Steinway & Sons Piano Rebuilder & Voicing Specialist – Hot-Rodded & Custom Piano Work

 

Searching for the Sound: Customized Vintage Piano Tone & Touch for Steinway & Other Fine Pianos

My name is Boaz Kirschenbaum. I create vintage piano tone that musicians love, and combine it 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 choosing a piano rebuilder. I combine all of these and look forward to working with you on rebuilding the piano of your dreams. Together we can restore your “golden-age” Steinway, Mason, Bechstein…. or find a candidate to re-manufacture from the ground up. The options are limitless.

It is my goal to ply my trade beyond the shores of Martha’s Vineyard, and be of service to all pianists and piano owners. I rebuild pianos and actions from Nantucket, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Boston, and New York City….even overseas. All it takes is the willingness to collaborate and perhaps a visit to our fair island on the Atlantic coast.

 

MH2

 

Along with my colleague Chris Pleim, I just showed a Mason & Hamlin 5’8″ Grand Piano at the New England & Eastern Canada Regional Piano Technicians Conference 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 with one Royer R-121 Ribbon mic,  direct into a Focusrite pre with a Klanghelm limiter.

ABOUT ME

boaz-12

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:

Aural Piano Tuning (Registered Piano Technician exam 2002, Steinway Hall exam 2003, Steinway Hamburg exam 2006)

Piano Restoration & Rebuilding

Piano Voicing

Piano Action Regulation &  Component Balancing

Stanwood Precision Touch Design

Historic Keyboard Restoration & Rebuilding

Replacement Piano Keyboards

Piano Appraisals & Brokerage

Tool Manufacturing Design and Engineering

 

Here’s what I am working on right now. It’s a busy spring here at the Lamberts Cove workshop.

Feurich Model 190 6’4″ Grand in Brazilian Rosewood

Steinway & Sons Model A-III 6’4″ (Long A) ca. 1913

Steinway Model A-II ca. 1894 COMPLETED

Steinway Model M ca. 1910 COMPLETED

Steinway Model M ca. 1912 COMPLETED

Steinway Model M ca. 1913 COMPLETED

Baldwin Model M ca. 1972 COMPLETED

Ivers & Pond 52″ Upright ca 1899 COMPLETED

Guild-Church & Co. Cabaret Upright COMPLETED

 

 

IMGP5336

Loading a Steinway action for transport to Lowell, MA (home of Absolute Piano, soundboard maker). 

 

I now work with musicians, private clients, other piano technicians, and concert venues as a piano rebuilder, concert tuner and voicer. I have combined my passions for music, tone development, and engineering into my practice as a piano technician & tool designer.

I have been rebuilding pianos for over ten years, steadily increasing my skills and practice. In addition to Steinway & Sons pianos, I rebuild Mason & Hamlin, Ivers & Pond and other fine marques. My specialty is action and belly work on vintage grands & uprights from the 1880s to the 1970s, but I also restore Viennese actions, square grands, and fortepianos. I also specialize in rebuilding niche German boutique pianos such as Feurich,  Bösendorfer, and Bechstein.

Before working at Steinway, I graduated from the two-year program at the North Bennet Street School with a Diploma in Advanced Piano Technology. I now teach piano voicing & regulation at regional conferences. I’ve been a Registered Piano Technician in the Piano Technicians Guild for ten years, and I am a Stanwood Precision Touch Design Licensed Installer.

 

IMGP5322

The workshop is adjacent to 200 acres of Nature Conservancy land on Lamberts Cove Road.

 

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.

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. After years working in large cities, I moved here in 2007. I now prefer working in the more relaxed pace of the country life. 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.

 

IMG_0605

 

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.

I strive for musicality, dynamic range, a warm, velvety pianissimo, smooth transient attack, and an easily reached, yet subtle amount of brilliance when pushed to fortissimo. Some of us describe this as a “tone that floats”. Most of all, I love a piano that has a rich, dark, chocolately tone that “opens up”, blooms into brightness, and gives you brilliance when you ask for it. Older Steinways with cold-pressed hammers tend toward this sound. I believe this blueprint for tone was imprinted on me when I first started listening to the Blue Note and Columbia vinyl records of the 1950s and 1960s. Those recordings were made on Steinway parlor grands and semi-concert grands in New York City.

I have produced professionally engineered audio recordings of pianos I have voiced. These pianos represent my signature sound.

 

IMGP3153

 

Tools for Rebuilders and Technicians

I also design and produce voicing tools for piano technicians and tuners. I hope that my tool-making efforts can help my colleagues in the field achieve the “vintage sound” as well. My latest tool is hand-turned Western maple with a carbon-fiber ferrule, and it is super-light. For a look at the tools check out my tool blog and online store: 

http://vintagetonetoolco.bigcartel.com

 

victrolatool2

 

Musical Aesthetic

As a guitarist  I have always been on my own “tone quest” for over twenty years. About thirteen years ago I thought I could 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’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.

 

IMG_0503