A long time in-between posts!

Hoping that everyone is doing well with your health, prosperity and personal safety being where you need them to be!

I’ve been extremely busy with many new clients and had a blast meeting new people in the past 12 months. I’ve made several new friends in the business and look forward to helping more people make great music with their pianos.

In writing about pianos and the care it takes to maintain, I have to continue to mention the need to keep consistent levels of humidity in the location of the piano. So many pianos this past summer have required pitch adjustments as they were more than 5% sharp from the correct pitch. I’ve written about the virtues of the Dampp-Chaser Piano Life Saver Systems for many years, and can only re-iterate the need for these wonderful systems and how they help preserve the structural integrity of the piano. After all, it is common sense to know that if there is a lot of movement in the wood of the piano, stability is not at all possible. When a “micro-environment” is created by use of the Dampp-Chaser systems, stability is much more attainable. In speaking with my client base, as well as others, I found that not many people understand what make a piano go out of tune.  Well, I guess it’s time for a brief description of “WHY“.

When humidity changes occur in the environment of the piano, the wood is affected by absorption of moisture in the high humidity times as well as depletion of moisture in the dry times. When that happens, the soundboard, the large piece of wood under the plate, moves up and down with humidity changes. Attached to the soundboard are the “bridges”, which is what the strings rest on leading to the end of the string on the part known as the “hitch pin”. The bridges are glued to the soundboard, and as the humidity changes, the soundboard moves up or down. That movement changes the tension of the strings, which in turn changes the pitch. When the soundboard swells in the high humidity times, the strings get tighter, resulting in a higher pitch (going sharp). Conversely, when the soundboard shrinks in the dry times, the strings get looser, resulting in lowered pitch (going flat). So as the changes happen in the soundboard, the pitch of the piano changes, causing the tuning to change. Corrections are made periodically by turning the tuning pins with special tools, and should be done ONLY by a qualified tuner/technician.

Now that the seasons are about to change, the levels of humidity will become lower in your homes, causing any pianos to have structural changes, and not just the soundboard. All parts can be affected by the unstable humidity conditions.

Next article will be more about how the action and parts are affected by changes of moisture levels in the piano.

Now that you have a slightly better understanding of the way pianos “de-tune”, it’s time to have your Dampp-Chaser system installed, serviced or updated. You can ask me any questions about this subject, and I’ll be happy to help you make a decision that’s good for your circumstances.

Wishing you great harmony in your music and your lives.

Rich Goldberg

Owner, RGPT

Trying to find money for your piano tunings and repairs? Here’s a great idea!

Many times in my 20+ years in this business, when approaching a customer for follow up service from the prior 6 month period (or whatever arrangement), I heard the customer had decided to wait, due to tight finances. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there and totally understand. Having had money issues for many years, I know what it’s like to make some tough decisions.

However, a while back I took a look at my own expenses and made a remarkable discovery. One of the expenses I accounted for was my cellular phone bill. After having been with the big name companies, and I mean all of them, I couldn’t help but notice, that for two smart phones with unlimited talk and text, but limited data, I was averaging $160 – $165 per month, depending on taxes and/or surcharges were thrown my way. Between some research I did online and conversations with a close relative (my webmaster), I found a company called Republic Wireless (aka: RW), which has this fascinating approach to mobile phones-“hybrid phones” that work on wifi for unlimited everything and then when wifi is not available, switches over to one of the major carriers for cell service with unlimited talk and text, AND you can purchase data for a reasonable amount. When I first joined the company, the phones were not too good, and service was touchy. BUT, since RW improved the quality of the phones they supply more than 1 year ago, service has improved substantially, and has been quite dependable.

