Since 1975, Ken Walkup has been providing piano tuning, repair, and rebuilding services to institutional and private clients in central New York. He has the broad experience and good judgement that results from a long career. He is the staff piano technician at Cornell University.
I sell rebuilt pianos by Steinway and Mason & Hamlin, occasionally others. I do this on a small scale, typically offering about one piano a year. I especially like working on these spec pianos because i can do exactly what I think the piano needs; I can be an advocate for the piano.
I have a small private tuning clientele. I am still accepting new clients, but at this stage in my career, I am more interested in doing rebuilding work. I don't accept tunings outside of the Ithaca NY area. If you'd like to have me tune your piano, call me and we'll talk.
I do all kinds of rebuilding work. I have worked on many, many Steinway pianos, but I also enjoy working on some of the other fine pianos produced since the mid nineteenth century.
Some Recent Projects
Check these out to see what my capabilities and interests are
1878 Bluthner grand
This early modern piano has a full cast iron plate, but it's essentially straight strung like pre-Steinway pianos. It's a fascinating dead end in the development of the piano. It came to us with the soundboard and pinblock already replaced, but I had to rebuild the action and replace the damper action. The musicians really love this one.
1911 Steinway B grand
I bought this piano as a spec project. I was able to rebuild it from top to bottom exactly as I think it should be. It was purchased by a local church, and I'm very gratified that they had the confidence in me to work with me in the purchasing process, which took over a year. It has made a huge difference in the musical life of this congregation.
1909 Steinway K upright
No one ever made a better upright than Steinway. But the action on some of these pianos was problematic, and replacement parts were expensive and not as high quality as they should be. Now it's possible to install an entirely new action that's excellent quality, making it economically practical to rebuild these pianos just like we rebuild grands.
Mason & Hamlin CC concert grand c.1930
In case you are unfamiliar with the name, Mason & Hamlin is the other great American piano. They typically have a dark, rich, elegant sound that goes on and on. I got to rebuild this one for Cornell, and it was a treat. The old M&H concert grands are not too common and I'm lucky to have worked on even one in my career.
Pleyel upright (pianino) c. 1850
This piano is similar to a Pleyel Chopin owned and is known to have written some of the mazurkas on. It has an early version of the action that's in today's upright pianos, but with some challenging differences. I love the design and the veneer is a super rare plum pudding mahogany. I've already done some work on this, and I'm supervising a group of grad students as they do more.
Forte/Piano festival 2015
This was a presentation of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies. Over fifty performers, scholars, and piano makers from around the world met for five days in Ithaca. Sixteen different pianos were used, and I had to tune most of them; in addition I prepared four nineteenth century pianos for use during the conference. The photo shows four of the pianos used, backstage at Cornell's Schwartz Center.