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#909165 - 06/18/04 01:40 PM Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3262
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Prep, prep, prep. Everyone talks about it, but I am starting to suspect that very few here know what it is.

The following is standard operating procedure at Piano Craft for all new Grand Pianos. This is nothing new. It comes from our experience, and the recommendations of manufacturers such as Mason & Hamlin, Bluthner, Steingraeber etc. This work is appropriate for all grand pianos.

The following is regulation and does not include the multiple tunings required for stability, voicing, or multiple follow up services. I know a lot of this will need explaining, so I am hoping the fine techs who contribute to this forum will chime in. You will notice a lot of redundancy in this process.

Phase 1: Estimated time 12 hours

1 Bed key frame to key bed
2 Lubricate key frame guide pins
3 Polish capstans
4 Level keys
5 Set key dip
6 Regulate end keys of each section completely
7 Adjust hammer height on remaining keys to match samples
8 Escapement on remaining keys
9 Drop on remaining keys
10 Space hammers to string ( square and travel as needed)
11 Space repetitions to hammer shanks
12 Space back checks with bending pliers
13 Adjust jack to knuckle
14 Adjust back checks
15 repetition springs
16 repetition lever height
17 readjust hammer height to samples
18 readjust hammer line slightly if needed for after touch
19 even out aftertouch on sharps with front rail punchings
20 retighten all action screws

Phase 2: Estimated time 8 hours

1 Adjust hammer height on remaining keys
2 Escapement on remaining keys
3 Drop on remaining keys
4 Space hammers to strings ( do not square and travel with this step)
5 Check spacing of repetitions to hammer shanks
6 Space back checks with bending pliers
7 Adjust jack to knuckle
8 Adjust back checks
9 Repetition springs
10 Repetition lever height
11 readjust hammer height
12 re-evaluate aftertouch on naturals, adjust slightly if needed
13 even out after touch on sharps by adding or removing front rail punchings
14 retighten all action screws
15 readjust back checks to 1 1/4" if geometry permits

Above times do not include the following:

Lubricate trapwork and tighten all trapwork screws.

Regulate damper pedal:

1 lost motion at 1/4"
2 Key bed upstop adjusted or present to allow damper lift slightly above that of sharp damper when lifted with key
3 Up stop adjusted slightly above lift of dampers with sustain pedal pushed

Shift Pedal

1 Check each hammer for excessive shift.
2 Check pressure of cheek block guide plate on guide pin in action
3 Shifts easily and smoothly

Sostunoto

1 doesn't pick up dampers when depressed
2 holds any and all dampers lifted by key before pedal is pushed

I hope this is useful.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909166 - 06/18/04 02:21 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
enescu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/03
Posts: 109
Keith, what do you mean by sample keys? Are the samples provided by the manufacturers or is it something to adjust according to the customer's desire?
Do you do the same prep for all pianos, no matter what brand/provenience?

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#909167 - 06/18/04 02:38 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13976
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Keith:

You're doing this on each and every Bluethner and Steingraeber you're getting from Germany?

norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909168 - 06/18/04 02:43 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
oh, great, keith. now every piano owner here is going to get piano anxiety over whether their piano was prepped like you prep yours. ;\)

just a little advance soothing: calm down, boys and girls. if you like your piano, don't worry about what prep was or wasn't done on it. and if you have a problem with your piano, call your dealer.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#909169 - 06/18/04 03:30 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6150
Question: After 20 hours of "prep" as Keith D. Kerman described, how many repetitions of, say, Beethoven's complete "Moonlight" sonata, can be played on the piano before you deem it needing another round of adjustment by a technician, again?
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#909170 - 06/18/04 04:18 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
axtremus: what level of servicing are we talking?
What Keith has layed out is not some special super duper prep ... I have a feeling he and I, and maybe Manitou will talk ourselves horse trying to explain to everyone here that this is basic. It's what EVERY new piano needs (and doesn't get).

So to answer your question... what level of prep do you want?
Assuming you have the basic level of prep described above, you can maintain that at any level you the customer feel is appropriate.
A concert level or servicing would require this work to be done, or at least touched up before each performance.
The average person might have this work touched up twice a year at each tuning.
I tried hard to sell "service agreements" to customers where we would address these types of issues at each tuning, not once every 10 years.

