Mightly neighbourly of him to spend so much time in my spaces. I have collected many more pots since these photos were taken.

Browsing a second hand bookshop while waiting for access for a venue tuning.

When I was a kid I procured any and every book I could that involved cats. Through the Scholastic Book Society little state school kiddies could peruse a (ahem) catalogue, order cat books, and receive them a month later. Now I can browse then put them back on the shelf. Cazzbo, no cat will stay on a shelf.

Despite my love of moggies I would never sport such a licence plate. And TETHLA, what does it mean? Is Ita seeking an advertising deal for the ABC?

'Keys no bouncy'. One of the typical notes we piano tuners receive. It is reasonable and often helpful for a client to annotate trouble notes. Problems could be elusive, intermittent or flushed out by certain types of playing. Sluggish and non-returning parts may result from increased humidity. The weather could ease and they might resolve themselves. There are myriad possibilities. Sometimes client and tuner might not meet. It's better if we can be together at the piano to diagnose the problems, but it is not always possible. I have never left a note saying 'your piano is an unserviceable piece of crap' but sometimes it is called for.

Hey, you two. No bouncy! Hello Kitty has Stimpy* in a rather compromising position. 

No really, no bouncy.

Darn tootin'. Not my work. In an empty hall too many have used the piano as a table.

Notation is a construct. Whatever you need to do to get your ideas down, create an aide-memoir or communicate your ideas to others is fine and valid. I like finding things like this around the piano, it shows that someone was (however briefly) into something. But you had better not present parts like this to your chamber ensemble.

Notes are fun insights. Nothing I ever show you here is far from the piano. Pianos are often in general living areas, offices, sometimes bedrooms and more intimate spaces. Such timetables charm and amuse.

Life skills don't just miraculously appear, they must be learned. If you squint (or click on the image) you may see that these pages come from a notepad with the title 'what a forgetful boy you are'.

Here's a diferent level of methodical intrigue. Offertory procedures don't just miraculously appear, they must be learned. As choreographed as any ballet.

Reverend Lovejoy: [condemning a sect] This so-called 'new religion' is nothing but a pack of weird rituals and chants. Let us say the Lord's Prayer 40 times. But first let's pass the collection plate. And as we pass the collection plate, please give as though the person next to you were watching.

I love notes, but not like this. The white keys of this school's pianos were similarly adorned. It's hard to believe that they were cool with this. I wasn't. Nothing dumbs folk down more than doing this sort of thing. All the black notes are ninja notes, no one knows what (nor where) the hell they are.

A piano may present elegant and caring design, or frustration and foolishness. Here I've focused on the former. Those metal dealies are damper spoons. Their tops really are little spoon bowls, hidden here behind the damper levers. There are many uses for spoon-type devices in pianos. Spoons usually press and rub against another part, which will usually be lined with cloth (if rubbed) or felt (if pressed).

Damper spoons extend from the rear of the wippens up to push on and lift the damper levers (and thus lift the dampers). Their little 'handles' are normally straight, travelling up out of the wippens on a bit of an angle. The thing to note here is the beautiful curves in the design of these metal parts, making it much easier to access the wippen screws than it normally is. Nice.

Here's another spoon right in the middle of a grand action model (within the wippen assembly).

Such devices are used extensively in piano mechanisms.

The spoon in detail. Adorable, eh? That red felt pad along with its assembly is the jack regulating button. Every time a note is played the jack comes to stop on the spoon. It is easy to imagine that the little red felt compresses and gets a heck of a divot dug into it by the spoon. Such things happen all over the piano which is why mechanical adjustment (regulation) is required to get things back as they should be. Felts and cloths can also be affected by humidity variation.

The action standard of the same piano, a Steinway K upright, is also interesting (for nerds). The red arrow shows the front of the action standard sitting in a cup fitting that is lined with felt and cloth. It is not superior to other fittings, just different (by having the lining). Such a fitting (in almost all uprights) is kind of a shallow ball joint, enabling easy tilting back of the action for various servicing needs. The blue arrow shows a the screw adjustors we call capstans. Aye, aye.

I brought you this sorry tale of a capstan where aged, brittle wood combined with a rusty screw resulted in this failure.

One more action standard. Where the action sits in this Yamaha U3 is an upside-down version of the Steinway K upright fitting above. Here the front of the action standard (gold bit, red arrow) is hollowed out and sits on a domed bolt. Again, it's an ersatz ball joint. What a nerdy way to finish, eh?

Smithers is forced to look for work.

The next frame. Speaking of spinal injuries, the great Harry Shearer voiced both Waylon Smithers and Dr Julius Hibbert (above) and starred in This Is Spinal Tap.  What a nerdy way to really finish, eh?

* I'm informed that this is Doraemon, but I'm too old to know that!


You may wish to stroll down Bloggy Lane...

Pianos: The Colour Purple

Pianos: Blue in Green

Pianos: The garland is always greener

Pianos: Hidden hoards and Hapsburgs

Grand, grander, grandest.

Pianos: Cazzbo in Clunkerland

Pianos: Pins, pitch and PPE.

Goanna Roundup

Car Pay Diem