Saturday, 29 February 2020

Close to Testing

Exciting times here at Kigali Keys. 

Above are a couple of actions. The one behind belongs to Jocelyn's piano from Bugesera. This piano had a lot of problems when we first met it. There was some restringing to do, all the springs needed replacing and several of the bridle straps had been chewed off by mice. But we got through a lot of movies and nice meals in the process. The last part of the puzzle is replacing a hammer with a dodgy centre pin. It wobbles so much it doesn't strike the string full on. We tried re-felting it, but that didn't work, so we had to send to America for parts and those took months to arrive. Finally got them. Will also replace two hammer shanks. Seems someone else did a bit of repair on it some years back and, for want of a new shank, they simply shortened the old ones and reattached the hammer. You can see it best in this picture with the hammer nearest to you.

Once that's fixed, we'll be taking the action back to Bugesere Lodge, giving the piano a full tune, and hopefully celebrating its full restoration. It's been an absolute pleasure to work on and it will be really amazing to see all that hard work pay off. 

The second action belongs to Lirika. The blue hammers are recycled flip-flops. We're eternally grateful to our lovely volunteer Charlie, who painstakingly sat down and put the whole thing back together again. All except the last few hammers as we'd cunningly hidden the screws for those at the back of our store cupboard, so Paulin is going to have to fish through a jamjar of bits and bobs to finish the job. Dés also needs to file down the flip-flop hammers as they're a little bigger than the rest.

However, now that the Lirika action is back together, Dés and Paulin should be able to mount it on the new keys to see whether it aligns. If it does, we can eventually put it into the new piano to test the strings, the sound quality, and the flip-flops.

So, we're getting really, really close to making a sound.

It's extremely exciting and a little nerve racking. There's a good chance three years of work might come to nothing... but we'll keep holding our breath.

Meanwhile, we were visited by a lovely lady called Janet Dewan. She's a long-term supporter of the project and here in Rwanda training anaesthetists. Whilst she's here, she likes to practice the piano, but they're so difficult to find, so Marion let her borrow hers. She made a very generous donation to the project and we're really grateful.

We also had a visit from a lovely Belgian couple who walked half of Kigali to come and find us. Unfortunately we forgot to take a photo, but they had a good look round the workshop and explained that their son is also a piano technician. He has a company called Polychord. If you're reading this blog, we'll definitely drop you a line soon!

Finally, we were called by a very prestigious client. We headed over to tune this 40-50 year old Nieer piano. Originally from Shanghai, it now lives at the American Ambassador's residence. So, in the space of a couple of weeks we have tuned a concert grand for an international pianist, and a cosy upright for the family of an international Ambassador. Not bad going.

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