Peter Stoller, Musician
Peter Stoller wrote this in regards to work that he had done to his Hamburg Steinway A in 2011:
“It’s hard to pick only three positive attributes for Dale Erwin; if you can say something good about someone, you can say it about Dale. The same goes for his entire family, as they are all involved in his piano restoration business. How fortunate my wife and I are to have met the Erwins through this transaction!
Dale created a new soundboard (and pin block) for my vintage Hamburg Steinway. His unstinting attention to detail, his balance of respect for tradition and technical innovation, and his ear for both the subtlest musical nuance and the most eccentric desires of his clients resulted in a truly magnificent instrument, both sonically and visually.
As if that weren’t enough, Dale and his family are amongst the most personable and hospitable people it has ever been my pleasure to meet; so much so that the process would have been a pure joy even if the piano had turned out poorly. As it happens, the piano sounds so amazing that it would have been worth every penny even if Dale had been a veritable troll.
What more can I say? I grew up with vintage Steinway pianos and know how they can and should sound. Dale’s soundboard hasn’t simply met my expectations; it has exceeded all of them. He made our A sound almost like a D! I find myself wishing I had more pianos for Dale and co. to restore. If you’re in the market for a soundboard, not only need you look no further than Erwin’s Piano Restoration, but doing so would be a waste of your time. My very highest recommendation!”
“Dale Erwin is first a pleasure to work with. Through my dealings with Dale, I always was confident he had my best interests at heart and always delivered what he promised. As a mentor, teacher, and colleague in the piano landscape, Dale Erwin has given of his skills and talent to myself and many others. We could not ask for a better teacher and friend with his willingness to share his skill set. For his pioneering work on custom soundboards and improving the piano hammers, he has no equal in aspiring to a smooth round tone. I highly recommend Dale Erwin to anyone needing professional piano work or training/teaching in the field of Piano Technology”
-Starr Taylor CEO
St. Piano Rebuilders
“As I have gotten to know Dale, I have learned that what he says – is what he does – period.
I have enjoyed watching his knowledge grow from his instruments in the 1990’s to the masterpieces he produces today. I look forward to spending more time with him as Dale is the type of expert that I would like to surround myself with professionally.
Keep up the good work, Dale!”
-Richard Galassini, Co-Owner, Cunningham Piano Company
“Dale and I were both invited to exhibit examples of our work (grand pianos) at the 2006 Piano Technicians Guild national convention in Rochester, NY. While there was an expectation that all exhibitors would present work which was executed to high standards of workmanship, in the case of Dale’s work I certainly wasn’t disappointed. His rebuilt grand pianos are amongst the best that can be found anywhere in the world. His dedication to his craft is plainly obvious, and I commend him.”
-Ron Overs, Director at Overs Pianos-Sydney, Australia
I keep meaning to write to thank you for the work you guys did on my Baldwin
action back in September (hammers, shanks, flanges, capstans, etc.).
Together with the expert regulation by Mark Schecter the work you did has
left me with a very special SF10 which I look forward to playing every day.
I hope we can arrange some similar transformation for my 1927 B in the not
too distant future.”
My friends, there is a true artisan in Modesto, California. To be able to make a piano sound and feel this beautiful, not only in the shop, but on the stage, is the work of a rare, rare artist. I am humbly grateful to be the friend, student, peer and collaborator of Dale Erwin.
David Andersen, Piano Technician
“The concert Saturday afternoon at the Cal State Conference was like nothing I can remember. Maybe I need to get out more. Richard Glazier playing a ‘28 S&S D restored by Dale Erwin with a new board. Just the piano and artist, no amplification, no other instruments or vocals. The piano filled the auditorium beautifully as it was designed to do. I think I had forgotten the power that a piano can have. I’m so proud to know Dale and to be able to
call myself his student.
I played the piano before the concert, I’ve also played it at Dale’s shop. All different rooms, each giving the piano a different sound. The piano is a joy to play, so easy. In the auditorium 30 feet out it was a completely different instrument again, sounding as it should, in it’s role of filling an auditorium. The bass had a beautiful growl to it and all registers were well balanced. The killer octave sounded like I think it should. Voicing was right down the middle.
More important the artist was able to completely meld with
the piano. No action saturation, no distortion, absolute power, striking the keys from 3 feet above them, down to beautiful melodic passages that went straight to the back of the hall.
Hat’s off to you, Dale. *Your ‘D’ was the star of the show.”
Fenton Murray, RPT
“Dale restored my 100 year old Steinway O to better- than- new condition. The new sound board has given generous resonance so long missing. The well-regulated action and lovely tone make playing the instrument a satisfying, rewarding experience. I am very pleased and grateful.”
-Joyce Groshong, Piano Teacher in Chico, CA
Carla is a long time client of ours and is also a Music teacher. Here is what she had to say about her Mason & Hamlin after receiving new strings and action re-design.
“There were no people shouting “Move That Bus!” but my BB Baby, also known as The Hoff (so named by Dale and sons), has returned home with her Extreme Makeover completed. SHE IS AMAZING! She is 30 years older than when I first bought her, but more than 30 times better!! No 7-foot Mason & Hamlin grand piano anywhere plays and sounds like mine does. Do not bother me this week. I am busy playing my piano!”
-Carla Hoffman Musician and music teacher
In regards to his Steinway D that we restored:
“I am very pleased. Amazing how different it sounds from the C7. I like it. I’m
getting used to the sound and realize that I will be spoiled forever. No going back.
