Tag Archives: Callahan Piano Service

piano restoration: invention certainly accounts for our busy shop and backlog

cllahan piano serviceLetter from John Callahan

We are Callahan Piano – one of the few “Left Coast” Stanwood connections.

It was great to have a small group of installers gather recently after the CA State PTG convention. All Stanwood folks have an open invitation to come and visit whenever you find yourselves in the Bay Area.

We are a fair sized shop specializing in high-end piano restoration – 95% Steinway and Mason & Hamlin.

We are pleased and proud to have four licensed installers working together under one roof – and complete an average of two PTD’s per month. We are a bit different in that we restore for clients only – we do not buy and sell.

Licensed Installers since 2001, we made the decision some time ago not to do an action job without PTD – and that certainly accounts for our busy shop and backlog.

The more Stanwood actions we do – the more folks want it.

When a potential client can visit the shop and play one, and sometimes two or three pianos, all with the same mind-blowing ease and evenness – the decision to have us do their action becomes easy.

Our success over the past few years has been the result of fairly intense marketing efforts to get local pianists and potential clients into the shop whenever we have a completed instrument.

We have also found it very effective to host “send-off” parties on completion of a major restoration. The client invites friends and colleagues, and we supply wine and cheese, and the piano is the star of the evening. Lot’s of fun. (And the biggest plus – it gets the shop cleaned up!).

Thanks to David for all his work which has benefited so many technicians and pianists!

Best regards to all,


John Callahan, Callahan Piano Service

bosendorfer : garrick ohlsson; it repeats beautifully, is really comfortable

garrick ohlsson

Letter written to John Callahan, PTD installer in Oakland CA. March 18, 2003

Dear John,

I’m happy to report how pleased I am with my Stanwood Action work that you recently completed.

It is a really sensational and sensitive action now, with wonderful and accurate control in all dynamic ranges.

It repeats beautifully and is really comfortable. I was also thrilled to receive the action back so promptly, because I was heading into the busiest three months of practicing in the last ten years!

You made a commitment and you delivered.

Thanks for making my dear old Bosendorfer feel like a brand new race car.

With all best wishes,


steinway m: transformed; sound is incredibly beautiful,voicing perfect


Letter written to John Callahan, PTD installer in Oakland CA

Dear John,

It was with some fear and trepidation that I submitted my 1962 Steinway Model M to you for a complete action restoration last September.

Just one year earlier, my piano technician had replaced the original hammers with new Steinway hammers, with disastrous results. After his repeated efforts, adding lacquer, then punching, then more lacquer, over and over again, I finally gave up.

After all his work, the action felt like that of a truck and the sound was harsh. Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy playing the M after that.

Fortunately, I subsequently heard of the Stanwood action balancing system and that your firm used the system. Based on several glowing recommendations, I decided to have you do a complete action restoration, including new Ronsen hammers custom-made with European felt and new custom-made bass strings.

I can’t tell you how happy I am with the result. The action is totally even, responsive and smooth as silk. The sound is incredibly beautiful, the voicing perfect.

Now I’m saving my pennies in anticipation of the day when I can have you design and install the Stanwood system on my relatively new (2000) Steinway Model B (I’m a member of the Palo Alto Two-Piano club).

It is a fine piano but has a fairly heavy action, nothing like the smooth, light action you gave my M. Because of the wonderful transformation you achieved on my M, I now find myself playing it almost exclusively (and it is the piano of choice with my two-piano colleagues). I’m afraid the B is feeling very neglected.

Thanks again for the fabulous work..

Carol Swenson
Stanford, California