Pianos: Dirty secrets...

This piano is in a cathedral. Is one to infer that this is a divine stigmata? What do you see in this rancid Rorschach? I see the silhouette logo for Charlie's Angels. The miracle is that I never really cared for that show.

I have so many questions for the Queen of Clean. Forensic, squalor and anything unusual. I'd love to zoom out, overtake and pull her to the kerb for questioning. 

But I can't...

...because this truck stalks me installing school zone speed limits everywhere I drive.

Back to the Stainway (actually a Yamaha) in the cathedral. The contaminant has reached hammers, action parts, key woods and even the key bed (visible in the background above). My passionate forensic blather to a staffer was that this piano had somehow had Coke or something similar poured into it. For my own amusement I never said 'Coke' without prefixing, 'Bundy and'. 

The staffer countered (with utmost seriousness) that although it could be Coke, it certainly couldn't be Bundy because the cathedral has a strict no alcohol policy.

The first of the newer set of hammers and shanks is installed and tested. Fitting the parts involves so much more than just bolting them on. There are many regulation adjustments required to integrate the new parts into the system. The added challenge was working within fragmented time slots and having not only to reassemble the piano at the end of each session, but to ensure it was playable. The piano is used daily. At other times, while the piano team's mechanical work progressed, we were treated to thundering organ practice. Don't Google 'thundering organ' - it's just a hunch.

Just one sozzled hammer left in this section. Working with tools and benches in a public space requires diligence and people skills.

An instruction on a player piano. I'm not in the business of cleaning sieves. This sieve is probably cleaned as often as the lint filter in my washing machine. Once in the lifetime of the appliance, if I ever get around to doing it.

This part of the piano matched most of the rest of the house. Not your regular mess, we're talking something extreme. Disturbing. Where is the Queen of Clean when I need her? It was so dark that I didn't see this area at first, but I heard it. Contamination of the wound strings is usually their ruination.

Avid readers of my blog might remember Smog the mog.

Although cats can do (almost) no wrong, this is a bit annoying. No one else is taking piano cabinet parts off, so I guess this is a year's supply of Smog's moggy moultings, from shifts sitting statuesque on the piano. To be fair there is another cat, and a dog.

Smog, putting the fur in furniture.

I'm on my way to an event hire tuning in the CBD. If I did this job I would be determined to use the word snorky as both noun and verb until it was normalised throughout the industry. Why Hoover when you can Snorky?

Here I'm determined to put the 'scrub' in 'scrubs nurse' assisting in the completion of an insurance-funded rejuvenation. Following a roof leak, the piano's cabinet has been lavishly refinished by a specialist. But the mouldy action is not his bag, baby. Quite right.

I'm prepared to channel my inner Shannon Lush.

I took a variety of apothecarial fluids (everything except Bundy and Coke, although I would have liked it for after). I can't remember what worked best but the essence of the method was to use minimal moisture, obvious mechanical rubbing, and constant repeated disposal of all small rag pieces and other items used to get into all the nasty nooks. Imagine cleaning not only the sides of hammers, but the sides of so many other action parts. The task didn't look too bad at first, but once you examine the sides (often not visible with parts at rest) you see it's a much bigger job.


Feeling flat. On the floor?

Clean up that spelling, please.


Feeling quavery? On the tiles?


These tiles were in a recording studio toilet. Well, not right in the toilet, but I refuse to say bathroom. I detest that all-too-ubiquitous Americanised euphemism - even though all the other words we use, toilet, lavatory, water closet, are essentially saying the same thing. But I bloody hate bathroom because we use that word to mean bathroom. 

I say loo. But I digress. 

What else was shitting me? The session. The crap I was playing. Not the band's repertoire, but rather my personal dissatisfaction with my efforts to find creative flow while the red light was on.

What a mess. Here's a metal part of this Linden piano that I couldn't even identify*. None of the obvious things were missing. When I nurture my inner cat it means enjoying winter sun through my clothing, it does not mean encountering random hairballs. 

Dance school pianos are regularly mistaken for bins. Nobody knows why. If I had a dollar for every wrapper and chip packet I'd pulled out of a piano... hey, wait... I do!

Oooh, a lint surprise.

I'm not used to removing dressings. 

Keybed dust, dirt, furballs, paper and hairclips.

I had inspected this piano a good while earlier and made my recommendations: Find its cabinet parts or fashion some. Only then is it worth doing anything else. I had forgotten this missing damper at the bottom of the treble bridge. The felt and the damper block were missing. Searching the bottom of the piano is always worth it, but nothing. With the piano being used very soon, I scanned my kit to see what I might be able to MacGuyver.

Last blog instalment I revealed that my partner in piano pampering had performed an emergency damper felt replacement using pieces cut from his mute wedges. Of course snooty and bitchy (and all the other dwarves) can pooh-pooh all they like, but emergency interim strategies have their place.

Dance schools and reception centres are not renowned for timely piano care. I had a new V-shaped felt, but nothing to fit it to. With a random old flange and a chunk cut off a rubber mute wedge, I fashioned a damper block.

It's not pretty but it works. It can soldier on with no drama - unless drama is in the curriculum. Hothousing the triple-threats of tomorrow need not skip a beat.

* It may be part of an absent celeste rail.