I haven’t heard the sound out in the room yet, but Trish says it is quite different and much better. Not as loud as she expected. It fills the house, but is not harsh. From the bench the notes are clear and full. I have so much more control of the tone. Chopin is wonderful. I also play jazz and stride and I improvise differently and better with this piano. Because of the full tone, a melody line can stand better on its own and that actually opens more options in improvising. I love it.
Dale, you got the action just right. It is so easy to play. Ivory was the way to go, feels so good.”
Charles Cramer, Professional Photographer/Pianist
Here’s what Charles had to say about his Mason & Hamlin CC 9ft. Grand.
Thank you for having me over yesterday. I was really delighted with what you’ve done with my piano!
I think you were completely successful in what you did. You have preserved the essential character of the piano—just made it even better.
As far as I could tell in your shop, I love the tone. There’s a wonderful difference between loud and soft!!!! The soft pedal really works! The notes are full without being “notey” or clangy. The attack does not seem to be the loudest part of the sound! In fact, when I first played that low C, it seemed to grow after the initial attack.
The action is just incredible. As I said, things that were problematical before, now just “happen” on the new action. It is lighter, but still has wonderful response and feedback. Suddenly, I’m a better pianist! The dynamic range is great. Wow…
The pedals are perfect. I was sure I was going to ask for an adjustment in the depth of travel of the damper pedal, but I liked it. The sostenuto pedal FINALLY seems to work perfectly.”
-Charles Cramer, Charles Cramer Photography
“I’ve learned a lot over the years from Dale’s generous contributions in Piano Technicians Journal and on PTG forums in the areas of soundboard and hammer design, and voicing. Although I didn’t know Dale, I approached him last year regarding the book I’ve been working on, and was pleasantly surprised by his interest and generous feedback and support. His criticism has been constructive and suggestions most helpful. Meeting him in person earlier this year confirmed that he is not just an expert but also a warm and caring individual motivated by a deep passion for the piano and willing to do what it takes to advance the state of the art in the field. I attended, and was impressed by, one of his classes on soundboard design and his presentation on Ronsen hammers, and look forward to learn more from him.”
-Mario Igrec, Piano Technician/Author, software architect, and Author of “Pianos Inside Out”
“Dale Erwin is a consumate piano artisan/technician/pedagogue/piano restoration specialist. Dale is honest, fair, intelligent and a very fine person.
I highly recommend Dale Erwin to anyone interested in piano restoration or specialized improvement of the instrument.”
-Jeffrey L. Cappelli Owner, Piano Renaissance, LLC
Chicago Piano Service Inc.
Cappelli Instituteu of Music, LLC
“I have known Dale for a number of years as a colleague and an instructor at numerous piano technician conferences and just recently had him assist me in a serious technical matter involving a Steinway Concert grand I care for owned by a local municipal concert venue. The piano had a couple of pesky systemic issues that prevented it from being the performance instrument it should be. He skillfully and creatively worked with me in his shop and on site to create an instrument that has met the highest expectations. There was no second guessing – he knew what to do. I have played and examined instruments that he has recreated/rebuilt and have come to the conclusion that he and his family are among the finest piano re builders in the US. He is helping many like myself to rediscover and understand what a piano is suppose to be.”
-Brian Janey, Piano Technician, Allegro Piano Service
In regards to her Steinway B:
“Dale had refurbished an 80-year old Steinway piano which we purchased from him.
He since has listed our piano on his web site for sale and has been extremely diligent on our behalf and we highly recommend him for his integrity and ability.”
“Staging a performance in Fresno from San Diego required that our team work with someone of every attribute offered, and I would select them all if LinkedIn allowed it. Dale delivered a simply marvelous rebuilt Steinway for our event and while I could go on an on about the piano itself, Dale and his team were the truly amazing part of the transaction. Great results, great value and on time were all important to our event; Dale delivered.
Dale’s been rebuilding high-end pianos for some time, and he is a master of this art. The 100-year-old model C we used for this concert probably played and sounded better than it did when it was new, and if you know old Steinways, that’s really saying something.
All that said, Dale’s primary business is not renting artist-quality pianos to concert stages in California’s Central Valley. I had the opportunity to visit the Erwin workshop and play a few of Dale’s restored pianos (both complete and in-process), and I would highly encourage any individual (or business) considering purchasing and restoring a vintage piano to give Dale a call to evaluate the instrument first. There are VERY few folks capable of doing even an adequate job bringing a gorgeous antique piano back to being satisfying to a player, and even fewer capable of turning out an artist-quality specimen. I didn’t want to take my hands off the Steinway at the concert…or the Steinway in Dale’s living room, or any of the pianos I played in the workshop. My family has owned a number of rebuilt Steinways over the years, but none of them—sorry Mom!—played or sang like the instruments at Erwin’s Piano Restoration.”
-Bill Protzmann, musician
“I highly recommend Dale Erwin and Erwin’s Piano Restoration for their unique and highly skilled craftsmanship. Very few have the ability to fashion hearty, strong, superior sound boards from raw materials. Their re-built actions redefine excellence. You’ll be amazed when your piano returns from its make-over.”
“To see and play one of Dale’s pianos on exhibit at a convention is a real treat, a feast for eye and ear.”
-Darrell Fandrich, Owner, Fandrich & Sons Pianos
“It is easy to forget things that happened vs. things that are happening. Having said this the Bosendorfer is happening! Every day I play it I am grateful for the work done by Erwin’s. While the goal was sound, which the hammers met. What I did not expect and now feel blessed to acknowledge is the action. Any bozo can bang out music. The subtleties comes in the dynamics and I now approach the ideal of pppp to ffff!”
-Robert Hamilton, University of CA, Berkeley