Black Forest Piano Tuning & Repair

Professional piano tuning, repair & refurbishing. Covering El Paso, Douglas and Elbert counties.

My formal piano education was from the Randy Potter School of Piano Technology, a complete correspondence home-study course in piano tuning, repairing, regulating, voicing, apprentice training and business practices. I graduated in the top 10%, earning Highest Honors award.

To further my core piano knowledge, I attended the yearly Intermediate & Advanced Training Seminar offered by Randy Potter at the Montana State University School of Music. The six-day, 60-hour seminar includes group lectures and private one-on-one hands-on training in high level tuning and regulating techniques, utilizing Montana State University’s School of Music facilities.

By far, the achievement I’m most proud of is passing the Registered Piano Technician examinations. To attain the RPT classification, a Piano Technician Guild member must pass three examinations. A written exam tests basic knowledge of piano design, tuning theory, repair techniques and various other topics relevant to piano technology. Two separate practical, hands-on exams test tuning and technical skills.

On the tuning exam the candidate must match as closely as possible a "master tuning" created by a panel of examiners. The exam is scored by using extremely sensitive electronic equipment to measure the deviation of the candidate's tuning from the standard thus established. Candidates must demonstrate their ability to tune by ear, unaided by electronics.

The technical exam requires the candidate to demonstrate professional-level skills in assembling a grand and a vertical piano action (the mechanical component of the piano) and in making all the complicated adjustments (called "regulation") so that they function properly. The candidate must also demonstrate facility in various common repairs involving wood, cloth, felt, piano wire and other materials commonly used in pianos.

All the procedures on these exams must be completed in prescribed time periods - thus demonstrating the fluency required of a professional. 

I attended an intensive three-day skills-based course, "Grand Action Regulation in 37 Steps", based on curriculum from Yamaha's "The Little Red Schoolhouse". Working with personal pianos, small group instruction and individual feedback the class focused on increase action control, even movement, maximizing the dynamic range and achieve the fastest speed of repetition available. Participants were required to pass a final regulation skills assessment at the end of class.

In 2011, Sandy and I were part of the European Piano Tour and got to visit several German and Austrian Piano Manufacturers. One such “Klaviermanufaktur” was Steingraeber & Söhne which impressed me by its limited output (about 100 pianos a year) and very few machines, mostly built by hand. From that visit, I’ve worked at securing an internship at the factory in Bayreuth, Germany and three years later was honored to be selected for such a rare opportunity.

Whilst at the factory, I was permitted to work on pianos in excess of $200,000 learning factory level building & preparation. Every single person working at the factory enjoyed their job and had no hesitation in sharing their knowledge with me, encouraging me to try different methods of piano work and also curious to learn how I did such work. What a fantastic time and one I am truly grateful to have experienced.

Renner USA is the exclusive representative of the world renowned Renner piano action and hammerheads for North and South America, made by the Louis Renner Company in Germany and hosts The Renner Academy. This one week comprehensive course, held in Scottsdale, Arizona, is designed for piano technicians to expand and perfect their knowledge of grand piano action replacement, repair, regulation, advance hammer selection, preparation, voicing, back action replacement and damper regulation. Each student rebuilds their own piano action and operate the various jigs and machinery at the Renner USA technical shop

A system I truly believe in is the Piano Life Saver or Dampp-Chaser system that regulates the humidity level of your piano, keeping soundboards from cracking, ribs separating from the soundboard and ensuring all the wood pieces within the action and pin block do not dry out. I am a certified installer for Dampp-Chaser systems.