Archive for July, 2017

My poor old piano: what do I do?

July 4, 2017

My piano has been ruined and I don’t know what to do about it.

I can honestly say my piano has – by quite a long margin – given me more hours of pleasure than any else I own.

I’m no great player.  I’m a thumper who settles for “good enough”, but I practice almost every day, sometimes several times a day.  I have a lasting fondness for ragtime: I can struggle through a fair few Scott Joplin classics (so long as you don’t mind a fair few missed chords and fumbled melodies).

Anyway, meet my piano.

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Nice, isn’t it?   It was my dad’s and now it’s mine.  It is the one I learned on from the age of six.  I love it.

So I was excited when I sent it for a full French polish and restoration – the first of its life I think.

And utterly dismayed when it was returned to me.  I opened the lid, and the gold-stencilled lettering on the inside of the lid had been completely removed.

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In the centre had been the name of the manufacturer: in large capitals, EAVESTAFF.  And bottom right, the (now defunct) dealer who had sold it: Alderson & Brentnall, Newcastle upon Tyne.

All gone, and with it a big chunk of the piano’s historic charm.

Furious and upset barely covers it.  The French polisher was evasive, and claimed I should have told him that I wanted to retain the original lettering.

As if anyone would want to remove it!

Eavestaff, incidentally, is not a brand like Steinway or Bechstein.  It is the Vauxhall Cavalier of the piano world.  It is my good fortune that mine, which was made between 1890-1900, is an excellent example: it can go literally years between being tuned.  (It is about five years since it was last tuned, and it has been moved several times: it still sounds only slightly off.)

I’m at a loss what to do.  Sue the restorers?  Is it worth it?  Seek out a professional stenciller to replace it?  Again, is it worth it – and do such people exist?

Or just live with the disappointment that, every time I sit down to play, I will be reminded that a thoughtless chump of a French polisher spoilt my most favourite thing in the world?