And yes, Pique's right, if you like your piano there's no problem. And if you have a problem, yes call your dealer.
But if you come to this forum to become "educated" about pianos, and to become a "smarter shopper", then pay attention to these things.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909171 - 06/18/04 04:21 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3262
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by enescu:
Keith, what do you mean by sample keys? Are the samples provided by the manufacturers or is it something to adjust according to the customer's desire?
Do you do the same prep for all pianos, no matter what brand/provenience? [/b]
We break the piano down into 5 sections and regulate the end keys ( 10 keys total) in each section completely ( step 6 in phase 1 above). These keys become the samples for adjusting the hammer height on the remaining keys ( step 7 above). If you need to change something, you want to know after 10 keys, rather than after 88. The hammer height is set to get the correct after touch.

We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet. Some pianos reach that standard more easily than others, and this is not always about how much the piano sells for.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909172 - 06/18/04 04:30 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
lucian Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/03
Posts: 404
Loc: Belgium
Keith,
what are You using for:
2 Lubricate key frame guide pins
_________________________
lucian
"more I learn,less I know"

piano tuner/technician (sort of..... ;\) )

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#909173 - 06/18/04 04:45 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3262
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Norbert:
Keith:

You're doing this on each and every Bluethner and Steingraeber you're getting from Germany?

norbert [/b]
Yes.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909174 - 06/18/04 04:49 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6150
KB, thanks for your explanation. And I certainly thank Keith for outlining the steps for "prep"ing pianos for the readers' education \:\)

 Quote:
Keith wrote: "We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet."
My question was, using Keith's own "prep" procedure and his own standard, how many iterations of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata can the piano withstand before it stopped meeting that standard (and reach a point where it needs a technician to adjust things to bring it back up to standard again) ? Assuming, of course, that the piano is kept indoor with proper humidity control just as in Keith's showroom. Just wondering if Keith might have a rough, "order-of-magnitude" estimate that he is willing to share. ;\)
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#909175 - 06/18/04 04:51 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3262
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by lucian:
Keith,
what are You using for:
2 Lubricate key frame guide pins [/b]
Lithium grease
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909176 - 06/18/04 05:20 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3262
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:
KB, thanks for your explanation. And I certainly thank Keith for outlining the steps for "prep"ing pianos for the readers' education \:\)

 Quote:
Keith wrote: "We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet."
My question was, using Keith's own "prep" procedure and his own standard, how many iterations of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata can the piano withstand before it stopped meeting that standard (and reach a point where it needs a technician to adjust things to bring it back up to standard again) ? Assuming, of course, that the piano is kept indoor with proper humidity control just as in Keith's showroom. Just wondering if Keith might have a rough, "order-of-magnitude" estimate that he is willing to share. ;\) [/b]
Did you call me Meith?!

The phase 2 part of my initial post is what needs to be monitered and maintained by your tech. It is hard to answer your question because different pianos are more or less stable in different areas. The better the piano is, and the more often the prep work gets gone over ( just like tuning) the more stable it will become. All of this work that I am describing will make the piano better down the line as well. It doesn't just dissapear, but it must be maintained.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909177 - 06/18/04 05:27 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1094
Loc: El Cajon, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
[QUOTE]
We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet. Some pianos reach that standard more easily than others, and this is not always about how much the piano sells for. [/b]
20 hours seems like a lot, especially when it involves names like Bluthner, Mason and Steingraeber.

Without naming names, could you please give us an idea of the range of hours spent? In other words, what is the least amount of time spent when a piano arrives in particularly fine condition. How much time must you spend on a piano that needs a lot of work. It would be interesting to know how much variation there is in the condition of pianos arriving from the factory.

Also, do you find significant variations in quality control among products from the same manufacturer?

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#909178 - 06/18/04 05:40 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6150
Thanks Keith for your answer. \:\)

If you don't mind a another follow-up question:

How well would the "prep" survive a move? Say, the dealer put in 20 hours of prep, then the mover moves the pianos 50 miles over to my house and the truck sustained a few bumps and pot holes -- how much of the "prep" would survive?

