The Optimal Piano


Dan Cammarata is a Master Piano Technician, and classical pianist, who created the “Piano Optimization System” ten years ago because he realized that the traditional means of altering piano function, such as regulation, was just not advanced enough to bring a piano to its ultimate potential. A much more scientific approach was needed to analyze and assess the physics of the system in order to determine what changes would have to be made to ensure optimal function. He began experimenting on his own instruments, and, over the course of several years, finally created the algorithm that lead to the breakthrough he was seeking. Dan is known for his meticulous attention to detail and his intense desire to make every piano a source of joy for its’ owner. Dan studied Piano Technology under Joe Bisceglie, a Master Piano Technician that worked for Steinway in New York for over 50 years. Joe was widely known as one of the finest piano technicians in the country, and was called upon by Steinway to consult for them even after he retired.

Lake’s Piano Man knows his instruments

by Rebecca Jackson, Smith Mountain Eagle

Master piano technician

Dan Cammarata, a physical therapist working in a New York City hospital, once made a serendipitous deal with a retired concert pianist who’d come to him for treatment for complications from hip replacement surgery. Their meeting, and enduring friendship, turned out to be one of the most fortuitous things that had ever happened to Cammarata. “If you can help me walk again,” said a wheelchair-bound, late 70-something Anita Gelber, a graduate of the prestigious Julliard School of Music, “I’ll teach you to play the piano…free of charge.”

Both lived up to their sides of the verbal agreement, leading Cammarata, who’d long played drums professionally, down a path to an expert level of proficiency on the piano, as well. “She was a very forward thinking lady, a creative and wonderful woman,” said Cammarata of Gelber, with whom he trained for more than a decade.

Cammarata’s passion for playing grew as the years passed, and he began to purchase better and better pianos, he noted. At one time, he owned four grand pianos, and invited musicians from throughout the nation and abroad to his home for catered piano parties. At any one time, pianists in Cammarata’s home might be simultaneously playing jazz, classical and ragtime, he recalled.

“They had heard about my pianos and wanted to play them,” said Cammarata, father of two grown sons, Dan, 32 and Dante, 34, and soon to be grandfather of three. Both sons, residents of Washington state, are veterans of the Iraq War, with Dante earning a bronze star for bravery in battle. Dan served as a search and rescue swimmer and Dante was a medic during the conflict.

“I wanted my instruments to be optimal,” said Cammarata, a bespectacled, meticulous man with neatly trimmed, short, salt-and-pepper beard and flat-top haircut. He sported khaki slacks, a black, silk shirt and Italian leather loafers. “I know, in my experience, that there are two things that professional pianists look for in a piano; response of the keyboard, which should be an extension of the fingers, fluid, and the lightest touch will create a sound. That happens through a series of adjustments. Also, you can create the tonal qualities, or tonal palette you want. Through voicing, you can create more harmonics. So I decided to learn myself. I asked around about who was the best in New York and one name kept coming up…Joe Biscegli, who worked at Steinway for 50 years, then in his 80s, who still did consulting work. So I called him and told him, ‘Mr. Biscegli, I’ve gotten your name from others, you are a legend in the industry, and I want to learn your craft. Would you mentor me?”

The older man, upon hearing the request, became quite emotional. “He sounded choked up,” remembered Cammarata. “Then, he said, ‘I have two sons about your age, and all my life, I hoped that they would have the interest,” to follow their father into his craft. “Here, you call me out of nowhere.” Cammarata apprenticed with Biscegli, learning the science and mechanics of piano maintenance and restoration. Over time, as he practiced the craft, he came up with new and better ways to help a piano play its best. “It’s not just tuning…that’s only a small part of it. I also got into restoration of old pianos. It became a second passion of mine. It’s just thrilling that I’ve been able to work on great pianos. For a pianist, it’s a thrill. It doesn’t have to be a $100,000 piano, but it needs someone who knows what they’re doing to take care of it.”

When Cammarata first meets with a client, he does a consultation on each piano and discusses with the client how much he or she wishes to invest in their instrument. “I tune all pianos, but do regulation work on grand pianos only. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, beginning with my own instruments. That’s where I got my knowledge. I’m very proud of that, bringing an instrument to a new level. It’s very satisfying. I understand a musician’s connection with an instrument. It is an extension of yourself to communicate non-verbally, to express sadness and happiness.”
“It was one of the best moves I’ve ever made,” he noted.

The Piano Optimization System

The Piano Optimization System will improve just about any piano, but is most suitable, and effective, for high quality uprights and grands. I offer a range of individual services, such as tuning, regulation and voicing, for ALL instruments, at any level. Here is a breakdown of the optimization process.

Action assembly is removed from piano

Measurements are taken inside the piano

Action is disassembled

Proprietary system

Each key, wippen, hammer shank, hammer, and damper assembly are measured and analyzed for the presence of unnecessary or excessive mass, friction, inertia and resistance using my proprietary algorithm. All adjustments and modifications are then made according to the results of this analysis.

Action is reassembled

Action is regulated to a concert level of performance

Piano is meticulously tuned

Hammers are voiced to ensure optimal tone and harmonics

Why aren’t manufacturers or dealers doing what I do for their pianos? There are two simple answers to that question. The first is economics. The kind of time it takes to do what I do is not practical for a manufacturer or dealer to put into an individual instrument, especially when they are trying to manufacture or sell hundreds or thousands of instruments a year. Such advanced work would severely cut into the profit margin and require the piano to sell for MUCH more money than it typically does. Additionally, the manufacturers and dealers do not feel that most players know, or care about, the difference between a poor playing instrument and an optimized one. If you doubt this is true, consider the following. Steinway, the world’s most famous piano manufacturer, has a separate division devoted ONLY to prepping their pianos for concert pianists or other very high level players. In this division, they employ a high level technician that does nothing but this work. He does not touch any of the other instruments going out the door. As a player myself, I find this very concerning.

If you have a child, or adult, that is learning to play, and you put them on a piano that fights them at every turn, whether that be with an unresponsive, hard to control keyboard or a twangy, dissonant sounding tone and volume level, I believe that you are putting them at a distinct disadvantage right from the start. That student will have less motivation to practice and spend the required time necessary to improve on that instrument because they are not associating a pleasant experience with their practice time. Remember, the whole idea of playing music is to have a non-verbal means of expressing both your own emotions and those of the composer. It is EXTREMELY difficult to do that on an uncooperative instrument. This is why EVERYONE can benefit from my Piano Optimization System. Lastly, even if these manufacturers and dealers had the will to do it, they don’t have the formula that I have spent years creating. I have done extensive work over the years for players of ALL skill levels and economic means, from Concert Pianists, music teachers and students to just plain music lovers who play for their own enjoyment. The instruments I have improved range from $200,000.00 Bosendorfer concert grands to grandma’s treasured instrument. Simply put, if you care about having a wonderful musical experience EVERY time you sit down at your piano, you will benefit from the Piano Optimization System. 

Piano Optimization Services

Bring out your piano’s ultimate potential. Call today to take advantage of the Piano Optimization System and my expert piano tuning, regulation, and voicing services.

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