New Mobile Site!



For those of you with smart phones, my mobile site now has a new look! Of course, if you’re looking at this page on your mobile device, you probably noticed already.

Here’s how it works: Touching my picture on the splash screen will take you to my newest post. Swiping will take you to the previous, most recent posts. Touching the little circle with the three bars (at the top right of the screen) will give you a menu where you can browse the mobile categories, go to specific pages with the most important features of my site, or switch to my full site.

Hope you like it!



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follow me on twitter: @torontotuning


Like my father and grandfather before me, I am a Piano Tuner, Technician and Rebuilder, and I have worked in the Piano Industry since 1976.


Call: 647-287-2989

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An open letter to all those in the piano “business”…

Dear Piano Retailers, Technicians, Teachers, and all those who are actively trying to promote owning and playing a piano:

I am about to tell you something that might literally change how you think about your profession. It may cause you to change how you do business, how you advertise, and how you sell your services. The beautiful thing about this revelation is that it is a paradigm shift that is profoundly simple.

But, before I tell you it, let me first quote “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams.

“…one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terrible stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost for ever.”

Well then. Let’s hope nothing bad happens before I finish these next few paragraphs.

When I was young, my father was a piano technician who tuned for the Calgary Philharmonic, and my mother owned a music store and was the executive secretary for the (then) Kiwanis Music festival. When they weren’t working, they enjoyed music of all sorts, sang in choirs, and had a lot of fun playing, and listening to music. Notice please, that I have emboldened the word fun. Even though both my parents (and later, most of their kids) made their living in a music-related field, for them, music was fun.

My mother would play the piano with oven mitts. My brothers would (and still do) burst forth with songs by Tom Leher, or Flanders and Swan. I personally played the piano for Victor Borge, and made the “Great Dane” laugh. Yes, we were a fun-loving family, but mostly, we were a music-loving family. Thinking about this the other day, I You-Tubed all the funny piano-related videos I could find, and suddenly, I realized what was inherently different between then and now.

Pianos used to be fun. Pianos used to be seen in movies and on television being played by people having fun: Chico Marx using Harpo’s orange to play, and executing crazy glissandi that ended with a pointed finger, firing off the last note like a gun.

Owning a piano in the sixties was as common as owning a computer is now. Think of this: In 1988, when I told my wife I was going to buy a computer, she asked “Why? What do we need it for?” Today, if you said, “I’m going to buy a piano”, you would hear, “Why? Do you play? Are your kids taking lessons?” If you answered, “Just for fun”, very few would understand. But, the fact is, Pianos are fun. Playing the piano is fun. Watching others playing the piano is fun. Not can be, not could be – is.

Yes, buying a piano is an investment, but we spend more, and waste more, on things that are far more expensive, and that have an extremely short life-span – cars, computers, vacations, etc. Yes, it takes practice to learn how to play, but no one ever regrets learning how to play. Everyone regrets having given it up.

We need to make pianos fun once more.

Enough with the stuffed-shirt $100-a-ticket concerts! Bring on the piano-playing jesters, the entertainers, the you-tubers, the modern-day Liberaces. Forget telling the kids to practice hard, tell them to have fun! Make your store a destination, your studio a playground, your concert venue the place to hear and be heard!

And this is how we do it…

Stop being so serious for Pete’s sake. Stop being so competitive with one another, stop bemoaning the downturn in sales or in students, and be pro-active. Call each other up, and talk about crazy ways to have crazy piano-related fun. Promote owning a piano, playing a piano, and listening to the piano as something other than a chore, or a commitment, or as work.

We “PLAY” the piano, not “work” the piano.

