Six days after my new piano arrived, it had it’s first tune up, and it was much needed! It had just spent about six weeks in a non-climate controlled refinishing shop during a warm and humid stretch of summer. But more than simply adjusting to my air conditioned dehumidified home, the strings were stretching, something to be expected with a newly rebuilt piano.
The voicing was also adjusted. This involved changing the density of the felt on the hammers to produce a brighter or warmer tone. In my case, a warmer tone was needed due to the hardwood floors and plaster walls in my home.
Another thing that was adjusted was the sostenuto bar. The middle pedal on most modern grands activates this bar. Depressing this pedal causes the notes currently being held to be sustained. The only piece I’ve ever played that has required it’s use was Schumann’s Papillons (pronounced pa·pee·aanz). At the end of the twelfth and final variation a low D is played and held for 26 measures. While the note slowly fades away, the current theme is repeated, each time more quietly and sparse than the last. To play this passage without a sostenuto pedal would require a third hand. The sostenuto bar on my piano is a bit problematic, however, sustaining additional notes besides those meant to be sustained; obviously not the desired effect. It’s being rater finicky and will take some tinkering to get it to work properly.
Over the next several months, the strings on my piano will continue to stretch, the action will continue to loosen, and other adjustments will be required as it goes through a break-in period. However, the more I practice each day, the quicker this process should go. After this first tune up and the work that was done, it sounds like a whole new instrument, and I’m excited to hear and play the end result!