Andy Wasserman

Schooleys Mountain, NJ | Nov 19, 2002 | 1924 Steinway M

The instrument really is always going to be a substitute for the human voice, so the voice of an instrument hopefully matches with your personality. And, if you are like myself, a full time professional artist, it has to match with the vision of your artistry. And since artistry is really about storytelling, it's all poetry, in a manner of speaking.
What you want to do is, you really want to be able to make sure that there is no barrier between the story that you're telling and the expression of that story. I feel, without a shadow of a doubt, that a piano has a soul.
There's something so massive about the construction of what a piano is. I think that's why people have always responded to pianos as being a very extraordinary instrument. So also, when you're relating to the voice of a piano, you're relating to a what I call the soul, its personality. Somehow it communicates a vibration.
There is something that occurred when people were building pianos, really in the peak of the mastery of the materials they used and the real artisans. Not that they don't exist today, but I think they were from a different breed back in 1910, '20, and '30.
And so I went specifically looking for that. And of the dozens of places in the Tri-State area that I went to, I felt a connection, in terms of the service, the integrity, and the quality, with Paul Lindeblad's work. Specifically, the touch I find sets this company apart, in terms of how they work on the action, and how the action plays and feels.
And they do a beautiful job with the refinishing. A lot of people, that's what they notice first, obviously. But as an artist, the people who call me tend to be the people who are looking more for, would an artist like this piano? Would somebody who really knows how to play appreciate the work of this company?
And I can say, without any reservation, that that is true. I've given Lindeblad Piano Restoration carte blanche to have anybody who has any level of indecision regarding an instrument, their work, their integrity, their business to call me.
There's a question of a person's intention and spirit. And the spirit of Paul Lindeblad, because he's really running the show here, is one of the type of honesty that I think most people are looking for. Those of us who love the piano, feel that a piano really is something extremely special.
And the decision to get a piano is almost like a sacred decision. People really put a tremendous amount of thought and energy into it, not just because of how much money they're spending, unlike other things that cost what a piano costs, whether it's a Steinway or any other. And when people call me, it's like they're adopting a child. And there's so many things they want to know, the medical records, the history. It's that type of a thing.
And I just tell them that Paul Lindeblad and Todd will not deceive you. They do excellent work. And that level of trustworthiness seems to be harder and harder to find. There is this element of integrity, that I feel, that not only Paul brings to what he does with the piano itself, but how he relates to the customers.
I approach the piano more as a dynamic instrument. I think of myself, actually, as a masseuse, as a piano masseuse. And I've got 100 different levels, I'm exaggerating, of pressure in terms of how I press the keys. And when people rebuild pianos they focus more on the case, on the materials that they use, and, not necessarily, the potential depth of sensitivity of the touch.
Now the word piano, the name actually, the real name of a piano was the pianoforte. And most people who know music knows that means soft and loud. So the piano really is an instrument of sensitive touch. And what I felt, looking for that was that, and this is beyond service, is that Paul Lindeblad's work, on the pianos that I played, had a touch that had a sensitivity that gives somebody like myself a tremendous range of expression.
That's what I feel sets Lindeblad piano work apart, and that's part of the service. Because that's an attention to detail, with the dynamic touch, in the rebuilding, that I, personally, didn't see on that level with the other restoring companies that I visited.
It's all about the sound. So if I'm home, and I'm practicing, and I'm shooting for a sound-- I happen to be a composer and arranger, so I need to have something that's going to resonate. It's all about the overtone series.
What we call the timbre of any instrument is really what we're hearing, even though it's hard to hear it because it's very high-pitched waves. It's, ultimately, what's known as the overtones or the harmonic series. And in a true instrument of any kind, whether it's a violin, or piano, or a wind-instrument, what makes that instrument special is its ability to resonate in the proper way, in terms of the harmonics and the overtones.
So to have a brilliantly rebuilt instrument-- My Steinway M is from 1924, and they did things in 1924 that they just don't do anymore in terms of the wood for the case, and how they treated trees, et cetera. Even though this is a completely restored and rebuilt instrument, it even has a new soundboard--
When I'm practicing and listening to those overtones and those harmonics, if they are ringing true, which can only be done on a high-class instrument, then you can really hear the subtleties of which you're working for when you're composing and arranging.
In terms of my students, when they come and they get a chance to play on an instrument like this, they are thrilled. Because most people do not have an opportunity to practice every day on an instrument like that. And as a result, my students sit down and play and go, oh, that's what a piano is supposed to sound like. And so it's exciting for them.
And then, when I rehearse with my band, I have an instrument that I can express myself with. The drummer in my band bought a Steinway B last year, and when I rehearse at my drummer's house, I play that piano. And that's one of the finest pianos I've ever played. It's actually a nicer piano, a larger and a more expensive piano than the one that I have. So I'm either playing my Steinway M, or my drummer's Steinway B. And they're both absolutely brilliant, brilliant instruments. So I'm playing on two Lindeblad pianos almost every week.