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MMD > Archives > May 2001 > 2001.05.10 > 07Prev  Next

"That Honky-Tonk Sound"
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  After experimenting with the my own piano (-- again; more
on that later), I decided that changing the tuning was not going to
accomplish the desired "Honky-Tonk" sound that my customer wanted
(past tense).

In case I didn't mention it before, the piano in question is a brand
new Story & Clark roll-playing piano.  The instrument comes factory
equipped with a honky-tonk rail.  So, instead of de-tuning the piano
before delivery, I left it to chance and hoped that the sound created
by the rail would be adequate.

Well, it was more than adequate.  In fact, the customer loved the
sound.  He also appreciated that he could deselect the attachment and
listen to good classical music on an in-tune piano.  He also enjoyed
the fact that the rail could be 'fine-tuned', so to speak, such that
he could select the 'depth' of the honky-tonk sound by raising and
lowering the rail specific amounts.

The whole experience, and an email I received from a person who
responded to my request for information about a honky-tonk tuning
method, brought back an old memory.  When I finally got my first piano
back together (which took 1-1/2 years -- I was 12-1/2), I had this
strange desire to hear "that honky-tonk sound" like I had heard when
I visited Knott's Berry Farm.  At a loss as to how to make the sound,
I took thumb tacks and pushed one into each of the hammer heads.

What a terrible sound -- it was perfect!  My mother hated the sound
so much (even though the piano was in the basement), she told me to
"Stop that noise!" and I removed the tacks.

However, the story doesn't end there.  Having 'basically ruined'
what was left of the old hammer heads by poking them with the tacks,
I finally removed all the felt from the hammers.  That gave me just
the sound I was looking for.  What's interesting is that after removing
the tacks, the piano had an even more mellow tone that it did before
I put the tacks in.  Little did I know at the time that I was actually
voicing the hammers!  You gotta laugh!


John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Thu 10 May 2001, 11:37:07 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Honky-Tonk, Sound, That

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