The Work We Do

The Work We Do: Douglas Gregg, Classic Piano Doc

I’m Doug Gregg, Classic Piano Doc, living in Southold. My shop is in Greenport and I’ve been here on Long Island for about 35 years.

I came out here to work at Plum Island in 1975 and I’ve spent 30 years in the lab. I am a piano technician. I’ve learned the trade from some of the best and I now tune and repair and restore pianos for some of the top pianists on the East Coast. I tune for the concerts on the East End of Long Island, almost all of them, and most of the churches.

Tuning a piano is not that difficult. I can teach someone the basics of tuning in a week. It’ll take them months to get good and fast at it, but the basics aren’t hard. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s like 10 percent.

There [are] about 2,000 adjustments to the action of the piano to get it to play really well and smoothly and freely so that, from the lightest touch to the heaviest touch, it responds perfectly. That’s the difference between tuning the strings and really doing a concert preparation. Most every piano I work on, I try to do the whole thing. If I’m selling a piano, I want it to sound as good as it possibly can and I’m also guaranteeing it for life, so, I don’t want to have to come back and repair things.

There’s 18 adjustments for every key, so that’s quite a bit of time spent with repetitious work, but it’s really worth it when it’s right.

My job is to please people and please myself first. If I’m not pleased with a piano, I won’t sell it. And I’m very, very careful about pianos that I take in for restoration or for resale. I only take in good brands so I know what I’m getting. A lot of salespeople will just sell anything. I don’t do a sales pitch, I let people come in, try the pianos, see what they like, see if they like it changed. If there’s something I can change, I’ll do that, but no pressure.

“The Work We Do” is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers around Southold Town.