26 Feb The Real Piano Man
- Discussing Piano Rebuilding with Peekskill’s John P. Ford Jr. is like talking to Bill Gates about computers. Ford seems to know everything about the instrument. After all, pianos are his passion. He loves them – how they look, how they sound and, most of all, he loves to fix them. “The process of rebuilding pianos is meditative,” says Ford. “Plus it’s art. When you’re done you have a thing of great beauty and great sound.” It can take Ford up to three months to rebuild a piano and the project can cost up to $15,000, which considering the cost of a new-piano a Steinway begins at $35,000-may not seem like much. Among his better-known clients (past and present): John Lennon, Stephen Soundheim, Roberta Flack, Barry Manilow and the group Fleetwood Mac.Does he himself play the instrument? “Pianos are my vocation and avocation,” he answers. “Some guys play poker or bowl to relax. I play piano.” Ford owns a 9- foot-long, 60-year-old Steinway concert grand.
But more and more it seems you don’t need to know how to play to enjoy it. “We install players in the pianpianos nowadays. Just pay your Con Edison bills and you’ll hear music.”