For over 4 decades I have been immersed in the world of Pianos. It amazes me at times because I never was a pianist. However, I have played other instruments since age 11. But, if there has been one constant thing in my life, it's Pianos.

I started working on them in 1975 at an old-fashioned rebuilding shop in Atlanta, Ga. The moment I walked in to apply for a job I was mesmerized. The smell of fresh wood, glue, lacquer and the sounds of sanding were all the backdrop behind the unmistakable tones of strings being pulled and tuned.

For five years I apprenticed there. I learned all the ins and outs of rebuilding and repairing. We specialized in high-end instruments such as Steinway, Mason and Hamlin, Chickering, Baldwin, Yamaha and Bosendorfer, but we also saw a rich variety of others. Spinets, Consoles, Studios and even the huge "Grandma" pianos, as we used to call them. 

It didn't take me long to discover that each one possesses its own definite personality. I've always found that fascinating. You see, each upright has approximately 7,000 parts, while Grand pianos have around 12,000. The current modern pianos were essentially perfected at the turn of the 20th century, and in all that time since it has rarely changed. Its design was so incredibly perfect that only slightly differentiating alterations have been introduced. Yet, no two are alike. I think that's one of the main reasons for my continued passion for them.

I've tuned thousands of pianos. Really. I've tuned for incredible national and international musicians, virtually all of the "biggies". My tunings are on albums and movies. I've worked at colleges, schools, churches, dealers, teachers and people's homes where music was just starting to be learned, and even for a Federal Penitentiary! Here in Cruces I have the pleasure of tuning for NMSU, the Dona Ana Arts Council and your neighbors. The people I have met and continue to meet are as wonderful and diverse as the pianos they live with. 

The road which has led me to live here in Las Cruces is quite its own incredible story, which I will save for later, but for now it's only important that here is "home". If you live here too, you know what I'm talking about. It's my hope that, year after year, my piano work continues to have a harmonious impact on this awesome community. 


Keeping your Piano Happy!  When you look at your Piano you probably see it as a singular piece. You know, "The Piano". In fact, this instrument is truly a wonder of complexity. An Upright contains approximately 7,000 parts, while a Grand Piano has about 12,000. It's a unique combination of wood, glue, felt, wire and Iron. Since around the beginning of the 1900's, little has changed in their designs.

Pianos are affected by the climate they live in. Changes in temperature and humidity alter them, mostly due to the swelling or contracting of the wood built into them. As the wood (soundboards and bridges) subtly shift, the tuning begins to become unstable, causing once beautiful sounding instruments to lose their proper settings. This results in a disharmony that makes even the best players sound less than ideal.

It is your Piano Tuner's job to evaluate your instrument on every visit and advise you on how to keep your Piano at its best. Small adjustments up front can go a very long way to preventing a much larger issue later on. 

When a Tuner goes about his or her work, they are adjusting more than 88 notes. Each Piano contains about 234 strings, and all need careful tuning to create the optimum result. Pianos are designed to be tuned to "A-440". This means that the "A" note, above the middle C vibrates at 440hz. In 1926, the American music industry adopted this standard, and other instruments were built to achieve this same effect, so that groups of instruments would sound harmonious with each other. Later, the international industry followed suit.

If you have a Piano that hasn't been tuned in a while (3 years or longer), the chances are good that it has lost this correct "pitch". 99% of the time, the Piano will have gone "flat", or below this correct pitch. Prolonged irregularities in the Pianos tuning stability may cause structural issues that can be severe. So, if that is the case, the Tuner will recommend a "pitch raise", which means doing the tuning process multiple times until the wire strings settle into their correct placement. Wire strings stretch and settle, so they need a bit of coaxing to get them right. A competent tuner will provide good advice on how to get the Piano back in shape.

A nicely tuned Piano has many benefits, more than the enjoyment of hearing the music in its best quality. Students practice longer on an instrument that plays well and sounds right. More advanced players are able to delve more into the subtleties of the music they are creating, thus heightening both their hearing and their skills.

A couple of other quick thoughts: Avoid the Piano being exposed to direct sunlight if at all possible. This is an important one. Pianos can "dry out". This results in soundboards cracking, bridges loosening and various other glue joints breaking down. If at all feasible, create a home environment where there is a decent humidity level in the air. I know that can be tough here in the desert, but if you have invested in a quality instrument a humidifier might be an important addition to the family. Actually, it's really good to have some moderate humidity in your living quarters for all your furniture as well as your body.

This is a very generic overview. I have found over the years that each and every Piano has its own personality and one cannot just put it in a standardized category. That's one of the reasons why I love them so much. So, no matter how new or old yours is, no matter how much you have spent on it, let me come and check it out for you! It's free, and maybe this could be the beginning of a very happy Piano and family!

Full disclosure: This offer applies to the Las Cruces area only. Pianos outside a 30-mile radius will be charged a Service Fee. However, this fee will be applied to any work agreed upon. Just wanted to clear that up.

I would like to speak about my passion for aural tuning. Please don't think this is in any way bashing other methods. In truth, I have never used a machine so I can't speak on their merits.

Tesla said that the Universe is Energy, Frequency and Vibration. I find this true when I'm involved in tuning. After 40+ years of tuning aurally I can really feel these aspects during each encounter with a Piano.

I call what I do "passive listening". I let the sound come to me. Once I lace up the temperament section and begin setting my "A", a certain meditative state takes place. All is sound and vibration. I close my eyes and let it take over. I tune the middle center unison strings and then travel down the bass, feeling the thirds descend gently as the beats slow down in a smooth flow. The fourths and fifths subtly sway letting me know that the frequencies are in harmony with each other.

Then, I go back and tune the middle section unisons so that their disharmony won't affect the sounds and vibrations of the upper registers as I progress in that direction. It's always sort of amazing to me that even though I pay no attention to time during this, my tunings are most always 70 minutes in duration. I am speaking now of final tunings mind you, not the preparatory work required for a pitch raise.

When done, I feel rested and refreshed, as if my inner frequencies have also somehow been restored harmonically. I have learned over time to center my focus only on the piano and I put aside the other cares of the day until I am finished.

None of this happened overnight. It is the result of countless hours and thousands of pianos, of innumerable ebbs and flows learning how to create my quality and capabilities. I wouldn't change a thing. Today, even as I age, I think I am doing my best work. Perhaps more importantly, I am having my best enjoyment in my trade. Those who aren't involved with this craft may only think of it as piano tuning, but to those of us who spend a lifetime in this field, the gifts we receive within far exceed the time and energy we expend.

This is merely my view. I respect each and every one of you on your own journey and wish you all your best outcomes.