I bring this up because, in my case, I was spending nearly $1,900 a year on cell service, and never used more than the data I paid for. In other words, I paid every month for something I never received. Well, needless to say, that had me quite upset with my decision to stay with those carriers for such a lengthy time. Yeah, their cell service was good, but frankly, there were bad spots with them just like everyone else. So, what’s the difference if you go from one to another and still pay far more than needed. When I saw the numbers for monthly service that RW was offering, It made so much more sense, especially as there is NO CONTRACT to keep you prisoner. Upon some recent math I did, I found that with RW, I am spending about $110 less per month than with my prior carriers. Obviously, this translates into savings of more than $1,300 yearly. Now, is there something you can do with $1,300 you don’t spend on cell service? I know something you can do—-call your piano tuner/tech and get your piano taken care of, and chances are, you’ll probably have money left over to save! Hey, what a concept – save some money! 

I was not asked to write this blog by anyone, and RW doesn’t know that I planned on doing this.  But consider this: when you’re happy with some service or product you get and enjoy the performance from whatever you have, you tend to tell your friends and family about your experience. If you need a doctor for something and don’t know who to trust, you often ask someone you know for a referral. Well, this is what I’m doing. I’m very happy with the performance and reliability of RW, so I wanted to let you know.

I always hope to get referrals myself in my business which I consider myself lucky to get. But, I work hard and always give my best. So, please keep in mind, when you need to search for funds to take care of your piano, look at your expenses. Maybe it’s your mobile phone service, or maybe it’s something else. But if you want to take care of something important to you, adjustments can be made. You just have to find them!

Harmoniously yours,

Rich Goldberg

I like Gus too!

I like Gus too!

It’s Been a While Since We Wrote!

I hope my subscribers and their families and friends area all doing well and have enjoyed a great summer. September is now approaching, which means most of the children are heading back to school and the regular routines left behind in June. Parents are getting ready to get back into their regular routines, meaning that everyone will have tight schedules. I wish you all a great and successful year in all you do, especially my music friends who have pianos to play.  Remember, that your piano is an investment, and does require regular care. Don’t be scared to have your piano tuner/technician make regular scheduled visits to keep your instrument in great shape. The more you pay attention to changes in your instrument, and the faster you take care of any issues, chances are your repair bills will be far less than if you wait until something major shows its ugly hands!

I have also been blessed with wonderful clientele, and am now looking forward to expanding my practice as a great opportunity has been presented by a fellow technician. Sometime this September, my schedule for availability will fill up rapidly and my flexibility in scheduling will be reduced substantially. I urge anyone who needs their piano serviced in my area (Long Island Metro) to please book your service appointments immediately, even if you think there’s time. I can guarantee that scheduling after September will be extremely tight, and those clients who are booked in advance will be getting preferential scheduling time for any future service appointments. For anyone who needs to contact me, you can use the contact page on the Rich Goldberg Piano Tuning website Contact Page. I look forward to hearing from any and all who need my help.

Harmoniously yours,

Rich Goldberg

E-mail Reminder-newest at 12102009_html_4c0b2cd9

I Love My Web Hosting Company

Normally, I write about subjects having to do with pianos and related items, especially when it comes to care and maintenance. I always welcome questions about pianos and the concerns of piano owners about any subject regarding their piano or the purchase of a piano. However, this time, I want to speak of something different.

A few years back, I had designed my own website, which turned out to be a colossal mess. I used a store bought program from Microsoft to design and build the website, and then went to one of the mega hosting companies which proved to be as useless for customer service as trying to play a piano with broken strings and hammers!  I did research regarding web hosting companies and after consideration of several candidates, chose to start with Lexiconn, based in Connecticut. Part of the reason I chose them was based on the monthly cost of hosting and the ease of setting up automatic payments. When I called to ask lots of questions regarding their services, they were forthcoming with answers immediately and didn’t hesitate to offer help anytime. They emphasized that while phone support is not open 24/7, e-mail inquiries are answered within a few minutes, as there is a staff member available pretty much 24/7. I found it somewhat unique in this industry to have a company that does exactly what they say they will do AND within a time frame that is promised. This was really big for me, especially due to prior bad experiences with other companies. It’s really nice to see another company who cares about its customers.

