Margaret Anderson is an associate member of the American Piano Technicians Guild. She has a BA from the University of Victoria. She started piano tuning and has been working as a piano tuner/technician since 2001. Margaret has attended seminars at the University of Western Ontario, at International Piano Technicians Guild Institutes, and at the Canadian Association of Piano Technicians Conventions.
She has collaborated with Jim teaching seminars in key frame rebuilding, string levelling and voicing. Margaret has been involved in many piano rebuilding projects including tuning and voicing, keyframe rebuilding, refelting, action rebuilding and structural rebuilding.
Jim is a Registered Piano Technician and member of the Piano Technicians Guild and Canadian Association of Piano Technicians. He is the head piano technician for the University of Victoria School of Music, the official harpsichord and fortepiano technician for the Early Music Society of the Islands and a consultant for Yamaha Canada.
Jim’s has taken courses at the C.F. Theodore Steinway Technical Institute in New York City and at their institutional teaching facility at Oberlin College in Ohio, at the Yamaha Piano Technology Academy in Hamamatsu (now Kakagawa) Japan, at UWO as part of the "Tune in to UWO" seminar as well as piano technology courses in Vienna and at the at the L. Bosendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH in Weiner Neustadt, Austria. Jim has also taught seminars in piano technology in local, provincial and international chapters of the Piano Technicians Guild. Jim has also been published in the Piano Technicians Guild Journal.
“Canada’s first All-Steinway School of Music is located at the University of Victoria. We are extremely fortunate to have these wonderful instruments under the care of Jim Anderson and his firm, Acoustic Pianocraft. He has an exhaustive knowledge of his craft, and an interest in continually researching the latest techniques in piano maintenance. This plus his attention to detail, and a love and pride in his work, all contribute to the superb piano care we receive for our wide variety of pianos.
"Jim Anderson is a fine technician, highly skilled in all of the aspects of piano care and in finding the optimum possibilities for each instrument. One of his most impressive qualities is his constant search to continue to develop, to find even better solutions. I could not ask for a more valuable colleague."
“For many years Acoustic Pianocraft has maintained my harpsichord (an Italian-style instrument made by Yves Beaupré) and the large Flemish-style harpsichord owned by the Early Music Society of the Islands (also made by Beaupré). Both of these instruments are regularly used in concerts presented by EMSI, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Opera Victoria, Victoria Baroque Players and other organizations. Both instruments have been played by many of the world's leading harpsichordists. These distinguished musicians have always been very pleased with both harpsichords and have often commented on how well-maintained and regulated they are. I highly recommend the services of Acoustic Pianocraft.”
“Jim treats ArtSpring’s Steinway B like his first-born child. He doesn’t just tune it; he cares for it over the long run, suggests repairs and occasional overhauls, lacquers scratches out of the cabinet, the whole nine yards. The result is an instrument that pianists from across Canada love to play.”
"Jim genuinely cares about what he does and cares even more about making sure that every pianist is happy with the instrument. He is a true professional, and I can not imagine anyone else I would rather have tuning and maintaining our venue's Steinway."
Pianos in North America are generally tuned to A440. Piano tuning is perishable and will need to be done regularly. You will want your piano to be at the same pitch as the other music that you are listening to at your piano lesson, on the radio or TV, at church, the movies, and recordings. The string tension is adjusted by turning the tuning pins and adjusting the pitch so that the individual keys sound correct and so that the pitch relationships between the intervals within chords is harmonious.
Regular maintenance can forestall any developing problems within the piano action and correct existing issues for the pianist.
Regulating adjusts the mechanical functions within the piano action. Regulating the distance of the key stroke, the travel distance of the hammer, the point of escapement, the damper lift and all other mechanical issues will contribute to the sense of touch.
Jim and Margaret can complete most repairs on site in a client's home or studio however, there is workshop capability when necessary for more comprehensive repairs.
