It took the awesome skills of a former Alabaman to resurrect my once beloved M from the dead.
The keyboard had been an injury risk for months, plundered by too many technicians with pet regulation formulas and experimental impulses. After 6 months of rotating down weights and disappearing aftertouch, the black keys sat out of range above over-shallow white ones creating a two-tier instrument. To play this oddity required mega-compensation and massive denial–or at least a vivid imagination bordering on delusion.
To my astonishment, the first interloper, a RPT (Registered Piano Technician) from San Mateo slyly removed 22 or so lead weights from the keys and placed them in a bowl, hidden from view under a shade on my window sill. (I transferred them to a dinner plate)
Within weeks of his departure I made the discovery and pieced together that my playing on air without any support beneath my fingers was not owing to an age-related, declining technique. Meanwhile the tech’s bizarre blaze of anger, bundled into his insistence that my hammers, doped with lacquer, needed a fabric softener treatment had mushroomed into a threat. If I refused the rinse cycle, he was out the door. (How many quarters please for the color free spin?)
To add insult to injury, one of the impostor’s cohorts (meaning the next in the parade of techs) implored me to “trust him” like some kind of snake oil salesman as he pitched a full scale key bed cutting– HALF punching surgery that was painless and promised a “modern day accelerated action.”
Bottom line, the hair-brained scheme left me with a “spring-loaded” action that by comparison made my hammer-weighted digital feel like a ton of bricks.
But just as my piano and me were about to be wiped off the map, I despairingly searched Craig’s List for a GRAND replacement, as if I had become resigned to the death of a spouse.
The timing had to be right because the Messiah came in the form of Chuck Terpo, a transplant from Birmingham Alabama to sunny California, circa 1977.
Popping up as the rebuilder of a For Sale Steinway M (located in San Rafael), he pitched his skills in an organized and convincing fashion. No Ego flashing or snake oil sales. I’d had enough of the former, through a charade of techs dismembering my piano piece by piece.
Chuck offered to come over and look into my deteriorated situation. He would embody the last thread of hope in my cycle of despair.
Terpo’s credentials bore out. He’d worked for Sherman Clay for years, tackling tough challenges in Steinway & Sons Concert and Artists loop: tuning, prepping and regulating for the big players in the concert circuit. That was just a chunk of Chuck’s impressive CV.
To cut a long story short, Terpo rose to the occasion and brought Steinway M back to me, WHOLE and HEALED.
So all I can say is Thank You, Chuck!