2017…So Far, So Good!

Hi everybody!

How’s the piano tuning biz in central Wisconsin?  So far so good!  I wanted to mention that Paul’s Piano Tuning Service got the “Spotlight Business Of The Year” award at the 2016 Neillsville Chamber Of Commerce awards banquet!  I also got a nice write up in the Clark County Press newspaper.  I was honored to be chosen and of course it is pretty good advertising for my piano tuning business.

I am currently talking to a piano technician in New York about how to promote my business.  I am debating as to actively do more in the way of calling back clients after a year and reminding them to set up another piano tuning appointment.  I did do that for a little while, but I found it to be somewhat unsuccessful.  I figured that I would let the client contact me when they wanted me to come back.  I don’t want to be pushy and call at the wrong time – plus I learned leaving a message is not a good way to do it either.  Anyway, this gentleman from New York is trying to devise an app for piano tuners to keep track of this sort of thing.  Maybe you’ll get a call from me soon!

I am traveling all over to tune pianos – I still enjoy it so much!  I recently was tuning pianos up in Ladysmith, over in Wheeler, and Gilman.  I even got a call to try to fix a digital grand piano – not my area of expertise, but I had a look anyway.  Now I have a few contacts for some technicians work can do organ repair and digital piano repair in Wisconsin.

I am entertaining the idea of raising my tuning rate $5.00 all around.  A this point I am not charging extra for mileage and I include minor repairs in the cost of the tuning – but for now, the cost is still $85.

It’s been nice meeting some new piano tuning clients in Wisconsin – thanks for your support and business!

Mini Piano’s – My Thing Maybe?

It’s weird but sometimes I have this recurring dream that I am visiting a mom and pop music store somewhere and in the corner of the showroom is a small, probably forgotten about,  miniature piano.  I never dream about a full sized oak piano – probably because it would be too difficult to bring it home.  Anyway, in my dream, the asking price is always within my price range with a little room to haggle.  I usually wake up from the dream about this time in the story – I have a fascination with small scale pianos at a subconscious level to be sure.

It probably has something to with being a keyboard player as a kid in the 1970’s.  The technology was booming with keyboards and synthesizers.  I remember the local music store had a Yamaha CP-70 Electric Grand Piano and I wanted one bad.  Imagine an electric piano with real strings inside!  Then there was a Hepinstihl or Helpinstihl piano the folded up and was even smaller!  I remember the music store guys saying “those Helpinstihl’s are junk”!  But the idea of a small, real piano got lodged in my brain and now I have dreams about the topic.

Fast forward to 2016…I always check Craigslist to see how my piano tuning ad is doing and to check to see what acoustic pianos are up for sale.  I had a chance to tune a Bremen spinet piano in Greenwood that had 76 keys instead of 88.  The lady said she bought it for $100.  I always wanted a smaller than usual piano for our home.  I told my wife Allie that if I ever see a Bremen piano with 76 keys I was going to buy it and make it a project.  So back to Craigslist, and I see an ad for a “Mini Piano” for $100 in Thorp.  The ad stated it would be “great for a child learning to play”.  I went out to look at it and I was smitten!  It was a 64 note piano, even smaller than the Bremen, and in desperate need of some T.L.C.. I offered the young couple $80 for it – THEY carried it out of the basement for me and it fit in the back of my Toyota Scion.  I ended up giving them $90 for helping me.  It was kind of like the dreams I had were coming to life!

I spent about 3 weeks refinishing the piano.  It had a dark stain on it that did it no favors in the looks department.  Now the piano easily fits in our kitchen area and matches our décor.  It’s nice to have a piano so close by to play!  The inside of the piano was actually very clean and the moving parts were quite good.  Just a little regulation here and there.  In trying to research the mini piano I bought, I’m discovering that it is actually a late 50’s or early 60’s Imperiale mini piano made in Japan by the Marco Polo company.  The confusing part is that the company made mini pianos under the company name “Marco Polo”.  So serial numbers for a Marco Polo piano are readily available.  However, “Imperiale” mini pianos made by the Marco Polo company are not readily available.  The only Google search I’ve done resulted in a couple of other people inquiring about the Imperiale brand.  I even posed my inquiry to the Piano Technicians Guild forum and have received no information.  A true mystery and quite rare from what I’m gathering!  I’ve seen Marco Polo mini’s priced at around $1000 – this one could fetch more because of it’s rarity – but I’m keeping it for now.  My dreams have come true in a small way!

