During practice today, my Nord Piano, a keyboard that I've used for nearly five years and recorded three albums with, played its last note.
Over the past few months, I had noticed that a few keys were clicking or squeaking when played. Mechanical noise isn't uncommon in an instrument that you use every day for close to half a decade. So I contacted a lot of local shops to see if anyone could check it out and fix anything before it turned into a major issue.
After finding somebody who actually does work on digital keyboards, I had it fixed without issues. For a few weeks. This is why I'm going to leave this particular business nameless. A few weeks after the first clicks were fixed and the keys tightened, I noticed my middle-C key was doing the same, but like really, really loud and annoying. I had it fixed again, from the same business. That lasted an hour before it started clicking again, and the last C on the board, the very top key, was now clicking when it never had before. The technician had a very hard time removing the keys in the upper register, and was very aggressive in doing so. But he managed to remove and tighten them all, which I had requested since I figured it may as well be done to rule out this happening again anytime soon.
Today, while playing Chopin's Waltz Op. 34 No. 3 in F, that A key you see in those images just shattered under my pinkie. Yes, my pinkies are that strong, I am a Super Saiyan or something. Never mind. The reason for this is because the clip that connects the key to the rest of the lever mechanism has completely sheared.
I keep my instruments in the best care possible. Nothing is ever left to chance and I always protect them, clean them, and maintain them on a regular basis. This thing fell apart like paper when I touched it. The only thing that could have done this was the aggressive removal of the key a few weeks back to adjust its action, and now I'm paying the price for poor workmanship on the end of the technician.
I love Nord keyboards. I would have gladly gotten a Nord Piano 2 or a Stage HA88 (which could also serve as a master MIDI controller capable of sequencing anything with its synth controls, aftertouch and weighted keys) to replace this but it's just too much money right now. I still have my old Electro 2 (predating Nord's application of physical draw-bars) and would love to get the dual manual organ from them as well. This is not a Nord issue. Nord is all about quality and I've never had a problem with any of their equipment. This is nothing but bad performance on the end of the guy who I trusted to properly adjust some of the issues the instrument was having from frequent playing and age.
I am hoping that I can get this repaired and get it back on the road. I have already ordered a Kawai KDP90 to replace the Nord in the studio, but this thing weighs around 100lbs and is in no way fit for gigging. That's what a solid stage piano is for. If I can get it repaired correctly, I will reserve the Nord for gigging and travel use since it has such an awesome sound palette and all three pedals with half-pedal function. If, and this is likely, repairs are too much money or not possible, I may have no choice but to have the piano recycled at the next electronics dumping day.
I ended returning the Kawai after a day since it was garbage. The sound was terrible due to having the speakers built underneath the keybed instead of over or behind it, the instrument was damaged in shipping and had missing bolts. I ended up getting the Nord Piano 2, but that was also crap due to a factory defect in the keybed that set it forward by about 1/16th of an inch so some of the keys got stuck or audibly clicked as they grazed the casing of the piano.
After a long fight with Kraft Music to return the Nord Piano 2, I got a Roland RD 800 from Sweetwater and it's the best digital piano I've ever played. I will never use Kraft Music again after they refused to let me return the defective piano for four months, even though I reported the issue within a week of purchase and asked for a refund.
Sweetwater has never let me down.
After many, many delays, my home studio is finally finished! I started this project all the way back in August. It began with removing the old bookshelves that were in my current room. These things were at least thirty years old, were covered in dusty old books and trinkets and were falling apart in every corner. The shelves were sagging and the mess of old literature and and instability of their structure was a reason they were so neglected and covered in dust. I ended up throwing out a few books, mostly outdated encyclopedias and dictionaries, and donated all the others that were no longer needed.
In the process, I reopened a return vent that had been blocked off for three decades (and was covered in a nice, thick web of black dust that came off in sheets). This eliminated the dust problem in the room and got the temperature back to normal (the room was always overheated due to being on the southwest corner, and without a return, there was no airflow so it got about 20-degres warmer in here than the rest of the house). I replaced the bookcases with some Billies from Ikea that now neatly hold all my sheet music, cameras, lenses, tech books, etc. with plenty of room leftover.
