Pianos: Blooming marvellous

A bouquet that's okay to have on a piano. Indeed it is on the upper front board of an upright. I forgot to take a wide shot to set the scene but trust me. No actual plants please, unless the arrangement is as dry as a dead dingo's donger*. Even with dried arrangements I've found way too many bits of bark mulch in function pianos. Indoor plants are delightful, but not near nor on your piano.

I arrive at an Art Gallery job. I'll need the floral flotsam removed temporarily so that I can open the lid to tune. 'So, that arrangement is dry, right?' The area was surrounded by buckets of water holding cut flowers so I suspected that my dingo's donger criterion may not be satisfied. Removal of the posy revealed a puddle. Gah.

I recommended an extra layer of protection for the re-installation. I didn't get detailed about the risks additional humidity posed to the piano's innards and the tuning. These corporate jobs present varied levels of absurdity and I will do what I can to make things work without being too preachy. 

Meanwhile I'm determined to celebrate my garden. It's coming along. It's no mean feat for a brown thumb with a yard that (front AND back) is entirely concreted (with dense sandstone and clay underneath). Every planting not in a pot has required a hole to be jackhammered or cut through the concrete. I had a couple of elevated planter boxes built. There is still so much ugly and half-dead, but if I frame carefully it is delightful.

I dragged this home from a nature strip throw-out in a too-small pot. I eventually improved its fortune by repotting it. The shape of the bush is hideous because I have no idea how to prune it. My attempts have been half-arsed and hapless.

This house could get a role in a mini-series with its retro stylings. The aesthetic is the result of it never having been updated. I dispatch a cheeky quip...

It had been the client's parents' house. He's a somewhat venerable senior himself.

Who could forget Kunst and Wissenschaft, the famed Shakespearean sundries?

The piano's cabinet is glorious. Immaculate. The same cannot be said for the instrument's innards. It's travelling respectably, but not in ways that can deeply satisfy the player.

For art and science I document a peculiarity of this Richard Lipp piano. Witness worthy lengthy bass strings, cross-strung at a steep angle to make the most of the available real-estate inside.

The long bass strings coupled with the cabinet's curvy sweeping lines mean that you just cannot get a regular tuning tool in there to get onto the lowest tuning pins.

It's hard to document the proportions, but trust me it's known. One needs a midget tool for the remaining handful of pins, or let sleeping dogs lie.

Witness the exposed pin block. You can see the top lamination of the hardwood plank into which the tuning pins are driven. Normally the design of the cast iron plate (or frame) conceals the pin block. Just a little nerdery note.

Burl walnut veneers which were standard finishes back in the day would be special commissions of the highest order now. The veneer pieces are mirrored with the slice to the left of the centre line being followed immediately by the next slice going to the right. I'm sure there is jargon I could deploy here if I knew it.

Instead I'm always making Rorscharch references. At the time I thought I was looking at an Orwellian Napoleon, but now I'm on the cusp between E.T. (the Extra-Terrestrial) and William Dobell's infamous portrait of Joshua Smith. But I don't want to unduly taint your therapy session, Gentle Reader.  

The view from another domestic piano room. Not one - but two - babbling brooks.

The frustration of this job (yet another troubled centenarian clunker) meant that along with coffee I somehow stress-ate not only my client-offered biscuits but all those Lego pieces. Who can stop at one?

Yet another cluttered piano house. My former office in kit form.

Lego? Yes. I thought it was some other sort of kit but upon closer inspection of the forecourt we confirm the delicious marrying of two Danish designs. When we were kids we had Bricko plastic bricks. Bricko was sued out of existence by Lego, and I'll be sued too if I say any more.

Bricks were just bricks, you could make anything you liked. There were none of these one-dimensional kit things. I don't approve. You can't suddenly make it into any other civic building - and that's what's wrong with the kids of today.

Bathurst. I love a masonry apostrophe provided its usage is correct.

I can go either way when it comes to 'neighbourly' notes (this one seen in a piano house). The unnecessary apostrophe in the pluralising of 'driveways' would tempt me to some sort of car misbehaviour. I'm waging a teensy campaign to educate my new neighbours to place their bins on their nature strip on bin night (not mine). Mixed fortunes so far. I'm using placement of my bins (and relocation of theirs) as a gentle cue. It may seem trivial, but it results in the garbos failing to empty my bins. Gah. Perhaps I'll get to chat, but I don't want to open with this topic.

I'm tuning in the famed Apostrophe Town Hall. It's that speaker, you see, it looks like an apostrophe. I know my punctuation and I know how to correctly position a piano's prop stick. The lid and the stick should form a right angle. Fur kunst und wissenschaft, eh?

I turn up to an event to find the piano lid already up (annoying) with the prop stick incorrectly located (doubly annoying). I snatch a stealthy snap before I gently break the ice with the crew to educate them. On this piano I have experimented with removing one of the two lid locator cups. Unfortunately this causes other problems when the short stick is required. I will nonetheless continue my tireless campaign to educate the First World about the correct orientation of piano prop sticks, and the bins in my street, Goughdammit!

I couldn't believe this fly masquerading as an apostrophe. Is it an elaborate joke?

It's the hallmark grocer-style post-vowel pre-S plural. I move in for a closer shot. How far can my pursuit of kunst take me? Surely this moment can't last...

Closer still. Is that fly high?

Let's talk safety. We wouldn't want someone to be compromised by a cucumber.

But speaking of safety, sometimes piano jobs can be a bit icky. There are lead weights in most piano keys and sometimes in other action parts. You don't need to fear lead, but when it is oxidising and disintegrating it is undesirable. The lead weights have expanded to the point where keys are interfering with neighbouring keys. Although the client had only reported a handful of sticky notes, the degradation of the leads is well-progressed and extends across the whole keyboard.

This piano (the Lipp in the flowers-but-not-like-this house) has leads that have been problematic for some time. It is clear that a previous technician has scraped off the excess lead then coated the leads with some sort of varnish. A reasonable attempt, but a coating will not arrest the oxidisation. If it delays it marginally, I guess it's worth it. But it is important to note that the only complete and permanent solution to this problem is to remove and replace all the leads in the piano. 

Such extensive work will not be performed on this instrument. The fragility of the wood would make it next to impossible even if the client desired it. There is less evidence of the lead weights swelling and cracking the wood than is often seen. The unfortunate amelioration is to scrape off excess lead with a sharp blade (into a plastic-lined bin, or similar) and advise the client that this treatment will not solve the problem permanently. The problem will recur at some point.

I sure do tune for some famous people. E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial)... 

...and the Beatles.

A classy collection (not actually the Beatles' axes).  It's more that I think, wow, kids sure are spoiled these days. But, hey, I'm all for encouraging music-making.

I tuned a piano that was on tour from New York recently. People find it hard to believe that carting a piano around the world could make more sense than meeting a new instrument in every theatre.

Here's its plaque. Cool. What's my point? I don't need to go crazy dropping names willy-nilly here. Willy who? I tend to think that the more names folk drop, the more suspicious one should be. Both of musos and tuners, it's just a working theory. And that's your bloomin' lot, folks!

* "As dry as a dead dingo's donger" (meaning: very dry) is far more recent than one would expect. The Australian National Dictionary currently dates its inception to the 1970s and one Barry Humphries.