After deciding to join Lexiconn, I approached a webmaster to design and maintain my website. In my case, I am very lucky to have a wonderful brother who, while never having built a website took the time to learn the basics and combined what he learned with his ability and what I wanted the website to become; over time, he continues his excellent work in maintaining the website, taking care of all aspects of changes necessary. As it turns out, my brother has continued learning because he chooses to be the best he can in this venture. The funny part is, he is a retired veterinarian, who due to health reasons, could not practice any longer. So, in searching for something to take up his time, and with my urging, knowing that he is a competent computer “nerd”, suggested he take up learning web design.  Well, as you can see, the website is easy to navigate, responds quickly and is user friendly. In trying to keep up with the times, many things in the “web world” change almost daily, and sometimes hourly or sooner. Some issues have required updates to various areas, and with the capable help of the techs at Lexiconn, this site has run flawlessly for the last several years. In fact, there has not been one instance of the site being down for any unknown reasons other than hosting maintenance time, which to date has been no more than a few minutes.

In conclusion, I do highly recommend that in the event you are looking for your first web hosting company, or to make a change, consider Lexiconn.

  Hosted by Lexiconn.com

Also, please let them know you heard about them from my website – Rich Goldberg Piano Tuning.

Thanks for following my blogs, and I encourage any and all questions regarding pianos, their care and maintenance, or any other topic related to pianos. If you would like me to answer any other topics, try me.  If I can help, you’ll get a reply; if not, I’ll try to find you another source for help.

Bless you and live life in complete harmony.

Harmoniously yours,

Rich Goldberg

Owner, Rich Goldberg Piano Tuning

 

 

 

 

Tags: lexiconn, piano website, website building, website hosting

Every Day is Another Opportunity to Learn

As life speeds on by, I notice that every day, something will happen that makes me take notice. Not something that I haven’t yet seen before, but something that gets my attention. Situations that occur make me think, and sometimes, I think of things that happened earlier in my life that didn’t make sense, but now I understand what didn’t make sense earlier! What am I talking about? Well…I’ll tell you!

I have been pushing the accolades of the Dampp-Chaser Piano Life Saver System for the past 19+ years with good reason; I own one for my piano and I KNOW what it has done for my Mason & Hamlin. The one thing I did not mention is something called “micro-environment”. This term, which I learned by taking the Certified Installer Course and passing the test to earn the designation, means that the Piano Life Saver System creates its own micro-environment that protects the piano, and ONLY the piano. To invest in a whole house Humidity Control System is an expensive proposition that takes expensive and constant care, often times greatly increasing the electrical consumption of your home, increases the use of water (sometimes bad to do in excessively dry areas that have water supply problems) as well as higher maintenance costs than needed, not to mention unpleasant service techs who make you wait for extreme windows of time for their arrival to your location to fix an issue that can be costly. (Wow, that was a lot of words, eh?) When you examine the possible options for taking care of your instrument, one must consider several factors:

  1. expense of obtaining equipment to take care of the issue addressed
  2. process of maintaining the equipment
  3. noise factor in using the equipment
  4. expense of maintenance – and last but most important –
  5. effectiveness of equipment to do its job.

When looking at possibilities to protect your piano, one has several options.
* Whole house humidification system – very expensive and not geared to protect your piano exclusively.
* Individual Room Humidifiers – makes noise constantly when running, and unless put in proper place for piano with correct amount of baffle to direct the humidity to the piano, is not effective
* A pot of water underneath the piano (yes, it was done in the past, and while it may have made a small difference from extreme dryness, could not keep a constant humidity level to keep the piano stable
* Dampp-Chaser Piano Life Saver System (PLSS)– comparatively inexpensive compared to the investment in the piano, creates micro-environment that controls the level of humidity correct for the piano at the piano, not difficult to add water when deemed necessary by the system, and is not expensive to run or maintain. Because of the “micro-environment” created by the Dampp-Chaser PLSS, stability is the biggest factor in keeping the piano in great operating condition as dictated by its surroundings. Use of the Dampp-Chaser PLSS does not excuse the owner from regular care, but it does keep the condition of the piano from requiring expensive repairs and potential rebuilds due to neglect and a difficult environment. There are additional parts besides the Dampp-Chaser PLSS that aid the PLSS to work better in environments that have constant air flow difficulties, like houses of worship, educational institutions and large facilities that can not possibly control consistent airflow around the piano.

