Tell us a bit about yourself: How did you become a piano tuner and restorer?
I started in the piano business at the age of 17. I had moved to London to start work at Danemann piano manufacturers and learned how to make pianos there. I then moved to another well known company called Knight pianos. There I started the process of learning to tune pianos by putting the first tension on the strings (called chipping up) until the piano was at the correct pitch of A440. After working there for a few years, I saw an advert in the newspaper for an Arts Council of Great Britain grant offering a grant for a student to train at Steinway and Sons. I quickly applied and, after a lengthy process and to my delight, was offered the place. I trained there for a couple of years working on some incredible pianos and with the likes of Brendel, Ashkenazi, Schiff and a host of amazing concert artists. I have since then set up my own business tuning restoring, selling and renting pianos. I have been working with Neil since the inception of Finchcocks, tuning and checking the pianos prior to each course and concert.
The question everyone always asks: How often should a piano be tuned?
Generally twice a year for a domestic piano. When it comes to the Finchcocks collection however, they need to be tuned before each course or concert!
Tell us about the work you did on our Grotrian-Steinweg…
We recently realised that the hammers on the Grotrian Steinway were not performing as well as we thought they should, so we took them off and replaced them with new hammers. This then meant the whole action had to be regulated and then the hammers voiced correctly. It made a huge improvement to the sound quality of the piano! The old hammers were then upcycled into key fobs for guests’ rooms keys, a great conversation starter upon arrival!
Do you have a favourite Finchcocks piano and why?
I don’t really have any particular favourite piano at Finchcocks as they all have their own individual sound, quality, touch and feel. I really do love tuning them all. It is quite a privilege.
Describe Finchcocks in three words!
I couldn’t narrow it down to three, so here’s four:
David Manson tunes pianos across and beyond the West Kent area, and sells restored pianos from his workshop in Tenterden. For more information, please see his website www.davidmansonpianos.co.uk