You Are Viewing

Spring and Strings

It’s now April 2014 and we’re getting hints of Spring everywhere.  Aside from the welcome snowmelt, we’re seeing a little more green in the expanses of lawn across campus, and birds are chirping from the barren trees, claiming territory for the spring rituals of nest building and mating.  What a time of renewal!

Such is the experience for the Gershwin Model A as well!  We now have strings!  And new keys! And a new hammer action!  It definitely is rebirth, a remaking of greatness.


I visited PianoCrafters on Tuesday, April 1 to inspect the piano with its new strings, keyboard and hammer action fully fitted to the case.  It’s beautiful!  With a few final finishing touches to the iron frame lettering, thorough dusting to remove stray woodchips, pieces of felt, and what-not, as well as cleaning the case to remove decades of dirt and grime, the piano will be readied to return here, back in the stable at the Moore Building Piano Tech Shop.


The burning question in everyone’s mind:  how do the new soundboard and strings sound?   Well, I asked that question of the piano itself yesterday, and the piano answered back:  “That’s for me to know, and for you to find out!”   Considering what the piano has just gone through, a gut-wrenching heart transplant and refit of its mechanical systems,  I’d say that’s a pretty good answer.

Here’s what I know:  The new board and strings sound wonderful!  Pluck the strings and there is a long sustain, and a clear tone coming from the instrument.  It’s much the same clarity that came from the original board, I imagine, though it’s harder to say whether the sustain is longer than the original board when it was new.  But it’s an unmistakably “Steinway” kind of sound, full of color , full of possibilities.  Not bad for what I’d call “baby” sounds at the moment.

Here’s what I aim to find out:  Playing individual hammers throughout the compass of the keyboard, and listening to them suggests a potential of as-yet untapped greatness.  Will I be free to sculpt the sound of these hammers and strings?  Will this piano now open its arms to me and surrender its future to my hands and ears? How much sound will this piano kick out?  Can we fill a small or large hall with its sound?  How many potential timbres can I coax from the hammers?  How well will the action repeat?  Can I converse with this piano?  Will the piano converse with me?  There is so much to develop yet!

So, my Spring is beginning, too.  Lots of anticipation and lots of excitement.  So much to know, so much more to find out!