So, if you have problems with your piano holding tune, needing repair after repair, mold, parts breaking due to dryness, you owe it to yourself to look into investment in this wonderful product.

I look at this situation the same as any other when looking for help from a friend or relative about needing service from someone trustworthy—if you need a doctor for consult due to illness, you may ask a friend about who they recommend, or looking for a reliable car mechanic who won’t cheat you and do good work. It’s the same with a piano tuner who is reliable and won’t steer you wrong. I’ve been in this business for nearly 19 years, been around pianos for over 60 years, and do believe in treating people the way I expect to be treated. If you ever have any questions about the Dampp-Chaser systems, just ask, and I’ll get you the answer you need to make an informed decision.

Bless you all with great health and peace.

Harmoniously yours,

Rich Goldberg
Owner, Rich Goldberg Piano Tuning

Steinway has made a mistake – not allowing Dampp-Chaser Systems? Not Good!

In response to an article on LInkedIn, I could not help my self but to respond to this lunacy. Another technician ran into a situation where Steinway Pianos would void the warranty on their new piano if a Dampp-Chaser System was installed. This goes way beyond all normal reasoning for this reason

I have been installing Dampp-Chasers for nearly 20 years, and have had no problems with them as far as ruining any piano. It is sad that some piano owners don’t follow the directions from DC, but that’s the way it is. It is even more sad for a major manufacturer to void a warranty for having installed the system that keeps the piano in better shape. In fact, this is unconscionable! I have installed systems on Steinways, Mason & Hamlins, Yamahas (with and without Disklaviers), and many other brands – more than 250 systems. The communication from Steinway that says warranty is void if DC is installed is utter craziness, and frankly can be legally challenged, considering Steinway had recommended Dampp-Chaser installations in the past.

The following link, http://www.pianolifesaver.com/english/testimonials/manufacturers, mentions many manufacturers who recommend Dampp-Chaser; the fact that Steinway is absent tells me that Steinway is not the same quality as in the past. The fact that pianos are greatly affected by regional weather changes can not be ignored. Here in the northeast, there are FOUR seasons that constantly change in humidity levels.

I know that I ALWAYS instruct the piano owner on the maintenance and use of the DC systems. I also leave them the printed warranty sheet from DC and hi-lite all the pertinent facts for their particular system. I also urge them to contact me with ANY questions about the piano care, including the Dampp-Chaser system. If you are careful and make sure that the customer acknowledges the instructions on maintaining the system, any problems with the piano is only from the piano owners doing. I do not look to put any blame on anyone, but if the system is installed and maintained per instructions from DC, there is no one else to look at but the piano owner. After all, do we , as technicians, have the time to maintain the customers systems on a weekly basis? I don’t think so!

Perhaps those customers looking to purchase a Steinway should be careful in their considerations if the warranty excludes the installation of the Dampp-Chaser system. Personally, for the upper echelon quality of piano purchases, I recommend Mason & Hamlin, which, in my humble opinion, is the best piano manufactured today. There are other wonderful brands, and I do not discount any other high end brands, but having been a Mason & Hamlin owner all my life, I am totally partial. Check all the specs for yourself, and then go play a Mason & Hamlin if you have not had the pleasure. Form your own judgement, don’t just accept another!

Harmoniously yours,

Rich Goldberg

Owner, RGPT

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Changes to Blog Comments

Since there has been a rash of spam breaking through and causing problems, I have instituted new procedures for security to alleviate the unwanted comments from spammers. For anyone who is sincere about the contents of my blog, I thank you for your participation.

From now on when you want to submit comments, please first subscribe with the information requested, follow the instructions and then you will receive an e-mail after authentication. I will be checking the subscribers requests at least once daily, so it may be up to 24 hours until you get your e-mail verification. Once you have your subscriber details complete, feel free to add your comments and observations. Every post will go through moderation and require approval for posting. If you see your post was disallowed and you know it was an error, please contact me on my CONTACTS page with your information.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Harmoniously yours,

Rich Goldberg

A Different Repair

Hello everyone! I hope you are all well and healthy as are your families and friends.

