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Technical Articles

Read this page before the articles found at bottom of page, Thanks

The “Technicians Articles” archive is for technicians mainly. For the person who just wants to save some money and rebuild his own piano/player piano, please consider carefully my suggestions here.

If you have a burning, all consuming desire to work on pianos, tune pianos, take apart pianos and/or fiddle with these mechanical things, then no “thing” and no “body” is going to stop you. Read on, and someday become a technician. This is where we all began, just like you. My shop technicians and I report tuning our first pianos at the ages of around 10 to 12 years old.

If, on the other hand you cannot imagine anyone having an all consuming desire to take a piano apart, then you are probably not the person to become a piano technician. If you just want to peruse the net for ways to fix your piano without paying a technician, my strong suggestion is to find a good technician and pay the money to have the work done right. I have purchased many pianos in various stages of disassembly and was told something along the line of: “I had this book that told me how to rebuild it and I started the job twenty-five years ago. I ran into a problem and I never got it done.” I find that the problem was actually very small and insignificant, but totally insurmountable to one without the knowledge and internal drive to do the work. Also the new (then) cloth and vegetable tanned leather by now is deteriorated and useless.

The job of complete restoration takes a professional a few months to complete. On the occasions that I have assisted or taught people to do this work, they are amazed at how fast each small job gets done. Those who have done their own work report having taken years to do it on their own. The professional knows it takes lots of time to do it right as most of it is handwork. We have many tried and true techniques that make each job as fast as it can be, still keeping quality as high as it was when we were using slower methods.

Unlike myself, most piano technicians feel very threatened and will not help a piano owner rebuild his own piano. For someone earnestly driven to rebuild their piano, I will not be able to convince them to let an experienced tuner do the work. If they are persistent I will help them to do it correctly. There is method in my madness, however. If they learn it well and still want to do more, sometimes they will make a good assistant in my shop and I can hire them.

Be advised, the technical tips found in thepianoworld.com are to help technicians to improve their technique and are not intended to be a course in piano restoration. Perhaps someday I will write my own but at present, there are books available to teach these techniques. (The best are by Art Reblitz.) My articles were written to address a problem one or another person was having with one small part of the gargantuan job of restoring a piano. Doug L. Bullock and thepianoworld.com will not be held responsible for anyone’s inability to complete a restoration using our techniques. Nor will we be responsible for the use of these techniques by the inexperienced or novice technician.

A piano can be broken down into approximately 10,000 parts. The player system also can be broken down into another 10,000 parts. If you are not sure you can put all of them back together and make music then take it slow or get an experienced professional to do the job.

D.L. Bullock, webmaster

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