Monday, 23 January 2017

Another year older...

Another busy year has gone, and I'm still bad at updating this blog! I do, however, now have pages on Facebook for both my business and for my piano duo, the Pianoraks. Click through to my Tuning and Restoration page here. I'm also still part of the Sharp Tones 1950s rock n roll/rhythm and blues band; we pick and choose the gigs these days as we're all so busy, but they're always great fun.

The main news this year is that my pianos have an amazing new home. I rebuilt an outbuilding to upgrade the insulation (pianos are fussy - my wife regularly points out that the pianos are warmer than people round here) and it's brilliant to have somewhere I can put most of my many grands on their feet! It also meant that we could reclaim our music room from the 9 (!) grand pianos that were stored on their sides in there for ages, so redecorating that room was a priority later in 2016.

Boiler suit, model's own

I reused old wooden cladding for the internal walls as I have an aversion to plasterboard in spaces like this. The industrial style lights were sourced on eBay and I also reused the original rusty tins on the outside - it's just warmer in there now! There's no water in the building though, so I still make regular trips back to the house for tea breaks or the family would never see me! I kept some space at the rear of the shed for the sheep, so they've still got somewhere to retreat from the worst of the winter weather.

The Pianoraks have an inspiring space to practise! Check out our FB page for more details. 
The antique Pianofortes sign is my new pride and joy - it was a present from my wife, who spotted it on eBay late one night. The hand carved wooden sign came from a piano shop in Putney High Street and dates from the 1880s. This was an incredible find and graced our stand at the Honiton Show last August to great admiration!

Our friend Sacha of Gonzofotography & Styling in Taunton visited when the shed was first upgraded and worked her magic on some incredible images including this one of my long-desired Steinway Model O grand piano. It's one of several pianos for sale on my website; customers love being able to commission the level of restoration on their chosen piano. There's always got a selection on my Sale page to choose from, most of which are works in progress. Check out more of Gonzo's stunning imagery on Facebook.

Copyright: Gonzofotography & Styling, Taunton

In other news from 2016, I've enjoyed working on numerous jobs for clients, from a fabulous old ship's piano bequeathed by a retired Admiral to his local church, to enormous antique dining tables which had seen one too many parties.

This Bluthner rosewood grand was at BBC Maida Vale Studios for years

Video of ex-BBC Bluthner grand
Another amazing addition to my current stock list is a Bluthner grand piano which came from the BBC Maida Vale Studios before being purchased by a client of mine. This piano was apparently chosen by many famous performers over two Steinways for recording, and I can see why - it's an incredible instrument to play, made all the more special by the knowledge of how many famous people have played it over the last hundred or so years. It's now ready for the next century of service and it's not only an excellent instrument but a stunning piece of furniture - the rosewood case is glorious and I only wish I could afford to keep it at home!

We took the girls to London last summer for our first family visit. We had a fabulous time - walked miles, saw Matilda the musical which was the highlight for them, but one of my favourite days was our visit to the V&A museum. The antique pianos on display are truly spectacular examples of craftsmanship and I'd love to go back again soon.

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

There are lots of photos on this website and my Facebook page of recent projects, but here are a few of my favourites:

Ship's piano before
Ship's piano after restoration

Ship's piano - the keyboard folds up to save space on board
Ship's piano - what a contrast!

This original door on an Elizabethan manor house needed careful repair

New feet and full repolish - this elm console is unrecognisable from when it first came in

Family heirloom: antique chest of drawers
Repaired and repolished
Now back in pride of place in the owners' home
Beautiful but battered!
Unplayable and tired

The silk fabric behind the fretwork panel was matched to the original
Now a working antique which shows off the original craftsmanship

Dining tables are regular visitors to the workshop - many restorers are unable to achieve a good finish on
such a large surface, but grand pianos provided the best experience for me! 

No doubt my next blog will be a while, but do keep in touch on Facebook or in person. Fingers crossed that Spring is just around the corner.