Hello 2016!

As the year comes to a close, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  I’ve enjoyed meeting new faces this year, and bringing some pianos back from the dead, or close to it.  I get a lot of enjoyment traveling to new destinations and meeting new people.  This is such a great occupation and I am blessed to be able to do it.  Thank you!

One of my favorite parts of this job is when the repair is simple.  I’ve come to pianos where multiple notes were not playing.  I think to myself – this could take minutes or this could take hours – only to open up the piano to find a cd or a paint brush (true story) trapped inside the piano action – “Here’s the problem,”…fish out the cd or object and everything works again.  Sometimes it takes so little to get a piano functioning again, other times not.  I always try to leave the piano better than it was before (a code or creed from the Piano Technicians Guild), but sometimes the issues are out of my control – then I feel bad that I can’t do more.

There has been a couple of instances where a family just received a used piano and they are excited to tune it up.  It will likely require two tunings to get the correct result.  “Snap!”  An important string breaks right in the most played section of the piano.  Darn it!!! Now even if the tuning turns out satisfactory, I have to make a return trip to install a new string. Of course, the new string will want to go flat so that will require additional attention – not to mention the difficulty to change strings in spinet pianos, etc., etc.  It’s always a chore when a string breaks, but that’s all part of it – that’s why I previously mentioned the aspect of those “easy” repairs – I especially enjoy those times when everything goes smooth without any hiccups, so to speak.

Here’s looking forward to 2016!  I hope to tune and repair pianos throughout the central Wisconsin area, and I hope to meet many more new people this year.  Thanks for a wonderful 2015!


It’s Getting Dark In Here!

I had a funny experience tuning an old piano this past summer.  A couple from Minnesota had a very old upright in their cabin near Mondovi that they wanted me to work on.  I came to tune on a Saturday when they were visiting their cabin, but I soon learned that another days work was in order.  “The key is hidden outside the cabin under the flower pot…just come back during the week sometime,” the husband told me.  “Great,” I said.  This will be kind of fun because I can take as long as I want to fix up this piano and not worry about time and having someone looking over my shoulder and so on.

This 1895 upright needed about 3 of everything – keytops, strings, regulation, and all 88 bridle straps.  The cabin was modern and beautiful and deep in the woods.  I showed up on Monday and found the key and let myself in.  After a few trips of bringing in my tools and supplies, I got to work.  I tuned the piano Saturday and planned to fine tune it today.  Some of the felts and all the bridle straps were so dried out and brittle that they would actually crumble to dust if you squeezed them between your fingers.  I got to work trying to plan which order of tasks I should do first.  Such a beautiful view with so many windows!  “Hmmm…I should figure out how to turn some of these lights on,” I said to myself – “Nah, I’ll be fine”.

I took the action out of the piano and began replacing all 88 bridle straps.  The house flies seem to be especially curious about my endeavor.  As soon as I began to insert a new strap, that familiar annoying buzz would encircle my head…then it would stop. SMACK!  Darn…I missed!  I kept smacking myself in the head trying to kill these buggers, but they were too fast and clever for me…SMACK! again – missed again…on and on.  Only 30 or so bridle straps to go…is it getting dark in here?  I have to change that broken string too – I better start moving!

The modern cabin had modern lighting, but every switch I found didn’t seem to illuminate much.  Aha!  There’s a small lamp by the piano but it’s not plugged in.  Where’s the wall socket?  The lamp cord is too short to reach the piano.  Okay, got it plugged in – “click, click, click” – ah geez, the lamp doesn’t work and I didn’t bring my halogen work light…it’s sitting in the garage.  SMACK!  Not a fly this time…just me hitting myself in the head for forgetting my work light!