In the beginning of 2014, I promised to give some information about different scenarios in the piano industry. Well…I found one recently that I’ve never seen OR heard in all my years in the business and having been around pianos since childhood.

A customer told me they heard sounds of “clicks” in their piano whenever the keys were released while playing piano or pianissimo. At first, I could not comprehend what they meant by “clicking”, but when the time came for me to try, there was a definite clicking sound with the keys being played in any manner, not just softly. Now, by softly, I mean letting the keys go quickly, but playing dynamically quietly (piano or pianissimo). The clicking was like metal hitting something hard, but the cause was not obvious and couldn’t be located immediately. At first, I thought the noises were the repetition lever springs (top of the wippen that moves up and down to expose jack to the knuckle) in the wippens that were clicking when released, but when examined, the springs were perfect. The action needed to go to my shop for closer examination, diagnosis, and repairs.

Once the action was on my workbench, I looked closely at the possibilities causing the undesirable noises. In order to examine more thoroughly, I removed several wippens and looked at the springs again to find the springs in excellent condition. So I looked further where other contact points are, and found the cause of the undesirable noises.

Metal screw adjustment was part of problem

Metal screw adjustment was part of problem

The picture on the left shows the following:

With the wippen removed, I found that the adjustment screw (used to put the jack in the correct spot to interact with the knuckle of the hammer shank) had a hard pointed end without any padding or cushioning to stop noise upon return to its resting position, which was now unpadded wood. The contact point consisted of a dried rubber bushing, a type of part which, to my knowledge, is no longer used in current pianos. The rubber was more than likely soft when first installed, but  had gradually hardened over the years.. Once it became hard, the screw striking it upon return to ready position made the clicking sound. In order to fix the issue, I removed the rubber bushing square (indicated in the picture to the right of the wippen) and replaced it with a piece of red felt bushing. Notice the round indentation caused by the screw.  

The clicking disappeared upon correct positioning and thickness of the felt bushing. (see below).

new felt bushing

The repairs were labor intensive, since I had to custom cut and fit the bushings for all 88 wippens. Also, the thickness needed adjustment, which meant that I had to reset all the jacks for the correct positioning under the knuckles of the hammer shanks

Once all the felt bushings were correctly fitted, I still had to complete regulation (let-off, drop and aftertouch) in addition to the position of the jack to the knuckle. After I had completed all the necessary adjustments, the action had absolutely no more unexpected or unwanted noises, and its feel was once again ideal for any player from beginner to experienced.

 

The best part about this repair was the expressions on my customers’ faces when they could no longer hear the clicking sound. When I took the job, my customers informed me that the noise was there when they had purchased the piano (used). Another technician had applied something to stop the noises, which reportedly returned quickly. The customers were then told the piano noises could not be fixed. But when I heard that, I knew there was something that could be done, based on the noise I heard and some good old common sense.

When I showed them the results of the repairs, I had to go to my customers and pick up their jaws from their feet (no – not really)! But they were happy with the results.

Anyway, I hope if anyone out there had the same issues, please know that you need to check out the adjustment screws for the jack/knuckle position. Check to see if there is any padding around those areas, and if surfaces are hard, it is an easy diagnoses, but a labor intensive repair.

Happy tunes to all, and I’ll be back in the near future with more information.

Harmoniously yours,

Rich Goldberg

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year! I’m back!

First things first. My sincere wishes go to all my subscribers, friends, customers and everyone else to have a great 2014 and beyond!  I promised last year that I would start bringing in more information about pianos and their makeup, experiences with my customers and be informative in a way that you will find entertaining (and hopefully humorous too!).

Well…here’s the first one.

