Regarding the removal of player actions, there _is_ more than one or
two reasons for this destruction. I spent 30 minutes talking to a
customer with a Duo-Art about how nice they are to have restored. He
didn't want any, and he owed me on his piano action. He has two daughters
who are both taking lessons. I sensed he couldn't really afford my work
but needed it done so his daughters could practice.
Even though he knew what the work was going to cost, he wasn't really
excited when it came to paying it, so I suggested that I could take
the player mechanism as payment. He said fine. I stripped the player
and put it all together, every screw in bags, etc. Then I got a call
from him two weeks later. His daughters wanted the mechanism back!
So I set up a time to return it and in the meantime, he called with a
minor readjustment problem on a key, asked if I could fix it, and then
told me he had overruled his daughters. The Duo-Art stayed where it
was-- wherever I had put it, that is.
But I still took over a good tape of a Duo-Art playing and put it on
his machine while I worked. Still no sale, although they enjoyed the
tape. But I do have a complete Duo-Art mechanism now that is free and
clear, and it will get put into a piano, probably. It wasn't thrown
away, of course. The reason so many are scuttled is the fear and dread
by tuners who feel that facing a player is a daunting confrontation
that they shouldn't have to mess with.
The larger percentage of piano tuners in this country do not understand
players at all, so when they see a player to tune, many decline. They
are actually afraid of it. About 50% of the tuners in this area won't
even tune one for that reason. Some say they charge more if it's a
player to discourage the customer from having them back. Then they pose
"indignance" that players are unworthy of their professional attentions.
I have been called by (so far) dozens of customers who have phoned up
and told me the same story. "Do you know of a tuner in my area who can
tune my piano." Some tuners have even turned it into a point of pride,
making those who will tune players look like they're just desperate and
need the work! Frankly, these kinds of tuners are making the others look
good, in my opinion. I wouldn't hire anybody that turns his nose up at
something just because he can't figure it out.
So I definitely believe the story of the tuner who suggested to the
customer he first remove the player action and throw it away, because
they're just no good.
Few have ever apprenticed a shop for enough years to prove their worth
mechanically, and then examined by the master to see how well they will
do with all the strange problems they will encounter. And they less
often are told why you do NOT do certain things, but instead, just
"do it this way". They believe they are taught by articles in the
Journal they then try to remember "sometime if I ever run into one of
They're also afraid they might drop wedges, etc. into the actions and
it never occurs to them that a little string might solve the problem!
When you are interested in everything and still learning, these things
pose no threat. They are a challenge and make life fun and educational.
But fewer and fewer today look forward to that side of life. Anybody
can receive a check.
The difference between reading about repair and restoration, answering
questions about it in a verbal exam, watching it demonstrated, and
actually doing it yourself is "east and west." So it isn't surprising
at all when looking at a player action that doubles or triples the parts
per note, they throw up their hands and say, "Any tuner that's in demand
doesn't have to fool around with these player pianos. When you decide to
take it out and throw it away, then give me a call. Goodby."
I guess it never occurred to those tuners that players could triple their
tuning business, compared to the silent sitting regular pianos that help
hold down the rug! And some of the best examples of early piano-building
today are found more often in the players, rather than run-of-the-mill
stencil pianos of the teens and twenties.