Married 62 years, couple still can 'make music' !!

Myths, Mysteries and Old Wifes Tales ( with apologies to all the old wives out there )

It's always amusing or mind-boggling to hear some of the things people believe, or think they believe, about pianos. Even smart, educated people will sometimes be misinformed about their pianos . . . . . ..
I don't know how many times people have told me their piano has a cast-iron soundboard, or they'll point to the plate, even in a grand, and ask if that's the soundboard. You'd think the word "board" would suggest wood, not metal.
And a vertical does not have to be moved out from the wall in order to be tuned.

They've seen guitars and violins being tuned, but somehow never imagine that a piano may have a similar arrangement of strings wound around pins that you turn to raise or lower their pitch.
Others can't imagine why you'd have to open it up or lift the lid in order to tune it. Perhaps they've never seen it being done, and don't know what tuning entails.

And of course they know for sure that any time a piano is moved, even across the room, it has to be re-tuned. They never question it. Same with the "outside wall" myth, the jar of water in the bottom, and the belief that it went out of tune because nobody's been playing it, and now that it's been tuned it'll stay in tune better. In reality, 'staying in tune' has far more to do with the pinblock, the weather changes, age of the piano, and frequency of regular tuning.

I heard another variant of this one from a highly respected sound technician in Europe. It goes like this... when a Steinway D ( the concert size ) gets its plate removed for rebuilding at the factory, the plate needs to "relax" for over a years time with no tension on it before it can be put back into the piano to be re-used.

Where he heard this or got this idea I don't know. Perhaps there is the proverbial grain of truth in their somewhere that after filtering down through several "re-tolds" became so changed that by the time he was the recipient it was a whole year of relaxing ? Like the fish story ... the one that keeps getting bigger.
One of my clients was a family whose old grand piano desperately needed new strings.
They informed me, with unswerving conviction, that removing the old strings would cause the plate to explode.

Just for the record,, moving a piano across a room will not throw it out of tune, pianos, in modern, insulated houses can live quite comfortably on the outer walls, and pianos will not 'explode' if strings are removed or changed . . crack maybe if done improperly, but not explode . .

Well, to be on the safe side though, better stand back . . .

Butterflies in the Rain

Very cool computer animation, with music from an old player piano roll.

Meet Jennifer Merchant - A.R.C.T

Jennifer is a qualified piano teacher with an A.R.C.T. from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She loves teaching music to all ages, encouraging them to develop their talents. She has lots of experience in many areas of music, and has taught privately and in a music studio: piano, keyboard and theory lessons.
Teaching in private schools, she has developed choirs, bands and musicals. She has volunteered in her Church for worship and children’s ministry and has been the music director in two Churches.
Sharing her talent with the community, she volunteers to play at a seniors home and also teaches music at True North Academy in Wasaga Beach.
Jennifer loves to play all types of music and hopes to give every student a lasting love for music and the ability to perform their gifts for others as well as themselves.

There are yearly recitals featuring different themes, so students choose fun pieces at their level to perform. Different themes include Disney music, Movie themes, Christian Contemporary music, Jazz, Country, etc. Various students formed a band for last years concert with drums, vocals, and keyboard. All students also work on several Christmas songs each year.
"Music can help our brains function at greater levels. It teaches discipline and good work habits. It helps build self-confidence, creative problem solving and can give high school students a higher overall average".
Jennifer also plays for parties, weddings and funerals.

Call today for a free, no obligation interview today at 705-352-0990.

The Rare Transposing Piano

There are 3 of these extremely rare pianos, that I know of, in the Georgian Bay area. This one is in my living room, the second was in my shop, being restored for a customer, and the third has mysteriously disappeared ! If you know of any more, I'd love to hear about it ! Email me.

The Transposing Piano, of which Irving Berlin possessed an example, had a middle pedal that functioned as a clutch which disengages the keyboard from the mechanism, enabling the keyboard to be moved to the left or right with a lever. The entire action of the piano stays in the same position, but the keys, all straight in this design, move under a new set of hammers to allow the pianist to play music written in one key so that it sounds in a different key.The piano shown above is Irving Berlin's piano from the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Irving Berlin (Israel Isidore Baline) wrote "God Bless America," "Puttin' on the Ritz," and "White Christmas" (in case your aren't up on your composers ;). Supposedly he could only write compositions in F-Sharp Major (hard!) and D-Sharp minor (really challenging!!). His assistant would then transpose the score to something that other people would be able to use.
Yet another of those brilliant Russian Musicians. . .

Are You a Piano Teacher ??

As part of my community out-reach into the world of music lessons and piano learning in the Collingwood area, I host a list of Teachers that I think my customers will appreciate. If you're currently a piano teacher, or you are thinking of becoming one and would like to get some referrals, please let me know so I can feature you here.

