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Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 #2921116 12/08/19 11:21 PM
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Twindad Offline OP
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The Saturday before Thanksgiving, I visited Rich Galassini at the Cunningham Pianos rebuilding facility in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. I was traveling east to visit family in NJ for the holiday, and was on my own for half a day in the Philly area – I shot Rich a note, and he graciously offered to give me a tour of the facility.

I was excited to see a place where pianos go to be reborn. Even though I’ve played piano for almost 50 years, I never really gave the instrument itself much thought. That changed, however, once I bought my current piano 5 years ago - since then, I’ve been fascinated by this marvel of engineering and human ingenuity, and the visits by my tech several times a year are master classes of learning for me. Visiting Rich’s rebuilding facility was a treat – it was wonderful to step into this historic artisan’s den and get a glimpse of what is involved in this work.

On to the visit. Rich had a window at 8:30 am before he had to run up to his King of Prussia showroom for an appointment – he greeted me in what looked like a vintage M&H biker jacket…had never seen one of those before! My hour-long tour was during a time when the facility was quiet – a few folks came into work while I was there, but I left before the day really got underway.

Rich was a wonderful host, welcoming me warmly and giving me his undivided attention while we walked through the facility. We swapped stories of our mutual music backgrounds, he shared how he got into the business, and we both enthused over our love of the Bosendorfer 225. He was also very complimentary of my piano (he knows his audience!) and we talked about the impact of my putting Isaac bass strings and hammers on it. His knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for this work was very self-evident! We wound our way through three floors of the shop – seeing a wide array of pianos in various stages of rebuild – from the early stages of a completely torn apart, very old C. Bechstein upright to a nearly finished Baldwin L. It was cool to see the racks of actions, the lids being prepped for finishing, the incredible variety of tools and forms (such as the soundboard crown press – which I’m sure isn’t the right name for it), and the room where they dry / age tone wood (the “wood sauna”, as Rich called it).

In addition to the pianos in varying stages of undress, there were rooms with rows and rows of grands on their sides- whether for storage or waiting to be worked on. In addition, a number of organs were also lined up – I had no idea they did that work as well.

Time was short and I was very out of practice, so I didn’t do much playing. What little playing I did ignited my interest in returning to one of his retail showrooms at another time - I loved playing a wonderful S&S D (voiced down for the home) as well as an M&H BB in the area with finished and new pianos. Despite my rustiness, it was evident that the sound and touch on both pianos were simply wonderful.

The hour was up too soon – I could’ve easily hung around spent hours getting lost playing lots of instruments, but Rich had to get to his appointment, and I needed to head to my son’s college to watch his cello ensemble concert.

Thank you again, Rich, for sharing your time and expertise with me. Your generosity of spirit is only matched by the quality that is evident in the work you and your team do. Next time I’m in the area with some free time, I’d like to stop by one of your retail shops - but I will make sure I’m in playing shape to be able to really give those pianos a whirl!

I wish I had taken more pictures, but here is a link to what I did take: https://photos.app.goo.gl/JvY6qs7BXFyvGZSU7


Steve
1990 C. Bechstein M-180
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Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2921118 12/08/19 11:31 PM
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Nice post!

I enjoyed the pictures! smile

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2921193 12/09/19 08:16 AM
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I've never had the pleasure, but I've heard recordings of some of their beautifully rebuilt pianos. I'd love to visit.

Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2921198 12/09/19 08:32 AM
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Nice recap. Rich really seems like a great guy.



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Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2921210 12/09/19 09:01 AM
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I’ve never had the pleasure either but thank you for sharing! An M&H biker jacket? How totally cool! grin


J & J
Estonia L190 Hidden Beauty
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Pianos - the reason God made trees!
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Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2921257 12/09/19 11:23 AM
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That jacket is everything! I remember my tour of the factory. It was back in March of 2014. That day, I purchased my Cunningham Parlour Grand.


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2921438 12/09/19 08:37 PM
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Thanks for posting, Twindad. I am officially jealous! wink

One day... In the meantime, Rich, how about a video tour of the factory? laugh



And still I dream she'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2921469 12/09/19 11:03 PM
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Retsacnal Offline

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BTW, I forgot to mention how cool it is to hear that someone is having a Baldwin L rebuilt!



And still I dream she'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Retsacnal] #2921728 12/10/19 08:47 PM
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Yes, Rich really is as nice as he comes across in his videos.

Barbara, one of the things I wanted to do, but didn't get around to was to try one of the Cunningham pianos. Next time!

Last edited by Twindad; 12/10/19 08:48 PM. Reason: Correct spelling

Steve
1990 C. Bechstein M-180
Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2921920 12/11/19 11:58 AM
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You owe it to yourself to do so


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2921930 12/11/19 12:15 PM
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Thanks for posting. It sounds like they are very passionate about what they do and it must be a very cool place to visit.


Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 ("Pastoral") First two movements; Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 ("Waldstein") First movement
Schumann/Liszt - Widmung
-------------
Steingraeber B-192
Kawai CA97
Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2922051 12/11/19 05:32 PM
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It was a cool place to visit. Not many places like that exist anymore.

I really enjoyed reading about your Steingaeber experience. Beautiful pianos, and that 192 is a terrific model. I was in Prague last year and wanted to take the few hour drive north to Seiffhenersdorf to visit the C.Bechstein factory, but the timing didn't work...they only do tours once a month on a specific day.


Steve
1990 C. Bechstein M-180
Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Twindad] #2924461 12/18/19 05:43 PM
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Steve!

I am embarrassed to say that this is the very first time I noticed this thread. Shame on me!

I enjoyed spending time with you as well. I am glad you had a good experience and you learned something on your visit as well. Music is such a beautiful thing to experience for all of us and I enjoy sharing what "makes a piano tick". Frankly, when I have a group of grammar school aged children touring our facility, I take as long as I need to for them to understand some pretty complicated concepts that make a piano work.

Please, next time use the "thin lens" on your camera. wink You are welcome back anytime!


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
https://www.youtube.com/user/CunninghamPiano
Re: Visit to Cunningham Pianos' Rebuilding Facility Nov.2019 [Re: Rich Galassini] #2926069 12/23/19 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Frankly, when I have a group of grammar school aged children touring our facility, I take as long as I need to for them to understand some pretty complicated concepts that make a piano work.


After spending an hour with you, I can completely see that. Aside from the fact that your knowledge and enthusiasm is contagious - you have a knack for explaining things in very understandable ways.

Thanks again - and happy holidays.
Steve (PS - I've asked Santa for a "thin lens"....I need that more than you!)


Steve
1990 C. Bechstein M-180

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