Paul Haller is passionate about pianos. And out-of-tune pianos are among his pet peeves. “Keeping your piano tuned is the single most important thing you can do for it,” says Haller, owner of Haller Pianos in Stamford. “They should be tuned at least twice a year. Pianos also like to be cool and damp. “The ideal humidity for a piano is between 45 and 55 percent,” he adds. And that’s a lot more humid than the average home in our area in the winter.
Paul is hard pressed to remember what exactly made him fall in love with the piano. “I was 18 and I think I heard someone playing an organ,” he says, “but then I discovered the piano.” He found a private piano teacher in Westport, bought a piano and never stopped playing. “When I first started playing, my sister told me I might as well go out and play in public since I was playing all the time at home,” laughs Paul. “I played in cocktail bars, country clubs and at private parties – I wasn’t very good when I started!”
Paul’s passion for his instrument doesn’t start and end at the keyboard. He apprenticed to a piano company in Stamford and learned everything about the instrument from two master craftsmen who had worked in a Steinway factory. “I learned to regulate and manipulate the tone of the piano,” he says, explaining that regulating a piano means making sure that all of the 9,000 moving parts are working properly. The tone of a piano is its “voice,” the way it sounds. And every piano has a unique voice, according to Paul.
These days Paul keeps busy selling, rebuilding and refinishing pianos. “Old pianos that have not been tuned can lose the tension in their strings and then it will be impossible to rebuild them,” he says. If you’re thinking of buying a used piano, consider having it checked by a professional like Paul Haller before you sign the check. Who knows when it was last tuned.
When was the last time you had your piano tuned?