Information I'd like to get from you to provide the best service for my customers would be as follows:

Location: Do you prefer students come to you, or do you make house calls? Please share either an exact address, or if you prefer, just a major intersection/neighbourhood that I can include with your profile. I may include a Google Map as well.

Mini-Bio: The elevator pitch for why a student (or their parents) should choose you, over another teacher? No need for more than a paragraph or two. Put your specialty or even what you prefer to teach, and hopefully I can match you with customers and interested parties that fit well with your style.

Contact Information: I can publish this if you like, for the exposure, or if you would prefer I keep it un-published and simply give it out to customers that ask, that's fine too. Please include all your details, phone, mobile, email, website, twitter, facebook, others, etc. It's all valuable when selecting a teacher.

Photo: People get bored with lists, so I like to add some life to my posts. Include a photo with your info if you like, and I will re-size as necessary, so big is fine. Want to share a few, no problem.

Where to Send it? Email all this information, as well as the photos as attachments to and I will create your profile on my site right away.

Are you a student? Tell your teacher about this Free service. They'll thank you!

For the Full List of Piano Teacher Profiles Click Here

The 'Lang Lang' Effect

Not having watched the Olympics, I'd never heard of this performer, but I like the effect he's having with kids. After starring in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, classical pianist Lang Lang rocketed to international stardom. Maybe it's the red piano !!
In China though, the 27-year-old artist -- known for his rock star-style and virtuoso talent -- had long been a megastar.
When he walks the streets in his native country, fans go wild,
In fact, since Lang Lang burst onto the scene, he has inspired millions of children in China to take up the piano -- a phenomenon known as "The Lang Lang Effect." Read the Full article

( Are you looking for a teacher for your child, or yourself? There are many in the Georgian Bay area. Click here for Piano Teachers in the Collingwood Area )

About Jim Kinnear - The Piano Guy

"Jim Kinnear is one musician who knows his instrument inside out, literally."

Both a piano player and a piano technician, I grew up surrounded by music. Our family was given a player piano by my grandmother. It needed some repairs, and my father, who had a knack for a challenge, repaired it, and began collecting players, which were being discarded in favour of tv's. There were many around over the years, and the rolls that came with them inspired an interest in old forms of music, especially ragtime. Long before the movie 'The Sting' popularized ragtime, my father and a few friends were promoting ragtime, often through lots of in home sessions and recording.

My first venture in rebuilding pianos involved my brother, a painted 'beater', and a disastrous moving adventure, when the piano, in a fit of self-destruction, hurled its self out of the pick-up truck. Never dropped one since, though!!

I'm also a skilled musical artist who plays piano at private functions, parties and events. Having a party? Contact me.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
- Aldous Huxley from Music At Night, 1931

My own thing is in my head. I hear sounds and if I don't get them together, nobody else will.
- Jimi Hendrix

Music is much too important to be left entirely in the hands of professionals. -
Robert Fulghum

The piano is the foundation of all music.
A tuned piano will help your creativity soar.
Don't be stuck on the ground !
Call me today!! 705-446-8745

Piano Moving and Consulting

Piano moving is a specialty activity, and we strongly recommend that you shouldn't attempt house to house moves without expert advice, especially if there are stairs involved. On the other hand, if you have serious liability coverage, a good health plan . . and some willing friends, it is possible to get them moved with the right equipment and patience . . and muscles, did I mention muscles?

We can arrange with, or refer you to competent, insured, experienced movers who will look after your piano.

  • Uprights, baby grands, grands, concert grands, organs, etc.
  • Local and Long Distance Moving

Contact me to arrange a moving estimate for your piano.

Appraisals and Evaluation

Fair/Current Market Value
Any piano is ultimately worth what someone is willing to pay for it, but many people have no idea even where to start when it comes to pricing their piano once they intend to sell it. On the other hand, potential buyers are not sure whether or not a used piano for sale is reasonably priced. An appraisal prevents you from selling your piano for too little or paying too much for one.

Factors considered include visible, market and judgment factors such as:

  • Size
  • Sound
  • Cabinet Condition
  • Playing condition Keyboard
  • Mechanical Condition
  • Restoration needed
  • Market conditions

The eight second test: Play the note C6 (C two octaves above middle C). The sound should last about eight seconds. If it does not, there may be a serious wood problem. In all pianos, metal struts reinforce the plate. The action of a piano has a separation with one hammer striking on each side of the strut. These are called the bass-tenor and the treble breaks. If you play the two keys on either side of the break simultaneously, the sound should die away evenly on both notes. In the case of the bass-tenor break, the sound should last around 24 or 25 seconds. If the sound decays quickly on one note, there may be a structural problem. Repairs may be expensive or impossible.

