Board Member Emeritus Ellsworth Gregory Tunes Center’s 150-Year-Old Piano
Ellsworth “Greg” Gregory
Ellsworth “Greg” Gregory, Historical Society President from 1992 to 2008, is shown tuning the Center’s antique piano prior to the playing of Christmas music for the Society’s annual 2016 Christmas Party.
According to Ellsworth, who has tuned this 150-year-old piano twice before, all seven of its octaves are still in reasonable tune. It was made by then renowned Decker Brothers of New York and sold for $625 in the 1860s ($10,500 today). It was shipped by a “Clipper” sailing ship around South America’s Cape Horn to San Francisco and stood in the Hatton family’s parlor in Carmel Valley for many decades before coming to the History Center.
The piano was made with 52 ivory and 36 ebony hardwood keys, 88 in all. Use of ivory keys was banned in the 1950s due to the illegal poaching of animals and today’s keys are made entirely from modern plastics. Interestingly, some pianists maintain that they can sense a difference in touch and responsiveness between plastic and ivory keys.
Ellsworth, 89, has tuned pianos for symphonies and concerts, for the rich and famous, and for countless residents of Monterey County for over 60 years. Remarkably, he has tuned the piano in the bar of the Mission Ranch Restaurant in Carmel for over half a Century!
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