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Bruce Gibson Piano Technician
Do you rebuild pianos?
What piano brand(s) do you recommend for purchase?
Is there anything wrong with plastic mechanical action parts?
How often should a piano be tuned?
Are soundboard cracks a problem?
Is particle board a bad idea in piano construction?
Where is the ideal location for a piano?
Who should move my piano?

 

Do you rebuild pianos?
Yes!  I have rebuilt several grands and uprights, including such name brands as Baldwin, Bechstein, Bluthner, Heintzman, Mason & Hamlin, Nordheimer, Steinway & Sons, and Yamaha.

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What piano brand(s) do you recommend for purchase?
There are many factors to consider when deciding to purchase a piano: budget; upright or grand; size; colour; cabinet style; who's using it and for what; used or new; tone and touch.  Many of these considerations are personal preferences, but when it comes to what brand names a person should consider, new or used, here are my thoughts on the subject.  First of all, let me start by stating that there is no perfect piano!  Some have great tone, but fall short in the area of mechanical engineering.  Others are put together very well, but don't have great tone.  Another brand will have great tone and plays well, but falls apart at the first drop in humidity.  The ideal piano would be one that has great tone, plays well, has been engineered properly, and does not fall apart!  This piano does not exist!  However, when I add up all the pluses and minuses of all the brands I have serviced over the past 20 years, JAPANESE BUILT Kawai and Yamaha pianos come very close to the ideal.  The Japanese are building the best engineered pianos in the world.  They play very well.  They typically don't fall apart, hence few, if any, warranty problems.  These pianos don't possess the rich tonal qualities of European pianos such as Hamburg Steinways or Bosendorfers, however, the tone is quite good and when that is combined with all the other pluses they come out at the top of the heap. 
Dealership product knowledge, honesty, integrity, service, and the prices of their instruments are very important factors to also consider!  Do your homework, and try to find out as much as you can about the Kawai and Yamaha dealers in your area.  If you are considering a used piano, regardless of brand, it is advisable to hire a technician to assess its condition before you lay any money down.

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Is there anything wrong with plastic mechanical action parts?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with plastic mechanical action parts in a piano!  The same kind of plastic is used in many industrial machines.  Plastic parts can be made more uniform in weight and shape, compared to wood, and they are impervious to changes in humidity.  They DO NOT adversely affect the tone of a piano.

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How often should a piano be tuned?
All the top piano manufacturers, such as Bosendorfer, Kawai, Steinway & Sons, and Yamaha, recommend a new piano receive four tunings in the first year.  After that it is advisable to tune it twice per year.  To put the question into perspective, concert and recording studio pianos are tuned just before each performance or session.  However, you are the final judge and depending on your needs, budget, and piano, tunings can be booked as you see necessary.  I recommend pianos be tuned at least once per year so that the overall pitch does not stray too far from the international standard pitch of A440.

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Are soundboard cracks a problem?
No!  As long as the supporting ribs are still glued to the soundboard, and there are no buzzes or rattles, cracks are not a problem.  Buzzes or rattles due to soundboard cracks can be eliminated by having the appropriate repairs done.  There is a 9' concert grand piano at our local University that has a soundboard crack open up every winter when the humidity decreases and closes again in the spring when the humidity increases.  This situation does not seem to affect tone or tuning stability.  Nor are there any buzzes or rattles! 

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Is particle board a bad idea in piano construction?
No!  Particle board does not warp and it makes use of materials that are typically discarded as waste, therefore, it actually makes good ecological and economic sense to use it.  The main disadvantage appears to be a psychological one, ie. it does not have the aesthetic appeal of solid and ply woods. 

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Where is the ideal location for a piano?
Wood is by far the main component material found in all pianos and humidity change is the number one factor determining how long a piano will stay in tune or function properly.  A piano should be placed away from doors and windows that are opened frequently.  DO NOT place it near heating or air conditioning vents, fireplaces, or in direct sunlight.

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Who should move my piano?
Professional piano movers are the way to go.  They have the proper equipment and the know-how to move pianos properly.

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If you have comments or questions, please e-mail me at bruce@bgpianotech.com or by snail-mail at:

P.O. Box 32006
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan  CANADA
S7S 1N8

or call me at:

(306) 221-3786

FAX #: (306) 955-3725
 

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