The next step was to remove the rug. This thing was a dizzying blue that made it hard to see anything, darkened the room and I tripped on it constantly since it always slid around and would have lumps in it. I got a new one at Ocean State Job Lot while out and about one afternoon in October and immediately chucked the ratty old one into a dumpster, scrubbed the floor, and laid the new one down.
I had an old work desk in here as well next to my audio/video/photo workstation that was taking up far too much room. Since I had new bookcases to put my sheet music on, my filing cabinet was left with no purpose, so I ended up taking all the necessary items out of the desk and moving them to the cabinet, then moving the desk to another room for a separate computer. In the process, that computer's desk was removed and replaced with the antique one. With the extra space, I was able to get an ionic air filter to further reduce dust and improve the air (an my computer's safety, since dust and a virus both killed the original hard drive over the summer).
The last step was to put up all new soundproofing. This was the worst part. I ordered the acoustics in November, but had to wait until March before I could do anything with them! Two problems arose. First, I needed a way to put up the foam temporarily so that I can move it with me and so that it won't damage the walls. I solved that problem by coming up with the idea of using a 3M spray adhesive to mount the foam to tagboard, cutting the excess, then installing the pieces onto the walls with Command Strips.
The second problem came from that solution. The adhesive spray is highly toxic, and if inhaled in a room with poor ventilation, can result in a bad trip or death. I chose to use the spray because it wouldn't be absorbed by the foam as much as superglue, and didn't want to change the course after buying everything. As anyone in the US knows, New England had the worst winter on record this year; in Clinton, we had over 100 inches of snow over the course of three weeks, and days that averaged in the single digits every day. I had to use this adhesive outside, but had no ability to do so until it stopped snowing and was warmer than 10-degrees.
That finally happened last week, and I was able to mount all the treatment over this past weekend, and some extras yesterday to reinforce a couple lingering trouble areas. The room is now clean, fresh and fully soundproofed. There is no natural room noise or reverb, flutter echo is completely eliminated and the overall quality for listening has increased dramatically.
With this, I am now opening by studio to the public for audio-post production. What this means, is that I am only taking on jobs regarding mixing, mastering and restoration. This room is just too small to offer recording at this time and I'd have no way to properly isolate a microphone, let alone accommodate more than a couple people!
This is an issue that's caused some problems in the past. When I've advertised post production, I constantly get calls asking if I can record a singer, or a voice actor, despite the ads only showing mixing and mastering as being offered. Many people who have contacted me believe that "mixing" is the industry term for recording. It's not; mixing is the process of editing individual audio tracks (stems), overall and individual levels, EQ, panning, compression, special effects, pitch correction, reverb, etc. It's strictly done after the initial recording to make those tracks sound high quality and professional, and isn't the recording process itself.
At this time, I am only working in post-production. In the future, I do plan on offering recording services, but that is only after I have more room. I have to start somewhere, so I made this studio to be the best possible listening environment that it can be to professionally mix, master and restore music, soundtracks, sound effects and all other manner of audio. When I have access to a larger facility, I will make the necessary adjustments to provide recording, but until then, this is where it's at.
Another update, this time on the site end. You may have noticed that new "Store" page in the navigation bar. You may now purchase my records from CD Baby directly on this site, and purchase fine art photos through my Fine Art America store the same way! The photos are available as prints, framed prints, greeting cards, smart phone cases and throw pillows. This took a little longer to get running as well, but was mostly due to administrative and banking things that had to be taken care of first, but both the music and photography stores are now officially up and running, in addition to all amenities listed under "Services & Rates"!
CD Baby Store
Fine Art America Store
So, thanks to that silly Old Man Winter (die, die!) hanging around longer than he was welcome, this endeavor took much longer than I had initially planned, but is finally complete. Here is the finished studio space: