Pianos: It's a wonder...

It's a wonder anyone can tune this piano. It appears to have a particle board pin block. 

'That's a fine way to treat a...' - you think I'm kidding. It reminds me of my old kitchen cupboards. Weetbix had greater structural integrity. Speaking of structural integrity...

...pretenders to the title The Eighth Wonder of the World step aside: 

I present The Incredible Load-Bearing Piano. The sudden fancy to have the piano tuned came with a caveat. A glass-fronted cabinet had been built above the piano. To prevent it sagging in the middle like so many old nags (by which I mean horses) a central structural member had been integrated into the 'design' and marked 'never to be nudged'.

The dear exasperated client couldn't quite fathom how a tuner could not gain access somehow underneath (with flurried gestures). I scrolled through my phonetographs in an attempt to find a picture that demonstrated what, and where, a tuner needed to twiddle.

This piece atop the Grunert must remain inert. Untenable, untuneable. I did my best to arpeggiate and flourish across the keyboard to placate. It's a little bit flat but it is not as out of tune as many, it's still quite musical, I offered.

Meanwhile in response to her husband's note, support on piano not to be removed, helping to support glass cabinet, my partner in piano pampering sketched a proposal as to how the piano could be accessed. It's safe to surmise that the momentary whim to tune has been long forgotten.

A Bluthner with aliquot strings. Each note for most of the treble has an additional elevated string (not struck by the hammer). The aliquot strings are designed to vibrate sympathetically. They should be in tune, of course, unfortunately there is rarely the chance to be ridiculously fussy about them.

Most pianos have 36 black keys. This piano is unusual in that it has many more.

It was hard to imagine this piano based on the description over the phone. It boasted an aunt's home-baked art-case with no branding anywhere inside nor out. I dubbed it the Picaninni Piano (but not in front of the client).

The little lass is quick to copy what she has seen.

The discussion turned to the piano's age, degradation and limitations versus the significance of the cabinet craft.

You'd probably be better off hanging the panels on the wall and forget about making music (on this instrument). The advice was heeded.

The resourceful six-year-old wove all the words she heard the adults use into a handmade picture book. 'Much' (cost, time) 'Fix' 'Old' with pictures of the piano and tuning tools.

Miss Marple and the Mystery of the Missing Pin.

This chart intrigued. What were those years spanning 41 through to 60? The piano was clearly not of commensurate vintage. The Japanese system involves numbering the years of the various Emperors. It's the Showa period and the list records 1966 to 1985.

I'm very glad we do no such thing, at least if it were to involve Prime Ministers. That'd be as confusing (or depressing) as this wallpaper seen at my accommodation while on tour performing in Canberra.

You'll be relieved to learn it was in the groovy expansive foyer, not in my bedroom.

Guess who? Clue: It is not an Australian Prime Minister.

Pin block cracks aplenty. Old tuners sometimes call loose tuning pins 'slippers' because they slip. They do not have enough torque to adequately hold the necessary string tensions (which are very high). 

More slippers than a Chinese vestibule.

The fissure king.

Another day. My view from the piano. What can I say? Gilty as charged. 

Speaking of bad press, there's something fishy about this fish and chip wrapper spied while ordering takeaway coffee. Go 'fourth'? I didn't have time to delve into the article to see if it was supposed to be a delicious pun. At least my coffee was delicious.

My intrepid partner in piano pampering encountered this mess at a wedding venue. A functional solution had to be devised with materials to hand. The manky felt pieces are only prepared to communicate via their respective lawyers.

Superhero Tech sliced off the ends of a couple of felt tuning wedges to fit as functional replacement felts for the damper. At times it is legitimate to improvise. It's best, of course, if you understand how pianos work. (Almost) all is fair in love and wedding centres.

This note now shuts up when you stop playing it, which is one of the minimum requirements for a rusty-stringed white piano.

Too close for comfort. Here's a not-so-neat domestic noodle-scratcher. It is impossible to get a tuning hammer onto some of the pins. It appears that a few pin block holes were inaccurately drilled on Friday afternoon in the factory.

 It might be hard to see, but the tuning hammer tip is already colliding with neighbouring tuning pins, and it is nowhere near on securely enough to be operated. Learn what the Caped Regulators cooked up for this piano in my next blog instalment (oooh, suspenseful!). And no, it wasn't redeployment as a ship's anchor.

Just in case you're sick of looking inside pianos, let's adjourn to my garden. The poinsettia is as Christmassy as the inside of the average piano (where red and green predominate). Somehow I can never capture the red that my eyeballs perceive. It must be technically beyond the capability of an iThing, but I keep trying. 

Finally, I continue my perverse fascination with the pianos of Gumtree that are advertised after having already been evicted from their own homes. The ad for this little Carillion provided additional amusement by depicting the piano indoors, then outdoors. Isn't that akin to advertising a free kicked puppy?

Can I have that groovy white chair? And what about the furry fascinator? No, no, I don't want the piano. Good luck with that.

The following picture (I kid you not) reveals the piano as the outdoorsy-type. What next? The piano describing itself as enjoying candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach? The piano being swiped left on Tinder?*

* I cite no direct experience of such selection methods.