I ask because, well, I'll be moving my piano in the near future -- I have planned to arrange for a technician to do some voicing and regulation work after the move, I'm just curious to predict how much a move would change my piano's state of "prep."

Keith and KB both characterize the procedure as "basic prep" needed by all pianos.

So I am also curious about why the manufacturers don't get it done (while "part 2" has to be repeated by the dealer/technician from time to time, the factory could have done "part 1").

Of course, if moving the piano from Germany to the US would undo a lot of the prep, then it becomes quite reasonable that the factory leave the prep work to the dealers. Then the question becomes -- is there a better way to package/ship a piano to preserve its "state of prep"?

Thanks.

(That "Meith" thing was an unintended slip of finger, and has since been corrected -- no offense intended, my apology for the mistake.)
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#909179 - 06/18/04 05:48 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3262
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Ramirez:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Keith D Kerman:
[QUOTE]
We do the same basic prep on all of our new grand pianos. We have a standard that we are always trying to meet. Some pianos reach that standard more easily than others, and this is not always about how much the piano sells for. [/b]
20 hours seems like a lot, especially when it involves names like Bluthner, Mason and Steingraeber.

Without naming names, could you please give us an idea of the range of hours spent? In other words, what is the least amount of time spent when a piano arrives in particularly fine condition. How much time must you spend on a piano that needs a lot of work. It would be interesting to know how much variation there is in the condition of pianos arriving from the factory.

Also, do you find significant variations in quality control among products from the same manufacturer? [/b]
Steve,

Bluthner, Steingraeber and Mason & Hamlin all arrive in generally very fine condition. They still all basically recommend what I described in my initial post. It takes us, on average, 20 hours to do this work. Some techs are faster at this process than others, but the way you get fast is by doing it over and over, and that's what my techs do. I titled this post "Basic Grand Piano Prep" , and I meant basic.

By the way, if you don't sell the piano for 6 months or a year, the process must be repeated ( although it goes faster and faster each time ) and the hours add up even more.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909180 - 06/18/04 05:56 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Ax:
We always seem to come back to this point! \:\)

The customer doesn't demand it. This business like any other is governed by supply and demand. People don't demand a higher level of prep and/or service and therefore don't get it. The manufacturer has all sorts of things governing what they can and can't do. Cost of production, keeping competitive, etc. And all of these things can't supercede what you the customer are willing to pay for a piano.

I don't think the regulation shifts that much during transit, I just don't think it's leaving the factory at it's highest level.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909181 - 06/18/04 06:21 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3262
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:


How well would the "prep" survive a move? Say, the dealer put in 20 hours of prep, then the mover moves the pianos 50 miles over to my house and the truck sustained a few bumps and pot holes -- how much of the "prep" would survive?

So I am also curious about why the manufacturers don't get it done (while "part 2" has to be repeated by the dealer/technician from time to time, the factory could have done "part 1").

Of course, if moving the piano from Germany to the US would undo a lot of the prep, then it becomes quite reasonable that the factory leave the prep work to the dealers. Then the question becomes -- is there a better way to package/ship a piano to preserve its "state of prep"?

Thanks.

(That "Meith" thing was an unintended slip of finger, and has since been corrected -- no offense intended, my apology for the mistake.) [/b]
I have been called much worse than "Meith". No apology needed, I thought it was funny.

If your piano is properly secured in the move, most of the prep will be maintained. The problem will be the different climate in your new house.

The better manufacturers do go through most of what I am describing, multiple times, to a very good standard, and it doesn't get messed up being moved from Germany, or Boston. It does change dramatically from the change in climate, and new pianos just require being gone over again and again to get them stable.

There are of course pianos that arrive from the manufacturer in very bad condition, and this means that the dealer has to do more of the factories job, but more likely than not, it will just be at best an unfinished poorly responding piano.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909182 - 06/18/04 07:51 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
*message deleted*

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#909183 - 06/18/04 07:53 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Keith - Thanks for an informative thread. Could you also describe the level of service you recommend to your best customers for after the sale - i.e. how often to tune, what type of regulation etc. Also, do you think this is needed for pianos other than Tier One grands - e.g. for Japanese uprights, for Tier 2 uprights, Pramberger grands etc. Thx

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#909184 - 06/18/04 08:01 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Keith,

In your original post you are inviting a technical discussion among techs on the subject of prep. Yet you did not post this in the Piano Pechnician's Forum where such discussions would normally occur. You put it in the Piano Forum where all the consumers frequent.