Cut to me with a small flashlight in my mouth changing a treble string in this 1895 upright piano.  Luckily the battery is strong, but I still click it off occasionally to conserve the energy.  “I’m gonna buy the nicest, most expensive plug-in work light when I get home…watch out eBay, here I come,” I told myself.  The string went on with ease luckily as the darkness entered the cabin.  I was almost done – what an adventure!

I took several trips returning my tool boxes to the car.  One of the last things I brought out was my trusty Craftsman Shop Vac.  After vacuuming up all the old decayed bridle straps that I had replaced, through the darkness I noticed several dead fly carcasses within the mess.  I must’ve not smacked my head repeatedly for no reason…I killed a few anyway.  I turned off what little lights they did have in that nice cabin, locked the door and returned the key under the flower pot and drove away.  It was nighttime now for sure.  The sun sets on another piano tuning adventure!

Lotsa Updates!!!

Hello Blog readers (hopefully there are a few!),

I am tuning and repairing pianos full time now!  Some of you may wonder why my website would even have a blog site.  Well, I fancy myself a clever writer of course, but the actual reason for a blog site is a bit more ho hum.  With the ever present Google search in the modern day world as the most popular means of seeking out services, this blog site is a cheesy way of getting Paul’s Piano Service to come up in a Google search.  I could really be obvious about it and include keywords like Piano Tuning Wisconsin, Piano Tuning Central Wisconsin, Piano Tuning Marshfield, Wi, Piano Tuning Neillsville, Wi., Piano Tuning 715 Area Code, Piano Tuning Black River Falls, Wi., Piano Tuning Wisconsin Rapids, Wi.  Well, you get the idea, but I will refrain from that.

So now that I am a full time technician, I am trying to build my clientele list.  Piano tuning in Wisconsin is sort of a strange thing – a lot of the pianos I have tuned have not been tuned or serviced for over 15 years or more!  What happens then is that it requires 2 tunings just to keep it in tune – not to mention it is common for a couple of the piano strings to snap from the build up of corrosion.  I always equate piano tuning to dentistry – the longer you wait between checkups the more problems you will have.  Some folks are happy having me tune it twice (pay the extra cost), fix some of the sticky keys, and not have me come back once a year.  That’s fine with me I guess – I get pleasure in getting the old farmhouse piano sounding good again.  One of the downfalls of this business is that getting the piano tuned is about #20 on the list of priorities…understandable!  My goal is to never be pushy about offering my services – I will occasionally remind past clients that it has been around a year since their last tuning and maybe we could schedule another tuning, while constantly seeking out new ways to get clients.  Hopefully now being full time I can even better accommodate people’s schedules!

I have a lot of funny stories to share in future blog articles about tuning in Central Wisconsin – stay tuned!  (pun intended)

Recommendations From Piano Tuner Central Wisconsin

As a piano tuner in central Wisconsin, I’ve found that my customers often ask why they should tune their piano regularly, rather than wait until the piano doesn’t sound just right. One way to explain it is with the analogy of a car. Few of us would wait for our car to stop running before we changed the oil or did routine maintenance. A piano is somewhat similar. Regular piano maintenance can prevent serious problems from developing in your piano.

Pianos go out of tune so slowly that we tend not to notice. The problem is that the sound gradually becomes less beautiful so that the player gets less reward from playing. With less reward comes less practicing and slower progress. This seems to be true for accomplished adults as well as for children. I find that parents who do not play the piano often do not realize how important this is. Playing the piano is one of the most difficult things a person can learn, and it’s important for the student to get as much reward as possible as soon as possible. To maintain a student’s enthusiasm, it is important for the piano to be kept in top condition with regular piano tuning. As an experienced central Wisconsin piano tuner, I can help you out.

It is also important to remember that learning to play the piano has important additional benefits. Several studies have shown that people who learn to play the piano also learn mathematics and language skills faster and have more success in other areas of life. As your central Wisconsin piano tuning service provider, I am pleased to have the opportunity to assist you or your child in reaping all the benefits that result from learning to play the piano.