Established in 1978 by Richard Reason, a music teacher, performer & composer.
Joined in 1985 by me, Rupert Frost a newly qualified piano tuner, technician & frustrated piano player who knew from a very early stage that I would never be good enough to make a career playing or teaching the piano but still loved the instrument and had the good fortune to be introduced to piano maintenance when still a teenager by my piano teacher. I knew instantly this was what I wanted to do and lucky enough to be accepted into one of the last technical colleges for piano maintenance in Commercial Road London (sadly no longer in existence) where it would take 4 years of practical & theoretical study to master all the aspects of piano work.
For the next 15 years Richard & I made a formidable team with Richard driving the business whilst I ran the workshops with a team of restorers, polishers & tuners. We also had a succession of apprentices working alongside our more senior technicians learning the skills to make a career in the piano industry. There are many tuners and restorers currently working both locally and further afield who developed their passion for piano work in our workshops.
In the year 2000 after 22 years at the helm Richard stepped aside to concentrate on his flourishing piano auction business leaving me and the team to take control.
Here we are, a further 22 years later in 2022 and I am still in charge of this fabulous workshop. Although much has stayed the same we have also had to adapt to changing markets and due to changing tastes in furniture styles. We still refuse to have anything to do with electric keyboards (no they are not just like the real thing!) and do very little restoration of the older early 20th century pianos but we do concentrate on brand new and younger second hand instruments, pianos built with glues and other modern materials strong enough to allow the sensitive mechanisms to withstand the warmer dryer centrally heated atmospheres we all want to live in these days and therefore are much easier to restore to a good stable, reliable condition than the older pre 1960s models that use a lot of solid woods and animal based glues that had been used since the very earliest 18th & 19th century instruments. These old style glues dry out in central heating causing constant maintenance problems.
We are also finding we are having to spend most of out time tuning in our customers homes, schools & theatres.
Piano tuners are becoming rarer and rarer as many of the older generation are retiring, but it takes many years to learn to tune & repair a piano and with so few avenues for new tuners to learn the skills we are receiving requests from further and further afield, taking us away from the workshop and leaving less time to take on the big restoration projects. Tuning is the biggest part of our business these days and as a consequence I can’t always be in the workshop, but I do make sure I get there at least 2 or 3 times a week to keep the renovation projects moving forward.
It is difficult to predict if I will still be here in another 22 years but as long as my ears continue to work and pianos still need tuning and servicing, I can’t imagine a better way to spend my time.