It therefore gives the appearance that you are actually attempting to create a free advertisement for your store rather than honestly being interested in a tech discussion. The other dealers here have shown class in not bringing this up, but I am neither a dealer nor classy.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#909185 - 06/18/04 08:09 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Rick, I don't think that's a very fair assessment.

First off... I stopped looking and posting in the Technical forum a long time ago for a few reasons. The most noteworthy being the lack of posts there. Here on the piano forum we often have discussions in a real-time manner.
Your posting on this thread proves that technicians are reading it, so what's the problem? Certainly most of our technical discussion takes place here.

Second,
Technician's opinions aside, it is the consumers who need to hear about this level of prep. I applaud Keith for offering a level of prep that very very few dealers offer. It's nice to know that there are others out there offering pianos at their full potential rather than "good enough".

As I've already mentioned, this is basic prep, so it really shouldn't advertise anything about his store, other than that he's doing what he's supposed to, and many others are not.

I'm sorry if that makes others feel that the cards are stacked against them. But I highly doubt Keith's going to steal any sales away from them ... especially with this crowd.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909186 - 06/18/04 08:18 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
Rick,
You're selling yourself short. I am a dealer, and sell quality goods at a fair price. But if I follow the 20 hour plan to prep every piano, I'd be out of business before I could pay the technician's bill. What do you feel is 'standard' prep for a new piano? Basic regulation and a couple of tunings allows me to sell pianos at a fair price. Further voicing and 'tweeking' is an additional cost I leave to the customer's discretion. If it is something that is covered in warranty, I gladly cover it. But 20 hours of prep? It seems unreasonable.
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909187 - 06/18/04 08:40 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3262
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Rick,

I understand that you would see it this way, and I debated with myself about posting this for exactly the reason you describe.

I have spent a lot of time today trying to offer something of value to this forum. People are constantly talking about prepping pianos on this forum, and I wanted to describe from my perspective what that means. Because I feel there are several good techs here with a lot to offer, I asked them to help describe this process. They are welcome to contradict me or whatever. I think many participants in this forum are interested in more detail regarding prepping pianos. If you want to describe your approach to prepping pianos, I would be very interested, as would many others, and I wont accuse you of trying to get a free advertisement for your service business.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909188 - 06/18/04 08:50 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1966
Rick,

Every self proclaimed dealer or technician is doing some sort of advertising when they post on this forum.

I agree with your sentiment with regard to those individuals who exaggerate their credentials or who privately solicit business with their emails to clients. I wish there was a strict code of conduct for "industry" people on this forum. But if there was it would be completely unenforceable.

I think this thread speaks to Keith's personal philosophy about piano prep.

Each instrument is born with a unique voice. In every case that voice is compromised when the form or relationships of the individual components varies from it's intended design.

So often times this means that pianos and their owners must start a pilgrimage towards the true voice of their instrument.

It sounds like Keith is just trying to show dealers and clients alike how to shorten their journey.
_________________________


Blüthner USA, LLC

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#909189 - 06/18/04 09:14 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Well said Alex

And Rick, re-reading my post it is a bit agressive. I hope you don't think I was jumping down your throat ... I wasn't.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909190 - 06/18/04 09:15 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:

It sounds like Keith is just trying to show dealers and clients alike how to shorten their journey. [/QB]
20 hours of prep per piano? How does that shorten the journey? It is a great check-list of all the things that must be considered (I just passed a copy on to my technician), but is it truly reasonable and economical? Maybe for a handfull of 'top tier' grands, but for the majority of grands sold (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) it isn't.
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909191 - 06/18/04 09:28 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3262
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Eric,

I don't for one second think that the way I run my business is the only way, or even the best way. You strike me as a fair guy who is a straight shooter, and I am sure that is how you run your business.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909192 - 06/18/04 09:28 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1966
 Quote:
Originally posted by Eric F:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Hernndez:

It sounds like Keith is just trying to show dealers and clients alike how to shorten their journey. [/b]
20 hours of prep per piano? How does that shorten the journey? It is a great check-list of all the things that must be considered (I just passed a copy on to my technician), but is it truly reasonable and economical? Maybe for a handfull of 'top tier' grands, but for the majority of grands sold (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) it isn't. [/QB]
Eric,

I suppose I was implying that a fully matured piano is a piano capable of top performance.

