Today I fixed my antique piano. It’s the Gulbransen 1936 upright piano that my Aunt Kerry gave me when I was like 10 years old. It was originally from her family, but she was not using it and I’d shown promise at piano. She gave it to me under one condition. If I were to ever decide I did not want it, it had to come back to her family. This has never been a problem, since I have never wanted to be without it since it came home with me. This piano and I have been through so much together.
Today, my son loves to play on it as well. But we started noticing that two of the keys did not want to play. A little known secret is that before I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was pursuing becoming a member of the local piano technician’s guild. Pregnancy (and massive morning “all day” sickness) rather changed my immediate plans and birth my long term ones. But I have never forgotten, and never become discouraged at, the idea of someday returning to those plans and accomplishing my goal to learn not only how to tune pianos, but fix them.
Anyway, today I got a wild hair. You see, occasionally there are tunes in my head. And when they make their presence known, these tunes have to get out of my head or I won’t get much done. My piano is always my remedy for that. But today, one of the notes I needed was broken.
Perhaps it was due to my penchant for seeing how things work and fixing things. Perhaps it was the recent class I took at The Crochet Liberation Front’s crochet conference/retreat, learning to not only make my own hooks, but fix hooks I haven’t been able to use in years because the wood had split. My teacher was Jim Price, an excellent teacher and a master hook maker. It removed my fear of repairing any wood hook that comes into my possession. Perhaps it was recent events that proved to me that often when we hesitate out of too much caution, we never live and we miss valuable things. Perhaps it’s my shift towards not putting up with over planning or hiring someone else every time anymore. I don’t know. But with a tune in my head, inspiration hit and I needed to pull that piano apart and figure out what was wrong.
I grabbed grandpa’s old screw driver and started pulling things apart.
After getting through layers of dust, I discovered that parts that used to be glued together had come loose and were no longer glued together. I have no idea what they used in 1936, but I headed to Home Depot and picked up a tube of Liquid Nails. It wasn’t the easiest fix in the world, but largely because of several moving parts and not really having all the right tools. I had to pull the whole mechanism out to get to the parts, and without enough space in my home to work (one of the reasons I hadn’t yet returned to the idea) I had to use my bed as a work space. However, I managed to isolate the broken parts, pull them out and restructure them. Took a little doing to get everything back, but it’s done and better than ever.
If there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s past time to get me a tuning hammer!