Saturday, December 8, 2012

Knabe Restoration Project

Easiest Piano Move in History. Pushed through one door way.

It's been too long since I owned one of these. The Summer of 2010 I bought a digital short scale Clavinova and hauled it up the stairs in Snobmouth and it was gone before Fall. Before that I sold a Korg Digital Grand in Los Angeles in 2008 that had a fuzzy circuit. The piano practice rooms at Humboldt State were all I had from 1998-2003. And I owned a really crappy piano that I got from the Redwood City Salvation Army in exchange for moving a refrigerator to San Jose in 2006. Eventually I cut that one up with a reciprocating saw and broke my kneecap when the strings exploded and the cast iron string plate sprang up and flung me across the decaying single-wide trailer. It's one of the sacrifices of living in a van that I can not regularly practice piano. But the economy doesn't really care how many Lionel Richie songs I ruin with my off key singing so my skills withered for 2 years as I silently tolerated the police interrogations and abandonment because I am a recluse and stubborn and irresponsible and unrealistic. Then I found a real job and became a hypocrite and a devourer of planets and greedy and a sell out. But all along it would be obvious except to only the blindest dullard that my priorities are to play piano constantly and this one goal has been thwarted time and time again...until now.
This 1972 WM Knabe piano cost me $200. Plus $300 for a new mattress set and $50 to buy a rifle and some arrowheads and $500 to bail out a's been amusing to let the money flow like water through my fingers when not long ago I could not buy more than one fifty cent bolillo a day for a sandwich. My daily budget was $2 and if I went over the budget then I had to sleep in the van without driving it...which led to some interesting nights and conversations with the police. All for what? To maintain some ethical standards in a depressed economy and hold on long enough to find something that would pay me more than my meager cost of living. This may not sound hard but that's because you probably work mindlessly for the state pothole repair department and have no idea what "production labor" means.

Sounds like Tom Waits in 1930 Mexico
But the quest isn't over yet because this piano has been neglected like a Nigerian street orphan and mice literally fled for their lives when I pushed it. Rodent shit lays in many layers of reeking wrapper nests near the temperament octave. No wonder those keys didn't work. But in preparation for my decades of immobility due to arthritis and crushing depression and loneliness I have undertaken a piano tuning and restoration course and this Knabe piano will be my patient. Right now most of the keys work but none of the notes are right. The damper hammers are worn. The pedals are worn. The backchecks are worn. There is mouse shit everywhere inside the action. But if I am clever with my song choice and play ragtime songs as fast as possible you can't even tell the thing is junk. Now I'm going to nail The Entertainer.

Update: I disassembled the whole thing to vacuum out the mouse shit. The hammer butt springs were  the cause of the keys not moving up and the mouse urine has swelled the damper felts but all that is fixed now. Next step is to  tune it. Turns out that a Knabe piano is quality.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.