Keith's checklist seems to serve this Idea.

A tier one piano is capable of so much more then a Chinese or Korean piano IMHO. This warrants the extra time needed to bring it to it's pinnacle.
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#909193 - 06/18/04 09:42 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Rick - I can hardly be accused of posting too many overly pro-dealer comments, so I think I can say that I am glad Keith started the thread. I would like some other techs or dealers to counter his view, or for both sides to quantify what the extra level of prep really means in terms of both price and performance to the average hobbyist piano player. (Is all this really necessary, and what does it cost a buyer, since Keith doesn't run a non-profit piano charity?) If that was done, this thread would be of interest to this piano player/ future grand buyer. Yes, this forum is advertising for dealers, but buyers can get a real good sense of each dealer from their posts too. (And sometimes not the sense the dealer might want.) So long as it is clear from his post that Keith sells expensive pianos with a certain level of prep in the DC area, I find no problem with his post, and would like more specific facts, on both sides.

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#909194 - 06/19/04 02:57 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
Eric F,

I can't really say what the standard prep is since I have only worked with a small sampling of dealers. I would say with reasonable confidence that the vast majority of dealers are not putting in the kind of expense into prep as Keith is doing. But some dealers specializing in the high end certainly are and perhaps a very few are doing it to lower priced pianos are as well. Of course the prep has to be built into the price somehow, but some dealers may have the kind of reputation and rapport with customers where the customer is taught to appreciate the added value that comes with the added price.

As to the hours spent on prep, my experience is that many high end pianos actually don't need 20 hours prep to play their best. OTOH, some do leave the factory notoriously rough and definitely need it.

I do the kind of work the person paying me wants done. Sometimes there is a prep goal of achieving all that can be achieved. This might be because it is an expensive piano, or it might be prepping pianos for a trade show (NAMM) where the manufacturer wants the product to show in the best possible light. 20 hours of work can happen in either case. In fact I just spoke with someone routinely putting in 30 hours on very expensive pianos of a brand that that leave the factory quite rough. But for the price and profit margin involved with that brand, they *ought* to be prepping them so well, as unprepped they aren't performing much better than the average unprepped Chinese piano.

Other times I may be dealing with low-end pianos with shallow profits and non-musician customers concerned mostly with cosmetics and getting the lowest price possible. In such a case a dealer is worried most about competing on price and may simply pay to tune it and fix any key that is not working adequately. 20 hours of prep on such a piano would certainly kill what little profit there may be in it for the dealer, though the piano may benefit.

So there are two ends of the prep spectrum. But since the majority of pianos sold are at the low end of the price spectrum, one can draw one's own conclusions as to what happens to most pianos.

I personally would like to see more prep done more often, as too many pianos are playing below their potential due simply to lack of prep (OTOH many owners don't play and wouldn't know the difference). But it has been the culture of piano retail that the vast majority of people are buying based on price, and it seems to be a pretty deeply ingrained habit of most retailers to worry about getting the sale and not much more. However if consumers demanded better prep and performance and were willing to pay the price, the industry could change and the demand for better tech skills would raise the skill level of the average tech as well.

But consumers are unlikely to make that demand en masse. So ideally, the dealer would do the prep, and teach the customer why it is important and convince them the added price is desirable for the value given. The dealer would also prime the customer as to the continuing care and maintenance of the piano so both dealers and technicians are on the same page and consumers aren't getting conflicting info- which is currently hurting everyone. I believe in some foreign cultures it actually works that way. But these are ideals practiced by a very few in the U.S., in my experience. Instead dealers and techs are often in opposition to each other and consumers are mostly bewildered.

Regards,

Rick Clark
_________________________
Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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