Friday, July 4, 2014

A Trip To Roseland PIano in Portland

A Trip to Roseland Piano Co.

Saturday June 28th, 2014

We are currently in the process of restoring a client's 1911 Steinway model "O" grand. It was her Grandmother's piano and she decided to rebuild the piano as a tribute to her Grandmother. For phase one of the rebuild we shipped the piano to New York where the Steinway factory installed a new soundboard, pinblock, strings, and restored the cast iron harp. 

Phase two is to build a new action for the piano from the ground up. Most action rebuild jobs economize by keeping many of the original action components: typically keys and keyframe, action rails, damper action. Since we want this family heirloom to last another 100 years we decided to do the complete job. 

There are only 2 keymakers in the United States. Blackstone piano new Boston, MA and Roseland Piano Co. owned and operated by Rick Wheeler in Milwaukee, OR, just outside of Portland. The Portland Tribune did a story on the company in 2012. One of the advantages of having new keys made for this piano is the possibility of using legal, pre-ban ivory instead of plastic. One of my clients, piano teacher, Dr. Merilyn Jacobson in Puyallup owns a Steinway concert grand with ivory keys made by Rick Wheeler, and they are absolutely gorgeous. 

Here is a great picture that shows the intricate grain pattern of real ivory:
However, the federal government is currently greatly tightening restrictions on all ivory sales. Rick told us that our set may be the last set of ivory keys he ever makes. To us this is sad, because cracking down on fully documented legal material raises the black market price and may actually endanger elephants more. Oh well, enough of that...

Here are some more pictures of Rick's shop:
That's our keyframe with new action rails and sample keys. 

Rick Wheeler and my better half, Jean!

Here's another shot of our keyframe just to the left of Rick
Here is Rick next to some of his precious materials.
We are so glad that our keys are in such capable hands! Thank you Rick. 

After we left the shop we were hungry for breakfast. We were surprised that just a few minutes drive brought us near the headquarters of Bob's Red Mill! 
What an operation. The buckwheat Belgium waffles were great!

Looking around on the web I even found a picture of Bob playing the piano!


Bob's 81st birthday was particularly special. Rather than receiving gifts, he decided to give his greatest gift away — his business. Bob surprised all his employees by giving them total ownership of Bob's Red Mill through an Employee Share Ownership Program (ESOP). For those who know Bob, it's yet another example of his kind-hearted generosity. As Bob puts it "It was just the right thing to do. I have people that have worked with me for over 30 years and each and every one of them deserve this."

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