Steinway & Sons Piano Rebuilder & Voicing Specialist

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My name is Boaz Kirschenbaum. I design and rebuild grand piano actions that musicians love to play. My focus is to develop vintage piano tone along with a state-of-the-art, cutting-edge precision action. I call this “piano hot-rodding”. Predictable results, extensive experience in voicing Steinway pianos, and a clear sense of aesthetics are all important factors when selecting a piano rebuilder or subcontractor.

Most of my work is offered directly to the piano trade. I rebuild pianos and actions from Nantucket, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Boston, and New York City. All it takes is the willingness to collaborate and perhaps a visit to our fair island on the Atlantic coast.

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Recent Collaborations

My colleague Chris Pleim and I showed a Mason & Hamlin 5’8″ Grand Piano at the 2014 New England & Eastern Canada Regional Piano Technicians Conference (NEECSO) in Boston. This was definitely a boutique, hot-rod, team project and a very successful collaboration with Chris, as well as Absolute Piano, Blackstone Valley Piano, and the Ronsen Piano Hammer Co.

Recording of this piano:

Note: This is a lossless recording, so please be patient. If you can, please connect to proper speakers to enjoy.

I recorded this on location in mono direct to digita, with one Royer R-121 Ribbon mic, into a Focusrite pre with a Klanghelm limiter.

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About Me

I worked at Steinway & Sons at the famed Steinway Hall on West 57th St in New York City. At Steinway, I was employed full-time as a tuner-technician & voicer in both the retail and concert departments, specializing in restored vintage Steinways. My mentors included renowned piano technicians Ron Coners, Aleks Markovich, Eric Schandall, and Kent Webb.  After my tenure in New York I worked for Steinway overseas for two years in New South Wales, Australia, which also led to my training at the Steinway Hamburg factory. I went out on my own in 2006.

Specialties:

Licensed Stanwood Precision Touch Designs

Piano Restoration & Rebuilding

Piano Voicing

Piano Action Regulation &  Component Balancing

Tool Manufacturing Design and Engineering

Historic Keyboard Restoration & Rebuilding

Replacement Piano Keyboards

Piano Appraisals & Brokerage

Aural Piano Tuning

(Registered Piano Technician exam 2002)

(Steinway Hall exam 2003)

(Steinway Hamburg exam 2006)

The Workshop:

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Life on an Island

I live and work year-round on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, in the town of West Tisbury. The area is home to many farms as well as very talented craftsmen – shipwrights, carpenters, cabinetmakers, luthiers, machinists, and mechanics. There is also a vibrant and diverse music scene. Believe it or not we have more than a few high-quality music venues and concert halls. I am still able to work as a concert technician seasonally, and I take care of two Steinway Model Ds in two wonderful venues. I also care for several Steinway Model Bs in venues on the Vineyard and over on Nantucket.

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Personal Signature

I chose the name “Cherry Tree Piano” for a couple of reasons. My last name translates from the German as “cherry tree”, so it is a direct way of putting my own name on my work. Also, I wanted to have a connection to the past by having a simple, old-fashioned name. It just seems to have a straightforward ring to it like many of the farm names on the island.

My workshop-atelier is adjacent to the 200-acre historic Hoft Farm and Blackwater Pond, on Lamberts Cove Road. Although the shop is small, it is well-equipped with state-of-the-art piano rebuilding tools and equipment, as well as a few choice pieces of vintage machinery such as our Hammond G4 Trim-O-Saw.

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Musical Aesthetic & My Life as a Musician

My taste in piano tone is influenced by my taste as a musician. My “signature sound” is really the classic New York Steinway sound from the past, especially the 1940s and 1950s. I honed my voicing style working with Ron Coners, Aleks Markovich, Eric Schandall, and Kent Webb at Steinway Hall.

As a guitarist  I have always been on my own “tone quest” for over twenty years. Almost fifteen years ago I thought I should learn a skilled trade that would involve helping other musicians find their own tone. I wanted to mix together my interests in instrument-making & repair, audio engineering & acoustics, woodworking & metalworking, and most of all, preserving & restoring vintage things. Piano rebuilding combines all of these.

I am sometimes asked, “what does being an electric guitar player have to do with piano tone?”

I answer….it’s all from the same place. I play some piano, yes, but for me music-making is about collaboration. I can best collaborate with other musicians as a guitarist and bass player. I collaborate with sound engineers & piano technicians helping them make pianos sound beautiful and play well.

I’ve been a semi-professional electric guitar-player for a long time, over 25 years. I studied musicology and performance at the McGill University Conservatory of Music in Montreal. I began playing guitar at age 12 at the encouragement of my father, learning songs by Buddy Holly & Carl Perkins. By the end of middle school, I discovered several guitarists whose tone influenced my taste greatly: Mark Knopfler, Jerry Garcia, Lowell George and Jimmy Page. This was at a time when the tones these players made were not really in fashion (it was the mid- to late 1980s). Vintage 1960s and early 1970s guitar tones are now considered to be classic, of course. Medium-wattage tube amplifiers, simple pickups/simple guitars made in the late 1950s, and a minimal use of effects – all contributed to the singing, shimmering, round “golden” tone they achieved. This tone aesthetic is my goal as well.

Boaz Collaborating

Rehearsing for my 40th birthday concert, January 2014.

L-R: Tauras Biskis, drums. My wife Shelagh Hackett, vocals. Me on guitar. Brian Weiland, drums. Mike Benjamin, guitar & vocals.