While I was working on a customers action from a K Kawai Model 600 (6′ parlor grand), my 3 year old grandchild was with my family for typical baby sitting duties. (No, she doesn’t watch me…my wife watches her and I help too!) As the work day went on, she wanders in and out of my office and talks to me, regardless of being on the phone or working and trying to concentrate. Out of the blue, she comes and sits on my lap at my desk and said “Can I help you with the piano?” You have to know she is a very bright child and wants to be involved in a lot of things, even if she doesn’t know what she’s asked about. But this little girl came to me with sincerity and I couldn’t help but think “Am I assisting in raising the next great piano technician in the world?”  I don’t know if that’ll ever be, but her interest in fixing the action on my workbench was real.  So, I took her to the piano action and started to point out parts of the piano action while having her repeat the names of the items. Of course, here enunciation wasn’t exact, but cuter than I could say it!

Mid section BEFORE filing

I told her “hammer” and she said “hama”. I pointed out that the hammer is made from wool, and she looks at a bunch and said “how come they’re so dirty?”  I explained they needed to be fixed, and then they will look clean.  With that, she said “oh good, clean is better. And why is that one different?”, pointing to the one in the illustration that is flatter than others. Amazing how she not only could notice the difference, but express it so well for a tot who still has lots of growing up to go. If I do say so myself, I have a “genius” for  a grandchild. That, of course, is biased, but when she walked around at 2 years old and told me “Papa, you’re a genius”, I couldn’t help but know that she is the smart one! I have to admit that when she was with me while explaining things in simple terms for her, I found a renewed knowledge in my own understanding of the “how to” in repairing and regulating a grand piano action. After all is said and done, I honestly feel that this was one of my best repairs to an action, and the customer was ecstatic with the results.

A few more pictures of what was done and some parts used in the “regulating:” of a grand piano.

Three of many parts to regulating grand action

Three of many parts to regulating grand action

Upper arrow pointing to “let off buttons” for adjustment of hammers heights before striking point of string.

Middle arrow points to the “tail” of the “jack”, which is what is adjusted for proper “let-off”.

Curved arrow points to “capstan” adjustment screws, for proper “lost motion” of hammers and hammer height in relation to hammer rest rail.

 

 

Treble after filing BEFORE regulation showing how hammers were not yet leveled.

Closer look at capstan screw.

View of center of action after all adjustments and keys being cleaned with a 1:6 mix of Sol U Mel and water

View of action of hammers filed, leveled and other adjustments made for regulation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best part of this experience was that when I told my customer that my grandchild helped with the repairs, they said (and I quote) – “She’s a genius!”

Until next time…have great harmony and peace in your lives.

Rich Goldberg

Owner, Rich Goldberg Piano Tuning

Rich Goldberg Music

Happy Holidays

E-mail Reminder-newest at 12102009_html_4c0b2cd9I tried to come up with some snappy little stories about pianos and my business, but, in all honesty, couldn’t find anything worth writing at this time…these future stories will just have to wait!

The most important thing to me at this time of year is knowing that I have been blessed with people around me who I care about deeply and they do about me. My immediate family, my daughters in-laws and their family, my friends and my wonderful customers…I want to wish you the best of health in the remaining year and all the upcoming years ahead. I wish all my followers and subscribers the best for healthy and happy holidays and hope that your lives are filled with wonderful harmony in all you do.

I do want to promote my future blogs because many new subscribers have signed up to read my wonderful (?) scribblings and bits of information.  I am committed to bring you all newer and better information about the piano business, and want to help you by giving tips as well as relating experiences I have through my personal clients. I will report on scenarios that may be of help to you and references to repairs and adjustments made by me to offer you ideas on how to fix issues you may have. Have no fear…I won’t try to bore you, although I may succeed!  What I plan to do is give you information with a sense of humor and something you can learn from and add your thoughts to as well. Anytime you feel like expressing your opinion,  go for it!

As for the rest of the year, enjoy, be safe, be happy, be healthy (no, this is not a copy of a Cheerios commercial)… and may all your life be in great harmony! My toast to all of you…”May the best of your past be the absolute worst of your future.”  Happy holidays.  Write to you in ’14!

Rich Goldberg

 

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