Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Does the Sanctuary grand piano sound different to you laterly?

If so I can tell you why...

A few months ago our piano technician, Beverly Wells, informed me that we might want to consider replacing the bass strings on our Yamaha grand piano that lives on the Sanctuary stage because the bass strings (which were original to this 40+ year old instrument) had lived out their useable life. They were pretty much "dead" as she put it. Now I know what a dead string sounds like on a guitar because I've had years of experience with that instrument - you have to replace guitar strings about every six months to a year - more often depending on how much you play. Dead guitar strings sound dull and "thunky" when you play them rather than full, round and "rich" in overtones. So I put the same ear to the piano and could hear what Beverly was talking about - the bass strings on the Yamaha did not sound full round or rich - they sound "thunky" and rather lifeless. So I asked Beverly how much does it cost to replace strings on a grand piano of this size. The answer came back - over $2000... I wasn't terribly surprised knowing what other upkeep on this kind of instrument has cost but I was going to have to think about this one as $2000+ is quite a chunk of change.

Luckily we had an asset in our back pocket here at the Center that we were not using. So I thought I'd see if Beverly was interested in a trade for the work on the piano. The asset was the Beckstein grand piano that our former music director Linda Webb-Khakaba had played. It was sitting backstage - never being used. We didn't use it because it was over 100 years old and had never had much renovation work done on it which it badly needed. I thought to myself - what if Beverly were interested in taking the Beckstein to fix up and keep or sell herself in exchange for all or part of the price of the bass string replacement on the Yamaha... good news is - she was interested.

Fast forwarding here.. I had the Beckstein appraised in its current condition and was able to make the trade with Beverly. It was a win/win which I love. The Beckstein that had served so well during Linda's time (and which she loved by the way) would get a much deserved renovation by an experienced and talented piano technician and our Yamaha would get new bass strings. The appraisal price of the Beckstein was such that we even recieved some cash above and beyond the price of the work on the Yamaha - win/win/win!!!

I could hardly wait to play the Yamaha with the new strings on it - of course hoping that I could tell a big difference in view of such time and treasure spent for the work. I was not disappointed. When I opened up the case and struck chords using the new bass strings for the first time the sound was incredible... rich and full and absolutely glorious. I couldn't have been happier.

And now you know why (if you've noticed) the bass end of our Yamaha grand piano sounds "different".

Christopher Fritzsche
Director, Music Ministry

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