Tuning a birdcage upright in Dalkeith from a tone low

September 25th, 2013 Dalkeith, Edinburgh

The Halleys are prime customers.  Tea just how you like it – plenty of cookies – and boogie-woogie by 82-yr-old Ronnie upon completion of tuning.

The piano, Mortons of London birdcage upright, is a typical Scottish job; straight strung, overdampers, two semitones down – but responds perfectly to attention.  I was there three months ago doing the bulk of the pitch raise – brought it to 440 but the treble collapsed so I tuned it again to 445.

When I returned today it was still 445hz.  So tuning down to 440, via impact hammer, which should have taken 1-1/2 hours took 2-1/2.

Tuning birdcages, you have to pretend to be a blind tuner (the movie Five Finger Exercise featured an Australian tuner who gets work by pretending to be blind, but after tapping around the corner from the customer’s house he gets into his car and drives to the next job). Forget about trying to see where your Papps mute goes between the strings and do it  blind, by feeling.  It’s almost as fast as doing a normal upright if you don’t count having to remove and replace the mute-felt bar.

The action will be getting an overhaul soon to perfect this piano.  I left a set of spring clip bridle tapes to install on my return.  Only then will it be possible to remove the action to address the clatteriness caused by hundreds of loose screws (clattery hammers wear out quicker).  At the same time I hope to do a quick regulating job.  Let’s see if I can’t keep the time down to 3.5 hours.

I met a daughter, Margaret.  We talked about smoking – me with a foolproof method of quitting – while I puffed away!

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