A few suggestions. Feel free to use them, share them, or add to them:

  • Start a piano festival with an emphasis on “play”, with special prizes for originality, improvisation, and audience appreciation.
  • Have an outdoor free concert in the town square featuring piano “entertainers”, rather than just “performers”.
  • Put a piano outside your store on the street, point a camera on it, and a sign that says: “See yourself on our website!”
  • Film an “On the street” video where you take a passer-by, and in fifteen minutes teach them how to play their favourite song as a duet.
  • Create an “Event” with the other retailers, and hold a lottery for a “Fun” piano.
  • Host a “You Tube Video Contest”. The best submissions win fame, and prizes such as free lessons, or free tunings.
  • Change your advertising strategy from “classy” to “funny”.
  • Cultivate a relationship with the media. Let them know each time something fun is happening, or about to happen.
  • Use every possible means that you can to say the same thing, over and over: Piano = Pleasure.

Everybody can write a long list of why something can’t be done, but can they write the same list of why something shouldn’t be done? Keep in mind that for every barrier in the road, there’s someone with a Hummer who is aching to bash through it. Be the Hummer.

Above all, remember these three things:

  1. Life is short – Make it a fun life filled with music.
  2. Don’t work for a living, play.
  3. Get to your modern equivalent of a phone and tell everyone about this before the world is destroyed by the Vogons.

– Jamie

NUUC 1930 Heintzman “E” Grand Rebuild Part 10

Gluing on new Damper Lifter Felt. The masking tape prevents the end of the Felt from being glued to the key. This is so that shims can be added (if needed) to adjust the height of an individual damper.

All done.

With the action stack removed, Lead weights are hung from the Back Checks so that the height of the keys can be regulated.

Using a straight edge, the height of each white key is checked. If it is too low, a paper punching is placed on the front of the key. Then the punching will be placed under the felt punching that is under the fulcrum of the key to raise it to the correct level.

Each one of these punchings will be slipped under the key’s fulcrum to raise the key.

How far the key depresses is called the “Key Dip”. The dip is measured by a small specially-shaped block.

In a similar manner to the balance rail punchings shown earlier, a paper punching is placed under the front rail felt punching to regulate the dip.

The same process is then done with the Black Keys. This block around the first black key shows the height that the Black Key should be sitting.

The Damper action is regulated so that they raise together, raise at the right time, and raise the proper amount.

The action stack is then replaced onto the keyboard, and the action is rgulated. In this picture, the let-off is being adjusted. The let-off is the point at which the hammer stops rising and “Lets off”. Too soon, and the power is diminished. Too late, and the hammer will “Block” against the string, stopped it from ringing.

Here, the Jack is regulated to being at the proper angle.

The Repetition Lever height is adjusted.

and, the spring tension.

Finally, after several Tunings, the Piano is finished!

<- Back | Home | Before and After!

NUUC 1930 Heintzman “E” Grand Rebuild Part 9

Grayson tightening the plate screws

Installing the clean agraffes

Starting the re-stringing process. The green tape on the plate holds down the new Anchor Pin Punchings (little felt washers that protect the plate where the string is fastened at its fixed end.) and the Duplex Bars (Brass bars that raise the strings off the plate to the correct level – see below)  in place.

The top treble section strung. (The Anchor Pin Punchings are the little red circles, and the Duplex Bar is the curved brass bar below them).

The next section completed.

The mid-section completed.

Re-stringing the bass section.

All the strings on.

After the stringing, and a chip tune, I re-installed the damper action and the dampers.

All done for the day. (Compare the above picture with the original!)

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NUUC 1930 Heintzman “E” Grand Rebuild – Before and After

The NUUC 1930 Heintzman Grand Before


The Action – Before

The Action – After

– 0 –

The Tuning Pins Before

The Tuning Pins – After


The Strings – Before

The Strings – After


The Soundboard Before

The Soundboard After


The Damper Action Before

The Damper Action After


The Pinblock and Soundboard Before

The Pinblock and Soundboard After


The NUUC 1930 Heintzman Grand After

See the process from the beginning!

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Jamie Says:


"Always keep your piano in tune! All Piano Manufacturers will tell you the same thing: Every Piano should be tuned at least twice a year. This is especially important in Canada where we experience drastic changes in temperature and humidity between summer and winter." If your piano was last tuned six months or more, book a tuning appointment today!