Iain more or less chose our piano for us – we just knew we had to have it when we saw the way his eyes lit up when he found it in the auction showroom. By that point, he had spent over a year accompanying us to auctions, searching for a good second-hand Steinway Model B; in the showroom, he would surreptitiously whip out his screwdriver so he could inspect the inner workings of a prospective instrument. They were usually marred by the sloppy restoration work they’d been subjected to over the years – restoration work that certainly hadn’t been up to Iain’s high, high standards.
After we bought the 1968 model he found for us, he took it to his workshop to begin an extensive top-to-bottom restoration. This is where his dedication to his craft truly shone through. Every little detail received the utmost care and attention, from re-varnishing the soundboard, to restoring the plate bolts’ mirror shine, to the hours and hours he spent adjusting the keys and action to suit my preferences. The months of work he put in demonstrated not just his decades of knowledge and experience, but his true love for the art of piano building.
After the restoration, the finished instrument looked brand new – but it had the playing characteristics of an instrument from one of Steinway’s golden eras. It is probably the best piano I have ever played, and it entirely owes its second life to Iain. I cannot recommend his services highly enough.
Tristan Jakob-Hoff, Composer amd Arranger
When the ceiling fell in (literally) on my 1900 Steinway, Iain Gordon restored it to a standard I never anticipated. The concern for detail has been very impressive indeed, and the instrument now sounds quite literally sweeter and more cultured than I have ever known it.
Ex Piano Professor, Royal Academy of Music
Testimonial from pianist Martin Jones
Iain Gordon has just completed work on my Steinway Model C. For a very reasonable price he replaced the action, upper strings and regulated, toned and overhauled the entire piano. I am so pleased with the result I now think that the piano had never been set up properly!!! Thanks to his meticulously careful work, I now have what feels and sounds like a brand new Steinway. I shall have no hesitation in recommending you to anyone. Many thanks
Dear Iain, your extraordinary attention to detail and obvious love for your craft is here in every note of the album.
Your passion is infectious and the quality of your work is an inspiration and just the tonic needed going into a piano session. Thank you, thank you and thank you.
I will return.
“I am so grateful to you for your superb attention to my pianos, when needed. You have my utmost confidence and trust”.
Professor at Royal College of Music
“Iain Gordon who rebuilt my historic 1913 Hamburg Steinway O grand is a master-craftsman who lives for his trade. In a throw away culture where to accept less than the best is promoted by confident marketing and meretricious publicity, Iain is one of the few who practices a craft in which there are no compromises. A piano is as good as its last tuning and maintenance. Iain not only rebuilds and restores with infinite care, but he takes on a good piano as a member of his family. It is a very personal thing, and a source also of personal pride. A relation ensues in which player, craftsman and the music itself sustain each other in the service of art”
Clive Bush, Emeritus Professor of American Literature King’s College London.
Testimonial from Henry Wood Hall
Iain Gordon seems to have achieved an unusually high level of accomplishment in the field of piano servicing and voicing. Since fitting a new action to our 25 year old Steinway D it has been used regularly by many of the Worlds finest pianists. The remarks and feedback have been almost 100% positive and to name a few, Andras Schiff loves it, Manny Ax wanted to take it on tour, Murray Perahia sat down to warm up and didn’t get up for 30 minutes, when his rehearsal time was over he stayed in the hall and continued practicing…clear approval!!
As Simon Perry director of Hyperion Records says, it’s unusual to find such a good resident piano in a recording venue and especially one that top artists are happy to use!!
Well done Iain!
Andrew Stevens and Charles Strickland
Managers, Henry Wood Hall
John York writes:
“Over many years I have sought a piano technician who really cares, who can fix those little niggling problems, who can advise on piano mechanics and the possibilities of improvement in my pianos – and who will tune them as perfectly as it is possible to do it. To find all these skills in one piano technician is very difficult but Iain Gordon has them all. He is totally reliable, thorough, patient, passionate about the subject – something we all share as musicians – and brilliant.
His charges are reasonable and certainly justified – and his aftercare is second to none.
I would not hesitate to recommend his services to anyone with a piano they love and use. Iain Gordon can maintain it to its highest potential.”
“Dear Iain, thank you for completing a marvellous team during my recordings of three Haydn Concertos at Henry Wood Hall together with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. You have kept the beautiful old Steinway in a perfect condition throughout all the recording sessions. Thank you for a wonderful job.