The most common issue is a strident or tinny percussive style of tone. In this case the hammer felts are likely too rigid or deformed from wear. They can be reshaped with files and textured by needling to soften the hammer shoulder. Sizing can be added to the hammer felts if the tone is too quiet. Voicing also includes the leveling of the strings and the fitting of the hammer surface to the string. This increases the dimension, depth and presence of tone. Often new pianos require this treatment to reach their potential in the owner's acoustic environment.
The touch of the piano is the connection between player and instrument. The key must translate the energy from player's fingers and hands into sound. A finely functioning piano action gives control to the pianist so they can use the palette of sound and volume. When there is excess wear in the piano action the touch becomes indistinct. With correct analysis of action geometry, a piano action can be restored to as new or better than new condition. Leverages with the action stack have to support the basic piano action design. Touch is the combination of balanced forces within the mechanics of the action and how that collaborates with the performers artistic sense.
A piano may have a touch weight that is heavy or light depending on the make, action style and action geometry. The choice of hammer,key weights and other elements of the piano action will influence the touch weight. Also the level of friction within the piano action can inhibit the perception of touch. The types of materials within the piano action can modify touch weight and friction levels. All is taken into account when choosing piano action parts or rebuilding procedures. The touch must supply moderate weight while staying responsive.
Piano action rebuilding includes the installation of new piano action assembly parts such as the hammers and hammer shanks, repetitions and possibly the dampers and under levers. After the new piano action design has been studied, the parts are installed with great care. Being made from organic materials such as wood, felt, leather and silk, each piece is slightly different, and must be individually installed with meticulous attention to detail.
Restringing the bass section of the piano is the easiest and most effective way to improve the overall tone. If the bass strings are 25 years old they have probably lost some presence and dimension of sound. Bass strings are compound strings, steel wrapped with copper. They deteriorate more quickly than the plain wire of the mid and high treble. All stringed instruments need new strings occasionally. If you are personally acquainted with this concept as a guitarist or violinist would be, no further convincing is needed. Heritage instruments can be rescaled to modern standards. This means that the wire sizes and alloys can be altered to produce consistency.
The pianist's relationship with the piano begins with the key. The key moves on two stationary pins that guide the key travel. The key pin bushings wear and keys can become loose. This affects perception of touch and changes the feeling of stability on the key. Keys with worn key pin bushings feel wobbly, loose and unstable. They might lean slightly or even click against the next key. Key frame rebuilding includes replacement of key pins when necessary and replacement of key pin bushings. Replacement of back rail, front rail and balance rail felt cloth is a valuable part of key frame rebuilding. An experienced pianist listens with his fingers and plays with his ear. Touch translates to sound through the sensitivity of the key.
Refelting is the replacement of felts within the piano action, damper action and pedal lyre. This includes the keyframe, piano action, pedal mechanism and cabinet parts. Refelting is often a generic term referring to the replacement of any damaged materials such as leather, silk, cloth, felt pads, or other fabric. We use fabric from many sources. To maintain a piano's authenticity we purchase bulk felt supplies from German, American or Canadian supply houses. Specific parts for models still currently in production may be obtained from factory locations in Japan, New York, Austria and Germany.
Ivory is a substance banned from import into Canada. I support the ban on ivory imports. I have collected and recycled piano ivory since the 1970's. Chips in ivory can be replaced using matched chips from old ivory keyboards. In this way I can maintain an old keyboard without causing any ivory to be harvested. Often plastic key tops are also referred to as ivory. I can repair or replace plastic "ivories" with either individual replacements or replacements of whole sets. The sharps can also be replaced in like manner.
Piano restoration is more the "spit and polish" method of piano maintenance. This does not include piano action rebuilding but more the restoration of original parts. The cabinet can be refinished for a final touch. A piano that was once unplayable can be made to look like new and be very pleasant to play, much improved from its present status. Cabinet refinishing is an integral part of piano refurbishing. I use George Marioni at "Top Drawer Finishing Inc." George and his staff are experts at restoring the exterior cabinet surfaces of all makes of pianos. I can provide copies of original nameplates and cabinet decals. The vintage qualities of these decals are as new.