  • Look at the case. Is it in good condition? Are the keys chipped or are key-tops missing? Remove the kick plate (the board just above the pedals), look for a water line. If the piano has been flooded, it may be a bad buy.
  • Play each key several times in a row. If a note fails to sound or will not repeat, the mechanism may need repairs or adjustments. If there is buzzing, the soundboard may be cracked.
  • Play each note in turn from the bottom to the top. Are there any dramatic changes in pitch or tone color? If there are, the instrument may need to have strings or hammers replaced.
  • Stack a dime and six pennies on a played white key (careful, it's not a piggy bank). Gently depress the key. If the surface of the top coin is below the neighboring white key, the action may need adjustment.
  • The dial tone of a telephone is the same note as the F and A above middle C on the piano. By listening to the dial tone and striking these two notes in unison, you can compare the pitches to determine if the piano is out of tune. The farther out of tune the instrument, the less desirable a purchase it may be.

Action and Keys

  • Does the action look untidy and dirty? Can you see any broken, missing or badly worn parts?
  • Can you see any irregularity in what should be a neat row of hammers?
  • Can you see any obvious sign of moth damage?
  • Try repeating a few notes at treble and bass. Are there any sluggish hammers? Do they fail to return to the rest position?
  • Are the damper felts dirty, hard, or not stopping the notes from sounding when the key is released? (Dirty or hard felts could cause buzzing noises, and notes continuing to sound indicate broken damper springs.)
  • Iron Frame and Strings
  • The iron frame can be seen most easily in the bottom of an upright piano, although it usually covers most of the area inside the piano. The strings are attached to the frame at the bottom and to the tuning pins at the top.
  • Is there rust on the frame or strings? (top and bottom)
  • Is the iron frame cracked?
  • Are there cracks in the wrest plank (the wood in which the tuning pins are inserted) between the tuning pins? Are some tuning pins leaning down more than others?
  • Are any strings missing, or have some been replaced? (New strings will be a different color from the rest)

Soundboard and Bridges
The soundboard is the varnished wooden panel which can be seen underneath the strings. The bridges are lengths of wood, glued to the soundboard, into which metal pins are driven. The strings run over the bridges and between the pins. The vibration of the strings is transmitted to the soundboard by the bridges, and this produces the sound you hear. It is vital that these parts are in good condition.

Are there cracks in the soundboard?
Are there splits in the bridges between the bridge pins? (An older piano may have a wooden bridge close to the tuning pins, in addition to those on the soundboard.)
Are the bridges poorly attached to the soundboard? (If so the sound will be of poor quality and there may be a rattling noise as the notes are played.)


I will look up the serial number to establish the date of manufacture, perform a complete inspection of the instrument and give you a written report. The report covers the piano’s age, retail value, private sale value and insurance replacement value. It also covers the condition of the soundboard, pin block, bridges, strings, hammers, felt components and action condition.

A picture and free posting on this site is included for clients who wish to sell their piano. I charge $85 plus GST for the appraisal. If you are considering selling your piano, it makes sense to show it in its best light . . and sounding as good as possible. There is a substantial cost saving to have a piano appraised and tuned at the same time. In this case the fee is only for the additional time involved in assessing the piano and is $45 in addition to the tuning fee.( $95 + $45 = combined $140 )

Piano Sales

I'm pleased to help many of my clients find new homes for their Pianos.

Click the pictures below to get to the listings . . .
Photos and prices of pianos for sale in the Collingwood, Ontario area.

Listing a piano for sale on this page is a free service to people in the Georgian Triangle. 
For further information about listing your piano here, Contact me.

Call 705-446-8745  Note: Some Pianos may not be exactly as shown.

Repairs and Restoration Services

Piano repairs fall into three broad categories:

1 - Regulating
2 - Minor Running Repairs
3 - Overhauls, Renovations and Reconditioning


Regulating refers to the adjustment of the piano action, keys and pedals. Each note has many adjustments to make it work at its' optimum point so it will be as responsive as possible. Regulation becomes necessary because of wear in the action and the fact that cloth, felt and leather parts become compressed or stretched.

Regulation Costs

Minor Regulation
Adjust lost motion, & let-off $ 75.00

Major Regulation
number of required individual procedures.
( Number of steps / 1388 individual actions ) $250.00

by special arrangement.

On-site Repairs

These repairs cover things that can be done in your home. Replacement of strings, replacement or repair of action parts and adjusting very loose or very tight keys.

Overhauls, Renovations and Reconditioning

These terms all refer to work that would normally be undertaken in a workshop. for example, re-stringing the piano or re-building the action renewing all worn parts.

Re-contour hammers $ 85.00
Replace bridle straps $ 75.00
Recover keytops $ 225.00

Refinish Cabinet from $1,600.00
Re-pin from $ 700.00
Re-string from $ 800.00

Contact me to arrange a free repair estimate for your piano.