In the early 1970Õs, I acquired our vintage Bechstein concert grand. For over 35 years, and I enjoyed
this piano immensely, with its glorious tone and action. I sent the instrument out for rebuilding but as
so often happens with rebuilds, the sound turned out to be harsh and lackluster. The feel of the action
was heavy and clunky. In 2009 I learned of David Stanwood on the internet, and his revolutionary new
approach to piano action calibration. Because of the several testimonials of his work, I invited him to
come work on our Bechstein.
David worked the equivalent of four days to bring my Sleeping Beauty back to life, and it was exciting to
watch and participate in the process. He performed a radical procedure on the Renner hammers and the
tone they produced was now mellow, colorful, and impressive. Then he analyzed the action using his
computer program. The results showed that the hammer weights were at a good level for producing full
tone but action was heavy as a result of the action ratio being too high. He completely reset the capstan
line, while cutting off and repositioning the wippen heels to match the new capstan positions but redoing the
action was not all science. David instinctively Òpressed the envelopeÓ and made the action lighter than originally
envisioned. The results stunned us. Not only did the action become ultra-responsive (super velocity, like
skipping up and down stairs), which we anticipated, but there was a dramatic and astonishing change in the tone
that floored us. The sonority, the shading, the pianissimo became haunting. We had total control and could hardly
leave the keyboard alone. My Bechstein had surpassed its pre-restoration level, to achieve its full potential.
It awakened and revealed a true and beautiful soul of its own. This particular instrument must now reside in that
pantheon of rare world pianos that surpass understanding as mechanical devices.
My Bechstein is voiced perfectly for its setting, the parlor at Dykeland Plantation, Amelia Court House, VA,
in an 18Õ x 24Õ room with a 12Õ high ceiling, set in a restored antebellum, National Register property.
To David Stanwood: kudos and undying thanks for an outstanding job well done--with a magnificent result!
Gary Hadfield, Owner,
13001 Dykeland Rd., Amelia, VA 23002
Film Clip Transcript of client reaction to the changes:
Hadfield: "My Word..... We got it back!.... It's here..... " (once again)
"Plus it's even now... Isn't that amazing!? I can't believe it..."
Hadfield: "I can't believe the difference between yesterday and today."
Stanwood: "Me too... it's amazing"
Hadfield: "I wasn't expecting anything that was different with the sound. I was expecting a fluid action.... but I wasn't dreaming that it could possibly do anything to the sound..... no why is that?"
Stanwood: "I know it's amazing."
Hadfield: "You can tell the difference?"
Stanwood: "It's gorgeous.... It's amazing... I'm blown away...."
Hadfield: "It's just beautiful now.... Yesterday it was good... it was even great... but today it's outstanding!
Stanwood" It's really...(speechless)..... I can't believe it... "
Hadfield: "I could fall...." (both Laughing with glee)
Hadfield: "Well.... I never would have believed it... I can't...."
Stanwood: "It's amazing! "
Hadfield: "This is a PIANO"
Stanwood: "It's like my old Bechstein but better now."
Hadfield: "Wow!..... It's better than it was before.... It's better than it was before..."
Stanwood: "Well that's what you would expect if you have it rebuilt right? It's not supposed to get worse!"
Stanwood: "I'm hearing inner voicings which I did not hear at all yesterday."
Hadfield: "Oh Yes!"
Stanwood: "It's quite outstanding... it's amazing actually."
Hadfield: "It just leapt to life! ...... imagine if we had stopped yesterday!"
Stanwood: "You would have been happier!" (than you were)
Hadfield: "With a heavier action!" (than today)
Stanwood: "You would have been happier.... but not this happy!"
Hadfield: "It made a fine piano into an outstanding piano!.... in one day!"
Stanwood: "Welcome Back!" (to the piano)
Hadfield: "Welcome Back!" (to the piano)