Pianist, Steinway Artist
Thanks again for all the work you’ve done, Iain. The piano is just incredible. I honestly never thought I’d own one that plays and sound’s like mine does now.”
Ben Argyle BA
Making Dreams Come True
I believe I have now ascended to what I can only be described as the ‘Bush Plain’. This is a high, fuelled by a potent mixture of wonder, excitement and utter disbelief. I had always imagined Steinways were owned by people with mansions, models and multiple cars of exotic pedigree. Never by ordinary people like myself.
Every so often, I find myself peeking into the dining room just to check that the Steinway is really there. When I sit down to play, I feel like pinching myself. The bass almost growls in the arresting manner of a sports car engine. The richly textured and unique Steinway tone envelopes one in a sound system to end all sound systems. Even scales and arpeggios sound wonderful on this instrument. I have become a child again, once more bewitched and bedazzled by the real and fantasy worlds which combine in a most treasured toy.
My particular Steinway journey began, as you know, in a troubled way. At the Steinway showroom, I fell in love with the model B and yet a new B was financially out of reach. Luckily, I found myself talking to you and you persuaded me to bid for a B at the next auction. As you also know, I was pretty unhappy with the chosen instrument. The action was inconsistent and unreliable, the middle range tone was largely absent and I was loathe to bid for such an expensive item purely on the basis of a telephone relationship. Clive’s words of reassurance were crucial. It was still a shock though, when the hammer fell and the deed was done. I was convinced for many weeks afterwards, that I had made the wrong move. It was extremely helpful to meet you at the next auction and at the Steinway showroom where you were able to explain to me why my piano was ailing and how simple (relatively speaking) it would be to put things right. I am so glad that I kept faith.
Understanding how pivotal the top action and a new set of hammers were to the problems the piano was having meant that the dark tunnel now had some light at the end of it. When you installed the new action last week I knew we were out of the tunnel, even though you had yet to complete the voicing. I now have an instrument that responds accurately and faithfully to my input and in which I now have utter confidence. Any aberrations are now mine and mine alone. It is as good as new. My years in the piano wilderness are over.
So, Iain, your role in this has not really been that of piano technician, though skilled and true has been your craftsmanship. Your role has been to make a dream come true. A dream so large and improbable and so deeply buried that I was unaware that it even existed. I am really fortunate to have met you and I will always remember the impact your efforts have had on my life.
I only hope that I can be as high as the ‘Bushman’ is, and for as long.
I had always dreamed of owning a Steinway baby grand, but never believed that it would be possible. Iain helped me through every step of the way, from searching all the pianos at the piano auction, finding a perfect Steinway for reconditioning that I would never have spotted and then working with the french polishers to transform it into the most stunning piano. It is beautiful to look at and unbelievable to play. The transformation is amazing. I still pinch myself that it is mine and thank Iain wholeheartedly for his help. I could never have chosen this piano without his help.
I bought my Steinway A at auction with confidence knowing that Iain had inspected it. With his experience working for Steinway themselves I knew I would be buying a sound piano. Once home he tuned and toned the piano beautifully which confirmed that his expert eye had been exactly right.’
Thank you so much for making my piano sound so wonderful.
I chanced upon your web site and read about voicing etc. I felt a bit out of the ‘Steinway’ league being a novice pianist.
All I can say is that it has been the best money I have ever spent in getting you to voice and service my piano. It now sounds absolutely fabulous and I cannot believe how magnificent it plays (even though I am still a beginner). You have also completely sorted out the sustain issue.
To anyone who has a piano and whatever your level of ability, I would urge you to get Iain to look at it. I cannot describe the enhancement he has given to my piano and everyone who has heard it feels the same. Do not assume, like I did that the new piano you buy is the best it can be.
As you said to me when I expressed such surprise at what you had done in a few hours: ‘Any piano can be made to sound better’.
Thank you again so much and I will see you shortly in a few months when you come to tune it again!
You are a genius!
Iain Gordon has a marvellously sensitive approach, a true feeling for each piano as an individual.
His knowledge and experience is great and his passion and commitment is evident from the start.
He has transformed my piano from a poor, tired-out old instrument into a vibrant beauty, loved by all who touch it.
Thanks, Iain, for helping me make my first record first class.
Henry Wood Hall piano was beautiful throughout.
See you soon,
The job you did on my piano was utterly outstanding. It’s a totally different instrument! When you said “I’ve done some tonal work on it” I didn’t expect it to sound quite so amazing.
Noble Artist Management