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MMD > Archives > April 2005 > 2005.04.10 > 03Prev  Next

Player Piano Butchers, Hackers and Thieves
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  While the subject of the posting sounds like it would make
a good title for a comedy or a horror story, the three types of
individuals who can be characterized by the words are totally different
kinds of people.

In terms of what he does to the piano, the "butcher" is the worst of
the three because he destroys things in the attempt to fix them.
Undoing his handiwork usually means starting from scratch and making
new parts.  In my experience, the butcher does not usually work on
player pianos for a living.  Quite often he or she is an owner who
simply can't afford the services of a professional.  Also, the butcher
frequently uses very unconventional materials, so it's easy to spot
their work.  In other words, they are _not_ deceptive -- they just
don't know what they're doing.

The "hacker" typically damages the piano to some degree and he does so
at someone else's expense.  He does sloppy, slipshod or 'on the spot'
repair work using relatively conventional materials in an unconventional
or unacceptable manner.  While he normally doesn't intentionally destroy
things, his lack of understanding and use of inappropriate techniques
and/or materials almost always means doing the job over.  Compared to
the butcher, the hacker is not as bad with regard to the damage he does
to the piano.  However, in my opinion, he is a borderline thief because
he charges others for his work.

The "thief" doesn't normally damage the piano; in fact, he seems to go
out of his way to conceal problems.  He seems to understand how the
mechanism works and why it is not working correctly, then he employs
quickie repair techniques which cover up minor-to-serious problems.
What makes this type of individual nefarious is that he normally does
the minimum amount of work and charges the highest prices.  To him,
cheating the public is a way of life and he almost always covers his
backside via the use of clever and/or misleading words.  This guy sells
ice cubes to Eskimos for the price of champagne.  Following in this
creep's footsteps is the most disheartening because the unsuspecting
owner seldom has any legal recourse.

In conclusion, it's difficult for the public to protect themselves from
these three types of people.  Since most people don't know how a player
piano is supposed to work or sound, they are at an extreme disadvantage.
As professionals, all we can do is educate the public.  To that end,
the MMDigest is by far the best resource on the Internet.  All we need
to do is get people to read it!

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Sun 10 Apr 2005, 13:35:44 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Butchers, Hackers, Piano, Player, Thieves

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