Robert is a Registered Piano Technician of the Piano Technicians Guild and is currently the resident piano technician at the University of Nevada, Reno. Scheduling is limited; for the most options, call in advance. Not all requests can be granted. Thank you in advance for your interest and support.
Robert Callaghan is a Registered Piano Technician of the Piano Technicians Guild and is currently the resident piano technician at the University of Nevada in Reno. Robert tunes for the Reno Chamber Orchestra, including the RCO's yearly Nevada Chamber Music Festival, the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, UNR's annual Reno Jazz Festival, and the annual Lake Tahoe Summerfest. Robert is a also a contracted technician for the Steinway Piano Gallary of Reno.
As the resident keyboard technician for the Department of Music at University of Nevada, Reno, Mr. Callaghan is responsible for the care of over fifty campus pianos, including the three Steinway stage pianos at Nightingale Concert Hall. (Visit UNR's Department of Music and the Nightingale Concert Hall Events Calendar.)
Robert became interested in piano technology while studying for his B. A. degree in piano performance at Humboldt State University. After graduating, he moved to Boston, MA, where he completed the Piano Technology program at the New England Conservatory. Next, Robert passed the series of comprehensive exams required by the Piano Technicians Guild to become a Registered Piano Technician.
Upon completion of his academic studies, Robert then sought the hands-on experience needed to become a true professional in the field of piano technology. Consequently he spent a decade working at Michael Sweeney's piano restoration shop in Philadelphia, PA, learning the details of upright and grand piano regulation, pin block replacement, bridge capping, restringing, soundboard repairs, rescaling, veneer repair, action repair, refinement, key repair and replacement, etc.
This service includes tuning a previously maintained piano to standard pitch of A-440, spacing the hammers for proper striking of the strings, eliminating easily repaired noises such as clicks or squeaks, adjusting the pedals, and generally tidying up around the tuning pins and keys. As a side note, clients often ask how long it takes to tune their piano. Bob asks to allow for a two hour time slot. It might not take that long, but if the piano is extremely out of tune, or minor repairs are needed, it's good to have the time if the piano needs special attention.
If after years of neglect, or if your piano has been moved to our area from a more humid climate, focus will be on bringing the piano back up to standard pitch of A-440. Robert will make several passes over the piano, carefully tightening the strings to pull them up to pitch without overly stressing them. Once the strings are at the correct pitch, tuning is the next step. This process can take longer than a routine tuning, so it's good to have an open ended time frame. Plus, a follow-up visit sooner than the usual 6 month interval of routine tunings is strongly recommended.
Piano regulation involves working on the moving parts of the piano, called the "action", the goal being to give the piano a consistent and predictable feel or "touch" when playing. Regulation helps to eliminate mechanical distractions that divert your attention away from the music. A complete regulation would involve resetting the key height and dip, the hammer shape and distance from the strings, adjusting repetition spring tensions, damper lift, and many other details too numerous to mention now. The timeframe depends upon the work needed.
Voicing is the process of softening or hardening the hammers to manipulate the volume and tonal quality of the piano. A piano's "voice" is very much a matter of personal taste, but it also depends upon what kind of sound is needed to fill the room. For example, a piano in a large church needs to be very loud in order to be heard by the people singing, while a piano in someone's home might need to be much "easier on the ears." Robert tries to achieve a sound that is generally softer, but that can be loud on demand, and have noticeable contrast between forte (strong) and piano (quiet) dynamics. "I liked the way an artist described it to me: he said he didn't mind having to work for more volume, but what he did mind was having to hold back to play softly." Nevertheless, every artist is different and what is most important is that you achieve the sound that you want to hear.
Incidental replacement of broken parts, such as hammer shanks, strings, hammer and damper flanges, as well as reusable parts that come unglued over time -- these parts can be repaired or replaced on site. Larger scale work such as replacing all the hammers or other moving parts, would require special ordering, and their replacement would necessarily involve regulation to get them working properly. If the mechanics of your piano are not working properly, Robert will need to ask some questions to get a sense of the repair work needed. "Does the piano play at all?" "Do keys play once, but not repeat?" "Do keys play, but keep ringing after releasing ?" Questions like these will help come to a understanding of what parts need repair or replacing. A follow-up visit is strongly recommended in order to make sure the new parts are working properly.
Individual keytops can be reglued if they have not been lost. Ocassionally keytops can be found somewhere inside the piano, but not always. As is often the case with very old and/or abused pianos, keyboards can have many chipped fronts or many missing keytops. With pianos such as these, while Robert can replace a full set of keytops himself, for high quality pianos, Robert recommends that the keys be boxed and shipped to a keytop replacement specialist who can machine the keytops to perfection. If this is the case with your piano, Robert will remove and box the keys for shipment, monitor the progress of the redesign, and then reinstall the keys once they return. All new replacement keytops are now plastic. Sometimes individual ivory keytops can be replaced with used ivory keytops, but it is nearly impossible to get a perfect match to the original ivory keytops.
Since Robert is often "in the field" tuning pianos, sending an email is probably the best way to make sure your message reaches him. Nevertheless, use the form of communication that is most convienent.